I went to college in New Hampshire where every third vehicle is a Subaru Forester. I’ve long appreciated the tall boxy body style that splits the difference between a station wagon and SUV. This 2021 Forester Limited, part of the recently released fifth generation platform, continues the evolution towards smoother lines while maintaining that distinctive profile. In places like New Hampshire, Subaru’s famous Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system is almost required hardware for foul weather.  This 2021 model adds more standard safety features to build on its stellar all-weather-capable reputation.

Like many new vehicles, the 2021 Subaru Forester comes standard with a suite of active safety systems across all trims. Subaru refers to this as EyeSight Driver Assist Technology. It consists of 5 main features – Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Collision Braking, Pre-Collision Throttle Management, Lane Keep Assist with Sway Warning and Lead Vehicle Start Alert. There is an additional component available on Touring models called DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation System.

When activated, Adaptive Cruise Control will adjust the Forester’s speed to maintain a safe distance from the preceding vehicle. Pre-Collision Braking and Pre-Collision Throttle Management will alert drivers to pending impacts and can apply full braking force while reducing engine power to lower impact force in emergencies. Lane Keep Assist with Sway Warning also issues an alert if you stray from your lane while working to keep you there in the first place.

The last two systems focus on the rising issue of distracted driving. Lead Vehicle Start Alert will notify the driver when the vehicle in front has started moving but the EyeSight driver’s vehicle has not. Using an onboard camera, Driver Focus Mitigation System detects when the driver is tired or not paying attention and will issue an alert to keep you focused. The goal here is of course to reduce the increasing counts of accidents caused by drivers focused on things other than the road in front of them.

Subaru has been perfecting their renowned Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive for decades. The secret sauce has to do with how all four wheels are always engaged as opposed to engaging only when slip is detected. As well, it is mounted in-line with the drivetrain meaning no additional components between the engine and all-wheel drive system to ensure seamless transfer of power. Symmetrical AWD is standard across all trim levels of the Forester.

The Forester offered a manual transmission and turbocharged XT model in the past but for 2021, Subaru has simplified the platform. The single engine offering is a 2.5 liter inline-4 producing 182 horsepower and 176 lb-ft of torque. The Lineartronic continuously variable automatic, the only transmission available, puts this power to all four wheels.

Behind the wheel, that all-wheel drive system gives the Forester a confident planted feel. While wide open acceleration may leave you wanting more power, the brakes have a linear and predictable feel. And Subaru’s engineers clearly did their NVH homework as the ride is smooth, comfortable and quiet. Though the Forester may not be ready for canyon carving, it is a pleasant driver. To hear more of George’s thoughts on the driving experience, be sure to watch the video above.

The standard AWD is a main selling point but the Subaru Forester also gets high praise for its significant cargo space of 33 cubic feet with the seats raised and nearly 71 cubes when they’re folded. On the interior note, you can trim your Forester in a lovely, contrast stitched, Saddle Brown leather with heated seats for those cold New Hampshire winters. On warm days, you can take advantage of the available panoramic sunroof. And for the techies out there, the Subaru Forester can be had with an Apple Car Play and Android Auto integrated multimedia system, via an 8” display.

The Subaru Forester has long been a favorite in cold weather climes thanks to its superior AWD system, reasonable pricing and cavernous cargo space. For 2021, Subaru offers that same package in the base trim starting just under $25K. For those looking to add luxury touches to their Forester there are several rungs on the trim ladder culminating in the Touring model which starts around $35,000. The 2021 Subaru Forester Limited is scored an even 100 by Drivers Only. To see where it ranks  check out Best Compact SUVs for 2020 & 2021.

Front-engine, all-wheel drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon


16-valve DOHC 2.5-liter, inline-4: 182 hp, 176 lb-ft

Continuously variable automatic

Wheelbase: 105.1 in
L/W/H: 182.1/71.5/67.5-68.1 in
Curb Weight: 3453-3589 lb

0-60 mph: 9.6 sec
¼ mile: 17.3 sec @ 82 mph
Top Speed: 117 mph
*2019 model

City/Highway: 33/26