The specifications say that the 2022 Subaru Forester has 28.9 cubic-feet of cargo space behind the back seat or 26.9 cubic-feet with the giant sunroof found on most trim levels. Those figures are about 10 cubic-feet less than the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Hyundai Tucson, the segment leaders. It’s even behind one of the segment’s smallest members, the Mazda CX-5.
Something’s fishy, though. When this Forester generation was launched for 2019, Subaru’s published cargo capacity numbers were 35.4 cu.ft and 33.0 cu.ft (no sunroof). Although still slightly less than the big boys, those figures are quite obviously far more competitive. They’re also far closer to reality.
The load floor sure seems higher in the Forester than those of the CR-V, RAV4 and Tucson. That could certainly contribute to its smaller cargo capacity on paper (regardless of official measurement). However, the Forester has a boxier and more upright roofline, which definitely claws back some space relative those sleeker competitors. Also, as we’ve seen time and time again in these luggage tests, boxy is better.
Note that the Forester being tested here is the new Wilderness, which includes a full-size spare tire. Its presence does not alter capacity. In fact, there’s still room under the floor to store the cargo cover. This is a great, rare feature that means that you can easily get rid of the cargo cover on the fly should you need the extra space freed up. It also means you don’t have to store the thing in your garage someplace.
As such, I didn’t bother testing with and without the cargo cover in place. If you don’t have to worry about getting stuck with it in the car, the “with” test is a moot point.
OK, onto the bags. As in every luggage test I do, I use two midsize roller suitcases that would need to be checked in at the airport (26 inches long, 16 wide, 11 deep), two roll-aboard suitcases that just barely fit in the overhead (24L x 15W x 10D), and one smaller roll-aboard that fits easily (23L x 15W x 10D). I also include my wife’s fancy overnight bag just to spruce things up a bit (21L x 12W x 12D).
There, everything fit with room to spare. I didn’t need to so closely Tetris them all together, but I wanted to show the space left over. This isn’t as much as with the Hyundai Tucson, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. It may not even be as much as the Mitsubishi Outlander. It is more than the Nissan Rogue, however.
OK, now let’s fill up that space.
That would be a 38-quart cooler stuffed in the back there plus a blue duffel bag.
In short, these same items fit in the Tucson, CR-V, RAV4 and Outlander. Like the Outlander, there’s not as much room leftover, but we’re talking stuffing in some shoes or a pizza box-sized thing or something.
So yes, the Forester doesn’t have as much cargo room as the class leaders, but for all intents and purposes, its functionally the same. Again, this aligns with this Forester generation’s original, higher cargo capacity figures relative to those of the competition.
Now, on to some other cargo-related features.
An update for every 2022 Forester is the addition of these two cargo area roof hooks. They are good for 6 pounds each.
Special to the Forester is a water-resistant and easily cleaned surface for the seat backs. All-weather floor mats are also included.
As with most vehicles in the segment, you can fold down the back seats using switches on each side of the cargo area.
For anything that can’t or shouldn’t be stored inside, the Forester provides some of the best roof rails in the industry. Above left are the standard rails, while those above right are those unique to the Wilderness. Besides the exclusive gold trim, note the second stanchion holding up the middle. Presumably, this is how the Wilderness roof rails can support extra weight: 800 pounds while parked versus 700, and 220 while in motion versus 176.
Even the base rails hold more than those of all competitors, while even the base Toyota 4Runner roof rails are good for only 120 pounds.
This makes it a lot easier and safer to do this …
Basically, with the amount of space inside, the easily loaded boxy shape, the full-size spare and the highly functional roof rails, the Forester offers a lot more cargo capacity than a simple cubic-foot measurement would indicate.