2009 Subaru Forester SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2009 Subaru Forester SUV

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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 4-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 170 hp @ 6000 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 20/26 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2009 Subaru Forester

  • Now more SUV-like than ever before, the 2009 Subaru Forester grows in useful ways while retaining much of the previous model's charm.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Standard all-wheel drive, spacious cabin with ample cargo space, comfortable ride, capable engines.

  • Cons

    Outdated four-speed automatic transmission, handling could be sharper.

  • What's New for 2009

    Redesigned for 2009, the Subaru Forester compact crossover SUV is bigger and more beautiful inside and out.

Full 2009 Subaru Forester Review

What's New for 2009

Redesigned for 2009, the Subaru Forester compact crossover SUV is bigger and more beautiful inside and out.


The Subaru Forester has long been an offbeat entrant in the compact crossover SUV class; in fact, we weren't sure it technically belonged in that class. While some of its competitors featured jacked-up ride heights and butch aesthetics, the all-wheel-drive Subaru didn't sit that much higher than a typical station wagon -- and it kind of looked like one, too. Despite this quirky model's loyal following among folks in colder climes, Subaru decided it was time to tackle the segment leaders head-on. Enter the fully redesigned 2009 Subaru Forester.

Although it's still based on the same platform as the compact Impreza, which was itself redesigned for 2008, this new Forester can look the competition square in the eye. The 2009 Forester rides on a 103.0-inch wheelbase, some 3.6 inches greater than before. It's also 3 inches longer overall, about an inch taller and has more ground clearance. Combined with a more traditional SUV styling treatment, these changes give the Forester an unprecedentedly rugged persona, even if few owners are likely to put its middling off-road chops to the test.

The outgoing model's carlike handling has generally been retained, thanks to improved chassis rigidity, wider front and rear tracks and a new double-wishbone rear suspension in place of the old car's strut-based setup. However, don't expect the new Forester to corner like a sport wagon -- extra height and ground clearance along with increased suspension travel add up to lots of bounce and roll in corners. Happily, the trade-off is a compliant ride, and the compactness of the new suspension frees up extra space inside -- especially in the cargo hold. Rear legroom and overall comfort have also been dramatically expanded, and the new Forester sports a well-constructed and attractive control layout.

Overall, the Forester is a comfortable and practical people mover that looks like an SUV, drives like a car (albeit one that's tall and softly sprung) and offers the security of standard AWD. And although there are no major engine upgrades for 2009, the Forester's performance remains satisfactory. We're not sure why Subaru elected to offer the Forester with a four-speed automatic transmission instead of the company's five-speed unit, as this puts the redesigned crossover at a distinct disadvantage relative to top-selling competitors like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. On the whole, though, the 2009 Subaru Forester has outgrown its quirky phase and looks like a legitimate contender for the compact crossover SUV crown.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2009 Subaru Forester compact crossover SUV is available in three trim levels: 2.5X, 2.5X Limited, 2.5XT and 2.5XT Limited. The Forester 2.5X is equipped with 16-inch steel wheels, keyless entry, cruise control, full power accessories and a four-speaker CD audio system with an auxiliary audio jack. The 2.5XT model adds 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, a rear spoiler, roof rails, a sunroof, a tilt/telescoping steering column, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, reclining rear seats and a six-speaker audio system with a six-CD changer. The 2.5XT Limited throws in heated mirrors, automatic climate control, a power driver seat, heated front seats, leather upholstery and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter.

Optional for the 2.5X is the Premium Package, which adds 17-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, a power sunroof and a reclining rear seatback. When equipped with the Premium package, the 2.5X is also eligible for one of two additional option packages. The all-weather package includes heated side mirrors, a wiper de-icer and heated front seats. Going with the 2.5X Limited gets you the all-weather package's equipment plus foglights, a power driver seat, leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, automatic climate control, and a six-speaker CD audio system with a six-CD changer. There are no available options on the 2.5XT. The Forester 2.5X Limited and 2.5XT Limited, however, can be outfitted with a navigation system.

Powertrains and Performance

The Forester 2.5X is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 170 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. It's available with a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic. (L.L. Bean Editions come with the automatic only.) Forester XT models have a turbocharged version of this engine that churns out 224 hp and 226 lb-ft of torque. The automatic transmission is mandatory on turbocharged models. Every Forester is equipped with AWD. EPA estimated fuel economy for the 2.5X is 20 mpg city/26 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined, the XT returns an estimated 19 city/24 highway and 21 combined.


Standard safety features on all 2009 Subaru Foresters include antilock brakes with brake assist, traction and stability control, front seat side airbags and front and rear side curtain airbags.

Interior Design and Special Features

The 2009 Subaru Forester is blessed with a more stylish but no less functional interior than its predecessor, with visually interesting contours complementing generally straightforward controls. Enlarged dimensions have given rise to a roomier rear seat, and the cargo area out back has broadened by more than 5 inches compared with the outgoing model. While the last Forester boasted maximum cargo volume on par with its Toyota and Honda rivals, its passenger compartment was somewhat cramped by comparison. This is thankfully no longer the case, rendering the new Forester a more well-rounded entry.

Driving Impressions

While the 2009 Subaru Forester offers an impressively compliant ride for this class, winding roads throw its soft suspension for a loop. Subaru knows that most drivers won't be hustling their Foresters through corners, so it has understandably prioritized comfort over canyon carving capability. To Subaru's credit, the Forester's composure over bumps and ruts is beyond reproach. Accurate steering and an excellent driving position round out the Forester's refined driving character.

Under the hood, 2.5X models measure up well against other four-cylinder compact crossover SUVs. Performance with the optional turbocharged engine is brisk, but less so than last year's manual-shift XT model, which drove like an Impreza WRX on stilts. The anachronistic four-speed automatic perceptibly blunts the performance of both engines.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

It is what it is.

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Vehicle: 2009 Subaru Forester 2.5X 4dr SUV AWD w/VDC (2.5L 4cyl 5M)

Manage you expectations. It's a crossover. So it doesn't do anything exceptional. The insides are unremarkable. So is the exterior. We have 2 little kids. So we need lots of space, with two car seats. It has a reasonable amount of space, but we can't fit everyone in--and the dog. I like the head room. Also, it has pep in the city for local driving, but with only a four banger, it is gutless on the highway. Maintenance is OK. Go under the wire for the warranty on the AC and replacing the rotors at 3 mm. 46K miles so far. So if you want something with more room, get a real SUV (We have a Sequoia for long trips). If you want a sports car, get something with more guts.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

The car i really wanted

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Vehicle: 2009 Subaru Forester 2.5X 4dr SUV AWD w/All Weather, Premium Pkg, VDC (2.5L 4cyl 5M)

I decided on a Subaru Forester after extensive research, and bought a 2009 model new. It had flaws in the beginning- the ipod adapter didn't work well; the stereo in general was not very impressive, the driver's seat was uncomfortable, the mpg was consistently on the low end - but I didn't regret my purchase until the big problems started at just 29K miles, within weeks of the bumper to bumper warranty expiring. Between 29K and 38K miles the car has had the engine coil replaced, the brakes replaced and now the transmission. It's not my driving, either - my last car went 9 years and 80K miles without a single repair and I've never spent this much in repairs on any car in 20+ years.

2 of 10 people found this review helpful

Three years of ownership

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Vehicle: 2009 Subaru Forester 2.5XT Limited 4dr SUV AWD w/VDC, Nav (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 4A)

I recently sold my 2009 XT Forester. When I bought the subaru I was passionate about it like most Subaru owners. Love- thatís what makes a Subaru rightÖ We recently sold the car after owning it for three plus years. Likes- the sleek design, fun to drive. Dislike- poor MPG, small fuel tank, and overall carrying capacity. With the Turbo model you have the same size fuel tank as the regular non turbo- the problem is your mpg is only 22 to 23 mpg, Iím not sure what the size of the tank is but its insufficient and requires filling up on a regular basis. Road trips would require extra stops to get gas- Iím not exaggerating- itís a real design problem. The panels on the outside of the car

Great for tall drivers

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Vehicle: 2009 Subaru Forester 2.5X 4dr SUV AWD w/VDC (2.5L 4cyl 4A)

I bought this car for 2 reasons 1. Head room,I'm 6'5 2. AWD Over all happy but a few issues to note 1.The car has an uncanny ability to suck in the exhaust from other vehicles, and it has nothing to do with the in cabin filter. 2.The design of the front seats. As the driver its almost impossible to reach under the seat to grab anything, and there is a cable that runs directly from the underbelly of the seat to the ground that eliminates passage. The passenger seat sits so low that even I feel like a kid in a car(I'm 6'5) 4.Rattles. have fun going back and forth to the dealer getting all the rattles in the body panels shored up while under warranty 5.Transmission issues at 70K mi 6.Sterio

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Solid car--not splashy

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Vehicle: 2009 Subaru Forester 2.5X 4dr SUV AWD w/VDC (2.5L 4cyl 4A)

I bought this Forester used several months ago. I have driven 8500 miles. Here are a few observations: It is obvious the car is well built and, if maintained, will be around a long time. The mileage is fair. Hwy is 26.2 City is 21.5 The all wheel drive gives a nice feel in tight turns and in wet weather. The engine has some pep, but I do not use it as a sports car. The interior is somewhat spartan or utilitarian. It will not be mistaken for a luxury car. It is all functional. The seats are comfortable, but not for extremenly long travels.

Like the turbo for passing...

by on
Vehicle: 2009 Subaru Forester 2.5XT Limited 4dr SUV AWD w/VDC (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 4A)

i've had my used 09 Forester XT (~57k miles) for about 2 months now. Took it cross country (+10k miles) completely loaded inside, on top with car top carrier and behind with hitch carriage. Gas mileage so-so (23-24 mpg). my previous car's 6 cyl engine did better with gas, but had nothing on this Forester when it comes to needing a little get-up-and-go on highway and in mountains. 2 problems: front head rest and noise. Turned front head rest around to reduce neck fatigue. Noise - my dog used to be an awesome road tripper, until we got this car. She is unable to relax as long as the car is in motion. It's so bad, i'm considering selling just for her well-being.

Talk About The 2009 Forester

2009 Subaru Forester Discussions See all Started By

The 2009 Forester will be unveiled in Japan this Christmas and in the USA in January 2009. What will happen with the Forester 2008? Will the Forester 2008 and the Forester 2009 be sold during the year...

currently in my Family we own 3 Subarus 2007 forester, 2009 Outback and a 2011 legacy, The 2007 forester at 85,000 was noticed by dealer the head gasket was leaking oil and told me to monitor. Now at...

The maintenance guide for my 2009 Subaru Forester Premium NON Turbo under federal specifications recommends replacing the spark plugs every 30K miles for the NON turbo 2009 Subaru Forester is this rea...

Read more about the 2009 Subaru Forester

Gas Mileage


  • 20
  • cty
  • 26
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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