2020 Subaru Forester
Denis Flierl's picture

Why Is The New Subaru Forester Wildly Successful With Only One Engine? It's Not A Unicorn

What makes the 2020 Subaru Forester so successful? It’s not a unicorn.

When Subaru dropped the sporty Forester 2.0XT turbocharged trim level in 2019, we thought it would hurt new fifth-generation Forester sales, but it’s had the opposite effect. The 2020 Forester is now Subaru of America’s number one selling model and has passed the popular Outback wagon. Forester now accounts for 30 percent of all model sales. Why is Forester more successful with only one engine? Isn’t it better to have two engine options?

Doug Betts, president of J.D. Power’s automotive division, says more is not better. He says automakers should have fewer or no unicorns (low-volume configurations) and offer less engine and transmission options for customers. “Low-volume configurations are a drag on sales performance and costs,” says Betts.

2020 Subaru Forester

It was a brilliant move by Subaru Corporation when they dropped the low volume Forester 2.0XT. Sales have increased after deciding to offer the compact SUV with only one engine, the natural aspirated 2.5-liter Boxer with 182 horsepower. The new 2020 Forester also comes with only one transmission, the Lineartronic CVT automatic. They were also wise when they dropped the 6-speed manual transmission in the Forester, Outback, and Legacy models in 2018.

We originally thought Subaru dropped the Forester 2.0XT and manual transmission to increase fuel mileage in its lineup and that was partially true. But Subaru was thinking long term about trimming down the Forester lineup to concentrate on models that sell in high volumes. The Forester 2.0XT was a unicorn and the automaker only sold a few hundred models a month and even fewer with a manual gearbox.

2020 Subaru Forester

It’s almost as though Subaru Corporation saw the global coronavirus epidemic coming two years ago. “As assembly plants reopen, they face the possibility of parts shortages because supplier factories have been idle, too. Consequently, it would behoove automakers to shorten vehicle configuration menus,” Betts says.

Subaru’s strategy has paid off big as they move forward into a post-COVID-19 world. They have positioned themselves with a lean, niche lineup of all-wheel-drive SUVs that appeal to a broad range of shoppers. The 2020 Subaru Forester is thriving with only one engine.

You Might Also Like: 5 Reasons Why Subaru Forester Checks All The Right Boxes For Commuters And Urban Adventurers

Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. All of his reports are archived on our Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Subaru Report. Check back tomorrow for more Subaru news and updates at Torque News!

Leave your comments below, share the article with friends and tweet it out to your followers!

Photo credit: Subaru

Subscribe to Torque News on YouTube.

Follow Torque News on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.


I have had three Subaru Foresters. My current one will be my last due to the current weak towing capacity. Subaru went from a 2400 capacity to a1500 capacity. That is not an improvement and will force me to purchase a competitor vehicle.
the 1500 lb tow rating is a deal breaker for me. I think they should produce a model like the Toyota RaV4 Trail that has a 3500 lb rating. Even 2500 would be ok.
It might also have something to do with the fact that turbo-charged smaller engines are not as reliable as naturally aspirate equivalents, and people buying Foresters are not looking for a high powered machines and want that reliability. Leave turbo-chargers for performance vehicles and diesel engines.
We have had 8, yes 8, Subarus since 1985. We have always had at least one. This is our 2nd Forester. Still have the 06 and now a 20. This car is absolutely the best car we have ever owned, including the Chevrolet Traverse. The versatility and comfort is unmatched. Safety during rain and snow is a plus. Subaru is worth the slightly extra money and definitely holds its value.