Above: Forest Hybrid Review
2020 Subaru FORESTER Hybrid Review
If FORESTER 2.5L is a capable car on road and off, then the Hybrid is no different.
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We have reviewed FORESTER many times. Here are those, and other Subaru stories:
- FORESTER in the snow (and local launch)
- XV Hybrid Video Review
- 2020 Impreza
- Impreza and Levorg in the snow
- Subaru and in Snow Part 2
- Forest Launch Review and Video
- Mild Hybrid Launch (AnyAuto)
- Mild Hybrid Review (anyauto)
FORESTER is handsome, in that uniquely Japanese way. Large light clusters include automatic LED headlights with high beam assist and LED DTRLs. Tail lights are big and bright, and are also LED. There are built in roof rails, and deep body carving to add a play of light under the doors and on the front and rear facades.
The lower body and wheel arches have black plastic trim. It slims the profile, and can be replaced if you wander too far off the beaten track. Better to scratch that than the duco.
There is ample 220mm ground clearance. FORESTER is 4625mm long, 1815mm wide, 1730mm high and has a wheelbase of 2670mm. Cargo volume is 509/1779L which is considerably more than the petrol models at 498/1768L. Wheels are 17” and 18” for L and S models respectively. There is no spare, only a puncture repair kit. Ground clearance is a respectable 220mm, with a towing capacity of 1,200kg and a towball limit of 120kg.
Since Subaru has sacrificed the spare tyre, the space is split between battery and space for the tyre repair gear. A puncture repair kit means taking FORESTER too far of the tarmac is a bit of a risk. A spare has long been part of Subaru ethos, so if you’re heading to your cosy, charismatic, country cottage high on a remote peak, put a spare on the roof.
The only hint of the hybrid drivetrain is a discrete Eboxer badge on the front guards and rear hatch. One doesn’t want to be too ostentatious.
All FORESTERs are entered via Smart Key entry, which also means push-button start. Leave the key in your pocket and let the car sense your presence. Once ensconced in the front pew, a clever identification system scans and welcomes the driver, and sets the profile accordingly. All very Big Brother.
Subaru covered the seats premium cloth or leather, with heating for the front. S gets power adjustment, with driver memory positions. Sadly, no lumber adjustment. S models add one-touch rear-seat folding (60/40 split for all models). Added to that roomy rear space, are reclining backrests. Knee room is about 10cm with 4×6’ occupants on board.
The dash has a similar sturdiness to it. The lines are complex, and the materials soft. Everything is where you expect it to be.
FORESTER Hybrid has two trim levels, Hybrid L, and Hybrid S.
You get DUAL ZONE climate control, and all the EYESIGHT safety features. Only the Premium and S FORESTERs have built in navigation. On all other FORESTERs, you can use Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and the maps contained therein.
This phone mirroring gives you full control via the 6.5” (8” touch screen, and there is voice control too. While in cell range, Siri will work by pressing the button. If you prefer radio, DAB/FM/AM stations can be stored as favourites.
There are readouts galore. Functions are cleverly split, and in some cases duplicated. Driver displays have twin dials, and a 4.2” MFD (multi-function display with digital Speedo). On the centre stack, another MFD is set high above the touch screen. Both of the MFDs are covered by deep visors to prevent nasty glare from the sun. Other surfaces are matte to stop the afternoon sun from blinding the driver. Only the touch screen and gear knob have shiny piano black. That’s a fashion I hope soon will pass.
You get 3X 12v sockets, a AUX socket, and a 2X USB jack (a further 2 in the rear), as well as a bin to rest your phone while plugged in. Make sure you use the correct USB if you want to connect to Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. Otherwise, the USB outlets are power only.
There are 4X cupholders (front console, rear armrest), large bin/bottle holders in all 4 doors, a cargo blind, and some neat hooks for bags and so forth.
On the Road:
Once in the saddle for a few hours, you really settle in for the long haul. FORESTER has supportive seats and the driving position is perfect. There is plenty of space to stretch out, and the rear passengers find more than enough room even with all occupants being adults.
The driver is the one who is really spoilt.
Although the FORESTER Hybrid L misses power adjustment, the driver can still lift the seat manually. It’s about the only exercise most of us get. The steering wheel adjusts for reach and height, and all controls fall easily to hand.
Driver aids and safety gizmos abound. EYESIGHT comes twin cameras. They work with radar and parking sensors to provide:
- Active lane control
- active cruise control
- active blind spot monitor
- AEB forward/reverse
- Brake light recognition
- Lane sway warning
- Lead vehicle alert
- Pre-collision braking/brake assist
- Pre-collision throttle management
- Rear cross traffic alert
- High beam assist
- Lane change assist
- Reversing camera
As well, there are 3 child anchor points and 2 ISOFIX points along with rear door child locks.
The ride is excellent. FORESTER has sophisticated suspension with stabiliser bars front and back. There are Macpherson struts up front and double wishbones at the back. If that means nothing to you, you’re not alone. You won’t notice it until you get in to tight bends.
The smooth ride morphs into sporty grip. FORESTER suddenly becomes that comfortable cruiser you’ve always wanted, minus the stupidly powerful engine. If that sounds like an oxymoron, you’re wrong.
Importantly, FORESTER can manage decent inclines, even in rubbish weather, X-Mode transforms grip, as seen in our video.
The Engine and Transmission:
Although FORESTER Hybrid only has 110kw/196Nm, the electric motor adds a further 12.3kw and 66Nm. Like all Subarus (except for BRZ) FORESTER Hybrid has Symmetrical AWD. The power gets to the wheels via a CVT automatic. Unlike traditional automatics, CVT has no gears. Under harsh acceleration, FORESTER Hybrid will simulate the gears you’d normally expect, with the added control of manual paddle shifters if that’s your thing.
All of this prevents the engine from revving as you stick you foot to the floor. Instead, the CVT acts like a normal automatic. That means most drivers will never be aware of what is happening under the bonnet.
As you get to cruising speed, or simply beetling about the town, revs go up and down to find the perfect match of performance and economy.
FORESTER Hybrid feels nippy, but not at the expense of bowser shock. There are slight fuel savings over the petrol-only models, 7.4L/100 vs 6.7L/100k and CO2 of 152g/km vs 168g/k may not sound like much, but it adds up. NOTE: Urban Cycle=9.3L/100k VS 7.5L/100k, a 19% saving.
Unlike other mild hybrids, FORESTER Hybrid will run for short periods in EV mode only, using just the electric motor as long as the batteries are charged up. You can follow this progress in the mesmerising display above the central touch screen.
And, that brings us to the most important point, you do not need to plug in to a socket. FORESTER Hybrid charges as you drive.
FORESTER Hybrid differs from full hybrids. The motor and batteries are much smaller than Prius for example. This is Subaru’s first foray into electrification, and while they might have preferred a full hybrid, this is still a good effort.
How Much Does a Subaru FORESTER Hybrid Battery Cost?
You don’t have to worry replacement cost for the warranty period. The 8 years/160,000km warranty protects owners, after which, $7,693 is the retail price for a new one. It’s worth noting that the battery usually outlasts the car.
Subaru technicians will assess the battery throughout the life cycle, but generally, less than 70% efficiency is the benchmark for warranty replacement.
EV batteries often find a second life as home energy storage rather than being recycled.
FORESTER Hybrid uses a platform that can take petrol, hybrid, or electric drive trains. It has the symmetrical AWD system Subaru is famous for. That alone puts it ahead of most other brands in the segment.
It comes with a 5 year warranty, 5 year/62,000km capped price servicing programme and 12 month roadside assistance. The latter should be 5 years, but you can’t have everything.
The batteries have a separate 8 year/160,000km warranty. With most electric cars, the batteries will outlast the car. Warranty usually kicks in if the batteries are at 70% or less efficiency, but check with you dealer when you have a service..
The important thing is you can drive this car just like any other car. You can go as far as the 48L petrol tank will get you, then you just fill up again.
Forester Range Pricing:- Model, Engine, power/torque, transmission, weight, Price
2.5i AWD Wagon Auto, 2.5L 136kW/239Nm, CVT, 1563kg $34,690
2.5i-L AWD Wagon Auto, 2.5L 136kW/239Nm, CVT, 1565 kg $36,940
2.5i Premium AWD Wagon Auto, 2.5L 136kW/239Nm, CVT, 1586 kg $39,940
2.5i-S AWD Wagon Auto, 2.5L 136kW/239Nm, CVT, 1617 kg $42,990
Hybrid L Hybrid 2.0 Petrol, 110kW/196Nm (Battery 12.3kw/66Nm), CVT, 1643kg, $39,990
Hybrid S Hybrid 2.0 Petrol, 110kW/196Nm (Battery 12.3kw/66Nm), CVT, 1682kg, $45,990
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