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Subaru Forester Premium Vs. Sport - Find Out Which Trim Level Is The Best For You

The 2023 Subaru Forester Sport and 2023 Forester Premium arrive now for winter driving. We break down both models and see which compact SUV is best for you.


The 2023 Subaru Forester Sport and 2023 Subaru Forester Premium trim levels arrive at retailers this month. We'll look at both Forester trims and see which is the best for you. The two trim levels share features, options, and things unique to each model. But there are significant differences you should know about before you decide which model is the best.

The Sport and Premium similarities

The 2023 Forester Sport ($32,190) and Premium ($30,620) trims get a $550 price increase. The 2023 models are carry-overs with no new upgrades, and the Forester will get a complete remodel next year.

2023 Subaru Forester Sport

The Forester Sport and Premium come with standard Symmetrical all-wheel-drive and 8.7 inches of ground clearance. Both are powered by a 2.5-liter naturally-aspirated Boxer engine producing 182 hp and 176 lb-ft of torque, and both come with X-Mode with hill descent control for all-weather performance.

Both Forester trims feature a ladder-type roof rail design offering a higher load capacity (220 lb. vs. 176 lb.) and an 800-lb. static load limit (vs. 700 lb.), allowing safe use of a roof-top tent. New tie-down locations have been integrated into the rails. Inside, two additional utility hooks have been added to the roof of the rear cargo area, and a brighter LED interior dome lamp with off-delay is now standard.

Sport and Premium come with the next-generation EyeSight, which includes new automatic emergency steering. Subaru says the new feature works with pre-collision braking to assist with steering control to help avoid a collision at speeds less than 50 mph.

What are the Forester Sport and Premium fuel mileage?

The 2023 Forester Sport and Premium get an EPA-estimated 26/33 city/highway mpg and 29 combined mpg.

All 2023 Forester trim levels earned the Top Safety Pick+ award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). It also gets the highest five-star rating from the NHTSA. That's where the similarities end.

2023 Subaru Forester Sport
2023 Subaru Forester Sport

The Forester Sport (starts at $32,190, including destination and delivery fees), which is $1,570 more than the Premium trim). For the money, the Sport gets unique exterior and interior treatments. Outside it gets black-finish 18-inch wheels and a black rear roof spoiler, and orange accents. Inside Sport features a dark gray material with orange stitching and accents.

The 2022 Forester Sport is designed for those with active lifestyles who use the compact SUV for city commuting and off-road use. The Forester Sport comes with a dual-function X-Mode feature for additional all-terrain capability. Check out the dual-function X-Mode report here.

The Sport trim comes with Blind-Spot Detection, Lane Change Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert and Automatic Emergency Steering, and dual USB-A charge ports in the rear center console.

One option package is available for Sport trims. The Starlink 8.0-inch multimedia plus package includes reverse automatic braking. ($1,645.)

2023 Subaru Forester Premium
2023 Subaru Forester Premium

The Subaru Premium pricing starts at $30,620, including destination and delivery fees. Premium trims are equipped with enhanced roof rails and added tie-down points for improved versatility. The Premium trim has steering responsive LED headlights, keyless access with push-button start, fog lights, heated seats and mirrors, a leather steering wheel, and a windshield wiper de-icer.

Premium also comes with a 10-way power driver's seat with power lumbar support, 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels in black with machine finish, roof rails, dark tint privacy glass, and a panoramic power moonroof.

The Premium offers one option package that includes Blind-Spot Detection with Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert; Automatic Emergency Steering; dual USB-A charge ports in the rear center console; and a Power Rear Gate with automatic close and height memory. The MSRP for the package is $1,165.

Which Forester trim level belongs in your garage?

The 2023 Subaru Premium trim is a capable all-weather vehicle sufficient for anyone encountering mild to severe winter weather. The Premium trim is a good pick if you use the compact SUV for commuting and occasional off-road use.

For $1,570 more, the 2023 Subaru Forester Sport offers active customers comfort and features for commuting during the week and off-road use on the weekends. The dual-function X-Mode can be used off-pavement for those who want to get further off the grid and for more severe winter weather conditions.

How does the 2023 Subaru Forester Sport compare with the Forester Wilderness trim level? Check out the report below.

You Might Also Like: 2023 Subaru Forester Sport Vs. Wilderness - Which Belongs In Your Garage This Winter?

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


L.S. Zimmerman (not verified)    January 27, 2023 - 10:00AM

I have a 2022 sport and one major difference is that navigation is unavailable in the sport model while it is available in the premium.