Subaru have entered the hybrid market in the form of the Forester mid-sized SUV range. It’s a hugely popular segment with a decent amount of choice but does the Forester Hybrid really make sense to buy.
Before we go too far there are two different hybrid models in the Forester range, the L and the S, both based of the non-hybrid models of the same trim levels. We tested the L hybrid but as a comparison the standard price for the L is $41,643 driveway while for the hybrid $44,783.
This price may not be a huge amount but when the trim levels are the same, all of the features are the same and the only add-on is the hybrid motor, the costs begin to not look like it is really justified.
The Forester Hybrid is powered by the e-Boxer that produces 110kW@6000rpm / 12.3kW (Electric motor) and 196Nm@4000rpm / 66Nm (Electric motor). Subaru say that this engine format can get to as low as 6.7 L/100km; I only wish that was true. It was closer to 7.2L/100km which is about what we got when we tested the non-hybrid model.
When hitting the road the Forester Hybrid is capable in urban and rural environments. From the open roads to the tight inner city or mountain stretch, the Forester Hybrid does it all in comfort.
The Forester Hybrid is the same design and basic layout and as an overall looking SUV it is nice on the eye. When you get inside there is some rather interesting features. It is a pleasant place to be and in typical Subaru fashion, there is an explosion of buttons on the dashboard and steering wheel.
A focus on styling and materials has ensured soft-touch materials along the dashboard and a nice and smooth cabin space in general.
Infotainment is an 8.0-inch colour LCD screen that features many apps. These include Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and DAB+, inbuilt satellite navigation and in the variant we were in an eight-speaker Harman/Kardon sound system with amplifier and subwoofer.
The new Driver Focus driver-monitoring system is something rather special in itself. It detects drowsiness and if you are looking away from the road for too long, but can also recognise the driver’s face and adjusts to your preferences when you sit in the driver’s seat, once you spend a few minutes setting it up. A rather neat little function if there is more than one person driving the car. It all happens faster than you can think about it and can remember up to five faces.
Subaru is known for their safety and the technology they add to their cars is always at the peak for the price range. The standard fitment of EyeSight across the range is a key step, as it will automatically detect potential collisions and bring the car to a full emergency stop at speeds up to 40km/h. The system continues to apply lesser degrees of braking intervention right up to 145km/h.
EyeSight also brings rear cross-traffic alerts, blind spot monitor, lane departure warning and lane change assist across the board, but the active safety list continues with the Vision Assist system.
Using a third camera mounted in the grille, Vision Assist brings a Front View Monitor (FVM) and Side View Monitor (SVM) collision warnings, Adaptive Driving Beam (ADB) auto high beams. Clever parking sensors in the rear bring Reverse Automatic Braking (RAB), which we’d describe as rear AEB.
These active safety features are backed up by dual front and side airbags, curtain airbags covering the front and rear, a driver’s knee bag, and stability control (or ESP).
Car and Bike News Opinion
The Subaru Forester Hybrid is a lot of car for a lot of money. It drives smooth and can handle a little bit of off-road use however you would want to be really carful when it comes to protecting the battery. It is not by any means a 4WD but if it is dirt or mud on a largely flat terrain, the Forester will do fine.
It has a lot of cool features inside and with the powertrain however the lack of fuel saving for the extra money, it seems more of a gimmick than a need. It is a hybrid and therefore should be saving fuel. It just does not do it enough to make the extra price worthwhile.
Give the company time and things will improve in this section of the auto world, but right now they have not hit the nail on the head just yet.