The least costly Forester is the 2.0i-L, which has the 2.0-litre petrol engine, cloth seat trim, and a manual gearbox.
Spend more for the 2.5i-L and you get the bigger petrol engine with an automatic gearbox. You also get X-Mode, which optimises the Forester’s stability and traction controls for driving at low speeds on loose and slippery surfaces. It will even restrain the speed of the car on steep downhill slopes, without help from the driver.
Spend more again for the 2.5i-S and you get a suite of driver aids that Subaru calls EyeSight. Among these is automatic emergency braking: EyeSight warns you that an obstacle is ahead (commonly a slowing car), and applies the brakes if you ignore the warning. It operates at city and highway speeds.
EyeSight also warns if you are drifting out of your lane, or if you are steering erratically – perhaps because you are tired. And when you use cruise control, it slows you to the speed of a vehicle in front when required.
The 2.5i-S also has satellite navigation, leather trim, heated and power-adjustable front seats, a driver's seat that remembers your setting, and a tailgate that raises and lowers at the press of a button. Windscreen wipers operate automatically when it rains. Headlights use very efficient and long-lasting LEDs, and switch on automatically when it gets dark. They also swivel to shine into corners as you turn the steering wheel. A smart key can be left safely in your pocket or bag while you unlock and start the car. Wheels of 18-inch diameter replace the 17-inch wheels of less costly versions, fitted with tyres of a slightly lower profile.
You can also spend money on a diesel engine. The 2.0D-L is similarly equipped to the 2.0i-L. The more expensive diesel, the 2.0D-S, has most luxury features of the 2.5i-S. However, only automatic gearbox diesels have X-Mode, and no diesel has EyeSight.
Finally, you can purchase a Forester with the most expensive engine, the very powerful, turbocharged 2.0 litre petrol. The Forester XT has this engine and the features of the 2.5i-L, including the automatic gearbox and X-Mode. It also has a power-adjustable driver's seat, and swivelling LED headlamps from the 2.5i-S.
The Forester XT Premium has the turbo petrol engine and all the features of the 2.5i-S. In addition, in February 2016 it became the only Forester to use Active Torque Vectoring, which improves drive in corners by directing more power to the tyre with more grip.