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The All-New Forester 1.8L Turbo Vs 2.0XT And Subaru's Plan - You Won’t Be Happy

The all-new 2021 Subaru Forester 1.8-liter turbocharged model is here. See how it compares with the Forester 2.0XT. You might be disappointed.


When Subaru discontinued the Forester 2.0XT turbocharged model, fans were disappointed and wanted the performance model back. Subaru listened and announced a new 2021 Forester Sport trim coming with an all-new 1.8-liter turbocharged engine. It's for Japan and likely coming to North America next year. Here's a comparison and Subaru's plan, but performance fans won't be happy.

The Forester 2.0XT 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with 250 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque is gone forever, and it's not coming back. Subaru's answer is a new 2021 Forester Sport with a Levorg-sourced 1.8-liter turbocharged direct-injection (DIT) four-cylinder, lean combustion Boxer engine. It only produces 175 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque.

2021 Subaru Forester fuel-mileage, features, specs

Also gone is the Forester XT's fully synchronized 6-speed manual gearbox. All Forester Sport 1.8-liter turbocharged models come mated with a Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) automatic. Subaru is offering all Forester trims with EyeSight safety technology, and it's not compatible with a manual gearbox.

Why did Subaru discontinue the Forester 2.0XT?

Subaru Corporation dropped the Forester 2.0XT because the brand is focusing on global fuel-economy standards. Fuel economy in the 2.0XT with a CVT was 27/23 city/highway mpg. Subaru reports the new 2021 Forester Sport 1.8-liter turbocharged engine gets 24.2/35.7 city/highway mpg and 33.6 combined mpg (10.3km / liter) (15.2km / liter) (14.3km / liter).

2021 Subaru Forester fuel-mileage, features, specs

Subaru plans to use smaller turbocharged gas engines in their all-wheel-drive models for as long as possible. Tomomi Nakamura, Subaru Corporation's CEO, revealed the Japanese automaker would stay with gasoline powertrains "until they fade from the market completely." The CEO stated that Subaru's unique Boxer engine offers fuel-saving capabilities, like direct-injection and lean burning technology, and more models will have them soon.

Subaru will continue to fine-tune the Boxer engine's turbocharged capabilities, and the new Forester Sport 1.8-liter engine is the next evolution of its global strategy. It has improved torque for performance and direct-injection and lean combustion technology for fuel-efficiency.

2021 Subaru Forester fuel-mileage, features, specs

The all-new 2021 Subaru Forester Sport with the 1.8-liter turbocharged engine is not for performance fans. Subaru brings it for the customer looking for a sporty compact SUV with an all-wheel-drive, enough power for urban commuting, and fuel-efficiency. Subaru will offer the WRX and STI for customers who want horsepower and performance.

You Might Also Like: It Saves Fuel In The New Subaru Forester, Outback, And Crosstrek But You Don’t Like It

Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. Check out Subaru Report where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Photo credit: Subaru


Sach (not verified)    October 24, 2020 - 1:47PM

I see that you are writing about the past. As Toyota has shown us with the RAV-4 Hybrid and RAV-4 Prime, there are much more efficient, non-turbo means to quickly propel a car or SUV. What amazes me is how far behind Suburu, Honda and others are in mass producing low-end, non-plugin, electric hybrids. I'm more interested in the present and future, than the past.

3.6R (not verified)    October 24, 2020 - 9:08PM

Nope. 1.8L Turbo is not enough power for the Forester or the Outback. Maybe Crosstrek. Definitely suitable for the Impreza. I live in New England and have owned Subs since the original Brat. Does Subaru imagine it’s customers driving around in the city in exciting crossovers? That’s funny. A 3500lb+ vehicle needs the 175hp 200ftlbs+ torque in a non CVT transmission to tow and go. My 2006 Forester Premium never felt anemic with NA 2.5L Boxer getting 21mpg city. The 3.6R Outback Limited with 265hp+ tows and goes at 4500lbs+ loaded at 24mpg city. Why would you want a 1.8L turbo with more required maintenance a measly 24mpg? Adding insult to injury CVTs lay down power with low RPMs which make the engine mapping more anemic and a likely high turbo revs adding noise and more fuel consumption to make the 1.8L look good on paper. My advice to Subaru: switch to turbo diesel next year, OR build a 2.3L timing chain DI engine with more cam geometry and a higher dynamic compression. Flow the exhaust and intake using fluid dynamics to optimize efficiency. Possibly entertain a water or hydrogen injection system to lower the intake charge temps and milk more HP with less fuel. All current and not unobtainable tech that will be truly save fossil fuels versus the lower hotter higher revving maintenance hungry pygmy they plan to use now.

Michael Smith (not verified)    October 24, 2020 - 9:10PM

Well, it was a good run. But I, can't justify ever buying a 5th Subie under these circumstances.

Michael Smith (not verified)    October 24, 2020 - 9:11PM

Well, it was a good run. But I, can't justify ever buying a 5th Subie under these circumstances.

Subaru has jumped the shark

Scott Michael Webber (not verified)    October 25, 2020 - 9:39AM

Thinking Subaru has the formula wrong and needs to make all their vehicles plug in hybrid to be on the right side of history.

Mike Barker (not verified)    October 25, 2020 - 11:12AM

We all have to grow up. The era of fast, gas-burning, fun-to-drive cars is over. We have to convert to non-polluting energy sources if our grandchildren are to survive.

Stephen Ponte (not verified)    October 25, 2020 - 12:50PM

I'll never get rid of my 06 forester XT standard transmission. Subaru's taking the fun out of driving...

Craig Nelson (not verified)    October 25, 2020 - 5:30PM

What is still missing is a turbo manual hatchback/wagon in the US. WRX Hatch anyone? How about turbo manual in the Crosstrek?

Tim Whynot (not verified)    October 25, 2020 - 9:40PM

This is great news for those of us that want Subaru to continue to lead in efficiency while maintaining their great off road ability. It would be great if they somehow labelled their new turbos as green so people know that buyers are making a green choice when they buy a Subaru.

Völkenstein (not verified)    October 27, 2020 - 1:19PM

All 2020+ Subaru vehicles are equipped w/ useless AutoStartStop, boring engines, trans, chassis (in hatchbacks); sad times indeed:/

I remember my 2004 Forester XT w/ manual (COBB Stage 2), 275hp/290trq in 3200lbs vehicle... a car that was more like a sleeper gokart than grocery getter. The joy and 9 years of exhilarating driving unlike any before and after.

Dear Subaru; there are Drivers, Commuters and those who who drive out of necessity. I guess through your (SoA stockholders) wisdom you've decided to cater to the latter two. Shame on you for selling your soul so cheaply.

Hello Mazda!

Shawn (not verified)    October 28, 2020 - 4:27AM

Lame. My Camry Hybrid has more horsepower AND torque than this thing. At least the turbo Forester will have a CVT so the engine can stay at peak torque constantly while accelerating; that will help more than most people expect. But 175hp is not enough for a vehicle that big, plain and simple. If they can't build a good Forester while meeting global emissions standards, then they should stop building Foresters at all until the necessary tech becomes available.

Doc ds (not verified)    June 1, 2021 - 11:07AM

Went from a brumby to a sf5 foz gt, had 7 other foz gt's and another 3 xt's. Even haf a stack of na fozs inbetween. Ill stick to the 1999 models but good on you subaru for continuing combustion engine technology. This is why i will continue to support you.

3.6R (not verified)    June 1, 2021 - 7:54PM

175 HP was fine for the older Forester with AT. The new models must weight more, and all CVT feel anemic due to their fundamental design. It's all about torque with the CVT. Power uses fuel period. Toyota now has invested in Subaru so maybe they can provide some tech capital and get Subaru HP/Torques up.

John J Hines (not verified)    June 7, 2021 - 2:19PM

Love my Forester 2.0XT precisely because of the power. Luckily for us, Mazda CX-5 has an SUV with a 250 hp turbo. That is my next car. Goodbye Subaru.

3.6R (not verified)    July 6, 2021 - 3:57AM

The 2022 Forester XT will probably get the FA24 2.4-liter turbocharged engine producing 260 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque.

Deb (not verified)    July 11, 2021 - 10:08PM

I love my 2014 Forester 2.0 XT. Just started shopping for next year and learned it’s not coming back. I drove a new 2021 loaner forester while mine got serviced and I wouldn’t have made an even trade. It was a slow unresponsive dog of a vehicle. Reminded me of a lawn mower we once had. I’m looking into Volvos.

craig nelson (not verified)    July 13, 2021 - 12:03PM

I have had two Volvo turbo wagons. Liked the comfort and performance but both turned into money pits.