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The New Subaru Forester Isn’t Wowing You According To Latest J.D. Power APEAL Study

The J.D. Power APEAL study is out and says Subaru customers aren’t being wowed by the 2020 Forester, Outback, or Crosstrek. See which Subaru model does excite you.

Customers who drive away in a 2020 Subaru Forester, Outback, or Crosstrek are not very excited about their new all-wheel-drive SUV. That’s what the redesigned 2020 J.D. Power APEAL report says about the Japanese automaker’s cars. The Power APEAL study “measures an owner’s emotional attachment to their new vehicle”, says Dave Sargent, vice president of automotive quality at J.D. Power.

The J.D. Power studies can be confusing. In another recent Power study, Subaru is number one in brand loyalty among all automakers scoring a 60.5 percent loyalty rate. Subaru scored better than Toyota, Honda, and Lexus two years in-a-row. J.D. Power even says in the APEAL report, that vehicles that create joy for their owners generate brand loyalty.

2020 Subaru Forester

In the 2020 APEAL study, Subaru scores well below the segment average compared with other automakers in creating excitement for its customers. Subaru scored in the bottom six of all mainstream automakers. Only Volkswagen, Mitsubishi, Chrysler, Toyota, and Jeep scored lower than Subaru.

Because Subaru scored so low, the 2020 Subaru Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, or Ascent SUVs must not be creating excitement, passion, or wowing owners. Dave Sargent, in an interview with Automotive News, told them, “If a new car wows the customer, and exceeds expectations, it leads to higher appeal.”

2020 Subaru WRX STI

No Subaru models won their individual segment as most appealing in the new study. Only one Subaru model is wowing new owners, and it’s the 2020 Subaru WRX and WRX STI performance cars. The sports cars finished second in the Compact Sporty Car category, only finishing behind the Hyundai Veloster.

Subaru is best in keeping customers coming back and is the brand highest in customer retention among all automakers. They have done it by giving customers safe, all-weather capable, fuel-efficient, SUVs that are dependable. They have one sexy model, the WRX and STI sports cars that do wow and excite owners with their speed and performance.

2020 Subaru Forester

The 2020 Subaru Forester, is the hot model in the Japanese automaker’s lineup and it’s not all that exciting. It’s a multi-purpose, all-wheel-drive compact SUV that gives owners what they want. It may not be sexy like the highest ranked Dodge Charger, but it will get customers home safely in a snow storm.

You Might Also Like: Subaru Forester Vs Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road - Which SUV Is The Real Dirt Road Warrior?

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 and the founder of 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


The Scott (not verified)    July 23, 2020 - 4:59PM

I am NOT wowed ...
by underpowered engines
by the replacement of strong engines (H6) with weak turbos
with forcing useless Stop Start technology which puts unnecessary wear on the engine, the electrical system (starter, etc), and limits the cooling system (AC)
with cylinder carbon buildup caused by the choice of GDI
with the exorbitant expense of cleaning cylinders due to GDI (only walnut blasting has been shown to be effective)
by the lack of a full size spare tire
by constant recalls due to poor quality
by cracking windshields due to low quality glass
by refusing to equip ALL of their vehicle with the most important safety feature for night driving—LED headlights...

Need I say more?

paul holterhaus (not verified)    July 25, 2020 - 10:57AM

In reply to by The Scott (not verified)

I partially agree.....Will not tolerate START/STOP...........My next Vehicle will be ELECTRIC........Fed up with gas...........Gasoline is at the end of it's desireable Life.......Nissan has it figured out.....Check out Their new Ariya....389 HP with very rapid differencial control of Motors........Cannot be done with obsolete technology......P_aul

David Zeller (not verified)    July 26, 2020 - 4:23PM

In reply to by The Scott (not verified)

The Outback H6 has 212HP and 210 FtLbs of torque.

The XT (with the turbo) has 260HP and 277 FtLbs of torque.

How does that make it weak?

RE: start stop, most manufacturers are moving to them, and supporting systems have been beefed up to support it. For example, most of the SS card switched to AGM batteries, which better support the frequent cycling. I'm not sure why this would limit cooling, as the car does not shut completely shut off, and if anything requires the engine to come on, it does.

As for a full size spare, I agree, but I also did a little research and found out that on my car (Outback), I can swap the styrofoam tray in the trunk for one that has a bigger hole and drop a full sized spare in there. Someone on a forum posted the Subaru part number. I think it was like $65 online.

John (not verified)    July 23, 2020 - 10:13PM

Xt trim on the Foresters, manual transmission option, lose the start/stop nonsense, limited slip differential, those are on my list before I consider buying a new Subaru when my 2012 xt gives up the ghost.

DM (not verified)    July 24, 2020 - 12:06AM

Wow........guess something useful practical efficient quiet will never wow you but they are sensible logical realistic and last and not least they are responsible. That's why they are selling them without incentives or mad crazy horseplay and have the lowest inventory even during this crazy times.

Yeah appealing only last that much until one day you wake up and realized why did I get this loud car again? Why no one told me this appealing car have some much problem? It's like once the honeymoon period over that's it. The less appealing one actually more worth it.

Angela Van Auken (not verified)    July 24, 2020 - 8:42PM

In reply to by DM (not verified)

Amen. I have a 2010 Forester with 99650 miles on it. The only issue in ten years is the A/C finally needs charges and serviced. I can go anywhere even in an ice storm, deep snow, anywhere. I am wowed by not being left on the side of the road or crashing into someone on ice. I pull other cars out and pick up stranded people. SUBARU LOVE BABY!

Tiger (not verified)    July 24, 2020 - 3:07PM

In reply to by Gerald (not verified)

The car is actually the best!! The car has enough power and needs a good driver. It is almost impossible to break the motor. If you need power you must put your foot down and allow the car to respond.(at your own risk as you might not be able to handle unless you are a good driver). Needless to say the idea is not to use that much power!?

Thom Perkins (not verified)    July 24, 2020 - 2:33PM

What utter nonsense. One of the safest cars on the road. Company cares for its product and its customers. Don’t believe this crackpot article. It’s full of bullshit.

James Simonds (not verified)    July 24, 2020 - 5:59PM

I agree with others. We purchased a 2020 Forester. After own in it now for a month and a half, I have to say that I do not like the stsrt stop BS. If I knew how to dismantle it permanently, I would. Also, what's with the automatic tailgate? The competitors all have a motion sensor. What's up with tgat Subaru? I'm a loyal Subaru owner. I hate to bad mouth Subaru, But get you head out of your ass and shut me up. You are better than this. I have a beautiful 2018 Subaru Impreza. It is,a perfect car. Why can't you do the same,with the Forester? My daughter is contiplsting on a new Ascent. I'm telling her to shop around at the competition.

Tara Anne (not verified)    July 24, 2020 - 7:01PM

I absolutely LOVE my new Forester. Granted, I got the Touring model... but it's a really nice car. It's much zippier than I thought it would be based on all the reviews. While I don't love the start / stop feature and am bummed I have to manually push that button, it's really a first world problem, isn't it? Why would anyone buy a brand new car they didn't love? If you don't like the specs, don't buy one.

Joe Ross (not verified)    July 24, 2020 - 7:49PM

I was going buy 2020 Forester last week until I learned about the dismal towing capacity 1500 pounds, instead I bought a Rav 4 xle hybrid tows 3500 pounds. I love my 2019 outback but decided did not want all my eggs in one basket...

Dolores Reese (not verified)    July 24, 2020 - 8:19PM

It's gotten too expensive for this car. $40,000 if you want turbo. Colors are not inviting. I went with another CRV. More bang for my buck. I love the look of the outback & always wanted on.

paul holterhaus (not verified)    July 25, 2020 - 11:02AM

The coming all elecftric Forrester will be the one to wait for.....Since Toyota is involved and since They will have had more time to get it right....It will be GREEAAT......I am certain Subie/Toyota can do as well or better than Nissan....But check out the tottally unreal new Nissan Ariya.......Paul

Robert (not verified)    July 25, 2020 - 11:15AM

My girlfriend is crazy about her 2020 Forester Limited. We test drove all the competition and the Subie won flat out. It does everything very well and has been trouble free.

David Minchella (not verified)    November 11, 2020 - 7:06PM

Biggest mistake of my life, buying a fully loaded 2020 Subaru Forrester. BAD DESIGN: the fob that you either carry in your pocket or hang on your belt will open the liftgate if you lean against anything. All it takes is ONE push of the button, and the liftgate opens! At least once a week I find mine open after doing dishes or working at my bench. Why not require 2 pushes in succession to open it, or requiring car to be unlocked before the liftgate button to activate? Subaru told me my dealer can disable the feature, but then I lose the convenience of opening the liftgate to load my groceries. If they missed it on something as simple as this, what other more serious design flaws does the Forrester hide?