Subaru Forester e-Boxer review

All auto blogs needs to have a car review. So do I need too! Would I write a GLE review? Of course not. This is an e-Boxer blog! Although GLE is quite attractive car. But let’s keep this blog focused.


For me this e-Boxer is already 3rd Forester I own. I didn’t own all of those Foresters in a row. There was few Toyota’s hybrids between Subarus. Friends of mine started already joking that I always managed to get FWD just before a really snowy winter comes and so missed all the Symmetrical AWD goodness. That might be true. This time I truly hope to keep this car bit longer. And so far it has been a very promising car!

Other Foresters I had was 2011 diesel boxer and then 2013 Forester with 2.0 naturally aspirated engine. With diesel I had some sort of angst towards DPF. Even there was never problems with it. By the way new hybrid Forester does have a similar filter. This time it is called Gasoline Particulate Filter (GPF). Only this time I do not fear it’s reliability. It works or not and if not, then we look again if we really need.

2013 Forester I had some roughly 3 years and clocked it about 50 000km. It was actually quite good car and it also did not have any major issues with it.

Sometimes it is just difficult to say exactly why I traded in those cars. From these two I maybe vote the diesel Boxer to be more enjoyable car. Engine had lot’s of torque and pickup. Weak point was manual transmission, specially on city driving. On long distance driving even manual transmission did not bother at all.

But now to the today’s star. Subaru Forester e-Boxer and my very first car review. This blog contains already quite many posts from different angles and topics. This writing has (hopefully) more depth to already covered topics but introduces punch of new things too. So if you have been reading this blog already, there should be something new for existing readers as well.


Interior seems to be very nice looking place and it is an upgrade compared to the previous generation. And then a huge upgrade from 2011 Forester. Finnish readers understands if I say, model year 2011 was “√§mp√§rimuovia” all over. English translation for that could be that it was covered with similar plastic than in many buckets. 5th generation is now a huge step forward. However Subaru is still not quite on par with premium brands but not sure do it really need to be there. Probably not.

Perforated leather seats feels and looks nice, soft touch materials here and there. Speaking of soft touch materials. Who likes to touch upper dashboard all the time, like auto reviewers does on Youtube videos?

One thing is very noticeable inside Subaru’s cabin. There is buttons, a lot of buttons. Own button for each function. Generally this has been seen as negative side among internet. Not specifically with Subaru but in general with all brands. Trend is to create more giantic displays and hide functions inside the user interface. Leaving minimalist look for cabin.

Trend is not only because customers want that. It might give a hi-tech look but I assume that it is also cheaper to manufacture. We’ve seen similar approach also with the new Legacy and Outback. However I like more of those buttons in Forester. Form of function.

Steering-wheel has nice material. Here I can understand better how it feels for your hands. It needs to feel nice to touch, since this is the place where your hands should be most of the time.

Size is also right. Here is also one of my favorite features of whole car. Heated steering-wheel! Before trying the heating, I wasn’t quite sure do I really need it. Now I can say. I really need that feature.

Seat comfort is on really good level. Lumbar support is missing from the driver’s seat. Although seat seems to be otherwise so good that I never missed lumbar support.

I asked also my wife comments, regards the seat comfort. “Seats are cold as is in Hell. And comfort is same as in every other car“. Honest comments.

Well, she did not value those as much as I did? She complains less of the seats than in our previous car. Actually no complaints at all now. I think, this is because of two things. Firstly, seats are much more comfortable. Secondly cabin noise is very low. Car is very quiet even on rough tarmac. So the car is way more enjoyable on longer trips – for all of us.

Coming back to the driver’s place. Car is quite tall and that is seen well also in the cabin. When I very first time sat down in new Forester, it felt extremely big interior. Now when I have used to it, it doesn’t feel anymore overly big. But now if I need to sit down to other cars. Windshield is in weird angle, coming too close to driver, ceiling is too low, all of this is making me feel claustrophobic. This does not happen in Forester at all.

Otherwise interior has everything it needs. Cup holders and boxes where to put stuff. Some of the things could have better design. E.g. adjustable arm rest. It is just tiny bit in wrong position for me. Not a big deal though. Then also place for smartphone could be better. I have iPhone X and even it is too big to place in the intended location.


Infotainment system is the best system I have seen in Japanese cars. Well I have experience only from Toyota’s Entune 2.0 version. But compared to that Subaru is way better. I need to rest here also partly to others comments and what I have found from other sources. Subaru’s system really is one of the best available among Asian brands.

One feature makes it so good is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Even I have had few times issues connecting phone and infotainment, there is few main applications that makes me just love the system. Google Maps and Spotify. Those have so good user interface and are really joy to use.

E.g. when you want to navigate somewhere. Press microphone icon on the Google Maps, say where you want to navigate. Say it even partly with less fluent language and it just knows where you are heading. Sometimes it even feels that why I needed to bother to say any destination, Google Maps knew it beforehand. It just goes through this dialog, to show it is not that obvious that Google knows your intentions.

Or maybe they have just implemented a navigation system that works like every navigation should work.

Everybody needs music for their road trips. Here Spotify helps. Arrange your playlists at home. All this is accessible via big icons during driving. Safe and unlimited music is guaranteed.

Subaru’s Starlink includes other applications too than built-in CarPlay / Android Auto. There is built-in navigation, which is available on higher trim levels. This will do it’s job but only if you don’t own a smartphone. I really recommend to use Google Map over TomTom.

Higher trim levels includes also Harman/Kardon sound system. For me that brand represents a Hi-Fi brand even I don’t have prior experience of their products. However this was a little disappointment. System sounds decent but not overwhelming. System includes 9 speakers including a subwoofer.


Subaru got top scores virtually all NCAP and similar tests. It succeeds well from “moose test”, where as e.g. Toyota RAV4 failed some time ago. Luckily they fixed ESP software, so that should perform better by now.

According to many sources EyeSight system is one of the best available. This time it monitors not only what happens in front of the car but also that is driver possibly doing something else than driving car.

This might sound that “big brother” is watching you. I wouldn’t be that worried of privacy. Asian manufacturers are so much behind in this type of technology that I suspect that I have sold my soul to Google, MS and Apple a long time ago.

Only I wish that Driver Monitor System would be bit more reliable. It warns me too often that I should watch the road. I am pretty sure that I was watching the road.

System also warns me quite often of diverting from road. And I am not. Maybe just avoiding a put hole. Point here is that I get alerts from here and there quite often. Previous example might not be false positive alert but many of those alerts are.

And if the system warns you too often, you might get even distracted of those.


Headlights could be easily under EyeSight topic since it is heavily related to the safety. But it is so important topic, that I want to highlight it under own section.

Reason I value good lights is because of the fact that majority of the year is very dark in this country. Yes, we have mid summer and nightless nights but that is only short period of time.

Specially it is difficult to find nowadays car with good low beams. I think now I found one! I have not seen official figures or measurements, how long the range with low beams would be. But comparing performance to the previous car I had (4th gen Prius), range is at least as good as it had. Measured range of Prius’ low beam was around 125 meters.

Forester’s light pattern is bit wider compared to Prius. Also vertical plane is not that sharp. What I mean by that is that if you drive downhill, lights are not cut as you drive. Range is still good.

Then one major benefit is that Forester does have “Steering Responsive Headlights” (SRH). Those really helps on curvy roads! It is possible to disable SRH feature but that has not came to my mind, really like it.


Styling is always something that is difficult to judge. Other likes modern design, others likes more traditional design (like myself). I like that Forester has more boxy classic SUV look with all roof rails etc. It is easier also to figure out corners of the car when maneuvering in tight locations. Car has really big windows which brings lots of light and helps visibility too.

From the size point of view Forester is marginally larger than its predecessor. Roughly similarly sized as its Japanese competitors as Honda CRV and Toyota RAV4. When comparing to German rivals, size is roughly something between Audi Q3 and Q5 and likewise BMW X3 and X5.

When 5th generation Forester was announced in March 2018 Los Angeles auto show, it was shown that there is not big changes compared to the outgoing model. Many in the internet said that you need to be a “Forester expert” to distinguish the difference. Front fascia is actually very similar to outgoing model but rear lights are then very different. That divides opinions greatly did Subaru succeed there in styling. In my my opinion they could be worse. So no complaints there.

Only odd thing is that black plastic bar on Euro spec models. Although black on black is not that distinctive. But on any other color it really is something that catches your eyes.

Driving with electric assisted motor

For me important aspects in driving are comfort and pleasant experience. Pleasant in this context means that I really enjoy every trip I drive with Forester. Steering and cornering feels good. Forester is not meant for a fast driving. Even Subaru cannot flip over law of physics. Forester is a tall car, remember that, although flat boxer engine helps to keep center of gravity low.

Something that makes me smile every time is driving in severe weather conditions. Rain, storm and wind. Forester drives with self confidently through those conditions. Like in brilliant summer weather. Really not sure how they did it but seems to work!

Then the hybridization. Better to adjust mindset to like driving normal gasoline engine. Yes, it does have driving battery and electric motor. It is mild-hybrid as Subaru advertises. But it is not as sophisticated as e.g. Toyota’s hybrid drive is.

In theory there is nothing wrong. It drives electric only small distances. But only in theory. In practice car can move with electric only very limited distances. Good example of this is that when you are sitting in red lights, lift off foot from the brake pedal. Forester e-Boxer will move with electric only very limited distance. On that moment, when you press bit more gas it will start the gasoline engine.

Keep in mind that this is still a mild-hybrid. Just like advertised. Key difference to other mild-hybrids is that this car has a ability to drive electric only. Whereas most of other mild-hybrids can’t. However this ability leads your mind to more electrified implementation and so makes you bit disappointed that it uses electric only mode so little.

Other thing to keep in mind is that even electric only mode comes quite seldom, and whet it comes, it stays for a short period of time. System still helps greatly on the background.

It helps to move on from standstill, helps you to merge high/expressways and passing slower traffic. It also helps to reduce fuel consumption a bit. So even the hybridization is not that obvious, it is still there!


Many auto reviewers and testers makes a big note of 11.8 seconds time in acceleration time (0-100km/h). They also tend to prove that also by testing acceleration pressing pedal to the metal. During that test they make bit sad grin on the Youtube videos and complain about the boxer engine noise.

If that is really you driving style, then e-Boxer is not for you. However if you would be satisfied to normal driving and knowing that car is capable perform from everyday driving tasks. Would you be happy then? I would and I am.

To be honest, this was the most worrying part for me before making decision between this car and Toyota RAV4 hybrid. Toyota is so much faster. Decision was right to select Forester. For somebody else RAV4 or other car is the perfect choice and nothing wrong in that. Highlighting here that the acceleration is not that bad as the official figures may resonate.

CVT transmission has fake gear shifting points. It might sounds bit odd but those works surprisingly well. In traditional CVT rpm will stay on the most efficient area of the engine. While in Forester rpm gets higher and then drops, as it would change gears. This is not of course the most optimal or fuel efficient way but I think it is nice thing to have.

Acceleration is not all-in-all. Braking is important factor too. In some rare events even more important.

Even if we do not speak now of emergency situations, Forester’s braking feeling is very natural. E.g. in Toyota’s hybrids does have unnatural braking feeling. That means that you can clearly feel when the car is regenerating with the electric motor and braking with that way. Once crossed critical point, it will engage physical brakes and this cause unnatural feeling. With Forester that feeling is absence.

Fuel consumption

According to Subaru fuel savings are up to 11% compared to non-hybrid variant. That seems to be about right. In my use average consumption has been around 8.2 – 8.3 liters per 100 km. It is winter time currently, although bit warmer side winter this year. Spring and summer is about to begin and it is estimated that consumption figures will be lower during warmer days. Early reports from Spain (by a blog reader) gives us impressions that on cold summer day consumption might be somewhere 6.5 – 7.0 liters per 100 km.

Of course consumption depends of your driving style. City driving being the most thirsty (near 10 liters per 100 km), highway driving around 7.1 liters per 100 km.

Those are rough estimates from car’s trip meter. Not calculated directly from fueling. Fore more details of the fuel consumption, please look here. My long term fuel economy tracker.

If you’re looking more economical car, then maybe RAV4 could be your choice or then up-coming plug-in variant of that. Just keep in mind that fuel bill is not the only thing what costs in owning a car.

Symmetrical AWD and new X-Mode

This I wish I could really comment more. Winter was “wasted”, no snow at whole winter. There was few slippery days and I managed to test if Subaru’s AWD gets in trouble. It didn’t. It worked like there was no ice beneath. I stopped Forester to deep incline in a very icy conditions.

Some people has questioned that is there actually any difference between old X-Mode and new which has two different settings. Mud/Snow and Deep Mud/Snow modes.

Basically many have suspected that Deep mode is just same as you would manually disable VDC. According to my research it is not exactly the same. There is still other parameters that onboard computer will tune. Unfortunately I am not able to confirm that. So please consider that information as a rumour.


Luckily I have had not that many issues with the car. Once I got one orange light on the dashboard. GPF warning. I suspect that was due to big amount of short distance driving in stop/go traffic. Lots of traffic lights. I changed my route and hoping that helped.

Then couple times I have had some connectivity issues with CarPlay. Only thing what helps is that I need to restart car. I hope this will be fixed in upcoming software upgrades by Subaru.

Then I have noticed that there might be sometimes quite long delay before gear really engages. I have following procedure at mornings. I switch from P to Reverse at morning. I reverse to hill, since our home is in middle of steep hill. I change from R to Drive. Here it takes sometimes even 10 seconds before it engages D. I feel it when it engages and think this is related because transmission and whole car is so cold.

Above happens only at first time when I drive after night.

Is Subaru Forester e-Boxer a good car?

In short. Yes it is a very good car. It delivers a very good value, even when considering bit higher asking price. It has a very comfort and quiet drive. Plenty of room for passengers and cargo. Enjoyable to drive short or long distances.

Forester has it’s own limitations too. It is not that fast but still it has enough guts for everyday driving. Even passing slower traffic, if needed. Without getting driver nervous first.

If you’re looking car that has already legendary all-around outwards visibility, quiet and comfort ride, famous permanent AWD and many other modern features such as CarPlay, this car might be at least something to try out.

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