2022 Subaru Forester Pros vs Cons. Should You Buy?
Ready to embark on your next wilderness adventure? Perhaps your current vehicle isn't quite so ready. The 2022 Subaru Forester, however, is definitely game. It even has the all-new Wilderness trim level. But is this small SUV just the right fit for you?
The engine, unfortunately, is still as underpowered as last year's. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder - which comes standard on every trim level and leaves no other options - only generates a power output of 182 horsepower and 176 lb-ft of torque. This is truly the thing holding the Forester back from being a top competitor in its segment. Since the turbo flat-four 250-hp XT engine was discontinued in 2019, Subaru has left buyers with just one weak option. We can only hope that Japan's Forester Sport with its 1.8-L direct injection turbo flat-4 engine will make its way to the US market.
That being said, the Forester has some good things going for it. The new Wilderness trim is a great addition, equipped with different features. Its lifted ride height of 9.2 inches gives it a tremendous amount of ground clearance. Also, the Forester has the advantage of standard all-wheel drive, plenty of cargo space, and a huge list of standard driver aids.
But is it the best vehicle for you?
What's New for 2022?
New for 2022 is the Wilderness trim level and its elevated ride height. Additionally, the front grille has been restyled, and the upgraded roof rails are able to support more weight. The vehicle's max towing capacity was increased to 3,000 pounds.
Top 10 Reasons to Buy a 2022 Subaru Forester – The Pros
1. The Wilderness Trim Level
The Wilderness trim level is undoubtedly the one to buy this model year. Hot off the manufacturing line, the Wilderness offers 9.2 inches of ground clearance. It also benefits from a roof rack, LED fog lights, special 17-inch wheels with all-terrain tires, a front skid plate, a matte black hood decal that won't cast any glare, and seats that are water-resistant. If you want, you can opt for a power liftgate, integrated navigation with the 8-inch touchscreen display, and a premium sound system. All of it gears this trim for traveling off of the beaten path and should not disappoint avid adventurers.
2. Standard AWD
As is the case with any Subaru, all-wheel-drive (AWD) is standard issue. This provides better traction and stability than what you would get on a front-wheel-drive (FWD) model. If you live in a climate where roads get slippery due to inclement weather on a somewhat regular basis, AWD is a nice thing to have equipped. Most automakers leave it as an option, but that costs more to equip. Not so with the Forester; it is just already wrapped into the cost.
3. A Full List of Standard Driver Aids
Concerned about getting enough driver assistance features? Don't be - the Forester is loaded with them. Subaru EyeSight comes standard on each trim level, equipping the vehicle with lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, forward collision mitigation, and a lane departure warning. These features work pretty well. The included lane centering is particularly helpful in that it actually prevents the Forester from straying outside of its driving lane.
4. A Massive Cargo Area
With all seats left in place, the 2022 Subaru Forester has up to 28.9 cubic feet of cargo space available. When you fold the rear seats down, you can max that number out to 74.2 cubic feet. This comes really close to besting everything else in the segment. You can load up your camping gear, golf clubs, or kids' sporting gear without a problem. If you opt for the power liftgate, loading and unloading cargo becomes even easier.
5. Plenty of Ground Clearance
The Forester has a standard 8.7 inches of ground clearance, which is better than average for this segment. This helps to prevent the vehicle from bottoming-out in potholes, and it makes for easier off-roading drives. Not as much debris will end up in your vehicle's undercarriage. And, of course, there is the 9.2 inches of ground clearance you get on the Wilderness trim, which helps to make this one of the most off-road-oriented vehicles in its segment.
6. A Comfortable and Quiet Cabin
Inside of the Forester, you get a comfy and quiet cabin. Barely any noise gets in, and the seats are padded for all-day comfort. Even the rear seats have a lot of support. Starting on the Premium, you get a power-adjustable driver's seat, which makes finding a cozy driving position all the simpler. And, with heated front seats, you can stay warm on cold winter days.
7. Easy-to-use Controls
The entire front console has an easy-to-use interface. There are enough physical controls but not so many that the dash looks cluttered. And everything is placed within the driver's reach and clearly labeled. No guesswork is involved here. There are a few controls mounted to the steering wheel for quick access, but you won't feel like the wheel is inundated with them.
8. A Spacious Cabin
The cabin itself offers a lot of space. Up front, taller folks can easily sit with enough leg and head space left over. In the back, there is a lot of space as well. You can definitely fit two full-sized adults in the rear outboard seats and possibly even squeeze a third full-sized adult in the middle seat.
9. A User-friendly Tech Set-up
The infotainment center is built for everyone, tech-savvy or not. The controls all simply make sense. The menus on the screen are easy to navigate, and nothing about the on-screen controls feels clunky. The system works well overall and is not known for being prone to freezes or crashes while the car is being driven.
10. A Commanding Outward View
Although the tall ride height lets in some wind noise, it is doable for most people. And the outward view is immense. With wide glass panels all around, you get a commanding view of what is in front of you, in the rear, and to either side. Subarus are known for having great outward views due to their mindful construction, and the 2022 Forester does not disappoint in this regard.
Reasons Not to Buy a 2022 Subaru Forester – The Cons
1. A Weak Base Engine
The one real qualm we take with the 2022 Subaru Forester is the fact that its base 2.5-L 4-cylinder engine is drastically underpowered. There is no way this engine should be powering even a small SUV like the Forester. It has zero zest and takes a grueling 9.3 seconds to get from 0 to 60 miles per hour. Most vehicles make it there in about 2 seconds less. There is definitely nothing sporty about this engine, and we would love to see the Japanese Forester Sport's turbo engine get planted into the American Forester line-up.
2. A Lower Towing Capacity Than Its Competitors
3,000 pounds is not the best max towing capacity out there. It is definitely better than what you got on the 2021 Forester, which was a measly 1,500 pounds. But, considering the fact that 3,500 pounds is the current standard (and that some SUVs this size do even better than that), the Forester should be able to handle more weight.
3. Some Wind Noise Gets Into the Cabin
Due to its tall ride height, a little bit of wind noise does seep into the cabin when you get going fast on the highway. Around town, it is nothing to note. But it might be somewhat annoying if you hate hearing a constant whir as you cruise along at 60 mph or higher. It is a minor gripe, but a gripe nonetheless.
4. Real World Fuel Economy Does Not Match EPA Estimates
The EPA estimates that the 2022 Subaru Forester can get a 29 miles per gallon combined. On paper, that number looks somewhat impressive for this segment. In real life, though, the numbers don't match. Real-world tests reveal that the weak base engine drags the numbers down due to the strain it puts on fuel usage. It is more of a gas guzzler than buyers are being led to believe and helps confirm the need for a thrifty and sporty turbo engine option.
How It Stacks Up to the Competition:
2022 Subaru Forester vs. 2022 Mazda CX-5
The 2022 Mazda CX-5 is another outdoorsy vehicle with its sharp steering and handling capabilities. Inside of the cabin, there are some high-end appointments that give you the sense of premium ownership without paying an arm and a leg. Unlike the Forester, the CX-5 has an optional turbo engine that provides plenty of get-up-and-go power. Unfortunately, its base engine is also quite the drag, making the pricier turbo option the one to get. Although the cabin is superbly quiet, the ride quality feels too firm for this segment. To top it all off, the cargo area and rear seats are more limited on space than those in the Forester.
2022 Subaru Forester vs. 2022 Jeep Cherokee
While it too lacks cargo volume and has an underpowered base engine, the 2022 Jeep Cherokee delivers in many other aspects. Its available V6 and turbo engine options provide uninterrupted power to the wheels. The suspension remains smooth even when rolling over bumps and loose gravel. The 8.4-inch infotainment system is user-oriented and stacks up well against the one you get in the Forester. Also, the Cherokee offers the ever-popular Trailhawk trim level, which, like the Wilderness, is geared toward off-roading adventures.
With the addition of the new Wilderness trim level, the 2022 Subaru Forester inches close to being at the head of the small SUV pack. The only thing holding it back is the boring base engine. With a turbo engine equipped, the Forester might dominate the competition. But, for now, buyers have to settle for this one glaring flaw in an otherwise thoughtful and fun design.