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Is Subaru Forester Losing Its Appeal? It's Now Only The 3rd Most Popular AWD Model

Is the Subaru Forester compact SUV losing its appeal? The 2023 Subaru Forester was the most popular model last year, but it lost the best-selling crown to two hotter models in Subaru of America's lineup. Check out the report here.


Has the once-popular Forester compact SUV lost its appeal with Subaru SUV shoppers? In 2021 the Forester was the best-selling model in Subaru of America's all-wheel-drive lineup. In 2021, it finished the year as the top-selling model, with 154,723 models delivered to customers. But everything changed in 2022.

To finish 2022, Subaru of America announced the 2023 Subaru Forester was down 2.9 percent in December but finished strong with 13,526 compact SUVs delivered to customers compared with 13,930 in December 2021. Still, the Forester compact SUV could only manage third place in the lineup with 114,096 sales behind Crosstrek subcompact SUV (155,142) and Outback midsize SUV (147,262). Forester dropped 26.3 percent for the year compared with 154,723 models sold in 2021.

2023 Subaru Forester finish
photo credit: Competition Subaru

Subaru of America was hoping the all-new rugged Forester Wilderness trim level would keep the interest in the compact SUV at a high level with compact SUV shoppers. But sales have been slipping all year, and the once top-selling Forester never realized its full potential. What happened?

Part of the reason the Forester slipped behind was the ongoing microchip shortages and hard-to-get parts. Subaru says, "These year-end results reflect the impact that the semiconductor shortage and supply chain disruptions continue to have on the automobile industry.”

2023 Subaru Forester
photo credit: Schumacher Subaru

But there is more to the Forester dropping behind the Crosstrek and Outback. Those models also had to deal with new part shortages. The Forester is in the last year of its life cycle. Subaru typically gives its SUVs a complete remodel after the current-generation vehicle has been out for five years.

Subaru fans are waiting to see what new design changes are coming next year. The Forester received a remodel in 2019, and the next-generation Forester will arrive in the 2024 model year. The Forester needs significant upgrades, and will Subaru Corporation do enough to satisfy its U.S. customers?

The most significant change Subaru Corporation could give the new generation compact SUV is an engine upgrade. The current model still has the aging 2.5-liter Boxer engine producing 182 hp and 176 lb-ft of torque. It's a big difference between the Outback Wilderness with the 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque 2.4-liter turbocharged engine.

Fans have been asking for a Forester turbocharged trim level since Subaru dropped the Forester XT in 2019. The Forester Wilderness would be the ideal trim for the FA24 2.4-liter turbocharged engine.

The Outback Wilderness has been the hot new model for Subaru of America and continues to outsell the Forester. Subaru could change that with a new 2024 Forester XT trim recently announced for Japanese customers.

Will Forester get a hybrid trim level? The Forester compact SUV could be the next model in the lineup to get hybrid technology which would spur new interest in the Forester.

Subaru recently announced new hybrid models are coming by 2025. Subaru said 40 percent of its global sales will have some form of electric power by mid-2025 to 2030, and the Japanese automaker has set a target to "sell only electric vehicles" worldwide by the first half of the 2030s.

The 2023 Forester is still the best compact SUV by Consumer Reports

The 2023 Subaru Forester is a capable compact SUV and is still ranked the best by Consumer Reports. According to Consumer Reports (by subscription) recent tests and surveys, the 2023 Subaru Forester is ranked at the top of its class.

CR says Forester is number one overall for its road-test performance, owner satisfaction, best-in-class reliability, and top IIHS safety scores. And Forester costs less than the average new car today.

What is Forester pricing for all trim levels?

All 2023 Forester trim levels increased by $550. The 2023 Forester comes in six trim levels; The Base Forester starts at $27,620, Premium ($30,620), Sport ($32,190), Limited ($34,300), Wilderness ($35,245), and Touring ($37,720). Pricing includes dealer fees ($1,225).

What is the 2023 Forester fuel mileage?

The 2023 Subaru Forester compact SUV comes with standard all-wheel drive and gets an EPA-estimated 29 combined mpg and 26/33 city/highway mpg.

We recently compared the 2023 Subaru Forester Wilderness trim level with the 2023 Outback Wilderness in a head-to-head comparison and found there is a clear winner. Check out the report below.

Would you buy the Forester Sport or Wilderness if Subaru of America offered a 2.4-liter turbocharged engine? What about a new Forester Hybrid? Let Subaru of America know in the comment section below, and we'll pass them along to the Japanese automaker.

You Might Also Like: Head To Head Subaru Forester Wilderness Vs. Outback Wilderness - The Winner Is Clear

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: Schumacher Subaru


Beth (not verified)    January 6, 2023 - 5:03PM

Forester Hybrid, please!! And longer seat under knees, low seat and better interior features such
Steering warmth, Sensor led for light and wipers
Rear mirror light warning, Air Play connect to iPhone , Seat adjustment feature (both seats, longer seat under knees), No annoying curve on side of gas pedal floor, Mirror w lighting, rear mirrors w signal warning of passing cars,
Pop up trunk/press button to close by itself . Mine is 2015. Looking to upgrading Forester car!

Julie MCKENZIE (not verified)    January 6, 2023 - 10:10PM

I would LOVE a Forester Hybrid! The better mileage is amazing! I drive a 2022 Crosstrek Hybrid now
I would like to suggest returning the spare tire to Hybrids thou n small size n higher charge capacity battery so u don't lose soo much storage space

Andrew Bounds (not verified)    January 7, 2023 - 7:02AM

The Forester needs to have a higher HP engine, better fuel economy, and better styling. Adding plastic cladding is not beneficial…looks cheap. I don’t plan to do any serious off-roading in the Forester but I want it to look and perform well in an urban environment..similar to an Audi Q3/Q5.

Eric Duhamel (not verified)    January 8, 2023 - 11:02AM

I have a forester xt 2018, and YES for a wilderness 2024 TURBO! otherwise, I definitely buy another brand!