For more than 45 years I have driven and reviewed a different new vehicle most weeks. There are lots of highlights, a few low ones and plenty of memories. I have driven hundreds, if not thousands, of four- or all-wheel drive vehicles.
One constant among all that change, is the security I feel when getting into a Subaru during the winter months.
Recently in the space between two of what appear to be weekly weekend storms, I spent some quality time with a 2022 Subaru Forester. During the first few minutes with a new vehicle, I can usually come up with an initial impression that sets the tone for the week.
As I belted in and pushed the Forester’s start button I found myself breathing a sigh of relief.
Another nor-easter was forecast for the coming days. A Subaru on a quartet of quality winter tires? Bring it on!
The Forester has received a mild makeover for the 2022 model year – a facelift – new bumper, grill and headlights up front, and a new bumper at the other end.
Inside you’ll find some minor trim changes including two-tone brown and black leather on the line-topping Premium trim and hand gesture control for the HVAC system.
Beneath the skin and of more importance, are updates to the all-wheel-drive system and the fourth generation of Subaru’s award-winning EyeSight safety system.
The interior is light and airy with lots of glass and low beltline. As a result, visibility is excellent in all directions.
There is plenty of headroom in both front and rear seats and storage provisions throughout. Access to the rear seat is aided by doors that open almost 90 degrees. This also would make dealing with a child seat in the rear a breeze.
Cargo space is plentiful and, here again, a wide opening is appreciated. With rear seats in place, there is 765 litres of space and with the folded down that climbs to almost 2,000 litres.
The infotainment system at this trim level includes a 20-cm touchscreen and navigation. A feature called “Driver Focus and Gesture Control” is standard on the top two trim levels. It monitors your face and advises if you take your eyes off the road longer than a set period of time.
To raise the cabin temperature slightly, hold an open hand in front of the screen. To lower it a couple of degrees show it a closed fist!
There are two USB outlets in both front and rear seating areas. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability are both standard as is onboard Wi-Fi via a 4G LTE data connection. The system itself is not among the quickest to respond.
Kudos to the latest versions of Subaru’s EyeSight system, introduced here on the new Forester.
Look above the rearview mirror and you’ll see the camera system at the core of this multi-function setup. This new version features a wider camera view, and offers automatic emergency steering, an electric brake booster, pre-collision braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-centring and lane keeping assist. All of these have been tweaked in this new EyeSight 4 system.
The Forester comes in seven trim levels: base ($29,495), Convenience ($33,095), Touring ($34,895), Sport ($36,295), Wilderness (new $38,995) Limited ($39,295) and Premier ($40,595).
2022 Subaru Forester – Powertrain
All utilize the same naturally-aspirated , horizontally-opposed, 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine producing 182 horsepower and 176 lb.ft. of torque. Power is distributed to all four wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission.
Performance is mid-pack at best with the engine emitting a unique rumble at idle and a growl under heavy throttle. Acceleration from rest to 100 km/hr takes a leisurely 8.2 seconds.
The CVT is one of the better ones on the market. Simulated gears help break up the sustained moan common to this type of transmission as the engine is held at its most efficient, and high-rev, range while the vehicle gains speed.
One of Subaru’s greatest strengths is suspension systems that appear to ignore bad roads.
A combination of lengthy wheel travel and exceptional shock and spring tuning affords the ability to all but ignore road imperfections like potholes and frost heaves. While primarily tuned for comfort, it does not shame itself in the turns.
If you wander off finished surfaces, the standard AWD system and good ground clearance combine to offer that feeling of invincibility I mentioned at the outset.
The updated X-mode system adjusts power delivery to each wheel for maximum grip. In addition to setting torque delivery to 50/50 front/rear, it controls power and braking to maintain a set speed. It reverts to standard drive mode above 40 km/h. There are two X-mode settings: deep snow/mud and snow/dirt.
Suffice it to say the Forester is capable of going where few owners will ever venture. On-road drive modes include Sport and Intelligent.
The Forester is a crossover without sporting intentions. Lots of bright airy space inside. A supple suspension and all-season/all-condition abilities are the frosting on this cake.
FACTS & FIGURES – 2022 Subaru Forester Premium (CVT)
As tested: $42,395 including freight
Steering responsive LED headlights with automatic high beams
Nine-speaker Harmon Kardon audio system, 20-cm touch screen infotainment system with satellite radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Starlink Connected Services (free three-year subscription)
GPS-based navigation system, power sliding sunroof, power liftgate with memory, 18-inch alloy wheels, heated tilt and telescope steering wheel, power/heated front seats, driver’s seat with memory, remote keyless entry, automatic dual zone climate control, power folding, heated mirrors, 18-in alloy wheels, power sliding sunroof, auto dimming mirrors
2.5-litre four-cylinder, 182 horsepower, 176 lb.-ft. of torque, regular fuel. Continuously variable automatic transmission, all-wheel-drive. NRCan rating (litres/100km city/highway): 9.0 / 7.2
Length, 4,640; mm; width, 1,815 mm; wheelbase, 2,670 mm; weight, 1,634 kg
Ford Bronco, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-5, Toyota RAV4, Volkswagen Tiguan