Product Reviews

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Subaru's popular Forester continues to put function in front of form. It stands out from the crowd, resisting the contemporary trend toward making SUVs look like sports coupes with descending rooflines and curvaceous bodies. Instead, the Forester aces the fundamentals with a space-efficient design, large windows, and big square doors.

Road Test Results

Performance
Acceleration Acceleration Acceleration tests are conducted on a smooth, flat pavement straightaway at the track. Time, speed, and distance measurements are taken with a precise GPS-based device that’s hooked to a data-logging computer.
0 to 60 mph (sec.) 0 to 60 mph (sec.) The time in seconds that a vehicle takes to reach 60 mph from a standstill with the engine idling.
Transmission Transmission Transmission performance is determined by shifting smoothness, response, shifter action, and clutch actuation for manual transmissions.
Fuel Economy Fuel Economy We perform our own fuel-economy tests, independent of the government's often-quoted EPA figures and the manufacturers' claims. Using a precise fuel-flow measuring device spliced into the fuel line, we run two separate circuits to represent city and highway consumption.
CR's Overall Mileage CR's Overall Mileage CR's overall mileage is a composite of measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course and highway cruising; and CR's 150-mile test trip of mixed driving, if tested. In recent road tests, we've discontinued the 150-mile trip test.
CR's City Mileage CR's City Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course.
CR's Highway Mileage CR's Highway Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed highway cruising.
Annual Fuel Cost Annual Fuel Cost The cost and amount of fuel used in 12,000 miles and is calculated from CR's overall mileage.
Braking Braking The braking rating is a composite of wet and dry stopping distances and pedal feel. Braking distance is from 60 mph, with no wheels locked.
Emergency Handling Emergency Handling Several factors go into the rating, including the avoidance maneuver speed and confidence, as well as how the vehicle behaves when pushed to its limit,
Comfort / Convenience
Ride Ride Our expert judgment of how well the suspension isolates and absorbs road imperfections and how steady it keeps the body on various road surfaces.
Noise Noise Our expert judgment of the vehicle's interior noise level in everyday driving.
Front Seat Comfort Front Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the front seat is for drivers of various heights.
Rear Seat Comfort Rear Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the rear seat is for two passengers to sit across.
Interior Fit and Finish Interior Fit and Finish An expert evaluation of the interior quality and craftsmanship.
Trunk/Cargo Area Trunk/Cargo Area Our rating is based on the amount of luggage or cargo space that a vehicle has in the trunk or cargo area.

Owner Reports

Worse Better
Reliability History Reliability History The reliability charts are based on responses on hundreds of thousands of vehicles from our latest Annual Auto Survey. Consumer Reports subscribers reported on any serious problems they had with their vehicles during the past 12 months that they considered serious because of cost, failure, safety, or downtime, in any of the trouble spots included in the table below. The results are presented relative to the average model that year. Extra weight is given to the more serious areas such as major engine or transmission problems. Based on this data and further analysis, we predict reliability for the latest year. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
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Reliability Trouble Spots
Engine Major Engine Major Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.
Engine Minor Engine Minor Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.
Engine Cooling Engine Cooling Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.
Transmission Major Transmission Major Transmission rebuild or replacement, torque converter, clutch replacement.
Owner Satisfaction Owner Satisfaction To learn about satisfaction, CR has collected survey data from our annual survey on more than half a million vehicles. Our subscribers provide great insights into their satisfaction by answering one simple question: If they had it to do all over again, would they definitely buy or lease the same model? In addition, respondents also rate their cars in six categories: driving experience, comfort, value, styling, audio, and climate systems. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
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Driving Experience Driving Experience Includes acceleration and handling
Comfort Comfort Includes seats, climate control, noise, and ride
Value Value Did you get what you wanted relative to the price you paid?
Styling Styling How it looks inside and out
Safety Equipment
ABS available, standard from 2001. Side air bags available from 2001, standard from 2003. ESC available from 2007, standard from 2009. Head protection air bags standard from 2009.
Road Test

Subaru's popular Forester continues to put function in front of form. It stands out from the crowd, resisting the contemporary trend toward making SUVs look like sports coupes with descending rooflines and curvaceous bodies. Instead, the Forester aces the fundamentals with a space-efficient design, large windows, and big square doors. That recipe has resulted in the easiest access and the best view out of almost any vehicle, and one of the roomiest rear seats in the class, with copious head and leg room.

By adapting various fuel-efficient technologies, including using a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), the Forester delivers a class-leading 26 mpg overall and 35 mpg on the highway. Performance is decent from that standard 2.5-liter, 170-hp four-cylinder engine; an uplevel 2.0-liter, 250-hp turbocharged four-cylinder XT version is available. Unlike most modern small SUVs, a manual transmission can be had, but only with the base engine and basic trim levels.

Seating
2 front, 3 rear
Drive Wheels
AWD
Warranty

In most cases, automotive warranties are based on the vehicle identification number (VIN), and the warranty will be valid regardless of ownership. The dealership can tell you exactly how much warranty is left.

Read more about extended warranties
Body Styles
4-door SUV
Transmissions Available
  • CVT
  • 6-speed Manual
Engines Available
  • 2-liter 4 turbo (250 hp)
  • 2.5-liter 4 (170 hp)

Owner Reported Trouble Spots

The Reliability score is based on our latest subscriber survey of 2017 Subaru Forester owners. The owner comments describe problems respondents experienced with this vehicle.

In-car Electronics

CD or DVD players, radio, speakers, GPS, communication system (e.g., OnStar), display screen freezes or goes blank, phone pairing (e.g. Bluetooth), voice control commands, steering wheel controls, portable music device interface (e.g., iPod/MP3 player), backup or other camera/sensors.

What Owners Say

Backup or other camera/sensors

“needs daily cleaning in winter otherwise not usable due to water, salt and dirt covering camera lens; when used at night, backup display is excessively bright, almost to the point of blinding when being viewed; very distressed by inability to disconnect the 'Event Data Recorder' which I did not know existed until I read the owner's manual after purchase. The dealing refused to answer any of my questions regarding this device (where is is located, how can it be removed or disconnected?)”

Anonymous, MI (2017 Subaru Forester Premium 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Just the blind spot detector”

Barbara J., FL (2017 Subaru Forester Touring 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“When weather is cold the camera/sensor were not operational until the car warmed up on two occasions”

Anonymous, IL (2017 Subaru Forester Premium 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Three times in the five months I had the Forester - the back up camera did not come on. The entire screen was black. Dealer could not duplicate issue. Also another frequent complaint on Subaru Forums”

John S., NJ (2017 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Took car to selling dealer to have auto-dimming inside rear view mirror with HomeLink installed. When I picked it up, image from rear view camera was shown in display whenever engine was on, not just when in reverse, and back-up lights were on too. Had to return to dealer which took 3 days to diagnose problem. Wires had been pinched when new mirror was installed. Had to replace mirror wiring harness. Solved problem”

Claire R., CA (2017 Subaru Forester Touring 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
CD player

“will not eject”

Anonymous, ME (2017 Subaru Forester 2.5i Unsure)

“Same comment as radio”

Michael S., TX (2017 Subaru Forester 2.5i 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Over computerized. Too complicated. many features not needed or ridiculous. Changing clock time overly complicated. Radio station selection overly complicated. Manual is incorrect or badly written. Horrible technical writing”

Anonymous, NY (2017 Subaru Forester Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Display screen goes blank

“The entire audio system failed and was replaced under warranty”

David H., OH (2017 Subaru Forester Touring 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
In-dash navigation system (GPS)

“Still using technology long surpassed by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, even Apple. Can't search for locations by name, and must cumbersomely type addresses, cities, and street names. I have to use Google Maps to find that information, and at that point, why bother using the built in nav in the first place? Pathing algorithm sent me inexplicably off the highway then on again 100 or so yards later. There was no blockage, or accident, or any other reason. I know now not to trust it, which is the o”

Anonymous, CA (2017 Subaru Forester Touring 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

“On more than one occasion, GPS and navigation system malfunctioned... location and directions were significantly in error and would not correct without complete reboot of system by turning off the car and then back on again”

Michael D., MN (2017 Subaru Forester Premium 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“When I took the car home the GPS did not work and I had to take it back to the dealer the next day to have it repaired”

Anonymous, TX (2017 Subaru Forester Touring 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“System not accurate, system locks up/freezes, will not reset until engine is shut down”

Robert K., FL (2017 Subaru Forester Touring 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

“Since the new radio was installed. Phone will not stay paired”

Anonymous, NE (2017 Subaru Forester 2.5i Unsure)

“The dealer has reset the Bluetooth function three times and it still is not working now. The manual is useless”

Jane M., ME (2017 Subaru Forester 2.5i 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“The sound quality people hear that you call from the forester with eyesight is very poor. I had the dealer call me from multiple of their new subarus. The forester with eyesight is awful. Their other cars sound crystal clear. They eventually told me there isn't anything they can do. They said to wait for a software update”

Anonymous, WA (2017 Subaru Forester Premium 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“The infotainment system was not working for 6 months. The phone would not pair up with the Bluetooth, making it impossible to make or receive phone calls. Several trips to the dealer, bought a new cell phone after being told that was the problem. It wasn't. Finally, the dealer installed a new unit. Still did not work. Turned out the wire connection was placed into the incorrect fuse box. Very frustrating”

Joanne D., AZ (2017 Subaru Forester Premium 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Very poor connect quality while on bluetooth”

Carl Y., NY (2017 Subaru Forester Touring 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Radio

“No radio reception either AM or FM”

Anonymous, NE (2017 Subaru Forester 2.5i Unsure)

“The HD Radio Signal keeps cutting in and out. Problem reported on Subaru forums since 2014. Had dealer look at it twice before we duplicated the trouble. Dealer told me "operating as designed" My family has 2 other 2017 Subarus with radios that do not drop the signal & the loaner car I had from the dealer also did not drop the signal. Dealer & Subaru Corporate cannot tell me why my model radio drops the HD signal while others do not. Both dealer & Subaru corporate pretty much told me to get lost”

John S., NJ (2017 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“The entire system, CD Radio, would start scanning and there was no way to stop it or reset it. Subaru replaced entire unit”

Michael S., TX (2017 Subaru Forester 2.5i 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“the radio would freeze and become unresponsive to all controls; replaced under warrantee”

Anonymous, VT (2017 Subaru Forester Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Unable to communicate using voice. Module/fuse replaced by dealer”

Connie M., TX (2017 Subaru Forester Premium 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“This is the same issue as I reported in the previous box”

Joanne D., AZ (2017 Subaru Forester Premium 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Transmission Minor

Gear selector or linkage, leaks, transmission computer, transmission sensor or solenoid, clutch adjustment, rough shifting, slipping transmission.

What Owners Say

Rough shifting

“Shifting is rough in slow stop and go driving; also sometimes when there is a major transition in speed such as going from highway speed down to city driving”

J B., TX (2017 Subaru Forester Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Rough start, sometimes bump for no reason. I think the tranny had too much fluid. First 4 min was smooth, then been bumppy. Since 1000 miles ago, it smooth out. Now is fine”

Anonymous, MN (2017 Subaru Forester Premium 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“The transmission "shifted" awful. I brought it in and they said it was fine. Then I received a recall because the cvt didn't have enough fluid. They said to bring it in, but also not to drive it. After the filled it up properly it shifted better, but now I don't know how long it's going to last. They assured me there was no damage, but they have no idea”

Anonymous, WA (2017 Subaru Forester Premium 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“bucking and slipping, usually from a start but not always the car has good days when it is fine and bad days when the transmission acts up”

Anonymous, SC (2017 Subaru Forester Premium 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“At slow speeds, the transmission jerks”

Regina H., FL (2017 Subaru Forester Touring 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“The CVT programming in the 2017 Forester is downright terrible. Often times very light pedal application on the accelerator will cause the transmission to shudder and jolt, both when slowly accelerating from a standstill, and even when cruising at 35mph. The transmission also sometimes takes up to 3 seconds to engage - be too quick on the accelerator after shifting and you will feel a huge jolt when accelerating or even reversing. It is the worst automatic transmission I have ever experienced,”

Adam R., ON (2017 Subaru Forester Touring 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“Service manager says transmission lock up creates rough shift at school zone speed (15-20mph) inherent in CVT transmission but not a problem for repair”

Anonymous, PA (2017 Subaru Forester 2.5i 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“It stumbled in lower "gear" (it has a CVT). The transmission computer was rebooted and reduced the problem considerably, but not completely”

F L., OR (2017 Subaru Forester Premium 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Slipping transmission

“About once every 5 days the transmission is hesitant, and does not engage. When starting from a dead stop it takes 2-3 seconds to engage”

Geoff M., CA (2017 Subaru Forester Premium 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Transmission computer

“The car could not be taken out of "X Drive" because of a faulty control module. The module was replaced under warranty”

Anonymous, TN (2017 Subaru Forester 2.5i 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“The computer needed to be rebooted to correct a problem with transmission stumbling in lower "gear" (it has a CVT). It was helpful, but did not completely eliminate it”

F L., OR (2017 Subaru Forester Premium 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Transmission leaks

“Factory recall due to low transmission fluid level”

Anonymous, TX (2017 Subaru Forester Touring 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Transmission sensor or solenoid

“Transmission does not shift as expected in the "S#" mode. Technician was unable to diagnose. Subaru Corporate would not provide technical support to diagnose the problem, which is minor but annoying”

Anonymous, OR (2017 Subaru Forester Touring 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

Body Hardware

Power or manual windows, locks and latches, tailgate, hatch or trunk, doors or sliding doors, mirrors, seat controls, safety belts, sunroof, convertible top.

What Owners Say

Doors or sliding doors

“Rear tailgate door locked and will not open following a prolonged period of non use (ten days at airport parking lot)”

Anonymous, MI (2017 Subaru Forester Touring 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

“Front pasender door was not flush with body. Door very stiff, difficult to open and close”

Anonymous, WA (2017 Subaru Forester Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Glass defects

“As mentioned earlier the glass reflects the interior which is distracting looking at the outside mirrors”

Anonymous, NY (2017 Subaru Forester XT 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Mirrors

“Mirror needed to be replaced because of an accident”

Anonymous, ON (2017 Subaru Forester Touring Unsure)
Seat controls - movement

“Driver's seat control panel (Left side) came loose and could not be reattached to the seat... dealer replaced panel under warranty. Seems to have been a factory quality control problem”

Michael D., MN (2017 Subaru Forester Premium 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Tailgate, hatch or trunk

“1. Took 2 months,3 svc visits, incl. a requested diary from me to document that tailgate would open from dash button only 40% of time, for svc to finally realize tailgate could not open from dash button if doors were locked-absolutely NO ref in car's book about this. Since it is logical to drive with the doors locked, why does Subaru secretly require the car doors to be unlocked to operate the dash button? The book is very specific about being in park, with parking brake on. 2. Then the dash but”

E K., SC (2017 Subaru Forester Touring 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Windows

“Glass/windows reflect interior moldings. Windows and other electronics do not work with the accessory switch on. Only works with engine running”

Anonymous, NY (2017 Subaru Forester XT 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

“PURCHASED FORESTER WITH EYESIGHT CAMERA. RECENTLY WINDSHIELD WAS CRACKED BY A ROCK. SUBARU QUOTED $1750 DOLLARS TO REPLACE WINDSHIELD AND REALIGN CAMERA. QUOTED $978US DOLLARS IN USA FROM SUBARU DEALER”

Ben F., AB (2017 Subaru Forester XT 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

Body Integrity

Squeaks, rattles, wind noises, loose or cracked seals and/or weather-stripping, air and water leaks.

What Owners Say

Air or water leaks

“Moonroof leaked”

Anonymous, CO (2017 Subaru Forester 2.5i 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“There is a rattle in the dashboard”

Geoff M., CA (2017 Subaru Forester Premium 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“There was a raddle in the air vent”

Anonymous, MT (2017 Subaru Forester Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Wind noise

“We took the vehicle in to the dealer with concerns about the wind noise - they told us this is a known problem with the Subaru - no plans now to address it”

Barbara K., AZ (2017 Subaru Forester XT 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

Paint/Trim

Paint (fading, chalking, cracking, or peeling), loose interior and exterior trim or moldings, rust.

What Owners Say

Loose interior trim or moldings

“The insulation strip around the door on the drivers side became loose, perhaps because of winter conditions”

Anonymous, ON (2017 Subaru Forester Touring Unsure)
Paint (fading, chalking, cracking, or peeling)

“dime sized chip...paint is gone ..down to bare metal”

Joe B., TX (2017 Subaru Forester Touring 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“The slightest touch seems to cause a scratch or chip in paint. Metal on body see,s very soft and many door dings already present for very soft taps”

Anne H., IA (2017 Subaru Forester Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Engine Minor

Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.

What Owners Say

Engine computer

“Engine check light came on twice and stayed on, both times requiring a service visit. The first service visit did not fix the problem, but the second service visit did resolve the problem-apparently a software problem with the engine control computer. we were told us so for patch was applied, and the problems should not recurr. Three months later, and no further problems since the last service visit”

John C., CA (2017 Subaru Forester Premium 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

“While shifting (clutch depressed) the engine computer frequently advances the throttle to between 2500 and 4000 rpm, leaves it there for about 10 seconds, then slowly closes the throttle to normal idle (< 1000 rpm). Subaru seems to think it's an acceptable feature. I say it's a bug. Have reported it on the NHTSA system, but they've done nothing”

Karl S., CO (2017 Subaru Forester Premium 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Oil leaks

“In the first 2000 miles the engine used greater than 3 quarts of oil. I was told this is not an issue and that it's within the "burn-in" period. I received no charges for the service and loaner car from the dealership. I've owned multiple new manual transmission cars in my lifetime. This is the first time I'm experiencing this oil loss issue. This is my first Subaru and first boxer (flat 4) engine”

Anonymous, TX (2017 Subaru Forester Premium 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Electric System

Alternator, starter, hybrid battery and related systems, regular battery, battery cables, engine harness, coil, ignition switch, electronic ignition, distributor or rotor failure, spark plugs and wires failure.

What Owners Say

Body control module

“Will not change after daylight savings”

Anonymous, CO (2017 Subaru Forester Touring 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Gauges

“Several of the indicators on the dashboard stopped working or would remain lit. The dealership had to reset the system to get them working”

Anonymous, WA (2017 Subaru Forester Premium 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Warning lights

“Two-week old vehicle required software update to fix warning lights issue”

Anonymous, IL (2017 Subaru Forester Premium 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Fuel System

Check engine light, sensors (includes O2 or oxygen sensor), emission control devices (includes EGR), engine computer, engine computer, fuel cap, fuel gauge/sender, fuel injection system, fuel pump, fuel leaks, stalling or hesitation.

What Owners Say

Fuel injection system

“Engine tends to misfire under light load. Technician had no answer for the problem, and got none from Subaru Corporate”

Anonymous, OR (2017 Subaru Forester Touring 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

“Had car in with less than 1k miles Problem occurred again this time they fixed it Third time warning light came on squirrels had chewed through plastic gas line. $400”

Anonymous, MI (2017 Subaru Forester Unsure Unsure)

Climate System

Blower (fan) motor, A/C compressor, condenser, evaporator, heater system, automatic climate control, refrigerant leakage, electrical failure.

What Owners Say

Heater system

“CAR DOES NOT GET HOT AIR UNTIL HEAT CONTROL IS SET TO MAX IN COLD WEATHER”

Ben F., AB (2017 Subaru Forester XT 2.0-L 4 Cyl turbo)

Power Equipment

Cruise control, clock, warning lights, body control module, keyless entry, wiper motor or washer, tire pressure monitor, interior or exterior lights, horn, gauges, 12V power plug, remote engine start, alarm or security system

What Owners Say

Ignition switch

“Intermittently, fails to activate starter. Not repaired by dealer but has become less frequent”

Logan P., WA (2017 Subaru Forester Touring 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Suspension

Shocks or struts, ball joints, tie rods, wheel bearings, alignment, steering linkage (includes rack and pinion), power steering (pumps and hoses, leaks), wheel balance, springs or torsion bars, bushings, electronic or air suspension.

What Owners Say

Alignment

“When new,the car wandered at some highway speeds. A dealer alignment fixed the problem”

Anonymous, OK (2017 Subaru Forester Touring 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Engine Major

Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.

Drive System

Driveshaft or axle, CV joint, differential, transfer case, 4WD/AWD components, driveline vibration, traction control, electronic stability control (ESC), electrical failure.

Engine Cooling

Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.

Brakes

Antilock system (ABS), parking brake, master cylinder, calipers, rotors, pulsation or vibration, squeaking, brake failure or wear.

Exhaust

Muffler, pipes, catalytic converter, exhaust manifold, leaks.

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