Lift Your 2019-2023 Subaru Forester The Right Way
(Links To Buy Each Kit Included)
The 2019 Subaru Forester was the first model year of the SK chassis body style. The XT had been retired and the entire body was redesigned. During this update, the “Sport” trim was also introduced. With its aggressive styling and body cladding, the new generation of Foresters quickly became a fan favorite and even grabbed the attention of first time Subaru owners.
The Forester comes from the factory with 8.7 inches of ground clearance which is more than enough for most basic trail driving. The X-mode feature also helps drivers navigate tricky terrain. But some people want even more out of their Subaru. By adding a 1-2 inch lift kit to your Forester, you can gain even more ground clearance and give you the ability to install even larger tires. Most kits allow for an oversized 225/65R17 tire with no rubbing at all. Bigger tires means much more off-road capability and fun.
Check out this helpful how-to guide as you begin the search for your new lift kit. Each kit listed is a great option and will help you eliminate some of the “cheapo” low quality lifts.
Table of Contents
Pros and Cons of Lifting Your Forester
While lifting your car in and of itself won’t do too much to change the performance, the supporting mods can create quite an impact. In particular, installing bigger tires can be the most noticeable factor.
The most common pros and cons are as follows:
While you will gain the ability to traverse more challenging terrain, your Forester may experience more body roll and harder cornering ability. This isn’t a huge deal for most drivers. You just need to be aware that it won’t handle as with as much agility as it would on street or track suspension.
The lift kit itself won’t do much to impact this. But once you install larger, heavier tires, you may see a drop of 1-5 mpg. However, this number can vary wildly based on your ultimate tire selection and driving habits, and we think the ability to travel off-road substantially outweighs this issue. We really haven’t experienced a noticeable drop in fuel economy. We try to keep our tire size no larger than 2 inches over stock size. Our biggest recommendation for avoiding mpg loss is to keep large objects off your roof rack.
Once your vehicle is lifted with heavier wheels and tires, your engine, transmission, and axles are going to be forced to work a bit harder to handle the added weight. But with some strategic throttle control and realistic expectations of capability, your drivetrain can still have a long healthy life.
This applies to anyone who installs a heavier wheel and tire combo on their car. Your brakes are going to have to work harder to bring the vehicle to a stop with the extra unsprung weight that comes with bigger tires. Be aware of this and give yourself a little more space on the road for braking distance.
Three most popular ways to lift a Subaru
Upgraded Suspension Assemblies
Lift springs are stiffer and taller than the stock springs that came on your vehicle. You’ll have to swap out the factory springs with the new kit. They are really good for anyone who plans to load extra gear into the car. They also help stabilize the car’s handling ability even with a higher center of gravity after lifting. The main complaint with a stiffer spring is that they can be a little more jarring on bumpy roads.
Strut spacer kits are usually less expensive and easier to install than a spring lift. They are the most common lift type for Subarus. You bolt them to the top of the strut towers and they push your entire shock absorber down to add lift. The main issue with using only a strut spacer is that they don’t create additional suspension travel or offer a performance spring rate. So you may experience “butt sag” when loaded up with camping gear or off-road recovery gear. Here are some of the most important things to look for when selecting a good strut spacer kit: camber correction, multi-link/subframe spacers, customer service (reputation) and quality workmanship.
Some kits actually offer both springs and spacers. For example, companies like Primitive Racing incorporate both forms of lift to provide proper off-road capability.
Longer suspension assemblies (longer struts, or long travel coilovers) are the ideal way to lift a vehicle. However, they are the most costly option. Long travel coilovers usually start at $1400 and will require special ordering if you ever manage to damage one on the trail. This will cause a bit of downtime in most cases as you wait for a replacement. We think it’s worth it, but just be aware that you can’t
We typically recommend this option to people who prefer premium upgrades and truly plan to abuse their vehicle off-road. We also suggest this option to anyone who already has worn out shocks and is planning to replace them anyway. In this case, you may actually save money.
Best 2019-2023 Subaru Forester Lift Kits
LP Aventure is a company based in Canada that has years of authority in the off-road and over-landing industry. They pride themselves on NHTSA and FMVSS126 motor vehicle safety standards, meaning that their kits allow your Forester to retain full factory safety features while providing extra all terrain capabilities.
Their 2 inch lift kit for the SK Forester chassis will give your car the extra clearance to get around in the forest a little easier. We really like how LPA kits come with everything needed to lift your car the right way without cobbling together a bunch of different parts.
We see a lot of questions from people asking “I just installed a lift kit and now my wheels aren’t centered in the back anymore. How do I fix it?” or even “I bought a cheap kit from someone on Ebay and the alignment shop can’t get my camber within spec.” This kit gets rid of the headache of trying to correct a poorly built lift.
Installing this lift kit will not interfere with your Subaru’s Eyesight system. We’ve talked to multiple people who’ve used it with no issues whatsoever.
- Kits arrive with everything needed to lift your Forester or Forester Sport 2 inches without changing ride quality
- Spacers are designed with 304 stainless steel and are TIG welded. They are tough, durable and resistant to corrosion. (Make sure to spend a little extra on the powder coated kit unless you want to paint them yourself)
- Maintains original camber specs
- Includes multi link spacers for rear tire alignment
- Lengthened brake lines spacers
- Longer exhaust spacers included
- Hand brake spacers
- Instructions available on their site for easy installation
The LP Aventure Forester lift kits are a little more expensive than some spacer options, but they have a great reputation, are well designed, and contain a comprehensive parts list to make sure you have everything you need! If you want to order a kit and have it installed with no headaches, this is the right kit for you.
TIP: we found that tirerack.com occasionally has sale prices on LP Aventure kits. They also offer free shipping which can save between $40-60 depending on where you live. You can save even more money buying the bare metal option and painting the kit yourself to protect it from rust.
If you plan to tow a small camping trailer or load your Forester down with heavy gear for your adventures, the Primitive Racing lift kits offer an overload spring setup that will keep your rear from sagging. Their PRSS system will also keep your original suspension geometry intact so you’re not fighting to get the car aligned properly after install.
This kit is a spring lift with a rear shock extension spacer included. Upgrading your actual suspension like this is the ideal way to lift a vehicle. Not to mention they include brake line spacers to make sure you have enough slack after lifting.
We’ve been using Primitive Racing parts on our builds for nearly a decade and really appreciate the fact that they never cut corners just to sell more units. The company has strong roots in rally racing and they build their products with performance and quality in mind. If it can’t stand up to hard trail abuse, it’s not a Primitive Racing kit.
Primitive is based right here in the USA with headquarters in Tigard Oregon. They assemble their kits locally and make everything you’ll need to outfit your Forester for the trails.
- Lifts 1.25″ (Perfect for mild trails without sacrificing on-road manners)
- Heavy duty King Springs front and rear (King Springs is one of the most respected aftermarket spring manufacturers in the world)
- Primitive Racing Rear Subframe Spacer Alignment Kit (Re-aligns your rear wheel geometry to keep them from being crooked)
- Rear Shock Extensions
- Rear Brake Line Extension Brackets
- Rear Sway Bar Spacer Kit (Keep your on-road handling intact even after lifting)
Check out the top of the line GZ option from Raceworks. It can provide 6 inches of lift with up to 10 inches of travel:
Replacing your Forester’s entire suspension setup with a long travel coilover that improves your spring rate and “flex” is the ultimate way to lift a vehicle. Up until recently I would not have considered a coilover lift kit for Subarus because of the cost and unreliability of most options out there. However, that has changed with Raceworks and their Overland Coilover system.
Long travel coilovers on Subarus were typically reserved for rally cars. They were expensive and not built with longevity in mind. Instead, they were built for a few days of extremely harsh abuse on the track before being rebuilt. Fortunately, with the rising popularity of off-road Subarus, the viability of consumer-friendly coilovers has become a reality.
The team over at Raceworks offers not only a VERY affordable and competitive entry level Overland coilover that lifts up to 2 inches, but also a performance long travel option for those who want something more extreme.
The entry level Overland coilovers allow you to give your Forester a true 2 inch suspension lift with adjustable dampening. I spoke with a representative over at Raceworks and they had this to say about the Overland series coilover: The Overland is very consumer-friendly because it lifts up to 2” so not many complexities with the install. The C2 spec takes performance up a notch with inverted struts and long travel springs.” I think it’s important to realize that even though it is considered their “entry level” coilover, it’s still far and above other options out there. With the additional lift and suspension travel of their Overland kit, you’ll be able to navigate uneven terrain and absorb harsh bumps much more easily.
If you want to take your build to the next level with an even more aggressive and capable coilover lift kit, consider the Raceworks GZ coilover system. Taking your Forester to its limits is exactly what this kit is for. Raceworks told me that “The GZ adjusts from a 2” lift all the way to a 6” lift for those who want to get more advanced with their lift. It’s a much larger and more advanced build.” If turning your Subaru into a monster is your goal, this is the right kit. Keep in mind that additional modifications will be needed if you plan to lift above 2 inches. Things like subframe spacers and steering extensions will be necessary. We recommend contact Raceworks directly if you choose to go this route. It’s a rewarding process, but lifting your Subaru this much is not a quick afternoon job.
Raceworks suspensions are hand-built and can be customized however you like. We suggest the Swift Long Travel spring upgrade and a custom recommendation from Raceworks on spring rate. They are fully serviceable and have a 3 year warranty from the manufacturer.
Starting at under $1400 for the Overland, this is THE best option for anyone wanting to attack technical trails in their Forester. It’s also the best option if your suspension already needs to be replaced. If you upgrade to a set of these, you’ll be fixing your worn out struts and getting more ground clearance.
Highlights From The Manufacturer:
- Monotube shock design
- Custom tuned per order
- 52mm nickel-plated shocks
- 44mm high flow piston
- Stainless steel shims
- Synthetic shock oil
- Height adjustment independent of spring preload
- Damping adjustable (20-32 clicks depending on application)
- 3-year no hassle warranty against defects
- Fully serviceable
- Includes 4 assemblies to replace your entire stock suspension
- Suspension travel: up to 10 inches.
- Fully adjustable lift up to 6 inches.
- Long travel SWIFT SPRINGS.
- Barrel design allows for a much longer spring length without experiencing spring deflection. The long travel of these springs pairs perfectly with our long travel shocks. Swift springs are widely regarded as one of the best springs on the market due to their proven quality and performance at the professional level.
- High quality helper springs to fine tune droop travel.
- Specially designed mounting points are made with strength in mind.
- Camber plate is made with steel and designed to be beefier and quieter compared to common camber plates used by many other brands.
- MacPherson lower mounting bracket is made with steel and utilizes a rally-inspired design.
- Reinforcement bracings are welded on for increased strength.
- Wishbone lower mounts utilizes a unibody design which is lighter but also stronger than steel pieces welded together.
- Chrome plated shock body prevents rust and corrosion. The shock body on the GZ is both thicker and longer than many other lift suspensions. This results in increased operating efficiency by holding a larger amount of shock oil.
- Larger piston for a more compliant ride and more responsive dampening.
Seals are proven to last millions of cycles with no leaks.
- Custom tuned for each user.
- Every set will include a personal dyno sheet for that specific suspension.
- Dampening adjustable from soft to stiff (20 to 40 clicks, depending on application).
- Independent height adjustment without altering spring preload.
- Camber adjustable.
- Fully rebuildable.
I recently heard one of the Reika founders on the Subie & You podcast talking about how the brand started and discussing their desire to bring affordable, quality parts to the soft-roading community. After checking out their lift kits and talking to people who’ve run them, I think it may be really hard to beat them for $250.
Their 2019-2022 Forester lift is a 2 inch kit that comes with brake line spacers. They use grade 8 hardware and everything is E-coated for rust and corrosion resistance. When compared to similar kits with the same specs, the Reika is the best option for under $300.
Highlights From Reika:
- 2″ lift in the front & 1.5″ lift in the rear
- E-Coated & Powdercoated to help prevent rust damage to your vehicle (ask us how we know about this problem)
- Offset top plates to maintain factory geometry (Helps keep your camber specs within factory requirements)
- Increases ground clearance
- Allows tire clearance for up to 215/75R15 (great size for anyone planning to do intermediate trails)
- Cradle drop to help maintain factory geometry
ReadyLift offers the 2″ SST 2019-2022 Forester lift kit with offset spacers to help with camber/caster results. Check out Chad’s Crosstrek lift build to see how it looks after installation.
According to the ReadyLift site, the 2 inch Forester kit Allows for 225/65-17 with no rub and possibly even larger tires with slight plastic trimming. It also delivers 11 inches of ground clearance at the rocker panels.
Ready Lift has been making lift kits for trucks of all sorts for well over a decade, and now they are providing an inexpensive option for SUV and crossover owners. Their kits are bolt-on and are affordable for anyone looking to get that additional off-road capability without breaking the bank.
Ready Lift stands behind their products with a power train warranty; stating that any engine or transmission damage caused by lifting the vehicle is covered. This means you can rest easy with the peace of mind that your lift kit won’t add unnecessary stress to the motor or drivetrain.
For the price, you can’t go wrong with this easy lift kit. Just keep in mind that there are other pieces that you may want to purchase to help return your Forester’s suspension geometry to factory specs. We suggest ordering a set of multi-link spacers to go with this lift.
If you’ve ever talked to me about lifting your car, you’ll know that I’m pretty adamant about never buying discount lift kits. I see a lot of folks buying “ebay” kits and then encountering numerous problems during and after install. However, if you’re the type of person that is budget conscious, this would be the one I would recommend.
One of the main reasons I steer people away from cheap lift kits is because they’re usually sold on Amazon or Ebay by an unknown company that has little to no customer support. It’s not uncommon for a customer to order a lift kit and then realize that it’s not the right part. Then when they try to get help from the seller, their account is either closed or they don’t respond for weeks.
Protune is based in California and has an actual website with a phone number, contact email, and a clear return & warranty policy. For this reason, I feel more comfortable recommending this kit to the person who is considering a no-name kit for $100 online. But this kit instead.
The hardware seems solid for the price and should hold up to basic trail use. They also have camber correction built into the spacers and there are brake line spacers included.
Please note that you will want to purchase subframe/multi-link spacers to correct the rear wheel geometry on your Forester.
- 2.0″ Front/ 1.5″ Rear lift
- Easy bolt-on installation can be done by you or your mechanic
- Offset spacer design for basic caster/camber correction.
- Helps fit 225/65-17 tires easily
- Usually under $150
Lifting your Forester can seem daunting and the array of choices out there makes it even more confusing. This article doesn’t contain every lift kit available, but we believe everything on our list is good quality and we would install any of them on our Subaru. If you’re in the market, research each of these options and see which one should fit your needs best. We recommend picking your top 2 or 3 options and then contacting the manufacturer to have any questions answered. If you have a good customer experience prior to purchasing, there is a good chance you’ll be taken care of if a problem occurs during installation.
We hope this short article has been helpful as you begin your journey into the world of lifted Subarus. Browse the other articles here and check out the featured builds section to get inspiration for your build!
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