The Forester rides and handles like a good sedan. It also provides decent acceleration and good fuel economy for this class. The controls are well laid out and the interior is nicely finished. Access is easy and seat comfort is very good. Impressive crash-test results are another plus.
Alerts
There are 3 recalls on this vehicle. Learn More.

Overall Owner Satisfaction

Consumer Reports’ Annual Owner Satisfaction Survey can improve the chances of finding a compatible car match. How? Our survey data reveals whether, all things considered, owners would buy the same car again. The answer to that question is what determines our owner-satisfaction rating, which is a powerful piece of intel because it predicts how well a particular model will satisfy other owners.

Overall Owner Satisfaction

Owner Satisfaction with:

Driving Experience

Includes acceleration and handling

What Owners Say

"It is very peppy for such a small engine. I think it is fun to drive and it takes me everywhere I want to go."

CYNTHIA G., CA (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Just the other day I tried accelerating quickly and the car was very slow to respond. Handling is not as responsive as I would like. These problems may very well be age related. I have been told by my mechanic that I probably need new rear struts after I complained about noise from rear."

THOMAS K., IL (2003 Subaru Forester)

"smooth driving, brisk handling and adequate acceleration"

GARY P., VA (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Had to replace engine at 90,000 miles"

MARK B., MI (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Very good handling through curves & turns, easy to see out, smooth manual transmission & nice hill-holder feature, does nothing wrong."

Anonymous, CA (2003 Subaru Forester)

"The all wheel drive system provides a great deal of confidence on the long rural commute we use it for."

Anonymous, WI (2003 Subaru Forester)

"With our Iowa snow, I feel secure driving and appreciate the heated windows."

LEONARD L., IA (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Drives well with two people or 5 people and luggage. Drives well with freight."

FREDERICK B., NY (2003 Subaru Forester)

"great handling"

Anonymous, NJ (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Very good road grip, especially on tight turns. Very stable in bad weather."

ROBERT S., NJ (2003 Subaru Forester)

"The Subaru Forester has excellent Outward Visibility."

SUSAN S., AL (2003 Subaru Forester)

"safety"

Anonymous, MA (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Fun to drive. My wife always says the car feels like it has suction cups on the wheels. Handles really well on corners."

DONALD W., CA (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Excellent handling on highway - very stable"

Anonymous, CO (2003 Subaru Forester)

"turns on a dime"

Anonymous, TX (2003 Subaru Forester)

"cornering is nice, acceleration is poor. vision is really really good. I love how the roof doesn't slope at the back to make a 'look' over Function"

Anonymous, AB (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Fun to drive. Great in the snow. Sporty for a small SUV."

ROBERT L., MD (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Good traction on all road conditions"

BERT-CAROL P., ON (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Very powerful almost to the point of too powerful for an old guy like me. The cruise control hits the gas so hard you feel the G-Force! Some people might like this. I still own a 1995 Honda Odyssey which has a cruise control that is much more refined (gentle acceleration)."

GEORGE D., PA (2003 Subaru Forester)

"It's a great overall car. We moved 1700 miles from VA to Texas and I pulled a trailer close to 2000 pounds with few problems even over 12000 foot mountain passes. A great work car."

A K., TX (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Great in the snow."

Anonymous, RI (2003 Subaru Forester)

"The only game in town for winter weather driving."

Anonymous, OR (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Tows our popup camper easily"

Thomas H., WV (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Weekly I pull my 1700# bass boat and all is well."

Dennis E., KY (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Excellent handling in emergency situations and also excellent handling in winter driving conditions."

Anonymous, NY (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Good acceleration and handling. Great off road ability for small car. Inspires confidence and affection."

Joe S., GA (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Even with 182000kms on the odometer the car still has very good accelation, and terrific handling in winter conditions."

Anonymous, QC (2003 Subaru Forester)

"lackluster acceleration but decent handling."

Jennifer H., AB (2003 Subaru Forester)

"pretty peppy for an older vehicle smooth turns"

Mary M., FL (2003 Subaru Forester)

"All wheel drive has been effective and reliable"

Anonymous, MA (2003 Subaru Forester)

"For a 15 yr old used car it accelerates quite well when it has to -- entering a high speed highway, for example. Overall, the car is responsive and drives well. The ride is not particularly comfortable and there is a constant "wind tunnel" noise that comes from both front side windows. It has, however, been overall reliable."

Sanda R., NH (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Small enough to easily fit in garage. Powerful enough to pull my aluminium bass boat."

Anonymous, KY (2003 Subaru Forester)

"It is fun to drive and handles well on our windy mountain roads."

Cindy G., CA (2003 Subaru Forester)

"The car is 15 years old and it stillaccelerates and handles beautifully. I feel very safe in it."

Anonymous, NM (2003 Subaru Forester)

"I use it mainly in the winter and the AWD system is very usefull."

Anonymous, AB (2003 Subaru Forester)

"no major faults"

C J., GA (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Amount of power never feels inadequate to me. The vehicle feels sure-footed and predictable."

David B., NC (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Handling in winter is reassuring. Higher seating and window configuration gives better visibility."

Anonymous, PA (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Good: Generally handles very well Good: Handles very well in snow and rain Good: Acceleration Good: Excellent 5 speed manual transmission NOTE: I have a 5 speed manual transmission which greatly enhances my control of the car (especially in rain or snow). I have driven my siater's Subaru Forester, which has an automatic transmission, and it does not handle as well as mine."

Anonymous, NY (2003 Subaru Forester)

"But sluggish"

Anonymous, OR (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Good handling on curves and especially in winter driving conditions."

Anonymous, NY (2003 Subaru Forester)

Comfort

Includes seats, climate control, noise, and ride

What Owners Say

"My only complaint about the 2003 Forester is that the seals on the front door windows get stiff over time, producing a lot of wind noise. Newer models have fixed this by using a framed window instead of the unframed "aircraft seal" type."

CRAIG C., OR (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Climate Control does not work well. It needs constant adjustment. The road noise is very high; probably due to needing door seals replaced. The only major problem has been dangerously rusted sub frames which had to be replaced."

Anonymous, PA (2003 Subaru Forester)

"The position of the brake pedal means you must cross you cross your foot over the center line to the left. This means you need to sit at a slight angle to the center line of the vehicle."

DAVID H., OR (2003 Subaru Forester)

"It rides very harsh, but is very good in snow."

MARY K., MI (2003 Subaru Forester)

"The seats are the most comfortable I have ever found in a car. (We joke about taking them out and using them in the house!) The climate control system is the pits--no way to increase or decrease temperature of air. Only the fan is adjustable. In the winter we leave it off and use heated seats unless someone is riding in the back. Current Foresters offer heated seats only with packages that include sunroofs. I consider a sunroof a waste of money and my husband refuses to buy a vehicle with"

Anonymous, IN (2003 Subaru Forester)

"excessive wind noise"

JOHN F., MN (2003 Subaru Forester)

"a bit tooo much road noise"

W D., NV (2003 Subaru Forester)

"I am 6'4" tall and weigh 230 lbs yet the car fits me like a glove. Over the years the cabin noise has increased and I have not been able to remedy it. Auto body repair shop was no help."

GEORGE J., NY (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Wind noise is excessive on highways."

Anonymous, VA (2003 Subaru Forester)

"The back of the driver's seat does not provide adequate support. This is particularly noticeable on long trips. Driver's back of seat fabric doesn't breathe well."

S K., CO (2003 Subaru Forester)

"The seats are some what generic, ride is a little rough"

MIKE H., SD (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Wind noise is very annoying, mainly because there is no door frame around the windows. Later models have the door frame. I guess Subaru got this message more than a few times."

ROBERT A., MD (2003 Subaru Forester)

"I had to replace the front door weather strips because they became stiff and broken, which allowed lots of wind noise. Replaced them in 2016 and it's much quieter inside. Windshield still occasionally shrieks in a cross-wind."

Anonymous, OR (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Wish they provided better seats, especially on the front driver's side. This prevents us from taking it on long trips. There should at least be the ability to upgrade that seat to the same functionality as the driver's side."

Anonymous, CT (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Interior is well laid out. Controls are where they should be imho. However, being 6'2", I find the arm rest on the door too low to be comfortable and rest my arm on the window ledge is too high to be comfortable."

THOMAS K., IL (2003 Subaru Forester)

"> The seats are very good. > The air conditioning is mediocre."

Anonymous, NY (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Find seats fairly uncomfortable. Have loud whistling noise coming from on both sides of the window seal where the side mirrors are attached. Noise overpowers the radio."

TAWNY M., CA (2003 Subaru Forester)

"We live in snow country but had never had heated front seats before. They came as part of a package of other things we wanted on this car, but we didn't really care whether we got them or not. Now we INSIST on having them. They are a good way to warm you up until the engine gets hot enough to operate the heater."

JUDITH D., MT (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Seals around outside mirrors go bad and then you get a lot of wind noise. The car is already somewhat noisy from road noise."

JIM D., OH (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Wind noise very loud."

Anonymous, WI (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Everything is great except it is very noisy...I need to turn the radio up when driving more then 35mph"

Anonymous, NV (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Climate control (heating) somewhat unpredictable Very pronounced road noise"

Anonymous, CO (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Over time, wind noise has increased from the passenger side window seal; transmission of road noise into cabin has also increased."

PAUL H., CA (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Seats uncomfortable, noisy ride"

BILL W., CO (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Really loud road noise on the highway"

Anonymous, MD (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Comfortable but road noise. 261000 plus miles with limited repairs"

ALAN C., KY (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Driver's seat power adjustable; lumbar support."

Anonymous, NY (2003 Subaru Forester)

"After a few years, the window seals in the front went bad, and they have been replaced, but before they were replaced, the car was very noisy.."

Sara M., NV (2003 Subaru Forester)

"I am 6 ft tall and 210 lbs, so seating is a bit small"

Philip S., GA (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Excessive road and wind noise makes it difficult to hear radio, etc"

Anonymous, IN (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Windows are not in a frame, allowing excessive wind and road noise to enter vehicle."

Anonymous, CO (2003 Subaru Forester)

"On long trips (3 hours or longer) feel uncomfortable in front seat. This was a step down from my 1995 Honda."

George D., PA (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Comfortable leather heated seats with a great view of the road. Ride is a little bumpy but what to expect with a vehicle of this type."

Dennis E., KY (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Best car I've ever driven on snow covered roads. Worst wind noise in any car I've driven. The dealer was never able the reduce that noise."

Frank O., NH (2003 Subaru Forester)

"It is the loudest car when driving. The windows have never had a good seal, other than when I purchased it used with 15,000 miles on it. The design is flawed, and they did change it."

Anonymous, MN (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Comfortable seats, sports car handling and ride. A little bit noisy though - wind noise."

R L., MD (2003 Subaru Forester)

"The seats could be more comfortable, especially on the passenger's side. It's the only "flaw" in this vehicle--thinking that those who buy it don't want comfort/luxury in a small SUV."

Deborah C., CT (2003 Subaru Forester)

"very noisy and the seats could have used more bolstering. the seat warmers get plenty hot but it could be more spread out. Great, and I mean amazing, body position and visibility for seeing all around the car,"

Jennifer H., AB (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Meh seats. The driver seat is ok for long rides, the front passenger seat isn't great. Ride and noise are pleasantly smooth and quiet, even in this old car."

Anonymous, ON (2003 Subaru Forester)

"This car is very comfortable in regards to the seats and ride, even in such an old car. My only complaint is the level of wind noise that enters the cabin."

Anonymous, QC (2003 Subaru Forester)

"The seats are definitely NOT ergonomicly designed for Americans. That can be fixed by cushions and padding, but comfort lags given the good design elsewhere on the vehicle."

John M., WA (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Seats very comfortable and seat heaters great,"

Anonymous, NY (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Seats are very comfortable but driver's seat heater has failed and is way too expensive to replace. Constant wind noise at freeway speed."

Joe S., GA (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Very comfortable on most surfaces."

Anonymous, AB (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Good: Seats are quite comfortable Good: Seat adjustments work well Bad: Cabin is noisier than my prior car (a 1989 Toyota Camry Station Wagon)"

Anonymous, NY (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Lots of rattles and squeaks, window seals needed to be replaced. But, given that the car is now 16 years old, that's to be expected."

Sara M., MO (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Seats are to stiff and outside noise is readily heard inside the vehicle."

Debbie Y., OR (2003 Subaru Forester)

"The Forester has always been a relatively noisy car with road noise prominent. My only complaint."

Joe V., WA (2003 Subaru Forester)

"One of the main reasons for buying this car was that the seat is high for good visible."

Carol G., CA (2003 Subaru Forester)

"The drivers seat is extremely hard and very uncomfortable. The windows do not seal properly and the car is very noisy because of wind noise."

Anonymous, CT (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Noisy ride at freeway speeds."

Anonymous, VA (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Wind noise is annoying at high speeds. Now only driven in town."

Sharron G., KS (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Seats become uncomfortable after about 2 hours of driving. There is a high level of noise where wind/air is audible with all the windows closed even though there does not appear to be an air leak and there is no water leak. Mechanic has not been able to make it better."

George D., PA (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Lots of road noise in its old age but the ride comfort is excellent and the seats still provide good support."

David B., NC (2003 Subaru Forester)

"The brake pedals are cocked to the left with respect to seat direction little room in foot area, latching of seat belts are excellent,"

David H., OR (2003 Subaru Forester)

"There is terrible wind noise from the windows. They are fully closed, but the seal around the windows is terrible and the dealer has never been able to fix it."

Laura N., NJ (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Seats very comfortable over long periods. Excessively noisy in the cabin."

Jim D., OH (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Volume of road noise makes it difficult to converse or listen to the radio."

Anonymous, IN (2003 Subaru Forester)

Value

Did you get what you wanted relative to the price you paid?

What Owners Say

"It is a very solid car. Ann suv is not my choice for a regular drive car but is a good experience. The 4 wheel drive is a useless thing except for 5 days out of 365."

DAVID H., OR (2003 Subaru Forester)

"This has been my favorite car in nearly 60 years of ownership of autos. Decent gas mileage; handles well; spirited acceleration; corners well; steering is wonderful and responsive; Negative: Wind noise from front corner of front windows is bothersome."

GARY P., VA (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Very practical, plenty of room, has had some problems, but reliable overall."

EUGENE S., NV (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Standard Subaru seats, a polyester covering over thin padding. Rough to stay comfortable in long trips."

Anonymous, CT (2003 Subaru Forester)

"> The car is an excellent value for the price >-- It handles very well >-- It has needed very few non-ware repairs"

Anonymous, NY (2003 Subaru Forester)

"great car very safe ...fits in my Tiny Tiny Garage ...so not looking forward to getting anther new one which may not"

Anonymous, MA (2003 Subaru Forester)

"great price for used certified car"

Anonymous, TX (2003 Subaru Forester)

"The car was reasonably priced, and the all-wheel drive feature was reliable and provided great peace of mind in major winter snowstorms."

Anonymous, VA (2003 Subaru Forester)

"261000 plus miles with limited repairs"

ALAN C., KY (2003 Subaru Forester)

"The 2003 Forester had several things that came standard on it that I thought increased its value to me."

LORETTA C., KS (2003 Subaru Forester)

"After 136000KM and 13 years, what more can I say?"

Anonymous, ON (2003 Subaru Forester)

"It lasted 13 years with little more than basic maintenance. It is still going strong with the exception of the AC."

GEORGE J., NY (2003 Subaru Forester)

"This is an amazing car. I can transport a lot of stuff in the back with the seats folded down, and it's been very reliable (I've got 268,000+ miles on it). It was worth every penny I paid for it."

JOSEPH C., NY (2003 Subaru Forester)

"This car took me safely through blizzards, two tornadoes, and an ice storm. Rugged and reliable with great road handling abikity."

Anonymous, TX (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Car has been terrific smaller hatchback for carrying trikes, wagons etc. Hatch back makes it easy to put items in car. The back door is high enough so your head won't get hit by it."

Anonymous, CA (2003 Subaru Forester)

"We have nearly 200,000 miles with no major repair bills. The car is very dependable and cost effective."

Anonymous, CO (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Has been trouble free for many years, used in stop and go driveing for field service work. Easy open,light, Doors and rear hatch."

SHAWN M., MI (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Good quality with almost no issues in 14 years of driving."

KIYOMI K., AZ (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Low price with a wide variety of user friendly controls and easy -to-use gauges. Excellent hauling and tie down. Easy to convert from a 4-5 passenger car to a large volume cargo space. Great visibility for driving, coming to corners, backing up, etc.."

FREDERICK B., NY (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Overall good solid vehicle but a fair bit had to be fixed over the years I hadn't had to do with a Honda. The power form the engine, given its size, is lacking (even considering it is a 4 wheel drive) and it is really noisy from engine, road and wind."

Anonymous, AB (2003 Subaru Forester)

"It has been a good car, trouble free and a good value."

A K., TX (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Bought this car new in 2003 after considering a Passat, as I found all the features I wanted for a much better price. I have, however, had to replace both head gaskets, and periodically have had expensive repairs."

Anonymous, WA (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Good on snow"

DEAN D., IL (2003 Subaru Forester)

"It is currently suffering from corrosion of the exhaust system and the sub frame."

Frank O., NH (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Subaru seemed to be on cost cutting mode for this year's model. We had brake (thin rotors - fixed with Napa rotors and have had no problems since), rear bearing (warranty fix) and wind noise (side mirror gusset - warranty fix and more since then) issues from early in owning this vehicle. The window problem was fixed in more recent models by having a full frame for the window. Subaru should have never deviated from that design, or they should have designed better window movement and gussets."

Scott R., VA (2003 Subaru Forester)

"The Subaru can go anywhere!! The AWD makes it a safe vehicle in good and particularly bad weather. Mileage was good but not great. Repairs were infrequent so long as the vehicle was maintained. Overall, it did the job, looked nice, was safe and reliable, and the comfort issue could be corrected after market. What more do you need in a vehicle?"

John M., WA (2003 Subaru Forester)

"There has been only one operating repair needed in the years owned. The relatively low usage of the vehicle has meant low maintenance costs."

Thomas N., CT (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Good mix of features and very reliable"

Anonymous, AZ (2003 Subaru Forester)

"We have had extensive work done in the past. We are very disappointed with how the Subaru has held up, especially the undercarriage. I would not recommend or buy a Subaru again. We were expecting more given the reputation and cost of it."

Anonymous, RI (2003 Subaru Forester)

"This vehicle is the best I have ever owned, and I've owned several dozen in the last 55 years. It is superb on snow and ice. It is comfortable on long trips. It can haul my small trailer without strain. I can carry loads inside it. It still looks great."

Malcolm B., CT (2003 Subaru Forester)

"I have operated this car without any problems and only regular maintenance for the past 15 years. Purchased new. The best car (quality-wise) I ever owned. Still tight as a drum."

Joe V., WA (2003 Subaru Forester)

"good wpae, durable engine, OK gas mileage and trnsmission"

C J., GA (2003 Subaru Forester)

"After 15 years it still looks great and is a reliable and safe behicle"

Anonymous, IL (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Best car, perfect size.. I have not had any serious problems and intend to get another Subacute when it's time for a new car."

Linda S., CA (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Great value for the money, even with a head gasket that blew. Known defect in this model, Subaru paid for half of the repairs. Sixteen years on the road and still going!"

Sara M., MO (2003 Subaru Forester)

"This was my first new car, and for the money (about $22K, as I recall), it has been a superstar. If this one ever dies, I plan on a replacement Forester."

W H., NC (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Cost of head gasket replacement from three sources was $2,100 to $2,600, life of this replacement is 60000 miles to 90,000 miles. Too much cost for a $23,000 car every 60,000 miles"

David H., OR (2003 Subaru Forester)

"Our Subaru Forester was a great buy. We wanted an AWD vehicle and were not disappointed with our purchase. We have made 4 cross country trips with our Subaru and never had a problem."

Anonymous, NY (2003 Subaru Forester)

Styling

How it looks inside and out

What Owners Say

"Terrific handling in snow/slippery conditions, good performance overall and good value"

BERT-CAROL P., ON (2003 Subaru Forester)

"The visibility is excellent. No new car is as good and many are not even close."

Anonymous, NB (2003 Subaru Forester)

"It was small suv of the year. Looks nice and my wife (her car) loves it."

MIKE H., SD (2003 Subaru Forester)
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