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Subaru’s Chief Engineer Reveals New Next-Gen Forester Hybrid Details

Subaru unveils its cutting-edge hybrid powertrain, a technological leap that will soon be available in the new Forester hybrid and other Subaru models. Get ready to be thrilled by what's coming for customers in the near future.

Subaru is only one-tenth the size of Toyota, so it has to be smart when making engine changes. What sets Subaru apart from all other automakers? It's the Subaru Boxer engine, and Subaru plans to keep it. You can learn more about it in my recent Boxer engine report here from Subaru Corporation, which was recently announced.  

Subaru Is Boxer

Subaru vehicles are unique because of the horizontally opposed Boxer engine, but it's not perfect. Tetsuo Fujinuki, Subaru's chief technical officer, said in a recent YouTube video that Subaru believes its weak point with the Boxer engine is fuel efficiency. 

"If you were just going for efficiency, horizontally opposed engines are not necessarily always the best option," he said. "But what would Subaru be without them? The basis of our focus is the differentiation."

It's the unique features that set Subaru vehicles apart from the rest. While other automakers may design new cars, they often end up copying each other. Subaru, however, stands out by sticking to what made it successful. In my report here, discover three ways Subaru differentiates themselves in a world of sameness. 

What is Subaru's formula for success? 

Subaru Is AWD 

Because all its vehicles except the BRZ have all-wheel drive, a hybrid system coupled with the Boxer engine is needed to improve overall efficiency. 

Fujinuki said the flat Boxer engine configuration and all-wheel drive system are the two brand hallmarks and the main reasons customers are drawn to its cars, making their retention crucial going forward. 

(For English, turn on closed captions)

Subaru vehicles are more than cars

"I am grateful that people treat Subaru cars not just as cars, but as pets, and like family members, giving them names," Fujinuki says. 

Fujinuki says the new hybrid system they are developing now will have a small and compact Boxer engine, a differential to drive the front wheels, two motors for the hybrid unit, a transmission to drive the rear wheels, and a transmission to transmit torque to the car. 

Fujinuki said it's an all-in-one system.

Subaru's new hybrid technology formula is simple. They will retain the Japanese automaker's signature horizontally opposed Boxer engine and employ it as a generator and drive unit. Fujinuki says it's a series-parallel hybrid system similar to the Toyota Prius.

The new series-parallel hybrid powertrain will package Subaru's internal combustion Boxer engine, electric motor, transfer case, and transmission together at the front of the vehicle. A drive shaft will stretch back to a small rear differential to power the all-wheel drive system.

The power control unit sits on top of the configuration, freeing up room at the vehicle's rear for a traditional-sized fuel tank. With the hybrid system and full-sized fuel tank, they've achieved a more extended range of gas and electric propulsion with the vehicle. 

A more extended all-electric range

This means that the new hybrid system will allow Subaru vehicles to travel longer distances on a single tank of fuel, reducing the need for frequent refueling and making them more convenient for long trips. 

The new Forester Hybrid will have a longer all-electric range than the recently discontinued Crosstrek Plug-In Hybrid, which had a range of only 17 miles. Read my recent report here. 

The hybrid system will send power to the wheels via a transaxle instead of the traditionally favored continuously variable transmission (CVT) set-up used on all Subaru vehicles now. 

The Subaru hybrid system will be designed and manufactured later this year at its newly renovated factory in Japan's Kitamoto City. The factory previously made general-purpose engines for the Japanese automaker. My report here has more information

Subaru's Plan To Keep Japan's Jobs

Fujinuki emphasizes Subaru's commitment to preserving Japan's 5.5 million jobs dependent on automobile manufacturing. As part of a new "diversity initiative," Subaru plans to increase the percentage of female workers at its new plant, a move that underscores its commitment to inclusivity and equality. 

They will also have a new streamlined factory, making it easier to move and transport cargo and parts through the factory. “We have created a factory concept that is truly easy to work in, and it matched the working and lifestyle of the future," he said. 

No specifics yet

However, he didn't give specific details about the size of the Boxer engine. Power outputs and fuel consumption haven't been announced yet, but Fujinuki said the unit was smaller than Mazda's prototype rotary engine. 

The first Subaru model to get the new hybrid technology will be the next-generation Subaru Forester, which will launch in the U.S. about a year from now. 

And I speculate, based on the camouflaged Subaru Crosstrek prototype sitting on display alongside the Boxer/Hybrid powertrain during Fujinuki's address, that the Subaru Crosstrek will be the next model to get the new hybrid technology.

The Crosstrek is due for a refresh in 2026, so I expect to see the new Crosstrek hybrid in two years. 

Fujinuki says Subaru's goal for the new hybrid system is to make its models stand out and further develop the Subaru brand. "In that sense, we are also working on battery EVs, and I would like to make something that people will ask: has anyone except for Subaru ever made anything like this before?" 

Subaru's commitment to innovation is not just about making unique vehicles but also about reducing its environmental impact. Hybrid vehicles are more fuel-efficient and produce fewer emissions than traditional internal combustion engine vehicles, contributing to a cleaner and healthier environment.

From what I've seen and heard from Subaru in the last month, you can count on a few things that Subaru will remain committed to: the Boxer engine, all-wheel drive, go-anywhere attitude, fun-to-drive vehicles, and safety. You can add new fuel-efficient technology to the list now. 

What do you think of Subaru’s new Boxer engine hybrid tech? Click the red Add New Comment link below and let us know.

I am Denis Flierl, a top Torque News reporter since 2012. I’ve invested over 13 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role, working with every major car brand. I am an experienced Rocky Mountain Automotive Press member. You'll find my expert Subaru analysis here. Follow me on my X SubaruReportAll Subaru, WRXSTI, @DenisFlierlFacebook, and Instagram.

Photo credit: Subaru


Robert Thiesing (not verified)    June 14, 2024 - 8:22PM

I own a 2023 Forester Touring model. Before that I had a 2017 Forester Touring model. I would like a little more room behind the Front seats for storage with the rear seats folded down to carry cargo to Florida in the winter. Will there be a signify increase in the cargo space?

Lil (not verified)    June 15, 2024 - 3:33AM

Amazing to hear that Subaru continues with the Boxer motor.
How about the CWT? Will this be improved?
We had our forester for not even a year as the revolutions were not under control and would spike up with no reason at all - an annoying feeling when driving up mountain passes or just being on the motorway - and not efficient when talking about fuel consumption. We ended up selling the car, losing money and being disappointed...

Brokenoldbottles (not verified)    June 15, 2024 - 9:34AM

I'm wondering why they felt the need to increase the fuel tank capacity. Carrying an additional 20 to 30 lbs of fuel doesn't seem to be either necessary or efficient unless the hybrid technology actually reduced the available space for the current fuel tank?

Laura Benjamin (not verified)    June 15, 2024 - 10:02AM

OK, but is it plug-in?
Will it catch fire and burn my house down? Subie lives in the basement garage.
And how much more will it cost?
Other than that, this could be great. The regular hybrid Prius I drove as a rental years ago was fun once I got over the power going off at traffic lights!

Victor D Roberts (not verified)    June 15, 2024 - 12:11PM

I'm disappointed that Subaru is using a drive shaft for the rear wheels. That will lower gas and electric mileage compared to the two-motor system used by Toyota. (Well, Toyota actually uses three electric motors in the RVA4 Prime, two in front and one in back.)

I had owned perhaps 7 Subarus between 1977 and 2023, when, in frustration over Subaru's lack of a decent hybrid, I purchased a Toyota RAV4 Prime. The all-electric rear axle is great. The car is mostly on FWD mode unless the computer senses that the rear wheels are necessary. In my Subarus the drive shaft and multiple differentials were wasting power all the time.

Ann & Randy Cu… (not verified)    June 18, 2024 - 9:37PM

Denis Flierl, Thank you for this great news about a forthcoming Hybrid Subaru Forester! We have been holding on to my wife's 2009 Forester (her 3rd Subaru) in anticipation that this would happen. We are driving between Seattle, San Francisco and Huston annually. Hopefully, this innovation will cut our fuel consumption and cost in half!

John Chamberlain (not verified)    July 13, 2024 - 1:01PM

I am very much looking forward to the new Forester Hybrid. I have not been and am not a fan of full EVs, but am a fan of hybrid technology, having had good experience with Toyota's Prius.

My 2020 Forester is my first Subaru, having driven Toyotas for 40 years. I am very pleased with my Forester and cannot wait to check out the new hybrid model.

Thanks for providing detailed info on it!