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 2 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

"Seldom needs servicing."

Anonymous, TX (2004 Subaru Forester)

"This Forester has a manual transmission, which gives it excellent acceleration and allows me to slow the car with the engine. After 93,000 miles, I'm still on the original brake pads."

DAVID W., CA (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Acording to Car and driver Mag, it was the quickest suv in the 0 to 60 category at the time. I love my hood scopp for the turbo!"

DAVID N., MA (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Excellent turn radius, excellent rain/snow handling, excellent cargo space"

GARY D., PA (2004 Subaru Forester)

"JUST KEEPS ON GOING WITHOUT FANFARE AND NEVER BREAKS"

JEFF T., GA (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Anemic acceleration. Handling very good, great around town."

Anonymous, IL (2004 Subaru Forester)

"A very nice vehicle for rain and showy roads. Plenty of power even though non-tubo, Rides nice and goes where tou steer it."

PETER C., GA (2004 Subaru Forester)

"It's a great vehicle and gets really good gas mileage for an all-wheel drive. The 4 cylinder engine has sufficient pep, but could stand some more. I know I could get the turbo, but that one requires premium fuel. I like the design of this older Forester. The newer ones (in my opinion) are too big, overall -- especially too tall."

EMMETT F., OR (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Acceleration: Very good. Handling: Mostly a confortable highway cruiser"

Anonymous, QC (2004 Subaru Forester)

"I love my forester. It accelerates and handles with ease and the AWD feels really secure when driving in bad weather."

REID S., ME (2004 Subaru Forester)

"When it comes to deep snow and terrible driving conditions, there's no other vehicle I'd rather be driving. Passengers were often in disbelief at Subaru abilities."

DON S., MI (2004 Subaru Forester)

"In all weather conditions, I feel very safe and secure."

HERB S., NY (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Handling, acceleration"

Anonymous, PR (2004 Subaru Forester)

"It is a manual transmission and the clutch and accelerator release feels jerky."

RON S., NV (2004 Subaru Forester)

"It's great for Winter driving ... which it is always and exclusively used for ... great for snow, hugs the road like a mountain goat."

JAMES T., MI (2004 Subaru Forester)

"176,000 km required head gasket and cylinder ignition coil"

Anonymous, AB (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Very, very well on both counts."

Anonymous, VA (2004 Subaru Forester)

"The cruise control is constantly shifting on inclines."

JUDY A., KY (2004 Subaru Forester)

"It's fun and sporty and quirky."

Anonymous, AZ (2004 Subaru Forester)

"The worst thing about it is the wind noise has gotten unbearable after all these years; weather stripping/seals???"

Anonymous, IL (2004 Subaru Forester)

"It's a good, solid car that never lets me down -- regardless of road and/or weather conditions."

Emmett F., OR (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Great acceleration and handling. There are many options available to improve beyond the stock performance envelope using STI parts. Reliability is top notch!"

Brian Z., AZ (2004 Subaru Forester)

"The Forester is easy to handle because of the view I get looking through the windshield and all the windows."

Fred L., CA (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Solid acceleration and very nimble handing."

Lawrence C., MN (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Excellent acceleration and handling on all surfaces all seasons. I am impressed with vitality and great response of power train, steering and suspension after 13 years of driving this car."

Michael K., WI (2004 Subaru Forester)

"this is powerful and handles well and goes like stink when you flow it.. nothing remotely like any other SUV (besides that porsche)"

Anonymous, BC (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Great traction, plenty of power, great handling in snow, ice, rain."

Ian S., NC (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Handles great!"

James T., MI (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Good acceleration, but the handling leaves a bit to be desired."

Christopher A., VA (2004 Subaru Forester)

"It drives like a truck and transmits a lot of road noise into the interior. The turbo gets it smartly off a stop but the lack of a 5 or 6 speed transmission hurts acceleration after about 25 mph. It's truly a gas hog and the realistic expectation is 19-21 mpg. On the positive side it's an excellent car for winter driving conditions. Because it's not particularly comfortable to drive we now use it only when there is snow and ice on the road and for a dedicated ski car during the winter months. Th..."

Anonymous, NV (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Somewhat under powered, particularly when accelerating on to the highway. Very stable handling and behavior on road. great visibility."

J C., SC (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Acceleration when passing on highway is a little sluggish"

Ann M., CO (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Excellent handling and good acceleration."

Anonymous, AR (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Slow acceleration, partly because of age/high mileage. I like the handling; not a sports car but still responsive. I still enjoy driving it."

Ann R., CO (2004 Subaru Forester)

"168000 mi and still has pep"

Herb S., NY (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Excellent power and acceleration. Very responsive acceleration pedal."

Anonymous, WI (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Our Forester is a Turbo and has amazing acceleration. Overall it drives very well."

Anonymous, BC (2004 Subaru Forester)

"I driven is cross country several times and it has never given me any problems"

James E., MT (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Very good acceleration and handling, especially for a 13 year old car purchased second hand."

Anonymous, QC (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Unbelievably slow"

Curtis C., WY (2004 Subaru Forester)

"The car is surprisingly quick, due to the turbo. The steering is a bit light, but the car feels secure and eager throughout the acceleration range. Also, with all wheel drive, it performs well in the snow and other adverse conditions."

Ken K., OR (2004 Subaru Forester)

"It handles very well on curvy mountain roads, and I prefer the now-rare manual transmission for mountain driving."

Anonymous, CO (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Funky and fun to drive."

Anonymous, AZ (2004 Subaru Forester)

"The acceleration from a stop is very strong (good torque in first gear) and reliable."

Steve C., IL (2004 Subaru Forester)

"It is a 5 speed stick and can beat most cars off the line and it still handles fine."

Anonymous, FL (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Even though the car has over 230,000 miles, it drives very welll even while driving uphill!"

Jody M., NY (2004 Subaru Forester)

"a very good car for its age--handles well and accelerate just fine when entering trafic"

Samuel K., OR (2004 Subaru Forester)

"The acceleration is very responsive and handling is quite agile for a SUV of it's smaller size. At times however, the transmission can seem slightly jerky when accelerating."

Reid S., ME (2004 Subaru Forester)

"It accelerates briskly from a full stop, and has no problem keeping up with traffic in aggressive urban driving (New York City) or on upstate highways. The all wheel drive makes it easier to park and get out of parking spaces even in snowy or icy weather. It handles curves in mountainous terrain with no problem at any speed I could legally drive. Not the quietest vehicle, especially during hard acceleration, especially when compared to luxury vehicles at much higher prices. I have never felt any need for the turbo engine which I did not buy. The standard engine with manual transmission is quite peppy."

Mark G., NY (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Very usable body style, full-time all-wheel drive, high off tbe ground, has snow tires, excellent "snow car" for Michigan wx. Next car migbt be Subaru Crosstrek. Even nicer car, same features"

James T., MI (2004 Subaru Forester)

"All round visibility, traction"

Anonymous, ON (2004 Subaru Forester)

Comfort

Includes seats, climate control, noise, and ride

What Owners Say

"SPEED, RADIO, ETC. ARE ALMOST INVISIBLE UNDER DAYLIGHT CONDITIONS. VENTILATION AIR IS ALWAYS HOT IN SUMMER, REQUIRING AIR CONDITIONING. DRIVERS SEAT NOT COMFORTABLE ON LONG DRIVES."

Anonymous, BC (2004 Subaru Forester)

"It doesn't seem like the front windows are totally sealed because I hear a wind noise on the freeway. The windows are rolled up as far as they can go, but I sill hear the wind noise. There's no framework around the doors on the outside - maybe that's why?"

SHARON J., IA (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Too much wind noise"

DAVID C., CA (2004 Subaru Forester)

"The car is noisy while driving , I have to turn radio louder."

Anonymous, CA (2004 Subaru Forester)

"There is (and has always been) a lot of air noise from this car when traveling at high speeds."

GARY C., VA (2004 Subaru Forester)

"The seats are a bit firm for long drives. A little more cushion would be a plus."

Anonymous, CA (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Seats are comfortable. Sometimes it is noisy. We just sold this car and bought a 2017 Forester."

Anonymous, MI (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Air conditioning works sproadically. Dealer has a problem diagnosing."

MARYANN K., NC (2004 Subaru Forester)

"The seats are very comfortable, but the road noise (especially from the windows that don't have a top rim, has reduced our enjoyment considerably."

BRENT S., WI (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Extremely noisy at highway speeds."

Anonymous, IL (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Same as WRX"

Anonymous, CO (2004 Subaru Forester)

"The seats are uncomfortable and the wind noise is very bad. It was $90. per window to have the gussets replaced on the front windows so we taped them and don't roll them down. The heater does not put out enough warm air on our feet."

JUDY A., KY (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Noisy. Poorly designed door (frameless windows) creates lots of wind noise and also drips water on the seats every time a door is opened in the rain."

Anonymous, OR (2004 Subaru Forester)

"I am on my 3 rd set of wheel bearings at $300 a pop. And 3rd head gasket at $1100 each"

DANIEL S., NY (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Road noise Climate control (ac not strong enough) Bad gas mileage"

Anonymous, TN (2004 Subaru Forester)

"The seats, climate controls, and ride are excellent. However, the vehicle is quite noisy."

THOMAS W., WA (2004 Subaru Forester)

"I am very short, so this car is what I need to feel comfortable driving it, i.e., I don't feel comfortable driving bigger cars where I have trouble seeing over the steering wheel!"

Anonymous, PA (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Car is uncomfortable but reliable."

Anonymous, NY (2004 Subaru Forester)

"There is a lot of wind noise on the forester. Dealer service centers just say it is normal, but it is much louder than any other auto I've been in."

Stuart P., WA (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Sun roof has become misaligned and the quote to have it fixed is outrageous. A;so, there is a fair amount of wind noise from around the front windows which seems to be unable to be cured."

Edward C., MD (2004 Subaru Forester)

"everything about this car wins. it's still gas however so I look forward to getting something electric"

Anonymous, BC (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Seats are not comfortable for travels longer than couple of hours. Outside noise on highway is excessive."

Anonymous, MD (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Getting old, but still in good shape with all functiond"

Patricia H., NM (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Everything is OK except for a lot of wind noise at highway speed."

D C., CA (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Seats: very comfortable. Noise: needs more control,it's often difficult to hold a conversation. Ride: fine, especially on rough gravel roads. And the extra high (8"+) ground clearance is ideal."

Anonymous, BC (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Best seats I ever had in a car. Important because I have serious back problems."

Anonymous, QC (2004 Subaru Forester)

"There is little leg room for passengers riding in the back seat. However, I understand this has improved in later models than mine."

Anonymous, MO (2004 Subaru Forester)

"various gaskets failures that leak water and air, I fixed myself. Driver's seat is starting to give out but the car is 14 years old."

Daniel S., NY (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Wind noise is awful"

Michael K., WA (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Wind and road noise interferes somewhat with conversation and audio listening."

Anonymous, VA (2004 Subaru Forester)

"road noise is excessive and seats surfaces are cracking"

P S., CT (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Seats are reasonably comfortable. Road noise isolation could be better, the cabin gets rather noisy when on the highway."

Reid S., ME (2004 Subaru Forester)

"My Forester has run almost flawlessly for 130,000 miles. Ride is comfortable but a little noisy on the highway; rear struts started rattling at <90,000 miles. Grinding while shifting from 3rd to 4th gear. Engine continues to have same acceleration that it did when new. CD player stopped working 6 years ago."

David F., AK (2004 Subaru Forester)

"The seats are comfortable but it is a noisy ride. It always sounds like the windows are open."

Jody M., NY (2004 Subaru Forester)

"comfortable ride and comfortable seats very noisy when driving--gaskets around the doors seem to be responsible. for a car that is this old the ride is just fine"

Samuel K., OR (2004 Subaru Forester)

"The seats are comfortable and plenty roomy, good headroom, everything sufficiently reachable and adjustable. My only complaint (minor) is wind noise."

Anonymous, CA (2004 Subaru Forester)

"The Forester is very comfortable and has a wonderful sun roof. It also has all wheel drive which is very handy for going up hills on the odd occasion when there is snow on the ground."

Anonymous, BC (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Since the windows do not have a frame around them, there is a large amount of wind noise because the windows no longe fit tighly against the rubber gasket."

David P., WI (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Tire noise is somewhat bothersome."

Anonymous, WI (2004 Subaru Forester)

"It has a lot of road and wind noise. The rear seats are not very comfortable, either."

Gary C., VA (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Seat does a good job of supporting my lower back. The ride is fine for me. Is a bit noisier than I'd like."

Ann R., CO (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Think it's is too loud."

Anonymous, WA (2004 Subaru Forester)

"It's kind of a rough ride and the sound insulation is terrible, wind noise is deafening!"

Rich G., IL (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Some wind noise that has worsened with age. (Off-topic: instrument panel is very hard to read in daylight.)"

Mike V., OR (2004 Subaru Forester)

Value

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

What Owners Say

"Car continues to run smoothly after 12 years can't be the value"

GREGORY A., NJ (2004 Subaru Forester)

"This vehicle has everything I was looking for in a car at any price. My only disappointments are with the dashboard displays (hard to see) and road/engine noise."

DAVID W., CA (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Bought second hand for 6500$, just a few electrical problems to date."

Anonymous, QC (2004 Subaru Forester)

"This car has been amazingly reliable for 12 years. No nasty surprises ever at inspections. I've just had general maintenance issues to repair--things anyone has to expect about keeping a car in good shape."

Anonymous, PA (2004 Subaru Forester)

"VERY RELIABLE- GETS GOOD MILEAGE AND VERY PLEASANT TO DRIVE"

JEFF T., GA (2004 Subaru Forester)

"This is an excellent car. I bought it in 2008 with about 58,000 miles and have driven it through all kinds of weather and traffic conditions. Most recently we moved to a home about an hour away from our old home. We transported hundreds of boxes of items in this car AND furniture, including a "This End Up" couch. I had to replace the head gasket about six months ago for around $2,100, but consider it a great value for the investment. We hope to purchase a hybrid or electric vehicle next yea"

CATHERINE M., CT (2004 Subaru Forester)

"still driving it and it drives like new. Great car for practicality but still fun to drive."

DAVID N., MA (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Very roomy with great visibility. I also like the gold down seats. Handles well."

COLLEEN S., AK (2004 Subaru Forester)

"It is exceptionally reliable and sturdy. It is comfortable when it is new to around 9 years (seating), but it may be my age. It is versatile and well-engineered."

Anonymous, VA (2004 Subaru Forester)

"No major problems in 12 years of driving."

Anonymous, WA (2004 Subaru Forester)

"I bought it used for weekend stuff and it is perfect for what I wanted. I got it for a very good price."

Anonymous, MD (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Great car with very few problems over the past 12 years. Value, dependability and safety are my highest priorities."

SUSAN L., NY (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Except for needing to get timing chain serviced before 40kb most device by the schedule"

ROGER Q., CO (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Excellent driving in snow"

Anonymous, NY (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Early on maintenance costs, specifically engine repair costs"

Anonymous, MN (2004 Subaru Forester)

"They last longer than any car on the market."

Anonymous, TX (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Overall the Forester has been reliable until the head gasket had to be replaced at 150,000 miles. Have learned that this can be an "Achilles" heal for some of these vehicles."

SYLVIA R., WA (2004 Subaru Forester)

"13 years of reliability speaks for itself."

Patricia H., NM (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Excellent Winter car for driving in Michigan, ALL wheel drive, HIGH off the ground, snow tires. We drive 3-4 months, Prius rest of the year. Now 14 years old, haven't put much into it - considering. Do own maintainence"

James T., MI (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Head gaskets go frequently , wheel bearings go frequently and cam belt needs service. All very exspensive to service"

Daniel S., NY (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Very reliable and mostly comfortable ride except road noise. Mostly just routine service to 150K miles. Replaced water pump at 100K miles. Very dependable transportation. Replaced battery at 120K miles. Several hardware items (6 CD changer and sunroof motor have failed but haven't replaced."

J C., SC (2004 Subaru Forester)

"few repairs, still looks good"

Anonymous, RI (2004 Subaru Forester)

"The Forester is an excellent value for the price I paid."

Fred L., CA (2004 Subaru Forester)

"What can I say it still tube great, still solid as the day I bought it. My wife added daughter affectionately call it the blue tank. Gives me great piece of mind when they are riding in it."

Mark W., NY (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Purchased this car with the idea it would be a 15 year car. Had to replace the head gasket 3 years ago and learned later this a known issue with Foresters of this era. Now the car is losing coolant due and the water pump needs to be replaced. CR seems to ignore these reliability issues and continues to give the Forester glowing reviews."

Sylvia R., WA (2004 Subaru Forester)

"The 2004 Forester XT is a great vechicle with very good acceleration and reliability. No problems since purchased in late 2003. I would like to have a 6th speed on the manual transmission like the STI. I also tow this SUV behind my motor home. I paid less than $25000 for vehicle and this was much better than alternates I was evaluating. The Forester is very versatile and we use for so many things including carrying our 2 man Kayak, bikes and front tow bars. I would like it to be a little qu..."

Brian Z., AZ (2004 Subaru Forester)

"And is great security in inclement weather. Had front, passenger and side air bags"

Anonymous, ID (2004 Subaru Forester)

"For under $20k it's lasted for nearly 15 years and still running strong"

Anonymous, NY (2004 Subaru Forester)

"It keeps on going... Comfortable seats, excellent on the road especially in winter, or bad weather."

Herb S., NY (2004 Subaru Forester)

"I bought it new for less than $20k, and I have relatively few problems with it in 14 years."

Anonymous, CO (2004 Subaru Forester)

"the car is 14 years old and has it problems, but is economical great in snow, just the head gasket and wheels bearing failures that occur and are expensive to fix are bad"

Daniel S., NY (2004 Subaru Forester)

"I would definitely buy another Forester."

David F., AK (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Paid slightly less than $19,000 in 2004 and have driven it 14 years and it still drives well and looks good."

Anonymous, FL (2004 Subaru Forester)

"economical to operate"

Daniel S., NY (2004 Subaru Forester)

"it holds it value and requires minimal repairs"

James E., MT (2004 Subaru Forester)

"This car has been amazing. I had to get a new catalytic converter, change a wiring harness,, get a valve job, and replace a wheel hub. That is literally all of the non-routine maintenance that has ever been done. It is very reliable!"

Gary C., VA (2004 Subaru Forester)

"This has been a great car, and now, 14 years of use later, I can't see a new car that entices me to replace it."

Anonymous, CA (2004 Subaru Forester)

"This car has been extremely reliable, required relatively few repairs, worked well in snow and ice, and at a very reasonable price compared to other choices with all wheel drive."

Mark G., NY (2004 Subaru Forester)

"The XT model, which has a turbo engine, is a wolf in sheep's clothing. It's surprisingly quick, has tremendous utility is a small form factor, handles reasonably well, and has been tremendously reliable."

Ken K., OR (2004 Subaru Forester)

"This is my third Suburu. I have had this one for14 years. I have never had any trouble with it. PEOPLE WALK UP TP ME ON THE STREET AND WANT TO BUY IT FROM ME."

Barbara B., FL (2004 Subaru Forester)

Styling

How it looks inside and out

What Owners Say

"This small sub can carry as much as a big one. So easy to use."

BARBARA K., PA (2004 Subaru Forester)

"Convenient owning dogs, shopping gaining access to rear compartment"

MICHAEL S., PA (2004 Subaru Forester)

"The car is similar in style to the newer Foresters. It doesn't look old or out of style."

Anonymous, WA (2004 Subaru Forester)
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