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2022 Subaru Forester e-Boxer Hybrid review: Updated with better tech, but is it more of the same?

2022 Subaru Forester e-Boxer Hybrid review: Updated with better tech, but is it more of the same?
The fifth-gen Subaru Forester is updated with better tech, but is it more of the same?
PHOTO: CarBuyer

Launched: August 2022,

Price: $172,800 with COE (September 2022)

Five-door, mid-sized SUV, five seats.


  • Good all-round visibility
  • Confident driving dynamics


  • Small screen on car data interface
  • Not quick by current standards

A collection of factors over the last decade has meant that Subaru has not been on the top-sellers list in Singapore for quite some time, but that's not saying that its cars are not capable products.

The updated Forester here is really another good example of how the brand is still capable of making cars that punch above its weight, and price tag.

It's a midlife refresh of the fifth-generation Forester that was unleashed upon the world in 2018, and in the tradition of all facelifts, the new car gets redesigned head and taillights, restyled bumpers, plus, this time, some real technology updates.

The big new thing that Subaru is shouting about is its improved EyeSight stereo camera system, used by the car to control major active safety features like adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning.

Rather than use an arsenal of radars and infra-red sensors like on continental luxury cars, Subaru's safety arsenal is powered by actual cameras mounted at the top of the windscreen, just in front of the rear view mirror.

The little Suzuki Ignis uses a similar camera-based system as well.

In the Forester, the two cameras are now better integrated into the cabin architecture and fit flush against the windscreen from inside the car.

One thing that we alway have a go with in every new car equipped with such is to have a go with the adaptive cruise control system.

In the Forester, the cameras can read the lane markings and well as the distance to the car in front, and cruise intelligently without running up the rear end of the car in front.

It's smooth and very usable on expressways but we wouldn't recommend using it in city traffic because we discovered that whenever lane markings break up at traffic junctions the car gets very confused.

The car actually automatically brakes in anticipation of running out of road when lane markings disappear, which isn't a very appropriate response when you're driving straight through a yellow box junction.

When the lane markings are clear however, the system works perfectly. 

Subaru classes the Forester with its two-litre petrol engine and electric motor package as a mild hybrid, but this isn't like any other mild hybrid we've driven.

That's because instead of the usual 48-volt, or 12-volt integrated starter generators of most other mild hybrids including the Audi A4 and Kia Stonic, the Subaru Forester uses a 118.4-volt electric drive system with a 13.5kWh battery.

This means that it can actually function as an electric vehicle over short distances.

We tested the car and found that it can cruise around carpark speeds of under 25km/h in EV mode, and a light on the dashboard tells you that the car is in full electric drive.

The car will also automatically shut off the engine and run on electric power during smooth bouts of highway cruising.

The result is an average fuel economy of around 8.5L/100km in mixed urban use.

It's quite far off the claimed 6.9L/100km, but when you stop to consider that the car features a proper four-wheel drive system, a two-litre engine, genuine off roading ability, that's really quite a respectable return.

Subaru's X-Mode selector for choosing the appropriate off road drive modes isn't going to be much use on tarmac, but this is just the kind of car that you want to have if you're the sort that wants a real SUV for some trail driving in Malaysia.

With the correct tyres fitted, the Subaru Forester is more than up to the task.

Road manners are good and refined on the whole, but the car isn't actually very quick in a straight line. It is very steady and sure-footed with good dynamics however.

The new car actually has a revised suspension setup for improved handling.

There's also little to complain about the spacious interior, except maybe for the tiny little data and entertainment display screen. Boot space is expansive though, along with good rear seat head and shoulder room. 

The big question is, how does it stack up against similarly priced competitors like the Nissan Qashqai, Mazda CX-5, or even the Honda HR-V Hybrid?

At time of writing they all float around the $180,000 mark, but the Subaru Forester is still one of the rare family-sized SUVs on sale here that's car-like and also with proper off roading capability.

It's really a matter of personal preference, within this bracket, but the Qashqai has the poshest urban vibe and Mazda CX-5 the better dynamics.

The Honda HR-V Hybrid is a bit outclassed, with its lack of standard fit equipment despite the high price tag.

A step down in the Subaru lineup too is the XV, which is kind of like a baby Subaru Forester and about $30,000 cheaper. Well worth a look-in, if this class of car is what you are shopping for.

Subaru Forester e-Boxer hybrid 2.0i-S

Drivetrain type  Petrol-electric mild hybrid  
Engine  1,995cc, horizontally-opposed 4-cylinder
Engine power 150hp at 5600-6000rpm
Engine torque 194Nm at 4000rpm 
Gearbox CVT 
Electric motor 16.7hp/66Nm 
Battery Lithium Ion, 13.5kWh
System power / Torque Not stated
0-100km/h 11.8 seconds
Top speed 188km/h
Fuel efficiency 6.9 L/100km 
VES band  B / neutral
Agent Motorimage Singapore
Price $182,800 with COE and VES
Availability  Now
Verdict  Still a properly well-balanced drive, but local prices make it a tough proposition in a crowded market segment
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