2025 Subaru Forester First Drive: This AWD SUV Appeals to My Homey, Outdoorsy Self

The 2025 Subaru Forester has great value, with modern interior updates, substantial cargo space, and a big gas tank to save you some trips to the pump.

Sara Lacey In The Subaru Forester
Sara Lacey in the Subaru Forester

Feeling Adventurous, Yet Down to Earth in the Subaru Forester

In recent years, I have become a bit of a homebody, but the new 2025 Subaru Forester can help me change that.

My kids are in college now, and while I know this is the opportunity to go out and see and do many things, I still enjoy the comforts of home. But last summer, when I ran out of shows to watch, I decided I needed to start getting out a bit more. I needed to knock the cobwebs off my indoor self.

What I have been reminded of since then is that it’s helpful to have a car that enables me to do fun stuff, and a perfect enabler is the 2025 Subaru Forester, which starts at $29,960. It has all-wheel drive, roof racks, 8.7 inches of ground clearance, and still has giant windows to show you the big world full of adventure all around you.

Related: Find Freedom With a 2024 Subaru Forester Wilderness

Subaru Forester
The Subaru Forester is a great off-road car. Photo: Sara Lacey

Montana is a Great Place to put the Forester to the Test

I drove the 2025 Subaru Forester on highways, roads, and narrow trails in Montana that had hills and turns and twists, and the car did great. I drove on dirt roads with snow, slush, and mud. We drove at a fancy resort, and we drove in a tiny town. The Subaru felt at home in every locale.

The 2025 Subaru Forester has an updated 2.5l engine that gets 180 horsepower. That engine is paired with a CVT. But wait, don’t leave. I feel like one of the first things I need to tell you about the 2025 Forester is that it has just the right amount of engine noise. It lets you know that you’re in a Subaru and where you are in the shifting cycle, but it does not yell at you. It’s a quiet ride; you can talk to your friends without shouting. That’s because Subaru also added some sound-deadening materials to keep the noise to a minimum.

Related: 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness Review: The Best Outdoor Companion

Subaru Forester
Rear view of the Subaru Forester. Photo: Sara Lacey

Fine Gas Mileage is Offset by a Big Tank

The stereo sounds good, and it does not compete with wind, engine, or road noise. The cabin is just so pleasing; it would be tempting to stick to being an indoor person inside Forester, enjoying the world from inside the car. But more on that in a minute. In the meantime, meditate on the notion that the Forester will get an estimated 26 miles per gallon in the city and 33 miles per gallon on the highway, making a combined estimated 29 mpg. While the fuel efficiency isn’t exceptional, the tank is the largest among its competitors at 16.6 gallons, so at least you’re going to the gas station a little less often, especially on road trips.

The engine itself provides a good amount of power and is responsive. Like any new car, you’ll need to adjust your driving style because you won’t rocket out of your seat, but the acceleration is consistent and responds immediately when you press your foot to the floor. You can get up some high-altitude highways, like if you’re going skiing in the Rockies. Premium trim level and up have X-Mode for tricky weather conditions, and the top trim has dual-mode X-Mode for more options for traction. So journeys to the mountains or off-roading through mud and snow or over some sandy terrain will be a piece of cake. I want to take the Forester fishing and camping, kayaking and hiking! My outdoor self all of a sudden wants to do it all.

Related: The 2025 Subaru Forester is Filled With Safety and Convenience

Subaru Forester.
The view from the driver’s seat in the Subaru Forester. Photo: Sara Lacey

How Much Does the 2025 Subaru Forester Cost, and What Do You Get?

The Forester’s base price is $29,960, which makes it easy to say yes to all kinds of other things. At that trim level, the Forester has many options, including a 7-inch touchscreen, 17” dark alloy wheels, Subaru’s EyeSight technology, which now has three cameras to detect pedestrians and cyclists, a back-up camera, adaptive cruise control with lane-centering, dual-zone climate control, and welcome lighting. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available via USB connection.

Subaru says its Premium trim is the best value, starting at $34,950. This trim adds a bunch more features to what’s already in the base Forester and switches out some others. Most notably, the Premium adds an 11.6-inch touchscreen, a panoramic moonroof, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and X-Mode, which is great for snow, mud, and sand. An additional package adds a power rear liftgate with foot activation and blind spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert for $1,200.

The Sport trim adds cool bronze wheels and accents. It actually has a bit more of a sleek look with shiny black and bronze accents and a brown-and-black interior. In addition, the Sport has special suspension tuning, paddle shifters, 19-inch wheels, and blind spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert. The Sport trim starts at $35,995. You can add a package for $1,700 with a premium sound system, power rear with foot activation, and reverse automatic braking.

The Limited trim starts at $35,595 and adds leather upholstery, a power rear gate with a foot activation sensor, a power passenger seat, and a heated steering wheel. It also has 18-inch wheels. An additional package costing $1,600 adds a premium sound system, navigation, and reverse automatic braking.

Lastly, the top Touring trim starts at $39,995. This trim adds 19-inch wheels, leather seating with ultrasound inserts, an upgraded stereo system, heated and ventilated front seats, heated outboard rear seats, a 2-position memory driver’s seat, a driver attention system, a 360-degree surround-view camera, a smart rear-view mirror, and reverse automatic braking.

Subaru Forester.
Beautiful interior details in the Subaru Forester. Photo: Sara Lacey

The Redone Forester’s Focus on the Inside Is a Big Win

The Forester’s exterior has been completely redone, but it looks very Forester-y. It’s a recognizable shape brought up to date by some more prominent fenders and some nifty trim options, like bronze wheels in some trims. The grille is now slatted and gives the front end a wider look. It looks like it belongs everywhere, on a golf course or by a lake for a picnic.

But, as I’ve already mentioned, it’s the interior of the 2025 Subaru Forester that really shines. On the exterior, the Forester has had a complete makeover, but it’s still recognizable as a Forester. The inside is a different story. Visual details, multiple types of upholstery and surfaces, and a new design all make the car feel crisp and clean. The mesh grille from previous generations of Forester is gone on the outside, but you can see it on the inside on the dashboard. I love the nod to this design staple and how the air vents, trim around the door pulls, and the gear shifter echo that hexagonal theme. There is a silver trim piece on the dash that makes the Forester feel more sophisticated than ever.

It’s worth springing for the Premium trim to get the 11.6-inch multimedia touchscreen. The icons are so crisp, clean, and easy to use. And just because they’re thoughtful, Subaru has kept climate control buttons on each side and a stereo knob for power and volume to keep the simple things accessible. Subaru also has added a third camera to its EyeSight pedestrian detection system, making it even safer than before.

2025 Subaru Forester
Front end of the 2025 Subaru Forester. Photo: Sara Lacey

The 2025 Subaru Forester Update is the One You’ve Been Waiting For

The culmination of all this work on the inside is highlighted by the full windows that make you feel like you’re on the observation deck of a train. While this isn’t a new feature (in fact, it’s kind of the hallmark of the Forester), I was reminded of how nice it is to see the world around you. The Premium trim I was test driving had a light interior and a moonroof, so I truly felt like I was moving through space in a bubble like Jane Jetson. I had such an easy time checking blind spots, and this is also due to the new seat setup in the Forester. The front seats are new and a little streamlined around the shoulder area, so it’s easy to turn to check blind spots, look into the rear seat to check on passengers or reach things on the floor of the back seat area.

To be clear, the car is definitely still a Forester. But it now has modern features combined with a modern look and a more upscale feel to make you feel good.

2025 Subaru Forester
2025 Subaru Forester rear seat. Photo: Sara Lacey

The Back Seat is Good, Too. Bring Your Gear!

Rear seat passengers have three sets of seat belts, three top tether anchors, and two lower tether anchors. The rear doors open almost ninety degrees, so getting in and out is easy; installing car seats should be easy, too, but I didn’t have one to test. The Forester has an abundance of head and leg room. Rear passengers have a USB-A charge port and a USB-C charge port. There are two cupholders in the fold-down armrest. The cargo area is ample and has a giant opening, so it’s easy to get your gear in and out. Also, there isn’t a ton of infringement into the cargo space by the wheel wells, so I can put all my coolers and luggage and tents and backpacks and ski gear back there without feeling like I need to be a master at Tetris. I think I’ll need to go on an adventure to test this space out more thoroughly. Of course, if you don’t feel like you have enough space inside, you can put skis, stand-up paddle boards, or kayaks on the top with your roof racks that come standard.

The Subaru Forester
The Subaru Forester is a great car for family trips – or solo ones. Photo: Sara Lacey

Reminder: 2025 Subaru Forester’s Distinctive, Capable Character is Affordable

The 2025 Subaru Forester was a delight. I will also remind you that it starts at just a touch below $30,000. Even the top trim starts just below $40,000. I’m pleased that the exterior brought some rugged sophistication, but the interior update is what this fan-favorite deserves. After all, if you’re taking your outside self, well, outside, then it’s wonderful that your inside self feels catered to, as well.

Disclosure: I was a guest of Subaru for this test drive. Travel and accommodations were provided but all opinions are my own. Additionally, A Girls Guide to Cars may earn a commission from affiliate links in this story.

Sara has written about cars since 2005. She used to beat them up with her kids and write about... More about Sara Lacey