Subaru Forester Hybrid S 2020 Review

Subaru Forester S Hybrid full road test

Subaru Forester Hybrid S 5

Subaru Forester Hybrid – Subaru has joined the ranks of the “Alternate Power Source” manufacturers with the launch of the mild hybrid.

With an existing order bank, mainly from corporate and fleet owners, the hybrid is sure to be a sales success.

With Forester and XV ranked first and second for Subaru sales in Australia, the added hybrid variety is an important first step in the long term strategy of the brand’s Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) range.

Subaru has a long-term strategy that will produce a variety of next generation power plants and technologies in the coming years.

We have reviewed the Forester S before and it was also a winner in the OzRoamer COTY awards in its category.

2020 Subaru Hybrid Forester S, Forester L and XV. (Photo Narrative Post/Matthias Engesser)

Forester Hybrid S Exterior

As this is an engine transplant in effect, the exterior doesn’t change from the other variants. There is an e-Boxer badge though to distinguish the model.

Suffice to say the Forester has a combination of sleek style and robustness for the adventurous buyers. Tyres are Bridgestone Dueler H/P Sport 225/55 R18 98V.

2020 Subaru Hybrid Forester S, Forester L and XV. (Photo Narrative Post/Matthias Engesser)

Forester Hybrid S Interior

The hybrid variant maintains the same levels of interior appointments as the normal model variants.

This means that the quality of fit and finish is first class, as are the driver ergonomics.

A more detailed look at the interior can be found here

Worth mentioning are the little things that make for comfortable driving, like the relative positioning of the brake pedal to the accelerator, the almost perfect positioning of the left foot rest, the arm rest positions, both on the door and centre console are softly padded and just the right height, the amount of features that can be controlled from the steering wheel etc.

The major difference with the hybrid interior is the additional screen that shows the EV mode. Otherwise, you wouldn’t even know you were in a hybrid really.

Subaru Hybrid Screens Forester Hybrid S Features

The Forester is absolutely jam packed with features, and pleasantly, most of them are standard across the range.

Rather than go into detail here, we have another article that explains what comes with each model in detail.  Let’s just say that there isn’t much missing.

2020 Subaru Hybrid Forester S, Forester L and XV. (Photo Narrative Post/Matthias Engesser)

Forester Hybrid S Engine and Drivetrain

This is the heart of the story as the hybrid model is essentially a drivetrain replacement only.

Hybrid features a 2.0L boxer engine linked via Motor Assist to a high voltage lithium ion battery.

The four cylinder 2.0 litre engine produces 110 Kw  of power at 6,000 rpm and 196 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm and features the efficient intake/exhaust Active Valve Control System (AVCS).

The electric motor produces 12.3 kW of power and 66 Nm of torque, and is self-charging, via kinetic energy captured by regenerative braking and coasting. There is a 100kg weight penalty with the hybrid engine.

Compared to the normal 2.5L boxer engine the hybrid offers about 19% better economy in the ADR urban cycle and over 9% in the ADR combined cycle.

The direct injection petrol engine, Motor Assist and battery combination produce, linear and responsive acceleration.

2020 Subaru e-Boxer Hybrid Drivetrain

The e-Boxer logic adjusts the power split between petrol and electric to match driving conditions.

It automatically changes between three modes:

  • Motor Assist EV driving
  • Motor Assist electric (EV) + petrol engine driving, and;
  • Petrol engine driving

From standstill or at low speed, the vehicle is powered by the electric motor only, for quiet, zero-emission driving.

Depending upon driving environment, vehicle and battery condition, it can operate in fully electric mode up to 40 km/h.

When driving in fully electric mode (both forward and reverse), the Pedestrian Alert system emits a sound, to alert people in close proximity. The system operates when the vehicle speed is 24 km/h or less.

At medium speeds, combined power from both the electric and petrol engine produce responsive, linear and more fuel efficient acceleration.

At high speed, the Boxer petrol engine exclusively powers the vehicle, while regenerative braking or coasting with foot off the accelerator, recharges the lithium ion battery.

2020 Subaru Hybrid Forester S, Forester L and XV. (Photo Narrative Post/Matthias Engesser)

Under certain driving conditions above 40 km/h, when decelerating or coasting and the battery is charging, the petrol engine can turn off, achieving fuel saving.

As soon as the accelerator is pressed, the engine will re-start. It also eliminates the unnatural braking feel common to some electric-only vehicles.

It does however have a slightly jerky feel about it, similar to a dual clutch transmission. This disappears under acceleration, but in normal day to day traffic situations it is noticeable.

The e-Boxer hybrid system uses kinetic energy by converting it into electricity, delivered to the battery located in the sub cargo floor, together with the drive motor inverter and DC/DC converter. All are installed in a high-strength frame, with sound dampening and moisture-repelling qualities.

The electric motor assist and battery pack are aligned longitudinally, with the motor located near the vehicle’s centre of gravity, while the battery and other components are above the rear axle, also contributing to low centre of gravity and optimising front/rear weight distribution.

An unobtrusive cooling system draws air from the cabin to help maintain the battery at operating temperature and to help ensure better longevity.

Subaru X-Mode

Forester Hybrid S Driving Experience  

In Forester Hybrid S AWD, driver selectable SI-Drive – Subaru’s powertrain performance management system – allows the driver to tailor throttle characteristics by choosing between “Intelligent” and “Sport” modes, for flexible, convenient and enjoyable driving.

Subaru’s smooth and efficient Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) is mated to the e-Boxer system for power delivery and torque. As mentioned there is a noticeable jerkiness with normal driving conditions.

Motor Assist enhances X-Mode off-road capability, through better low speed torque control.

X-Mode makes it easier for drivers to safely navigate bad roads, slippery surfaces and steep hills, with just one switch. X-Mode’s status is indicated visually on the Multi-Function Display (MFD) screen.

2020 Subaru Adaptive Cruise Control

Forester Hybrid S Safety

As with the entire Subaru new vehicle range, all hybrid variants have a five-star ANCAP safety rating.

For a full list of the safety features we wrote a separate article here.

2020 Subaru Hybrid Forester S, Forester L and XV. (Photo Narrative Post/Matthias Engesser)

Forester S Hybrid Summary

Regular readers will know I am a big fan of the Forester. It is an excellent vehicle. One that has class leading qualities of off-road capability and ride and handling.

There are a few mild hybrids on the market like the Audi A6, however while they provide some benefits, they are essentially an aid rather than an alternative power source like the Toyota Camry Hybrid.

The Forester Hybrid will prove popular with fleet and corporate buyers where they must tick the politically correct box to buy a hybrid.

Mild hybrid is a choice for consumers. It’s just not one I would make. The system itself is a clever piece of technology, however I would choose the normal 2.5L petrol engine every time with more real world smoothness and responsiveness and save the extra $3,000 to spend on petrol.

Perhaps Subaru would have been better served introducing a turbo version or a full hybrid.

2020 Subaru Hybrid Forester S, Forester L and XV. (Photo Narrative Post/Matthias Engesser)

What’s Good?

  • AWD capability
  • Internal space
  • Ride, handling and safety

 What’s Not So Good?

  • No diesel or turbo engine options
  • Lack of additional lumbar support
  • Driving jerkiness

Also look at;

Model: Forester S Hybrid

  • Model Price:                      $45,990 MLP*
  • Engine:                               2.0i horizontally opposed e-boxer 4 Cylinder.
  • Drivetrain:                         seven speed manual mode Lineartronic™ CVT
  • Power:                               110 kW @ 6,000 rpm
  • Torque:                              195 Nm @ 5,000 rpm
  • Electric: 3 kW of power and 66 Nm of torque
  • Safety:                                5 Star ANCAP
  • CO2 Emissions:                  152 g/km
  • Economy:                          6.7 L/100km (ADR comb)
  • Tow Capacity: Max              1200 kg
  • Tow Ball Rating:                  120 kg
  • Servicing: Capped Price      12 Months/12,500KM
  • Warranty:                         3yr/ unlimited km with full roadside assist

Eight-year 160,000 km lithium ion battery warranty

*MLP – Manufacturers List Price includes GST and LCT but excluding statutory charges, dealer costs and dealer delivery. See your dealer for RDAP. Does not include price of any options.

Overall Rating     79/100

  • Behind the Wheel     8
  • Comfort                      8
  • Equipment                 9
  • Performance              7
  • Ride & Handling         9
  • Practicality                  9
  • Fit for Purpose            9
  • Towing Ability            5
  • Off Road Ability         7
  • Value for Money         8