2020 Subaru Forester S Hybrid (car review)

YOU don’t need to be a rocket scientist to recognise the Subaru badge and know you’ve ticked all the boxes when it comes to safety and comfort, and the 2020 Subaru Forester S Hybrid is no different.

With the Subaru Forester’s symmetrical all-wheel drive system, Eyesight driver assistance package, and 5-Star ANCAP safety rating, the mid-size SUV is perfectly priced in the middle of the segment at $45,990 plus on-roads.

Comparing the competition in this space will mean a Saturday out testing the Honda CRV, Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and the Toyota Rav4 Hybrid. You may also want to take a Mazda CX-5 for a test, just to round out the competition.

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Power output from the 2.0-Litre e-Boxer petrol engine is a conscientious 110kW at 6000rpm and 196Nm of torque at 4000rpm. The supplementary electric motor provides for an additional 12.3kW and 66Nm of torque.

With that said, the Forester S Hybrid weighs in at a stifling 1,691kg, just 90kg short of the last ever Australian built V8 powered Holden Commodore. The lithium-ion battery sits under the back seat which means, you guessed it, no spare wheel.

Power delivery is controlled through a silky smooth Lineartronic CVT transmission thanks to Subaru engineers, who have all but mastered the CVT software. Subaru claims 6.4-litres/100km, but the best we averaged was 8.5-litres/100km.

That kind of defeats the purpose of a hybrid. Fuel tank capacity is 48-litres. Ride comfort is excellent, as you’d expect from the family hauler, with the Forester riding on 225/55/18 Bridgestone rubber and sporting 220mm of ground clearance.

We’re not saying it’s ready to tackle heavy duty off-roading though, but trips to the snow or the beach with the camper trailer on the back will be a breeze. Braked towing capacity is limited to 1200kg (petrol variants get 1500kg to play with).

Inside, the Subaru Forester makes long distance trips a breeze, with an 8-way power adjustable drivers seat, leather appointed heated seats up front, dual zone climate control, and an 8.0-inch infotainment system, with Apple Carplay and Android Auto.

Satellite navigation is also standard, and there’s a second 6.3-inch horizontal information screen for extra details, nestled in the dash. Two USB ports can be found in the back for the kids along with two ISOFIX and three anchor child seat points.

The leather clad steering wheel feels solid and comfortable in the hand, with buttons to control just about everything within reach. The interior is ergonomically sound, with ample room in the front and second row for the growing family too.

The 60/40 split fold rear seats mean you can slide the skis in without a fuss and head south for the weekend. Boot space is ample, with 509-litres available with seats up, and 1779-litres with them laid down.

The Forester features Subaru’s Eyesight driver assist technologies, that provide three colour cameras, two of which are forward facing and look after crash avoidance, lane departure warning, and brake light detection, just to name a few.

Subaru have also integrated driver attention detection, autonomous high and low speed braking and adaptive cruise control. It remains one of the most clever features we’ve seen in recent times. We will preface that by saying the system doesn’t work in heavy fog.

There’s also adaptive LED headlights, and that third camera, we mentioned earlier, sits on the passenger side, and helps ensure your kerb parks are on point every time.

If you’re not a fan of the Hybrid power plant, Subaru offers a 2.5i-S petrol variant as well, sporting a horizontally opposed boxer engine producing a robust 136kW of power and 239Nm of torque.

It’s $3,000 cheaper, has a spare tyre and is only a little thirstier on claimed fuel usage figures at 7.4-litres/100km. All Subaru Forester models get a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty, with capped price servicing.

The Hybrid scores an 8-year/160,000km warranty on its high voltage battery.

So if you’re a young family, looking for a car that costs under $50,000 (plus on-roads), is economical, and is crammed with as much safety technology as possible, then it’s hard to go past the Forester S Hybrid.

There are eight exterior colour choices, including Crystal White Pearl, Jasper Green Metallic, Sepia Bronze Metallic, Magnetite Grey Metallic, Ice Silver Metallic, Crimson Red Pearl, Horizon Blue Pearl and Crystal Black Silica.

Our test vehicle was supplied by Subaru Australia. To find out more about the 2020 Subaru Forester S Hybrid, contact your local Subaru dealer.


Driving experience
Exterior styling
Interior look and feel
Technology and connectivity
Family friendliness
Value for money


Pros - drives like a car; very comfortable; exceptional safety features.
Cons - needs more power; lacks a seven seat option; no spare tyre.
Trevor Mirabito
Trevor Mirabito
Trevor Mirabito is the owner of Race Academy International and a race coach with Fastrack/V8 Race Experience. He is a lover of cars, both on and off the track, but has secretly completed thousands of laps of Wakefield Park Raceway, Sydney Motorsport Park and Mount Panorama combined.


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<strong>Pros -</strong> drives like a car; very comfortable; exceptional safety features.<br> <strong>Cons -</strong> needs more power; lacks a seven seat option; no spare tyre.2020 Subaru Forester S Hybrid (car review)