The Forester is Subaru's compact SUV that has attracted a dedicated following since its introduction. The last redesign was in 2009, but there were some notable changes for 2011, including the 2.5-liter flat-4 engine. This year, however, Subaru is leaving well-enough alone, changing only a few interior audio options on certain models.
The Forester's dimensions provide a roomy and comfortable interior and plenty of safety features. It doesn't have the best interior quality, but it's not the worst, either. The audio and iPod connectivity, as well as the touch-screen navigation, work well to update the entry-level quality of the interior.
Under the hood are two variations of a 2.5-liter flat-4. The base model has 170 horsepower and can rate up to 27 mpg highway, but is the only model offered with a five-speed manual transmission. If Subaru would simply make the five-speed auto found in the Legacy available, the Forester would compete better in its segment. It's the other engine, however, that gives a name for the Forester. Its turbocharged 224 horsepower is the most fun in the segment.
The Forester is smooth and comfortable around town and, with its ground clearance and all-wheel drive, is one of the only crossovers capable of actually crossing over from on-road duty to off-road.
Bodystyle: 4-door SUV
Engines: 2.5-liter flat-4, 2.5-liter turbocharged flat-4
Transmissions: four-speed automatic, five-speed manual
Models: 2.5X, 2.5X Premium, 2.5X Limited, 2.5X Touring, 2.5XT Premium and 2.5XT Touring
Few changes are in order for 2012, but the 2.5X Limited and Touring, and 2.5XT Touring models get upgraded audio with touch-screen navigation.
The current-generation Forester has always been a clean, sleek looking urban SUV, yet it looks sportier than others in its class while following the Subaru chrome grille and flared fender design cues.
Inside, the Forester's clever packaging gives you plenty of room for passengers and cargo. It isn't a premium vehicle, and the materials reflect this. Instead, it is practical and functional for a busy lifestyle, yet it includes a variety of the latest infotainment and connectivity features, like Bluetooth, iPod control, and an available touch-screen navigation system.
Performance & Handling
The Subaru Forester gets the 2.5-liter flat-4 for all 2.5X models. The XT gets the turbocharged engine that bumps power to 224 hp from 170. Unfortunately you can only get the outdated four-speed auto in the XT.
The Forester features four-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS) with brake assist, dual front, side seat mounted airbags, curtain first and second row overhead airbags, airbag occupancy sensor, stability and traction control, and full time all-wheel drive.
EPA Fuel Economy
2.5X: 21 mpg city/27 mpg highway
2.5XT: 19 mpg city/24 mpg highway
- Nice styling
- Spacious interior
- Smooth on-road
You Won't Like
- Four-speed automatic
- Average interior materials
- Mediocre fuel economy
Quality crossover needs a bit more improvement
If You Like This Vehicle
- Toyota RAV4
- Honda CR-V
- Nissan Rogue
- Suzuki Grand Vitara