2023 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S (car review)

Calling adventure seekers with a taste for practicality, luxury, technology, and tradition. The 2023 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S is the SUV that will tick all your boxes, right down to its classic looks, proper all-wheel drive and boxer engine.

Walking up to the Forester for the first time, you’re met with the distinct and unmistakable presence it offers, with a strong, boxy front end and subtle curves in the bonnet. A set of stylish LED headlights and daytime running lights enhance the look.

These tie together with a black grille, with a cleverly placed camera hidden in there as well. Fog lamps are nestled into the bumper. Side on, large wheel arches house some good looking 18-inch alloy wheels. Roof rails are also included.

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You’ll notice a cleverly placed camera on the lefthand side too, but more on that later. The rear is all SUV, with a stylish spoiler, and powered tailgate. The taillights look a little sharp and lack subtlety though. The rear camera could also have been hidden better.

Inside, it’s night and day compared to the outside. If the exterior is all business, then the interior is all pleasure. The first thing you’ll notice is the ease of getting in and out of your leather-accented  8-way power adjustable front seats.

2023 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S
2023 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S

They’re great for shorter runs, but we found the lack of lumbar support cumbersome for the long hauls. The premium feel spreads beyond the seats though, with a leather steering wheel and gear shift. Suede trim coats the front dash, centre console, and arm rests.

Cup holders are perfectly placed in between the driver and passenger seats, and there’s a sunglass holder up top. While we’re there, a massive sunroof opens up the cabin to glorious sunshine, or starry nights.

Behind the steering wheel lays a traditional speedometer and tachometer. In between the two is an information screen. Pan to the centre of the dash and you’ll find two additional screens – the main 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system and a smaller one above it.

The latter is a 6.3-inch multi-information display which allows you to toggle between multiple views of what’s happening with the Forester. Everything from a compass to views from the front, side, or rear cameras is on offer.

This fantastic second screen (or third if you count the one in the instrument cluster) also monitors your fuel economy. Climate controls sit beneath the main screen, with a mobile device bay below that. It’s a little tight to fit in a larger phone, but you can make it work.

Inside the 2023 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S

You’ll find two USB-A ports in there (there’s two more in the second row), where you can plug in to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. There’s no wireless version, and no USB-C ports either. The Forester does offer amazing sound though.

The 2023 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S comes with an 8-speaker Harman Kardon setup, which also features a subwoofer and amp. Your tunes will sound amazing, and bass is truly special. You definitely won’t be disappointed if you buy one.

Bluetooth ensures you can utilise your favourite streaming apps, or tune into AM/FM, DAB+, or even use the single CD player. Yes there really is one, and it’s awesome to see Subaru keeping it real.

There’s a decent amount of rear leg and head room too, and storage space in the boot is mighty, with 498-litres of space, or 1,060-litres with rear seats folded. On the safety front, the Forester comes with Subaru’s EyeSight driver assist system.

Some of the highlights include adaptive cruise control, lane centring function, lane departure prevention, and pre-collusion brake assist. In addition to this, you also get facial recognition based driver monitoring.

front seats
Inside the 2023 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S

It will remember a whole bunch of things for individual drivers, including side mirrors adjustments, seat adjustment, last used climate setting, and your distraction warning preferences.

The latter can be somewhat annoying, as it’s overenthusiastic when notifying the driver that they’ve taken their eyes off the road, even for practical reasons, such as looking over your shoulder before switching lanes.

In saying that, it’s a great step in the right direction for convenience and safety. There’s a bunch of airbags too, along with three tether anchor points for the kidlets, as well as two ISOFIX points. The Subaru Forester 2.5i-S has a 5-star ANCAP safety rating.

Under the hood is a 2.5-litre direct injected horizontally opposed Boxer 4-cylinder petrol engine, paired to an automatic 7-speed Lineartronic CVT gearbox. This generates up to 136kW of power, and 239Nm of torque.

Fuel consumption is rated at 7.4-litres/100km by Subaru; a figure we matched in real world testing. Now for the drive. We packed our bags and headed north from Sydney, with Coffs Harbour and then Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, our destinations.

rear seats
Inside the 2023 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S

The highway driving experience was superb. Adaptive cruise control with lane keep assist made it easy, punching up large hills without much trouble, and never making a fuss when it came time to overtake.

Another nice feature is activated when you need to stop for snacks or food. Subaru’s side view monitor uses a camera in the left hand mirror to show vision of the car’s front wheel, the gutter, or a parallel vehicle, on that smaller second screen in the second console.

In Queensland, we found ourselves on an unsealed road, and muddy parking lot at the Woodford Folk Festival. Thanks to Subaru’s symmetrical all-wheel drive, we never once lost traction, traversing a steep hill on a gravel road without an issue.

Likewise, it handled escaping heavy mud without an issue. Its 220mm ground clearance also ensured we never risked bottoming out; making it the best car to be in on our Aussie summer adventure.

Overall, we found the 2023 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S an adventurer’s dream, with great technology inclusions, and good fuel economy. We recommend checking it out on the Subaru Australia website.

Inside the 2023 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S

You can get yours in colours such as Autumn Green Metallic, Brilliant Bronze Metallic, Magnetite Grey Metallic, Ice Silver Metallic, Crystal Black Silica, Cascade Green Silica, Horizon Blue Pearl, Crystal White Pearl, and Crimson Red Pearl.

You can pick one up for $51,429 drive away or thereabouts, depending on whether you add any optional extras. There’s also a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty, so if you’re keen on one, and need finance, talk to CreditOne.

Our test vehicle was provided by Subaru Australia. To find out more about the 2023 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S, talk to your local Subaru dealer.


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


Pros – premium iinterior; off-road ready; technology packed.
Cons – missing lumbar support; older USB connectivity; driver attention assist.
Sabih Dean
Sabih Dean
Driving is one of my favourite pastimes. How much I enjoy it depends on the power, comfort, luxury, and panache of the car I’m in. It makes all the difference.


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<strong>Pros –</strong> premium iinterior; off-road ready; technology packed.<br> <strong>Cons –</strong> missing lumbar support; older USB connectivity; driver attention assist.2023 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S (car review)