Subaru’s Forester is a bit of an unsung hero in the world of crossovers. Drivers looking for a basic vehicle with lots of safety equipment that holds the required gear for athletes or outdoor enthusiasts will be happy with a Forester. Subaru offers a variety of accessories to customize the Forester for tasks like carrying dogs in the cargo area or attaching skis, bikes, or luggage to the roof rails. Everything inside is durable and easy on the eyes, and the controls for the radio and ventilation system are controlled by buttons and knobs instead of the touch-screen interfaces some other utility vehicles rely on. If you like driving, be sure to check out the XT models and the 224-hp turbocharged engine that comes with them. The Forester isn’t as fast nor does it handle as well as Subaru’s own Impreza WRX and STI models, but it’s one of the few crossovers available with a turbocharged engine. Every Forester comes standard with all-wheel drive, which can be an expensive option on other vehicles. The main problem for the Forester is its archaic four-speed automatic transmission. Subaru seems to be rolling out its much more efficient continuously variable transmission as a replacement for the automatic across its portfolio, but the Forester hasn’t been upgraded yet. That four-speed transmission is part of the reason the Forester manages only 27 mpg on the highway in its most-fuel-efficient form and drops to 24 mpg on the highway if you opt for the turbo engine.
Trim levels: 2.5X, 2.5X Premium, 2.5X Limited,
2.5X Touring, 2.5XT, 2.5 XT Premium, 2.5 XT Touring
Body style: SUV/crossover, 5-passenger
Engines: 2.5L flat-4, 170 hp, 174 lb-ft
2.5L turbo flat-4, 224 hp, 226 lb-ft
Transmissions: 5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic
Passenger volume: 107.6 cu ft
Capacities: Towing 2400 lb; cargo (rear seats
up/down) 33.5/68.3 cu ft
Subaru finally gives front passengers a standard height-adjustable seat on all Foresters. In more exciting news, an optional navigation package is available for 2.5X Limited and Touring models. The 2.5XT Touring gets a 6.1-inch touch-screen navigation system, voice-activated controls, Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming, iPod control, and the ability to send and receive text messages with compatible phones.
Front, side, and side curtain air bags; traction and stability control; ABS; electronic brake-force distribution; brake assist; and tire-pressure monitoring are standard. A rearview camera is optional.
All: 19-21 mpg city/24-27 mpg highway
- Flexible cargo space
- Standard all-wheel drive
- Four-speed automatic
- Lackluster fuel economy
An often overlooked contender in the small-crossover class
- Ford Escape
- Honda CR-V
- Kia Sportage
- Toyota RAV4