2008 Subaru Forester Wagon Review | Edmunds.com

2008 Subaru Forester Wagon

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Subaru Forester Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.5 L Flat 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain All Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 224 hp @ 5600 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 19/25 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2008 Subaru Forester

  • Though aged compared to much of its competition, the 2008 Subaru Forester is still a practical and fun-to-drive crossover well-suited to many purposes.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Peppy base engine, seriously fast in turbocharged XT trim, carlike ride and handling, standard all-wheel drive, reassuring crash test scores.

  • Cons

    Scarce rear legroom, too much road and wind noise, automatic transmission is slow to downshift.

  • What's New for 2008

    Changes are minimal for the 2008 Subaru Forester. Stability control is now standard on all turbocharged models equipped with an automatic transmission, and Subaru has shuffled the equipment among the Forester's many trim levels. One notable change is the L.L. Bean model's loss of its self-leveling rear suspension, which increased the pressure of the shock absorbers to compensate for heavy loads.

Full 2008 Subaru Forester Review

What's New for 2008

Changes are minimal for the 2008 Subaru Forester. Stability control is now standard on all turbocharged models equipped with an automatic transmission, and Subaru has shuffled the equipment among the Forester's many trim levels. One notable change is the L.L. Bean model's loss of its self-leveling rear suspension, which increased the pressure of the shock absorbers to compensate for heavy loads.


At a glance, the 2008 Subaru Forester might seem like any other compact SUV. It shares its basic underpinnings with a car, for instance, and as such it's easy to drive and provides plenty of family-friendly versatility. However, Subaru has instilled enough variations on this basic formula to give the Forester a distinct character in a crowded field. Without a doubt, the Forester has a higher entertainment quotient than most sport-utilities. Its smaller dimensions, lighter weight and responsive handling give it a tossable feel. Even the base four-cylinder engine offers good punch, and the optional turbo engine delivers its power in a sudden, thrilling manner that competitors' V6 engines can't match. Subaru's offering of a manual transmission with either engine should entice enthusiasts further, as should the Forester's standard all-wheel drive. On the whole, this is one fun-to-drive crossover.

At the same time, the Forester also fares well in most practical matters. Its cargo area is surprisingly roomy and usefully square. It rides smoothly enough on the road (if a bit noisily) and treats its front passengers to a user-friendly interior and comfy seats. Rear-seat riders are less lucky, and are apt to complain about the unsupportive cushioning and lack of legroom back here. On the other hand, they're less likely to be injured in a collision, given the Forester's stellar scores in side-impact crash tests.

Despite its advancing age, the 2008 Subaru Forester isn't short on virtues, and those who prefer their compact SUVs a little smaller, sportier and quirkier may find a favorite in the 2008 Subaru Forester. But prospective buyers would be wise to examine its competitors, most of which are younger designs. The latest Honda CR-V, Mitsubishi Outlander and Toyota RAV4 offer roomier interiors than the Subie, and the Toyota and Mitsu even offer a third-row option. In addition, all three offer a higher, more commanding seating position that many SUV buyers find so appealing. Also, some might prefer the Outlander and RAV4 for their V6 engines, which deliver their power in a more familiar, evenhanded fashion than the Forester's turbo.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

A compact crossover SUV, the 2008 Subaru Forester comes with one of two engines: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder or a turbocharged version of the same. Foresters with the regular engine carry a "2.5 X" designation and come in base, Sports, Premium and L.L. Bean trim levels. Models with the turbo engine get the "2.5 XT" stamp and come in Sports and Limited trim levels.

The base Forester 2.5 X includes 16-inch steel wheels, a roof rack, a rear wiper with de-icer, air-conditioning, a CD player, full power accessories, cruise control and keyless entry. The first of three upgrades is the 2.5X Sports version, which loses the wiper de-icer but adds alloy wheels, black body accents and silver roof rails, leather trim for the steering wheel and shift knob, automatic climate control and a seven-speaker, MP3-capable stereo with a CD changer and auxiliary input jack. The 2.5 X Premium loses the upgraded speakers but gets back the wiper de-icer. The Premium then adds bigger side mirrors with turn-signal repeaters, rear disc brakes, a limited-slip rear differential, a moonroof, a power driver seat and heated front seats and mirrors. The ultimate 2.5X is the L.L. Bean model, and it comes with leather seats, a leather-and-wood steering wheel and shifter, the upgraded speakers, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass and sturdier plastic trim in the cargo bay.

As for the turbocharged Foresters, the 2.5 XT Sports is mostly equipped like the 2.5 X Premium. It deletes the power driver seat and heated seats and mirrors, but adds 10-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels, a hood scoop, black body accents, silver roof rails, and front and rear spoilers. Finally, the 2.5 XT Limited has five-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels, leather seats and sportier-looking instrumentation.

Options on the 2008 Subaru Forester include a rear spoiler, a rear bumper cover, splash guards, various cargo trays and bins, a short-throw manual shifter and upgraded sound systems.

Powertrains and Performance

Standard on all 2.5 X models is a 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine that makes 173 horsepower and 166 pound-feet of torque. The turbocharged version on the XT packs 224 hp and 226 lb-ft of torque. All trim levels have a choice of a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission, excepting the automatic-only L.L. Bean. Like all Subarus, the Forester comes standard with full-time all-wheel drive, with automatic models using a higher-tech electronic system. Manual models have a Hill Holder feature to keep the Forester from rolling back on inclines.


Antilock brakes are standard on all 2008 Subaru Foresters; traction and stability control come exclusively on turbo models with the automatic transmission. Other safety features include active front head restraints and front-seat side airbags that provide head and torso protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Forester an optimal "Good" rating for frontal offset and side-impact crashes and named it a top safety pick in the compact SUV class. The Subaru Forester also earned a perfect five stars in all front- and side-impact testing conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Interior Design and Special Features

Even the base 2.5 X version of the Subaru Forester has a well-appointed interior with tight build quality and simple controls. If the plastics look a bit utilitarian, the leather seats have an upscale look, and the front seats are comfortable and supportive. The rear seat, in contrast, has tight legroom for taller adults (it's also a problem for those with bulky car seats) and a somewhat unsupportive bottom cushion. Cargo space, on the other hand, is competitive with 31 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seat upright, 69 when folded and a low lift-over height for ease of loading.

Driving Impressions

Performance with the base 2.5-liter engine is no more than adequate, though its generous whack of low-end torque makes the Forester feel spirited around town. The turbocharged version, on the other hand, packs a fierce punch, especially when equipped with its crisp-shifting manual transmission. In terms of handling, the Forester is stable and predictable even when pushed to its limits, and its small dimensions and below-average weight make it among the most carlike in its class. The steering is a bit light, but the 2008 Subaru Forester should be nimble enough to suit most drivers. Our main complaints concern the Forester's excessive road and wind noise. Enthusiastic drivers might also find the automatic transmission slow to downshift.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Fantastic car! buy it if

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Subaru Forester 2.5 X 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl 4A)

This is a fabulous car! I have owned my 2008 Subaru Forester for about 2 and a half years now. It has been without a single problem the entire time. One of the things I love most about my Subaru is its versatility. It gets good gas mileage, but I have also used it for hauling huge items of furniture, kayaks, pontoon rafts, 5 people, all the luggage of a long trip for me and my entire family, and building supplies for my house. It is such as safe car as well. My wife was rear ended while in our in our 1998 Subaru Forester by a Ford F250 going fast when she was at a stop. The car completely absorbed the impact and saved her life. After that, we had to get another Subaru Forester.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

Quality problems

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Subaru Forester Sports 2.5 XT 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 5M)

I have now had the XT 'newer' version for a little over two years. At 9k miles the engine seized up! I had poor customer service until I called Subaru's US headquarters and tried to talk to president to complain about the quality of their cars. In the end; Subaru fixed the car. I have had LED puddle lights short out each winter (one time I actually witnessed smoke!) Now, I need to take back to dealer again with separate electrical problems. I would be satisfied with this car if I didn't have to take to dealer so much. The XT engine is nice, and the cargo space is just right for a small family. The fake color plastic bits by door window switches scratch very easily.

A good solid b+

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Subaru Forester 2.5 X Premium Package 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl 4A)

Had a Subaru or two along the way, and decided on the 08 Premium because of a value package. Great vehicle with a couple of small hiccups. Had a minor issue with the AC but was resolved under warranty. Replaced the driver's door speaker 3 times, also under warranty. In fact, the stereo is a real weak point in the car for me. Really lame speakers, and I paid for the "upgrade." Seats are comfortable and fit my rather copious rump easily. Plenty peppy even here in the high country of Colorado. AWD system is very good, but the 2008 model lacks stability control. Without it, the car's rear end can slip out if you aren't careful in the snow. I'd buy the car again, though.

Great subaru

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Subaru Forester 2.5 X Premium Package 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl 4A)

Love this car. Right before the major 2009 redesign they were making the nicest Forester they could. Everything about the car feels tight and smooth. I had a 2002 Outback before this car, and this car is much better. The automatic and the 4 cyl. engine feel strong compared to the Outback's weak, noisy 4 cyl. and jerky manual transmission. The interior feels premium, with just a few hard plastics to distract. Interior like a greenhouse with panoramic sunroof; bright and cheery in beige.

The best car i've ever

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Subaru Forester Sports 2.5 X 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl 4A)

I had a Chrysler 300 Limited Brand new, Chevy Impala brand new, a coup deville and to me this is the best car I've ever owned, period. The ride is smooth, the vehicle has great power. I put a remote start on It and a trailer hitch. I get about 26 to 27 on the hwy. The interior room is awesome ! I'm 5'10" and 280 pound! I still have plenty of room!

Not fancy but dependable

by on
Vehicle: 2008 Subaru Forester 2.5 X Premium Package 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl 4A)

I waited for 2 years to review to avoid premature review. Finally, I feel comfortable to say "Yes, it is very dependable and reliable". I don't feel stylish nor luxurious, however very humble and sort of old friend. As other review, engine sounds a bit loud and when I accelerate, response is a little slow/hesitant. Although I am not driving the fastest car...I will be on time and safe! That's all that counts!!! Thank you "SUBARU".

Talk About The 2008 Forester

2008 Subaru Forester Discussions See all Started By

I am currently shopping for a used 2008 Forester via dealer auction. While I'm a pretty conventional "suburban commuter" driver I was thinking about treating myself to an XT. My commute isn'...

I am helping a friend get a new car & Foresters are on her short list (though I am trying to convince her she does not need AWD) in Western WA....

The idle of my 2008 Forester oscillates (between 1000 and 2000 RPM) indefinitely when I push in the clutch with the transmission still in gear. As soon as I take the car out of gear, the idle drops b...

Gas Mileage


  • 19
  • cty
  • 25
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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