Widely known as an adventurer’s wagon, the Subaru Forester is an extremely popular model for the kayaker, climber, rafter, or mountain biker.

2022 brings a slight refresh, with a new model (the Forester X Sport), some design changes with a revised front end, as well as improvements to Subaru’s Eyesight technology, suspension changes, and improvements in the X-Mode system for off-roading, among other things.

Can a minor model refresh and a new model keep buyers interested, in what is the busiest segment for new car sales?

What We Like and Dislike About The 2022 Subaru Forester Premium

What we likeWhat we don’t like
Light interior
Interior space front and rear
Off-road ability
Ride quality
Equipment levels
Relatively refined
Peppy performance
Not that much has changed
Lots of beeping

What’s In The 2022 Subaru Forester Range?

With the addition of the X Sport, you now get to pick from five Forester models:

  • Forester $42,990
  • Forester X Sport $47,990
  • Forester Premium $52,990
  • Forester e-Boxer hybrid $47,990
  • Forester Premium e-Boxer Hybrid $54,990

The non-hybrid models powered by a 2.5-litre, four-cylinder, petrol-boxer motor, with the hybrids running a 2.0-litre boxer-four. The 2.5-litre motor manages 136kW of power and 239Nm of torque, while the hybrid does 110kW and 196Nm, plus another 12.3kW for the electric motor and an additional 66Nm of torque. The e-Boxer Hybrid has the same equipment specifications as the base Forester. You can read our review of the e-Boxer here.

While the gearbox is a Constantly Variable Transmission (CVT), Subaru does list gear ratios up to an effective 7th gear. All models are all-wheel-drive (AWD) and all use 91 octane petrol.

2022 Subaru Forester Standard Equipment 

The base model is well fitted out, including a good range of safety features. Standard equipment includes:

  • Paddle shifters
  • X-Mode with Hill Descent Function
  • EyeSight technology including 
    • pre-collision braking
    • Driver alerts
    • Adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist
    • Lane Departure Warning
    • Lane Centering
    • Blind Spot Detection
    • Electronic Park Brake
    • Hill-start assist
    • Auto Vehicle Hold
    • 7 Airbags 
  • 17” Alloy Wheels
  • Auto Lights and Wipers
  • Electric Lock/Unlock Fuel lid 
  • Steering Responsive Headlights
  • LED Day Time Running Lights
  • Speed Limiter
  • Smart Key & Push Button Start
  • Heated door mirrors
  • Front fog lights
  • Daytime Running Lights
  • Dual-zone AC
  • 8” Touch Screen
  • Apple CarPlay & Android Auto
  • Tyre pressure monitoring
  • Multi-Function Display
  • Cloth Upholstery

The Forester X Sport adds:

  • Driver Monitoring System with Facial Recognition Technology
  • Satellite Navigation
  • Reverse Automatic Braking
  • Power Rear Tailgate
  • 8-way Power Driver’s Seat with Two
  • Position Memory
  • Automatic Folding Door Mirrors
  • Reverse Synchronized Door mirror (passenger side)
  • Front and Side View Monitors
  • Sunroof
  • Heated front seats
  • SI Drive – drive mode
  • X-Mode Dual Function – Deep snow/mud
  • Air conditioning hand gesture control

Exclusive features to the X Sport include:

  • 18” Black Alloy Wheels
  • Orange interior accents
  • Orange exterior trims (front, side, rear and tie-down points)
  • Water repellent seat fabric with orange stitching
  • Black front grille, door mirrors, rear garnish and driving light surrounds

Moving up to the Premium models, these then add:

  • Leather Upholstery
  • Harman Kardon Audio
  • Silver Door Mirrors
  • Silver Lower Body Trim
  • Roof Rail – Silver Tie-Down Points
  • LED Fog Lamps
  • Alloy Pedals
  • SI Drive – drive mode
  • 18” alloy wheels

Our test car had no optional extras. 

There are some new colour options to pick from for 2022; Autumn Green, Brilliant Bronze and Cascade Green. These are not available on the X Sport version.

For a full list of specs and options available for the 2022 Subaru Forester Premium, head on over to the Subaru New Zealand website.

How Does The 2022 Subaru Forester Premium Compare To Its Competition?

Well, we did say it was a strong market segment. So many choices here.

capacity, litres
Skoda Karoq Sportline TSi AWD2.0-litre, 4-cylinder turbo-petrol140/3205217.6$55,590
Volkswagen Tiguan TSi Style AWD2.0-litre, 4-cylinder turbo-petrol132/3206158.6$59,990
Hyundai Tucson 1.6 Active AWD1.6-litre, 4-cylinder petrol132/2656206.9$57,990
Subaru Forester Premium AWD2.5-litre, 4-cylinder petrol136/2394987.4$52,990
Renault Koleos Intens AWD2.5-litre, 4-cylinder126/2264588.3$52,990
Ford Escape ST Line AWD2.0-litre, 4-cylinder turbo-petrol183/3875568.6$50,990
Peugeot 3008 Allure FWD1.6-litre, 3-cylinder petrol turbo121/2405207.0$49,990
Mazda CX-5 GSX AWD2.5-litre, 4-cylinder petrol140/2524557.4$46,895
Mitsubishi Eclipse VRX AWD1.5-litre, 4-cylinder turbo petrol112/2544057.7$43,990
Toyota RAV4 GXL AWD2.5-litre, 4-cylinder petrol152/2435427.7$43,990
Nissan Qashqai Ti FWD?2.0-litre, 4-cylinder petrol106/2004306.9$42,990
MG HS Essence AWD2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo-petrol168/3604639.5$45,990
Honda CR-V Sport Premium AWD1.5-litre, 4-cylinder turbo-petrol140/2405227.4$43,990
Haval Jolion Lux FWD1.5-litre, 4-cylinder turbo-petrol110/220NA8.1$33,990

First Impressions Of The 2022 Subaru Forester Premium

I think the saying is, “the same, but different”. The front is the obvious change to the car. It’s certainly a lot sharper, and more easily identifiable as a Forester. It’s almost unique, moving the car away from other current design trends.

The rest of the car is pretty much the same, and this may be Subaru’s biggest struggle if they want to move owners out of the last generation and into this new model.

While there are some stunning new colours available like Autumn Green and Brilliant Bronze, Subaru sent us a white Forester Premium, due to a lack of supply.

What’s The Interior Like In The 2022 Subaru Forester Premium?

New for 2022, the Premium model now has platinum-coloured trim on doors and dash. I was a bit dubious about this, especially platinum inside a car? But no fear, it looks good and helps to break up the mix of black and beige inside. The interior on the new Forester is pretty busy, with so many angles and different textures, especially on the dash. While we are never fans of flat, black, hard plastic everywhere, the Forester Premium goes to the other extreme and has a multitude of fabrics and plastics. It’s not bad, but it looks very busy.

The doors too are finished in a lot of different colours and materials, thankfully with some nice soft materials used where your fingers touch. The glove box on the Forester is not huge, but it’s usable. Inside the glovebox is the folder for all the owner’s manuals, and it was nicely finished in a felt; something a bit different.

One benefit the Forester can offer over its competitors is the airiness of the cabin. With massive side windows, beige headlining and pillars and that huge sunroof, the whole interior is a nice, light place to spend time. I expect a lot of families will appreciate this when they have children that get car sick. There’s never a feeling of being cramped inside the Forester Premium.

That feeling of spaciousness is real, with plenty of room up front, and rear legroom is outstanding. This does translate to it being a bigger car, and you can feel its size while driving around a city.

That electric sunroof is sliding only, so not a tilt-slide unit, and has a manual blind. There are alloy pedals and footrest in this model (great for those muddy gumboots), while front-seat passengers have access to USB & AUX ports as well as a 12-volt socket in the centre cubby. There are also two 2.1-amp USB sockets in the rear, each grunty enough to charge a tablet.

The boot is spacious at 498 litres and has remote seat release buttons, a 12-volt socket, 4 hooks for bags to hang on, and a bass speaker for the Harman Kardon sound system. Under the floor sees that welcome and traditional Subaru feature, the full-size alloy spare. Long may it stay that way.

Overall, it’s top marks for the interior of the 2022 Subaru Forester.

What’s The 2022 Subaru Forester Premium Like To Drive?

First things first; hook up my phone. This can be a make-or-break moment in a car review. Thankfully, it only took 30 seconds on the Forester. 

First impressions of the car from there was – surprisingly – performance. It’s very peppy and eager off the mark, to the point where it almost feels too touchy. It took me a few days to get used to this, where I would gently tap the gas pedal to get away from the lights smoothly.

While the engine is unchanged, I didn’t remember it being so lively, even when fitted with a CVT gearbox. The engine can get a bit vocal, especially above 4,000rpm, but it doesn’t really intrude too much. Overall, it’s quiet and has enough power for the day-to-day drive. It was interesting to read that I found the hybrid version a bit “lethargic at times”, as I didn’t get that all from the 2.5-litre motor.

It’s no secret we’re not fans of a CVT transmission here at DriveLife; CVT flaring is not a pleasant experience and is most definitely the worst aspect of any CVT. The Forester does okay in this regard; it has a 7-speed stepped mode, so it can feel like it’s selecting a gear at times. Full throttle acceleration up to 100km/h will see just the one ‘gear change’, but it’s something. But still, there is a lot of CVT flaring to get to 100km/h if you max out the gas pedal.

But most drivers won’t be doing this on a regular basis, and on talking to a couple of current-gen Forester owners, they don’t even notice the CVT. I do like that Subaru has stuck with a good old shifter to select a gear. With so many manufacturers turning to rotary dials or other fancy ways of picking a gear, it was good to use a floor-mounted transmission selector. As usual, you shift it sideways for manual mode, and there are also paddles to use if you wish. Downhill, using the paddles with see some vague resemblance of engine braking, but don’t get your hopes up.

The Premium model has the extra drive mode of ‘SI’, which you choose from the steering wheel. While it does make the car pick up just that little bit better, I rarely used it. Lots of engine noise and not that much more performance, it didn’t seem worthwhile.

One outstanding accomplishment on the new 2022 Subaru Forester is the ride quality. Work has been done on the suspension, and the car simply glides along. The outgoing model certainly wasn’t bad in this department, but the changes to the suspension have really paid off in the ride quality of this car.

I had a couple of different aspects to my drive in the Forester Premium. The first was taking my photos, heading around to Red Rocks on Wellington’s southern coastline. While this isn’t a hugely difficult track for offroading, the Forester did extremely well. That 220mm of ground clearance meant that the car did not bottom out once, or even touch anything at all on the track under the car. That smooth ride helped things along too, and more than once the car went into Hill Descent Control (HDC) all on its own. It caught me out the first time, but selecting any of the X modes will engage automatic HDC. 

Simply drive up a hill and as soon as you take your foot off the gas on the way down, HDC will kick in all on its own. It’s a great feature. The Forester was a pleasure to drive offroad, and even in the loose shingle, didn’t raise a sweat. There are the same two options for X Mode: Deep Snow/Mud, and Snow/Dirt.

My second trip was across to Masterton, naturally going over the windy Remutaka Hill. I wasn’t expecting much from a car with such a smooth ride and wasn’t surprised. The Forester isn’t made to handle flatly, and so does lean quite a bit if you push it too hard. Even with AWD, you can feel it understeering a reasonable amount, and my trip over the hill was in damp conditions; the car did let go on me more than once. But I was pushing it hard to see how it would go and it’s unlikely many owners would do that. There were no surprises and it did how I thought it would do.

On the long, straight Wairarapa roads to Masterton, it’s all very quiet, smooth and refined. In fact, refinement was one of my key takeaways for this model. It does most things very well, and is extremely easy to live with. Those huge windows, the amount of room and the sheer ease of driving the car points it as easily being the only car you would need, if you could only have one.

The car’s interior is almost unchanged from last year’s model, save for the platinum finishes in the Premium model and an apparent change of dashboard somehow, that I couldn’t pick up on. So it still has the two displays in the centre of the car, which is quite handy. The higher one can scroll through any of 9 different screens, such as date/time, assist systems, SatNav, and adaptive cruise control. In fact, new to this year is steering assist and a nice touch is that when you have the centre-top screen showing the adaptive cruise control function, the graphic of the steering wheel turns, as the physical steering wheel turns. Simple, but it’s a cool touch.

The lower-centre display is a touch-screen and handles media, phone, AC etc. The touch system can be slightly laggy, but nowhere near as bad as some. The resolution is good too, with nice, crisp graphics.

Speaking of adaptive cruise control, Subaru has done nothing to remove the consistent beeping that the car makes when using cruise control. Every time a car comes into your lane or you approach one under adaptive cruise, you get a beep. Car turning off and away from you? Beep. So many beeps, and there’s no way of turning it off in the menus. On the positive side of things, adaptive cruise control will bring you to a stop, so bonus points there.

There are lots of other beeps too, and these are tied in with the LED lights that project up onto the windscreen. Green is all good, orange is a warning and red lights means an impending crash. They are generally reliable, although I could always pick the same spot on a particular road where I would get loud beeps and flashing red lights telling me I was about to crash – but I wasn’t. It’d be nice if drivers had some options to turn these down in volume or off altogether, but I expect it helps the Forester with its 5-star ANCAP rating.

It feels like I’m picking holes in the Forester, but honestly, I did enjoy my time in the car. But the traffic sign recognition is unreliable. I think more often than not, it was wrong. I’d pass a very obvious sign showing a change in the speed limit, and the cameras would not pick it up. It was on par with the Tesla Long Range that we tested in January. Hopefully, Subaru can improve on this in the next update on the car.

There are certain items in the new Forester that really help in the day-to-day drive. I love that the sun visors have sliding extensions, so if you can’t quite block out the sun, just slide the extension out and bingo! So much safer. The steering responsive headlights (SRH) are standard on every model – yes, even the base model – and full credit to Subaru for adding this. They are effective too, turning with the bends and lighting up corners as you approach them. If you don’t like them, there’s a button on the right-hand side of the steering wheel that allows you to turn them off.

All models of Forester are also fitted with two-stage heated front seats, another appreciated touch. They’re quick to warm the butt too, and with a cold snap hitting Wellington while I had the car, I used them all the time. Interesting that the car has no lumbar adjust in the seats at all, but seat comfort was never an issue for me. They seem to be in that Goldilocks range of not too hard, and not too soft. Just right, you could say.

New for 2022 for the Forester is gesture-controlled air conditioning. You can raise or lower the temperature by using hand gestures up high above the centre console. To raise the temperature, move your left hand up high and palm out with fingers open, and wait for a beep. The beep means it’s worked. I had some success with this and with practice, got it to work 75% of the time. I’m thinking there’s a slight issue with lowering the temperature, as it requires you to stick your fist up high, and wait for the beep. I can just picture a gang member coming in the opposite direction and you sticking your fist high up in the air. Not a good look. Naturally, you can still use the aircon dials on the dash to do the same thing. That might be safer.

While I had the Forester, Rob from DriveLife was testing out the 2022 Skoda Kodiaq Sportline – so we decided to switch cars for a weekend. After all, these are two mid-size AWD SUVs, and both specced to about the same level, so this should be a fair (if brief) comparison. Sure, the Kodiaq is a 7 seater but otherwise, these two are very close.

Well, other than price. The Kodiaq is some $12K more than the Forester. Is it worth it? If I’m being honest, no. I do love the Kodiaq overall – it’s a great drive (except for the DSG gearbox being jerky at low speeds), it’s finished beautifully and ticks lots of boxes for me. But the Forester has all that too, and for $12K less. If I was in the market for such a car, I’d be struggling to justify the Kodiaq over the Forester unless I absolutely needed 7 seats.

While Subaru suggests a combined rating for fuel economy of 7.4L/100Km, over 700Km I managed to use 8.3L/100Km. Still, that figure for a 2.5-litre car is very good. In comparison, when I reviewed the hybrid it used 7.8L/100Km, so the non-hybrid uses 0.5L/100Km more fuel in real-world testing.

Rob’s View Of The 2022 Subaru Forester Premium

Having just covered over 1,000km in the Skoda Kodiaq, it was hard to look at the Forester without comparing the two cars. As Fred said they’re comparable in spec but the Forester is quite a bit cheaper. The Forester’s seats immediately felt more comfortable, and the interior, whilst seeming a little fussy at first with its three screens, quickly made sense.

After the Skoda, I found the handling a little vague, and the engine a little noisy, especially at the top end of the rev range. But other than that it was a really usable, spacious, comfortable and well-specced family car. Adding to that its excellent value for money, I think Subaru have a winner here.

2022 Subaru Forester Premium – Specifications

Vehicle Type5-door medium SUV
Starting Price$52,990
Price as Tested$52,990
EngineDOHC, Horizontally-opposed Boxer 4-cylinder, petrol engine
Power, Torque
TransmissionCVT with stepped mode
Spare WheelFull-size alloy spare
Kerb Weight, Kg1,643
Length x Width x Height
Cargo Capacity,
(seats up/seats down)
Fuel tank capacity,
Fuel Economy,
Advertised Spec – Combined – 7.4
Real-World Test – Combined – 8.3
Low Usage: 0-6 / Medium Usage 6-12 / High Usage 12+
Towing Capacity
Kg, unbraked/braked
Turning circle
Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+
Warranty3-year/100,000Km Warranty
Safety informationANCAP Rating – 5 stars – Link
Rightcar.govt.nz – 5 Stars – NTH901

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Fred Alvrez
How on earth to start this? I've been car/bike/truck crazy since I was a teen. Like John, I had the obligatory Countach poster on the wall. I guess I'm more officially into classic and muscle cars than anything else - I currently have a '65 Sunbeam Tiger that left the factory the same day as I left the hospital as a newborn with my mother. How could I not buy that car? In 2016 my wife and I drove across the USA in a brand-new Dodge Challenger, and then shipped it home. You can read more on www.usa2nz.co.nz. We did this again in 2019 in a 1990 Chev Corvette - you can read about that trip on DriveLife. I'm a driving instructor and an Observer for the Institute of Advanced Motorists - trying to do my bit to make our roads safer.
2022-subaru-forester-premium-car-review<!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>The 2022 Subaru Forester Premium is a very good car, bordering on excellent. While the improvements have not been major, the things that Subaru has changed have definitely improved the car. The ride quality was a standout for me, for example.</p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>But again, I’m not convinced there’s enough to move buyers from the existing model.</p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --> <!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>The overall verdict is that the car is even more capable than before, and I expect that any Forester buyer would be happy with their purchase.</p> <!-- /wp:paragraph -->


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