Reviewed by Automotive on
When it was introduced in 1997, the Subaru Forester was touted as a bigger version of the Subaru Outback, and in fact replaced the Outback Sport in Subaru’s line-up. It is a vehicle that has found a comfortable spot amongst the more outdoorsy customer base, and can often be spotted at campgrounds or fishing spots. One of the few non-luxury compact crossovers to have all-wheel drive standard, it is also popular in the harsher climates. It has proven over time to be a durable and utilitarian vehicle, great for hauling children or camping gear, although it has never been the prettiest vehicle on the road. It is practical while also being affordable, although this comes at the cost of some creature comforts.
New For 2013
Subaru is only making minor changes for 2013. A new value package for the 2.5X Premium model adds a display-type audio system, foglights, and the all-weather package, which includes heated front seats, heated exterior mirrors, and a windshield wiper de-icer. All 2.5X models receive Bluetooth audio streaming and iPod connectivity. Bluetooth and audio buttons now adorn all Forester steering wheels.
In a class full of low, raked-back vehicles that look closer to large wagons than small sport utility vehicles, the upright 2013 Subaru Forester definitely sticks out. The large, boxy greenhouse has been a trademark of the Forester, and while it might not give it the most interesting appearance, it is a case of function over form. Likewise, the low and simple front end that is nearly level from the egg-crate grille back to the windshield is still there, albeit in chrome instead of the old black plastic. The Forester also keeps horizontal headlights that are, for the most part, in the front fascia, not bleeding back into the fenders like many of its competitors. It is plain, not very aggressive, with a relatively low appearance that disguises the fact that the Forester has nearly nine inches of ground clearance, which is greater than most compact crossovers. Roof rails are standard on top, and a hood scoop is standard on the turbo versions. 16-inch wheels are standard, with 17-inch wheels being available. Chrome exhaust tips and a rear spoiler are available, although quite unnecessary on such a utilitarian vehicle, while a panoramic moonroof is available and is an attractive option.
Interior & Cargo
The inside of the 2013 Subaru Forester is spacious and practical, if not a bit plain and unsophisticated. Both rows of seating provide enough head and leg room for average sized adults and behind the second row is 33.8 cubic feet of storage, which is near the top of the class for cargo space. The Forester also provides door openings and a tailgate opening that match the cargo and passenger spaces, so that larger objects can be loaded with ease. The inside is clad in mostly harder black plastics with some silver trim, not very attractive but durable and easy to clean. The layout is sound and simple, with the dials easy to read and all controls easy to reach.
The basic 2013 Subaru Forester gets power accessories, air conditioning, cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity, and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and iPod interface. The Premium trim level makes the most sense of all the levels, as it adds an 10-way power adjustable driver seat and has the availability of the All-Weather package, which adds heated front seats, heated mirrors, and a windshield wiper de-icer, and compliments the Forester’s year-round usability. Other features that can be added include leather upholstery, a six-speaker sound system, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a touchscreen navigation system with premium audio capabilities.
The 2013 Subaru Forester has a number of standard safety features, but has received mixed reviews in crash tests. As with every car rolling off the production lines, anti-lock brakes, traction control, and stability control are standard. Six airbags are also standard, including side curtain airbags that deploy if the vehicle senses an imminent rollover. A rearview camera can also be added. Thanks to a high greenhouse and a low beltline, the visibility from inside of the Forester is tops in its class.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Institute gave the Forester four out of five stars for front protection and overall safety, but only three stars for side impact protection and a meager two stars in the new side pole test. Despite this, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Forester its top rating of ?Good? for front, side, and rear impact as well as for roof strength.
The 2013 Subaru Forester comes equipped with either a naturally aspirated, 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine, or a turbocharged version of the same engine. The naturally aspirated version puts out 170 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque, which is practical and fuel efficient, giving the Forester just enough power to be adequate on the highway. It is far from a performance engine though, as the acceleration from a standing start to 60 miles per hour is 10.1 seconds, which is one of the worst times in its class. What it does do is move a full load and anything that can be tied to the roof or pulled behind without a complaint. The turbocharged version supplies 224 horsepower and 226 lb-ft of torque, which allows it to get up to 60 miles per hour in a mere 6.8 seconds, at the cost of only three miles per gallon less in gas mileage.
The 2013 Subaru Forester, like almost every Subaru, is equipped with full-time four-wheel drive. This version of four-wheel drive is not the sort for off-roading, although the Forester is more than capable of handling treks through fields and some of the tamer offroad paths. It’s great for poor-weather driving and for outdoors activities. The base model has a five-speed, manual transmission standard, while a four-speed, automatic transmission is available on all trims. The manual transmission is the better choice, as the automatic transmission is poorly spaced, with upshifts sometimes lagging and downshifts sometimes hanging a bit long. The handling is great, thanks to the low center of gravity of the vehicle. It avoids the body roll found in many crossovers. The suspension is solid, offering a comfortable ride that still has a bit of that off-roading firmness to it. Steering is precise, and provides decent feedback to the driver.
Key Competitors For The 2013 Subaru Forester
- Ford Escape
- Honda CR-V
- Chevrolet Equinox
Expand full summary
2013 Forester 2.5XT Premium Sport Utility Vehicle Overview
Engine: 2.5L SUBARU BOXER horizontally opposed four-cylinder DOHC Active Valve Control System (AVCS) with variable valve timing
Premium unleaded fuel
Fuel economy: EPA (08):, 19 MPG city, 24 MPG highway, 21 MPG combined and 355 mi. range
Multi-point fuel injection
16.9gallon fuel tank
Power (SAE): 224 hp @ 5,200 rpm; 226 ft lb of torque @ 2,800 rpm
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