With well over a million sales in the United States alone, the Subaru Forester is one of the most popular vehicles on the road today.
But with how popular this vehicle is, it leads to quite a few questions. What does the Forester do right, where could it improve, and is it right for you? There’s quite a bit of information to go through, which is why we came up with this guide to walk you through everything you need to know.
While many crossover SUVs have a newer history, that’s not the case with the Forester. The Forester made its first debut 25 years ago in 1997. The crossover SUV design was a novel concept then, and the idea has been wildly popular with tons of crossover SUVs hitting the market since.
Since then the Subaru has gone through five different generations, with the first refresh of the line coming in 2002. The third generation came in 2008, the fourth in 2012, and the most recent Forester generation came in 2018.
And while we haven’t heard any direct rumors of a sixth generation coming any time soon, when you look at the timeline between generations, it seems like a new Forester might not be too far off.
The Subaru Forester is an extremely popular vehicle, but when you look at the sales numbers it wasn’t always that way. From 2005 to 2010 the US sales numbers jumped every year, but they never topped 100,000 in a single year.
But in 2013 all that changed. They sold more than 120,000 Foresters in the US alone that year, and the popularity continued to surge until 2019. That year they sold more than 180,000 Foresters in the United States.
From there Covid hit, and supply chain issues have suppressed sales numbers. But with over 150,000 sales in 2021, it’s still one of the most popular vehicles on the market today.
While the engines have changed quite a bit throughout the years with the Forester, one thing that has stayed the same with all the engines in the US market is that it’s a 2.5L engine.
But just because they’re all the same size that doesn’t mean they’re all the same engine. That’s why the 1997 2.5L engine produced 170 horsepower while the 2022 model 2.5L engine pushes 182 horsepower.
It’s a fun car to drive, but there’s also no denying that it’s not the most powerful four-cylinder engine out there for a crossover SUV.
When you get a vehicle you want to be able to drive it, and if it’s breaking down or in the shop, you can’t get it anywhere. So, how does the Forester hold up over time?
The truth is that the Subaru Forester is an average compact SUV when it comes to its overall reliability. RepairPal puts an estimated annual repair cost at $632, which is average for vehicles this size.
In fact, just about every Subaru Forester reliability statistic comes right about average. So, if you’re thinking about getting a Forester, don’t let reliability concerns hold you back.
Whether you prefer the NHTSA or the IIHS safety ratings, the Subaru Forester is always rating extremely well in their overall safety ratings.
The NHTSA gives it five-star ratings down the board in frontal and side crash tests. Even in the rollover test, where many SUVs and crossovers struggle, the Forester does well earning a four-star rating.
The IIHS is known for its more stringent safety tests, but the Subaru Forester earns top marks there year after year too. The Forester is one of their top safety picks quite a bit, and they get their top safety ratings in just about every category.
It doesn’t earn perfect marks in the side crashworthiness test, but in most other categories, it still gets perfect marks down the board despite the more stringent testing standards.
If you’re getting a compact SUV you probably want a little extra space to work with, and the Forester thrives in that area, giving you far more cargo space than most other compact SUVs.
The base model Forester has the most cargo space than any of the models, giving you 28.9 cubic feet of storage space without accounting for the rear seats. But if you fold those seats down and account for that space, you get a whopping 74.2 cubic feet of storage space.
But that’s only for the base model. Still, every other model also has plenty of cargo space to work with. Behind the rear seats there is 26.9 cubic feet of storage space, and if you fold those seats down that extra space gives you 69.1 cubic feet.
And if you’re looking to make full use of the Forester’s all-wheel-drive system, the 8.7 inches of ground clearance it gives you is more than enough for most applications. Whether it’s getting to a sporting field or a campsite, the Forester can get you and your family there with ease.
The only Forester with additional ground clearance is the Forester Wilderness, which just came out in 2022. This trim level comes with 9.2 inches of ground clearance instead of the original 8.7 inches.
If you’re looking at a Subaru Forester a big part of what’s going to determine what you get is what trim level you go with. Modern Foresters come in six different trim levels, although if you’re shopping for a used Forester, there are really only five different trim levels to consider.
While the exact features on each trim level will change a bit depending on the model year, this guide will give you a pretty good idea of what to expect from each trim.
As the name implies the Forester Base model is just that. But unlike many base model vehicles that strip away all the luxury features, the Forester doesn’t do that.
Of course, you get the Subaru staple of an all-wheel-drive system, but you also get features like EyeSight driver-assist technologies, Starlink, front USB input ports, and auto on/off headlights.
It won’t have all the bells and whistles that higher trim levels have, but they’re not really bare bones either.
No matter what year you go with, the Forester Premium sits one level up from the base model Forester. For many years it’s the first trim level with push-button start technology, upgraded sound systems, and 4G LTE Wi-Fi capabilities.
Most newer Forester Premiums also come with a panoramic power moonroof. There’s no doubt that a Forester Premium comes with more amenities and features than the base model, but don’t expect quite as many as other trim levels.
The Forester Sport is going to come with everything a Forester Premium has from the same model year, and the Sport model is when you start to get to more luxury features.
Features like rear USB ports, paddle shifters, and larger wheels all come into play with this trim level. These aren’t necessarily features you need, but they’re nice features that make driving a little more fun.
Before 2022 the Wilderness trim level didn’t exist, so it’s going to take a little while for this trim level to hit the used car market. Still, there’s no denying that it’s an interesting addition to the Forester lineup.
It’s all about improving off-road capabilities and it does it in a few different ways. First, it sits higher off the ground at 9.2 inches. It also has an upgraded suspension and drivetrain system. It can tow up to 3,000 pounds and the roof rack can handle more weight.
But it’s a much newer trim level and you won’t find too many in the used car market just yet.
One step below their fully loaded Forester trim level is the Forester Limited. It’s going to come with everything the Forester Sport has some and then some.
This is the first trim level where you start to see leather upholstery, power rear liftgates, dual-zone climate control, and larger touchscreen displays. It’s not everything you can find from that model year, but it’s close.
If you want a Forester with all the bells and whistles that model year has to offer, then the Forester Touring is what you want. It’s their top trim level, and if it’s a feature they offer for that model year, the Forester Touring has it.
Of course, this does drive the price up for the Touring a bit, but with all the premium features you’re getting, it’s worth it.
Do you have any questions about the Forester or are you trying to track one down? Either way, the friendly team over at Tim’s Truck would love to help you out and point you in the right direction.
Whether you’re trying to figure out if the Forester is the best choice for you or if all that’s left is finding the perfect deal, Tim’s Truck is the way to go.