2015 Subaru Forester Review

by under Review on 18 Mar 2015 08:11:13 PM18 Mar 2015
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2015 SUBARU FORESTER
Price Range
$34,690 - $45,990
Fuel Consumption
6.7L - 7.4L/100km
4RATING
PROS

Nicely matched turbo-diesel and excellent CVT auto; hallmark Subaru quality; spacious and practical inside.

CONS

Styling may not be everyone’s cup of tea

Smiles all-round at Subaru with the just-launched mid-life update for the record-breaking Forester SUV wagon now adding an automatic transmission for diesel-powered models and even better value thanks to extra features and prices sharpened by up to 8.2 per-cent (starting from $29,990).Now the excellent Forester has the range to take-on the likes of Ford Kuga, Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-5 and Toyota RAV4 in a fair fight for sales.

2015 SUBARU FORESTER 4D WAGON

According to Subaru Australia boss Nick Senior: “20 per-cent of medium SUV sales in 2014 were diesel automatics and we didn’t have one.” And in a pointed message to rivals he added: “Now we’ve come to play and we’re looking to boost Forester sales to at least 14,000 per year.”

Of course the updated Forester again boasts the undoubted quality obvious in every Subaru – with the Tribeca now axed - every Subaru sold in Australia is made in quality-obsessed Japan. As well, don’t forget a full-size spare wheel is standard (a claim many rivals can’t make) and Subaru’s renowned all-wheel-drive technology.

Subaru Forester Overview

If you think you’ve nailed us on a technicality and the 2015 Subaru Forester’s $29,990 is unchanged from the superseded model…well you’d be wrong. The previous entry-grade Subaru Forester 2.0i is gone and that $29,990 sticker is actually for the 2.0i-L (manual) which was previously the mid-grade variant.

In fact every model sees a price reduction of up to 8.2 per-cent on top of the previous $1,000 cut which resulted from the Japan Free Trade Agreement.

2015 SUBARU FORESTER 4D WAGON

But there’s more to the updated 2015 Subaru Forester besides those two turbo-diesel automatics. There’s also improvements to the ‘Boxer’ turbo-diesel engine (still the world’s only horizontally-opposed turbo-diesel), an all-new infotainment system, upgraded interior and refined Lineartronic CVT automatic transmission.

Subaru ‘Anoraks’ will also notice the ‘Shark Fin’ radio antenna which is standard across the range. 

The full lineup looks like this:

Variant Price Change
Subaru Forester 2.0i-L manual $29,990 (-7.7%)
Subaru Forester 2.5i-L automatic $32,990 (-5.7%)
Subaru Forester 2.5i-S automatic $39,490 (-8.1%)
Subaru Forester 2.0D-L manual $33,490 (-8.2%)
Subaru Forester 2.0D-L automatic $35,490 (new model)
Subaru Forester 2.0D-S manual $39,490 (-8.1%)
Subaru Forester 2.0D-S automatic $42,490 (new model)
Subaru Forester 2.0 XT automatic $40,990 (-3.5%)
Subaru Forester 2.0 XT Premium auto $47,990 (-3.0%)

Subaru Forester Engine

Lots of changes for Subaru Forester’s 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine. As well as increased refinement, the focus was on achieving EURO6 compliance for emissions and fuel consumption.

For example the volume of the piston crowns was increased and the compression ratio dropped to 15.2:1. There’s also new open deck cylinder bores and the fourth-generation common rail direction system uses new generation injectors with more precise control.

So we now have 108kW of power at 3600rpm and peak torque of 350Nm from 1600-24500rpm. Combined-cycle fuel consumption is rated at 8.5l/100kms.

2015 SUBARU FORESTER 4D WAGON

No changes for the petrol engines – a 110kW/198Nm naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre for 2.0i-L, a 126kW/235Nm naturally-aspirated 2.5-litre for 2.5i-L and 2.5i-S and a 177kW/350Nm turbocharged 2.0-litre for XT and XT Premium.

Drive is to all four wheels via a six-speed manual transmission (2.0i-L or 2.0D models) or Subaru’s excellent seven-step CVT automatic. For the 2015 update the CVT adds a new TCU (Transmission Control Unit) and its own oil cooler.

Subaru Forester The Interior

Right off the bat we liked the interior of the latest Subaru Forester – lots of space, nice quality materials and usual Subaru functionality. That said, there’s no doubt the detail changes included in this mid-life update have improved things again.

Headline act is the all-new infotainment system standard across the range which brings lots of functions including speech recognition and Pandora connectivity. It’s a seven-inch screen and range-topping 2.0D Premium, 2.0i-S and XT Premium add factory-fit satellite navigation (an aftermarket system is an option on other models).

2015 SUBARU FORESTER 4D WAGON2015 SUBARU FORESTER 4D WAGON2015 SUBARU FORESTER 4D WAGON

Elsewhere there are lots of detail changes – a more integrated look for the instrument panel including that infotainment screen, some silver/piano black highlights, new steering wheel switches and revised trim materials.

Audio is a six-speaker system for all but the XT Premium which scores an eight-speaker Harman Kardon set-up.

But for us, the standout for Subaru Forester’s interior remains rear seat space – it’s massive and definitely family-friendly.

Subaru Forester Exterior & Styling

Nothing has changed outside except a new exterior colour, ‘Crystal White Pearl’, has been added bringing the total palette to eight. Subaru is a rarity in not charging extra for metallic paint colours.

You get 18-inch alloy wheels on Subaru Forester 2.0D-L, 2.0D-S, XT and XT Premium and 17-inch alloy wheels for the rest.

2015 SUBARU FORESTER 4D WAGON

Beyond a shadow of doubt this is the best-looking Subaru Forester yet. Sure it’s evolutionary of the styling theme but the new model has totally lost the ‘awkwardness’ of the previous generation and we think it looks great – although some of colleagues aren’t on the same page there.

Subaru Forester On the Road

During a full day on the roads from Hobart to Launceston in Tasmania, www.carshowroom.com.au put both of the new Subaru Forester diesel automatics through their paces. A good mixture of various sealed roads and some loose gravel gave us a good insight into the mid-size SUV’s potential.

First things first a big green tick for Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT automatic transmission. It operates like a conventional CVT during light throttle applications, but push the gas pedal beyond 65 per-cent in a hurry and it switches to a seven-step format with discernible gear changes.

2015 SUBARU FORESTER 4D WAGON

For us, this is the best CVT on the market. And it’s been improved as part of this mid-life update – now even more refined in operation.

As we know, Subaru’s 2.0-litre turbo-diesel is excellent – plenty of torque on demand and impressively quite at all speeds. The latest version is even better than we recall from our previous tests.

Ride and handling? Well it’s just as we remembered.

2015 SUBARU FORESTER 4D WAGON

The combination of the MacPherson strut front/double wishbone independent rear is nicely calibrated and works with Subaru’s outstanding all-wheel-drive technology to deliver a sure-footed and refined experience. Extra rubber courtesy of the 18-inch alloy wheels on the 2.0D-S model was appreciated over the twists and curves of the sealed roads. 

Same thing on the dirt sections with the latest Forester exhibiting the poise and planted feel you get with all Subarus. Of course at the very limit there was controllable understeer.

Subaru Forester Issues

A very slick mid-life update for the Subaru Forester. We’re not deducting points for anything.

Subaru Forester The Competition

The Ford Kuga remains a Car Showroom Favourite in this league. While it isn’t the newest design on the street, the Kuga too has just been updated. It doesn’t match the Subaru Forester for rear seat leg-room but is equal best for driving dynamics.

Sharing the driving dynamics honours is the hot-selling Mazda CX-5. And guess what? Yep the CX-5 has just been updated too with a new interior boasting a nice centre screen. Also out-gunned by the Subaru Forester for rear seat leg-room, the CX-5 showcases Mazda’s brilliant SkyActiv technology and is a great steer.

And of course there is the venerable Toyota RAV4. More ‘SUV’ than the Subaru Forester is ‘Wagon’, the RAV, like the Kuga and CX-5, doesn’t match the Forester for space in the rear but would be a consideration if you are considering some tougher off-road action. 

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