Caraganza First Drive Review 2025 Subaru Forester: A Geriatric Gem

I don’t live too far from a place here in Florida called “The Villages” a community reserved for residents who are 55 and older.

When I first moved to Florida over 30 years ago, I called The Villages the place where old people go to die; a tropical hospice for northerners who move here for their final days. In the years since though I’ve learned that those final days aren’t spent sitting idly around waiting for the grim reaper to knock of the door.  Turns out The Villages is known as Disney for Seniors, a community for mega-swingers with some of the highest rates of sexually transmitted disease in the world.

Because, why not?

After all, once the kids are gone, and the pension starts rolling in, doesn’t a person deserve to live out their final days partying like a rock star and wondering who you will wake up beside?

Maybe I’m trying to justify such a place given that I’m over 60. And now that I’ve reached that “milestone” I’ve started to notice things. Things like familiarity, nostalgia, and my well-worn recliner.

Perhaps that’s why I liked the 2025 Forester Subaru delivered to me for a recent week so much. It’s the automotive equivalent of a well-worn recliner—comfortable, reliable, and absolutely stuck in time. It’s nearly 30 years old now, and surprisingly seems to have changed little.

The 2025 Subaru Forester is available in six trim levels: base, Premium, Sport, Wilderness, Limited and Touring. As with nearly all Subarus, all-wheel drive is standard on all trims as is a continuously variable automatic transmission.

The standard engine across the lineup makes 180 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque —oddly a decrease of 2 hp and increase of 2 lb-ft compared to the 2024. I had the Limited for my week.

Subaru gave the Forester a “refresh” for 2025, but let’s be honest, in Subaru-speak it means they’ve slapped on a bigger infotainment screen and called it a day.

Let’s start with the exterior, shall we? It’s as if Subaru’s design team took a time machine back to the early 2000s and decided, “Yep, this silhouette works just fine.” Sure, there’s a “refresh” here and there, but it’s like putting a new coat of paint on your grandma’s antique dresser – it looks a bit fresher, but the essence remains the same.

Step inside, and you’re greeted by that new larger 11.6-inch tablet-style touchscreen. Hooray, Subaru finally decided to join the 21st century in screen size. But it’s sort of like strapping a flat-screen TV onto a typewriter.  It feels like a desperate attempt to bring something modern into a cabin that’s otherwise designed for someone who remembers when rock and roll was just a twinkle in Buddy Holly’s eye.

The rest of the interior feels like it’s been curated for a retirement home. Comfortable? Absolutely. Exciting? Not a chance. But with the average buyer’s age hovering above 60 everything seems right at home amidst the sea of beige and functional knobs. And the infotainment system controlled by that 11.6-inch touchscreen is as intuitive as a crossword puzzle—satisfying for some, mildly frustrating for others.

Under the hood you get the same old engine, albeit with a little less horsepower. It’s not particularly powerful or fuel-efficient, but it’s durable. You could probably drive this thing through a nuclear apocalypse, and it would still start in the morning.

Yes for 2025 Subaru updated the Foresters driver assistance technology which they say is better at detecting objects for the adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning systems. There’s also a new emergency stop feature that monitors drivers while the adaptive cruise control is in use and, should they become unresponsive, issue a series of escalating alerts before finally stopping the car and unlocking the doors. Perfect should an older driver decide it’s nap time.

There’s also a new surround-view parking camera system and a digital rearview mirror that allows you to see out of the back even if your normal view is blocked.

On the road don’t expect it to do anything exciting. It lumbers along, content in its predictability, while more modern SUVs zip past like sports cars on espresso. It’s competent on a dirt track, sure, but so was a horse and cart, and you don’t see many of those at your local dealership.

Handling? Well, it’s competent. It doesn’t corner like it’s on rails, but it won’t flip over if you sneeze. The ride is smooth enough, but don’t expect to feel connected to the road. It’s like driving a sofa. Comfortable, but utterly disengaged from the experience.

The driving dynamics haven’t seen much evolution since the days when flip phones were all the rage. But it’s reliable, sure-footed, and about as thrilling as a cup of lukewarm tea. You won’t break any speed records, but you’ll get to your grandson’s soccer game without breaking a sweat.

At the end of the day the Forester has all the excitement of a damp sock. It’s the automotive equivalent of beige wallpaper. The sort of thing that, if it were a meal, would be a boiled potato. Unseasoned.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The Subaru Forester isn’t a bad car. It’s reliable, practical, and in a world where new cars cost as much as small houses, reasonably priced. It’s like that dependable, albeit boring, friend who always shows up on time and never drinks too much at parties. Safe. Predictable. A little dull. Or a trusty old dog who’s always happy to see you.

For those who want a safe, predictable ride and don’t mind the fact that their car is more at home in The Villages than on a racetrack, it’s perfect. For everyone else, it’s a reminder that sometimes the latest and greatest isn’t always the most thrilling. It’s a testament to staying power in a world obsessed with constant change. It’s not flashy, it’s not cutting-edge, but it gets the job done with a quiet confidence that appeals to those who value tradition over trendiness.

If you want a reliable SUV that doesn’t try too hard to impress, it’s a solid choice. Just don’t expect it to get your adrenaline pumping. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go take a nap.

The 2025 Subaru Forester Limited
MSRP: $35,995
MSRP (as tested): $38,990
Engine: 2.5 liter Flat 4, 180 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm, 178 lb-ft torque @ 3,700 rpm
Transmission: Continuously variable-speed automatic
Fuel Mileage (EPA): 26 city, 33 highway, 29 combined
Fuel Mileage (as tested, mixed conditions): 31 mpg
Base Curb weight: 3,613 lbs.

Exterior Dimensions
Length: 183.3 in.
Overall width with mirrors: 81.2 in.
Overall width without mirrors: 72.0 in.
Height: 68.1 in.
Wheelbase: 105.1 in.
Ground clearance: 8.7 in.
EPA interior volume: 134.1 cu.ft.
Cargo capacity, all seats in place: 27.5 cu.ft.
Maximum cargo capacity: 69.1 cu.ft.

Interior Dimensions
Front head room: 40.0 in.
Front leg room: 43.3 in.
Front shoulder room: 57.7 in.
Front hip room: 54.7 in.
Rear head room: 37.7 in.
Rear leg room: 39.4 in.
Rear shoulder room: 56.7 in.
Rear hip room: 53.7 in.

Basic: 3 yr./ 36,000 mi.
Drivetrain: 5 yr./ 60,000 mi.
Rust: 5 yr./ unlimited mi.
Roadside assistance: 3 yr./ 36,000 mi.

Greg Engle