Buy a car
from the safety of your home.
Connect with our dealer and finance partners through our site and ask for details regarding their at-home car buying services.
  • Video car tours
  • E-transaction: complete paperwork online
  • Vehicle home delivery
  • Enhanced vehicle sanitization
OK

Subaru Forester Research

The Car Connection Subaru Forester Overview

The Subaru Forester crossover SUV is a tall wagon with standard all-wheel drive. The middle child in the Subaru lineup, it's also the automaker's most practical vehicle, with lots of room and a long-lived reputation for durability overshadowing things like styling and luxury touches.

Slotted between the smaller Crosstrek hatchback and the bigger Outback wagon, the Forester sits in the compact class along with vehicles such as the Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, and Toyota RAV4, among others.

The Car Connection named the latest Subaru Forester our Best Car To Buy 2019.

MORE: Read our 2020 Subaru Forester review

The new Subaru Forester

Though it doesn't look much different from its predecessor, the 2019 Subaru Forester is a clean-sheet redesign that shares little in common with the outgoing model. Its boxy shape grows slightly, with about an extra inch of overall length dedicate primarily to improving rear-seat room. Under its hood, a 182-horsepower flat-4 roots power to all four wheels via a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The turbo option, long a Forester standby, was dropped.

Inside, the Forester's upgraded interior boasts even better visibility than before and a big upgrade in materials. Standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are welcome additions. All models feature Subaru's EyeSight safety tech—automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and active lane control. Touring models debuted a new infrared camera system that monitors drivers and sounds an alert if they begin to nod off or are not watching the road closely.

The Forester launched with five trim levels: base, Premium, a new Sport grade, Limited, and Touring. The Sport's suspension and steering settings are unchanged, but it has its own styling and a special "Sport Sharp" mode for its driveline that provides snappier throttle response.

We miss the turbo engine, but only about 5 percent of the previous Forester left the factory with it. The standard 2.5-liter flat-4 provides adequate acceleration. More notable is the Forester's smooth, absorbent ride and luxury-grade silence.

Subaru Forester history

Since its launch in 1998, all Forester models have been tall wagons built on the underpinnings of the compact Impreza sedan and hatchback. As the Forester gained in volume and reputation over its first decade, it entirely replaced the five-door Impreza wagon once that compact-car line was redesigned for 2008.

The first-generation Forester ran from 1998 through 2003, followed by a second generation that spanned model years 2004 to 2008. That second Forester was significantly restyled halfway through its life, with a new front end, tailgate, and rear lights added for the 2006 model year. The third generation was launched in 2009 and ran through 2013.

Although it launched just as the recession arrived, the 2009 Forester shattered sales records by hitting just the right spot in the highly competitive compact crossover market. New buyers were lured to the brand by a sticker price that started just around $20,000, along with high perceived value, and Subaru's standard all-wheel drive.

For the third generation, the Forester 2.5X model produced 170 hp from its 2.5-liter engine, with either a 5-speed manual gearbox or an old 4-speed automatic transmission. The 2.5XT turbo version, a significant upgrade, boosted power output to 224 hp.

Base models were practical but spartan, though a lengthy list of trim levels and options was offered that easily pushed the price past the $30,000 mark. Those features included a navigation system, along with leather upholstery, a 10-way powered and heated driver's seat, and a moonroof.

The Forester was most recently redesigned for the 2014 model year, when it was named The Car Connection's Best Car To Buy. There were few changes for 2015, but the next year, the Forester adopted Subaru's new infotainment system, with a bigger, cleaner touchscreen.

There were more changes for 2017. On the outside, the front fascia and headlights and taillights are tweaked. Inside, Subaru offers a new Saddle Brown leather upholstery, as well as several measures to reduce interior noise. The base engine gets slightly better fuel economy CVT, and the all-wheel-drive system adds available torque vectoring. Most importantly, Subaru adds and improves several safety features. The EyeSight system gets color cameras with wider and longer range, and newly available are automatic high-beam assist, steering-linked headlights that point into turns, and reverse automatic braking.

Upgrades continued in 2018, with automatic high-beam headlights and reverse automatic braking added to all Foresters fitted with the EyeSight system. EyeSight is now standard on the Touring trim level, while the 2.0XT Touring gets active torque vectoring as standard. Finally, for was the last model year before a redesign, Subaru has added a new 2.5i Forester Black Edition trim package as an upgrade to the Premium trim, with black paint, wheels, and trim accents.

Subaru took the fourth-generation Forester mainstream to some degree, though it kept the overall package about the same size as the 2013 model. Still, it managed to offer more rear-seat and cargo space, improved infotainment, and a sportier exterior.

The Forester offered a choice of two powertrains: a 170-hp, 2.5-liter flat-4 for the 2.5i, and a turbocharged 2.0-liter direct-injected flat-4 making 250 hp in the 2.0XT. Subaru's CVT offered a special Sport manual mode on the XT model that simulated six or eight "gears," depending on the setting. The less expensive trim levels with the naturally aspirated engine were made available with a 6-speed manual transmission.

At long last, for the 2013 model year, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity and audio streaming became standard, along with a USB port and iPod capability. Steering-wheel audio controls were made standard as well, and a new Value Package bundled the popular All-Weather Package (heated seats and mirrors, plus wiper de-icer) with a display audio system and fog lights.

Thank you!
We will notify you when reviews, news, and incentives are released for this vehicle.

The Car Connection Consumer Review

Rate and Review your car for The Car Connection! Tell us your own ratings for a vehicle you own. Rate your car on Performance, Safety, Features and more.
Write a Review
October 24, 2019
2020 Subaru Forester CVT

Outstanding Compact CUV

  • Overall Rating
  • Styling
  • Performance
  • Comfort & Quality
  • Safety
  • Features
  • Fuel Economy
  • Reliability
We've owned our 2019 Forester Touring since mid-June this year. I keep track of every drop of fuel that goes in; to date we're averaging 32.0 mpg with about a 40/60 mix of local/highway miles. Comfort... + More »
people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
February 7, 2018
2018 Subaru Forester 2.5i Limited CVT

Very comfortable and agile SUV

  • Overall Rating
  • Styling
  • Performance
  • Comfort & Quality
  • Safety
  • Features
  • Fuel Economy
  • Reliability
I love my new Forester. I find the seats and cabin space very comfortable. Takes bumps very smooth like a caddy, yet handles on a dime. Very airy and spacious inside. Great visibility with its massive windows... + More »
people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
January 26, 2018
2018 Subaru Forester 2.5i CVT

Happy to be back in a Subaru

  • Overall Rating
  • Styling
  • Performance
  • Comfort & Quality
  • Safety
  • Features
  • Fuel Economy
  • Reliability
Handles well. Good gas mileage. Easy to drive. Passengers said back was comfortable. A pleasure to get in and out of. Lots of space in the rear.
people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
See More Reviews
2020
The Car Connection
2020
The Car Connection
6.8
Expert Rating
Most Recent Rating
Best in Mid-Size SUVs
Ready to connect with local dealers?
Get Your Price