The updated Subaru Forester is a smart, well-executed small SUV that boasts a roomy interior, great fuel economy, and plenty of standard safety equipment. Beneath the familiar exterior design, Subaru has made a lot of improvements without altering the SUV’s sensible, no-nonsense character. The ride is comfortable and supple, the steering is responsive, and there’s little body lean around corners.

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 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.
2000
NA
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
2020
Reliability Trouble Spots
Engine Major Engine Major Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.
NA
Engine Minor Engine Minor Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.
NA
Engine Cooling Engine Cooling Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.
NA
Transmission Major Transmission Major Transmission rebuild or replacement, torque converter, clutch replacement.
NA
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.
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
2020
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

The updated Subaru Forester is a smart, well-executed small SUV that boasts a roomy interior, great fuel economy, and plenty of standard safety equipment.

Beneath the familiar exterior design, Subaru has made a lot of improvements without altering the SUV’s sensible, no-nonsense character. The ride is comfortable and supple, the steering is responsive, and there’s little body lean around corners.

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
Engines Available
  • 2.5-liter 4 (182 hp)

Owner Reported Trouble Spots

The Reliability score is based on our latest subscriber survey of 2020 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

Apple CarPlay

"Hard to pair to the car"

Anonymous, MN (2020 Subaru Forester Premium 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"Sometimes, CarPlay connection is dropped and cannot be added back in until the engine is shut off for several minutes. This occurs even if cell service is available."

Anonymous, CA (2020 Subaru Forester Sport 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"I have an iPhone 5 and was told online and by voice from Subaru that it would pair and work well with the 2020 Forester's Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and phone calling system. It has not, and after many hours of taking it back and forth to the dealer, being on the phone with Subaru, and troubleshooting online, I had to give up on my phone and purchase an iPhone 8 to make the electronics work in the car without problems. It's still not working well as the phone calls are staticky and unclear while driving and using both CarPlay or Bluetooth."

Anonymous, CA (2020 Subaru Forester Standard 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Display screen freezes up

"Sometimes the screen doesn't display a change in radio station or a flip between different modes, like media"

Anonymous, VA (2020 Subaru Forester Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
External music device interface (e.g., smart phone, MP3 player)

"On a thumb drive, it sorts the mp3 tracks alphabetically and plays them in that order. You have to browse repeatedly to hear them in the order they appear on the drive. Repeated browsing is quite unsafe, because it takes your eyes off the road and one of your hands off the wheel. This problem has not been resolved. I contacted Subaru about it."

Anonymous, AZ (2020 Subaru Forester Premium 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"The car sometimes, but not always, turns on my phone's Pandora app when I have not asked it to. When I turn it off at that moment, the car turns it back on almost immediately. The only solution I found so far, that works only sometimes, is to turn the radio on and off."

Anonymous, OH (2020 Subaru Forester Premium 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Hardware replacement

"Bad head unit discovered weeks after purchase. Replacement covered under warranty. Screen flickered, showed weird colors and poor resolution. Main engine battery also went bad and was replaced under warranty."

Anonymous, (2020 Subaru Forester Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"Two screens that switch automatically. One does not recognize me. The system keeps dropping the regular phone (not Android)."

Anonymous, (2020 Subaru Forester Touring 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"Faulty front USB port"

Anonymous, (2020 Subaru Forester Touring 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
In-dash navigation system (GPS)

"Two problems. GPS had a blank screen, no map and frozen location. Second problem couldn't connect to Starlink. Started a week after we took delivery, and it took nearly a month, and 3 or 4 dealer visits to resolve. Ended up replacing GPS unit and another part relating to Starlink."

Anonymous, MA (2020 Subaru Forester Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"While doing the map database update, the AC timed out and the firmware locked. The car was in the dealership service dept. three days to resolve."

Anonymous, CA (2020 Subaru Forester Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Phone pairing (e.g., Bluetooth)

"Was not able to control voice commands our phone would not pair up correctly"

Anonymous, MN (2020 Subaru Forester Premium 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"Same problems that I described with Apple CarPlay."

Anonymous, CA (2020 Subaru Forester Standard 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"The system keeps dropping the non-Android (non-plug-in) phone."

Anonymous, (2020 Subaru Forester Touring 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Radio

"Sometimes freezes or drops CarPlay when switching between sources (radio, CD player, CarPlay) using controls on the steering wheel."

Anonymous, CA (2020 Subaru Forester Sport 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"Radio unit was bad; no phone paring possible. Dealer replaced radio unit."

Anonymous, CA (2020 Subaru Forester Premium 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"Sometimes when I turn on the car the radio doesn't come on right away. I move among the channels until I hear one."

Anonymous, VA (2020 Subaru Forester Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Software update fixes

"New car was lacking software updates. Should have been checked before it was handed over."

Anonymous, NB (2020 Subaru Forester Sport 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

"Rear hatch opened by itself. Dealer replaced module and fixed problem in April."

Anonymous, OH (2020 Subaru Forester Premium 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"Tail gate wouldn't latch"

Anonymous, SD (2020 Subaru Forester Touring 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Headlights

"Auto headlights (high/low) work intermittently. Steering responsive headlights do not work."

Anonymous, ID (2020 Subaru Forester Touring 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Interior lights

"Tailgate light stayed on when car left in gagrage for 2/3 days, drained battery both times. Had to get assistance then, after 2nd assist did not work, had to get it carried to dealer."

Anonymous, DE (2020 Subaru Forester Touring 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Tire pressure monitor

"The monitor keeps going on and off at random times, When the monitor goes off, it does not show the tire pressure on the screen, just dashes. Sometimes when the warning light is off you can see the tire pressure but sometimes the readings are blank. Because it was working correctly when taken to the dealer, I was asked to see if I could figure out if there was a common factor that happens when the warning activates before they will just replace the monitor"

Anonymous, ME (2020 Subaru Forester Premium 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Body Integrity

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

What Owners Say

Squeaks or rattles

"There were some loose bolts in the body they werenable tonfix immediately"

Anonymous, WA (2020 Subaru Forester Touring 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Wind noise

"Wind noise is a design flaw in this car. Not resolved. Cannot drive on highway with windows open."

Anonymous, (2020 Subaru Forester Premium 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"door and sun roof noise"

Anonymous, FL (2020 Subaru Forester Touring 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Paint/Trim

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

What Owners Say

Paint (fading, chalking, cracking, or peeling)

"Extremely soft clear coat causing even fingernails, rags, and sponges to scratch. Had to pay to buff out at least 30+ scratches all caused by normal use."

Anonymous, (2020 Subaru Forester Sport 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"After I got my Subaru home, I noticed a defect in the paint on the hood. In most lighting conditions, it is very noticeable. It was prominent enough that I am surprised that the dealership did not notice it when prepping the car. I took the car back to the dealer and they agreed that it was a factory defect and contacted Subaru. After a couple of months of back and forth, Subaru declined the warranty claim. The dealership finally did a "good will" gesture and had the car's hood repainted at the dealer's expense. Overall, I like the car but no longer trust Subaru to stand behind their product. I was considering 3 other SUV's before I bought the Subaru and probably would have chosen another brand if I had known that they did not stand behind their warranty."

Anonymous, WA (2020 Subaru Forester Touring 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

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

Tailgate, hatch or trunk

"Liftgate assist devices did not work properly. Parts were ordered and will be installed when dealership opens after quarantine"

Anonymous, OH (2020 Subaru Forester Premium 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

Wheel balance

"multiple tires were out of round upon delivery car was out of service for over 10 days while Subaru worked to correct problem (excessive vibration)"

Anonymous, NJ (2020 Subaru Forester Touring 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Climate System

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

What Owners Say

A/C compressor

"There was a low-pitched sequential noise from the engine compartment that started at around 1800 miles. This noise occurred at idle after the vehicle had been driven for a bit. After taking the vehicle to the dealer, it was determined that the noise was caused by an internal fault within the AC compressor. The part was replaced under warranty without issue. Neither the drivability of the car nor the operation of the climate control was affected by this issue."

Anonymous, (2020 Subaru Forester Premium 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

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

Engine Major

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

Engine Minor

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

Exhaust

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

Transmission Minor

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

Drive System

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

Brakes

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

Engine Cooling

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

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.

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