Subaru Forester 2022 Hybrid L Review

The Forester has long been a mainstay of the SUV market, and this version is no exception.

For nearly 25 years, the Forester has been a dependable SUV staple, and this version is no exception. Although it has received a facelift, the car's soul remains unchanged. A safe family vehicle with enough convenience features to satisfy the majority of buyers.

Hybrid vehicles, on the other hand, are the new frontier, and it's time to see if the Forester can compete in this growing segment.

Subaru's Forester Hybrid L is the entry-level model for the company's largest hybrid SUV. It's all-wheel drive, like all Foresters, and it competes with hybrid SUVs like the Toyota RAV4 and Haval H6.

But, in order to achieve good fuel economy, has it sacrificed power? I had it for a week with my family to figure it out.

What does it look like?

It's a chonk, to be sure. Its curves are bulky and rugged, just like the previous design, but I like it. It has a lot of personality, and the body lines make it appear larger than it is, and it looks solid as a result.

The rear is spacious, with beautiful LED taillights that hug the sides. Everything is in the right place to appear as symmetrical as possible.

While some new SUVs are going for a sleek look, this design feels a little dated. This is a feeling that pervades the interior as well. The dashboard is quite busy, with a variety of shapes and cutaways – it's not particularly elegant, but it appears to be functional.

How to drive it?

A 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and an electric motor power the Hybrid L. Subaru claims that the hybrid system provides more power and responsiveness at lower speeds, but it feels sluggish right off the line.

You'll make it, but not with your hair blowing in the wind. It's a case of 'Come on, you can do it!' when climbing hills. Isn't it true, though, that slow and steady wins the race? Because it's stable enough on the highway once you're up to speed, and it gets bonus points for feeling solid in the rain and wind. It never moves, which is convenient.

There is some road noise in the cabin, but not so much that you have to raise your voice to speak over it. The ride is also smooth, and it's been forgiving of the potholes that seem to be everywhere on the wet NSW East Coast right now!

Three cameras that activate when reversing make parking a breeze. There's a front and rear camera, as well as one on top of the left-hand steering wheel, which comes in handy when parallel parking.

With the buttons next to the gear shifter, you can turn on those camera views even if you aren't reversing. The only disadvantage is that the camera feeds are split between the main multimedia screen and the small top screen, requiring a lot of glancing up and down.

How wide and roomy is this car?

It has a spacious interior that provides plenty of legroom and headroom for all passengers. For a trip, I had my in-laws and a five-year-old in the back seat, and all three were quite content. They probably wouldn't want to travel from Sydney to Queensland and back, but adults will be fine for short trips.

For a car of this size, the storage space in the front is adequate. The Forester's massive manual can be stored in the glove box. The center console is also adequate (with a removable shelf with coin holders!).

The two front cupholders are deep and can hold larger bottles, but it's more difficult to get a small coffee cup out when they're both occupied. I was afraid I'd pop the lid off, and I did on a few occasions.

Each door has a bottle holder and map and device pockets in the back. Two shallow cupholders are located on the middle armrest.

The boot is a good size, with 509L of space with the back seat up, but when you fold it down, it expands to 1779L! This is a lot of space for an SUV of this size.

How easy is it for everyday use?

It's a pleasant car to drive around in, and it's more than adequate for grocery shopping and school runs. The comfort of all passengers has been considered, and I like how the seats are made up of a mix of cloth and synthetic leather, even if the cloth isn't very practical when you have pets or children.

The color and texture of the fabric, on the other hand, appeal to me. The front seats adjust manually and are heated, despite the lack of lumbar support. My heated seats are fantastic. In a car with such large windows, the sun visors have extenders, which is useful.

The car is a good height, and my five-year-old had no trouble getting in and out. The boot's lip height is also good – not too high or low – and the rubber-like cargo mat is excellent, especially given the recent rain. The boot lid isn't too heavy to open, but it doesn't have a powered tailgate in this spec.

Finally, instead of a spare tyre, this model comes with a puncture repair kit. I'm not sure how useful that would be in the real world, but it might appeal to MacGyver fans.

How is the security system?

The Forester Hybrid has the safety and tech features you'd expect from a newer model at this price, such as adaptive cruise control with driving assist, which means it will steer itself but you'll still need to keep your hands on the wheel.

Blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, and lane-keeping aids are also included. Only six airbags are installed, including curtain airbags for the second row.

From 2019 ANCAP safety testing, the Forester received a maximum five-star rating. On the road, the car feels solid, and while driving it, I felt fairly secure in terms of safety.

There are two ISOFIX mounts and three top tethers, and if you have the right car seats, you might be able to get three side by side. When an 0-4 rearward facing child seat is installed, there is plenty of room for front occupants.

What kind of technology is used?

There's a CD player inside, so the tech can feel a little retro. Which I miss seeing on automobiles. I like the 'Starlink' graphic that appears on the multimedia screen when you first turn on the car, and I also like the 8.0-inch touchscreen. It has the appearance of a '80s sci-fi TV logo, which adds to the retro feel.

A 6.3-inch screen sits above the multimedia screen and displays vehicle information as well as some camera views. However, it's a little small and can feel disjointed to use.

It was simple to pair my iPhone via Bluetooth, as well as to use Apple CarPlay via the wired connection. It also has Android Auto, which you'll need because this model lacks a built-in navigation system.

Throughout the vehicle, there are multiple USB-A ports and 12-volt ports, as well as an auxiliary port in the front.

Apart from the illuminated buttons, I dislike the lack of ambient lighting. Given how inexpensive it is to add personality to a cabin, I believe it is an element that carmakers should be considering right now.

For many people, driving is no longer just about getting from point A to point B; it has evolved into an experience. Adding lighting to this car would have improved the driving experience (and helped with finding the door handle at night time).

Although there is enough technology to appeal to a wide audience, it appears to have been designed with an older generation in mind.

What is the price for the purchase?

Before on-road costs, the Hybrid L will set you back $41,390. As a result, it's one of the more affordable hybrid SUVs on the market, but you'll miss out on some features like leather seats, an electric sunroof, and a powered tailgate, to name a few.

The official combined cycle fuel consumption figure is 6.7/L100km, but on a mix of city and longer highway driving, I got 7.6L/100km. Given that it's a hybrid, I expected the fuel economy to be a little better, but it's still a good result for such a large vehicle.

The fuel level appears to deplete quickly, but this is due to the hybrid's small tank of 48 liters. However, you should be able to travel more than 600 kilometers on a single tank.

The Forester has a five-year/unlimited-kilometer warranty, which is standard in this class. It only comes with three years of capped-price servicing, which can be pre-purchased for $1288 and costs an average of $430 per service, which isn't particularly competitive in the SUV market.


Overall, this vehicle is more than adequate for my family's requirements. I'd like the engine to have a little more power and responsiveness, but for the price and all the other features, I give this an 8.0/10. My son didn't spend much time in it, but he liked the high seating position and back seat space, and he gave it an 8.0/10.


  • Good price tag
  • Interior space
  • Easy-to-use tech


  • Underperforming engine
  • Higher fuel econ than expected
  • Small fuel tank

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