Is it a tall wagon or a compact SUV? That’s the question some may ask of the Subaru Forester, the best-selling model from this Japanese automaker. Regardless of how it is labeled, the all-wheel drive Forester offers top utility, handling and fuel economy in a highly competitive segment.
2014 to Present: Subaru Forester
For 2014, the five-door Subaru Forester entered its fourth generation. All-wheel drive continued to be standard across the model line. Multiple trim levels are offered on this model, which shares its platform with the compact Subaru Impreza sedan.
The current Forester has a more SUV-like layout than before. Its front fascia is marked by a broad horizontal grille flanked by wrap-around headlamp assemblies now containing LED daytime running lights. Its lower grille opening is surrounded by a kick plate. Embrasures housing the available fog lights are also present.
The Forester’s profile features an even beltline, upper character lines and lower body sculpting. Lower body trim covers the rocker panels. The rear fascia features large wraparound combination lights and reflector lights. Upper trim levels bring in a unique front fascia, alloy wheels, a roof rack, a rear spoiler and dual exhaust ports.
Inside, the Subaru Forester provides room for five with bucket seats up front and a 60-40 split-folding bench seat in the rear. This model offers 34.4 cubic feet of storage capacity behind the second row seat. With the seat folded, there is an impressive 74.7 cubic feet of storage.
The fourth-generation Forester is available with Subaru’s EyeSight system. EyeSight integrates adaptive cruise control, automatic pre-collision braking and lane departure warning. Beginning in 2016, the EyeSight system added steering-responsive fog lights to provide enhanced illumination in the direction of a turn.
Subaru’s Starlink infotainment system became standard for the 2016 model year. This multimedia package includes a standard 6.2-inch touch-screen display or an available 7.0-inch display, which both feature gesture technology. The system provides full entertainment and smartphone connectivity, and ties in available navigation and Bluetooth calling. All models include USB connectivity and an auxiliary input jack.
Forester interiors include premium cloth or leather-covered seats. Power accessories are standard as is air conditioning, a tilt-and-telescopic steering column and steering wheel-mounted controls. Trim level upgrades bring in keyless entry with push-button start, a power driver’s seat, a rear reclining seat, a Harman Kardon audio system and a power liftgate.
The fourth-generation Subaru Forester offers two engine choices. A 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine making 170 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque is standard and comes paired with a six-speed manual transmission or a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
The second engine choice is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine making 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Subaru pairs this engine exclusively with a CVT.
Chief competitors for the Subaru Forester include the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, Toyota RAV4, Chevrolet Equinox and Nissan Rogue. Other models to consider in this segment include the Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-5 and Hyundai Santa Fe. Shoppers might also consider the slightly smaller Subaru Crosstrek or the larger Subaru Outback.
Earlier Subaru Forester Models
Introduced in 1998, the first-generation Subaru Forester was produced through 2002. The second-generation model was built from 2003 to 2008 and the third-generation model was made from 2009 to 2013.
Upon its release and throughout its first two generations, the Subaru Forester is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that’s paired with a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission.
The third-generation Subaru Forester maintained the base engine and added a 2.0-liter turbocharged variant with the transmission choices unchanged.