Should You Take the Subaru Forester Off-Road?

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With high clearance, a well-balanced chassis, and powerful “X-mode” all-wheel drive, the Subaru Forester isn’t just suitable for all-terrain driving—it was born for it. 
An off-road vehicle is more than just your daily driver—it’s a ticket to your next adventure. An invitation to take the path less traveled or forge your own. The problem is: Every off-roader is different. Some might look the part but perform sub-optimality in true trail-blazing conditions.
In this article, we’ll break down everything you need to know about
Subaru Forester
’s off-road capabilities—from key factors, like torque and horsepower, to popular alternate choices. Let’s get started.
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Can the Subaru Forester go off-road?

You know it—the Subaru Forester is designed for off-road driving, ready for rough riding right off the factory floor. While the Subaru Forester might not be the experienced trailblazers' first choice, it is a great starting point.
For just $25,195, a new Subaru Forester—in all of its off-road add-on glory—can be yours! What else makes the Suburuter Forester an excellent entry point for trail chasing? Let’s explore a few key features.

Ground clearance

When driving on uneven surfaces, you'll want to keep ground clearance in mind. The Subaru Forester comes with 8.7 inches of ground clearance. That’s 8.7 inches of leeway between the bottom of the vehicle and where the wheels touchdown.
For most off-road excursions, the ground clearance sweet spot is between 8.8 to 10.8. The Subaru Forester doesn’t quite meet this requirement—but it’s ready for a range of terrains (without damaging the undercarriage). For comparison, the 2021
Jeep Wrangler
offers 9.7 inches of minimum clearance.


Ground clearance protects your car from steep inclines, but you’ll need torque to get up those hills. The Subaru Forester has a maximum output of 176 lbs of torque—an idea for low-medium difficulty terrain. 
The Subaru Forester’s torque is comparable to the 184 lb torque
Toyota Rav4 TRD Off Road
—another easy-going off-roader. You’ll want higher torque levels when engaging with intense, steep terrain.


The Subaru Forester features an aggressive set of 225/60 17-inch tires—an affordable size for off-road cars. Still, that’s just the original tire size. You can always ask a mechanic to exchange larger tires when the terrain demands.
You might consider
all-terrain tires
, or A/T tires, for a decent mix of off and on-road driving. A/T tires use open patterns to create additional traction. One downside is that all-terrain tires are more expensive and don’t last as long as all-season tires.


It’s no secret that all-wheel drive is necessary for off-road driving—I mean, how else could you embark on unpaved roads. Luckily for Subaru drivers, all-wheel drive is standard for all Forester off-road vehicles.


Here’s a bit of high-school trigonometry for you. The Subaru Forester has a great set of angles. Take, for example, the approach angle and departure angle: 
  • Approach angle: the maximum angle at which a vehicle can climb without interference 
  • Departure angle: the maximum angle at which a vehicle can descend without interference
The Subaru Forester has an approach angle of 23degrees, departure of 25 degrees, and breakover of 21 degrees—competitive for its highway driving heritage. The Subaru Forester might not be a certified wall-crawler, but it does stack up well against other off-road entry points.

Off-road rating: Rough and ready

For your convenience, we’ve rated the Subaru Forester using Jerry’s extremely technical (and fun) DIRT rating system, highlighted by the table below:
Don’t Try It
Vehicles better suited to highway conditions
In a Pinch
Vehicles that can handle off-road conditions in certain circumstances
Rough and Ready
Vehicles designed for casual off-roading
Trail Boss
True off-road vehicles capable of tackling a range of terrain
The Subaru Forester exits this gauntlet with an R rating—R standing for “rough and ready.” The Subaru Forester is the most trail-ready crossover in the Forester lineup, but it’s a far cry from a dedicated, incline-scaling outdoor vehicle
If you’re looking for something designed for the highway and capable of wild driving, the Forester is a fine choice. Just don’t try climbing any mountains. 

The best off-road alternatives to the Subaru Forester 

The Subaru Forester is a fine choice for entry-level off-roaders—but it won’t turn any heads (or climb any mountains). If you’re looking for something a little more powerful, rugged, or luxurious, you’re already in the right place. 
Here are the best alternatives to the Subaru Forester for that outdoorsy crossover spirit you’re after:
Best affordable alternative
Mazda Cx-5 Turbo
Lean towards luxury and highway performance with this beautifully sculpted crossover. What the Mazda Cx-5 Turbo lacks in true off-road capabilities, it more than makes up for in price and style.
Best eco-friendly alternative
Toyota Rav4 Adventure
With a 203-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, 8-speed automatic transmission, and standard front-wheel drive, what’s not to like about the Rav4 adventure? It’s practical, efficient, and effortlessly fun to drive.
Best alternative for serious off-roading
Jeep Cherokee
You won’t find many serious off-roaders (new) in this price range, but that’s not without mentioning the Jeep Cherokee. This timeless trailblazer offers some serious power—all-wheel drive optional.

How to find affordable car insurance for off-road vehicles

Owning an off-road vehicle can make for some incredible driving experiences. However, they’re usually wicked expensive to insure. Luckily,
is here to save the day.
As a licensed
car insurance
broker and a
trustworthy insurance super app
, Jerry can compare rates from over 55 top insurers in just 45 seconds to find you the quotes that fit your needs. 
By shopping with Jerry, users save an average of $800+ per year on car insurance. Those savings could go towards some unique off-road mods like a lifted suspension, big wheels, or a custom paint job (to accentuate all that mud)! 
“My policy covers two people and four cars: a truck, SUV, convertible, and muscle car.
helped me go from paying $308 a month to $125 a month with the same coverage. I’m loving the savings.” —Jocelyn A.
Thousands of customers saved on average $887/year on their car insurance with Jerry
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By Max Werner
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