2012 Subaru Forester SUV Review | Edmunds.com

2012 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 @ 5800 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 21/27 mpg
  • Bluetooth Yes
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2012 Subaru Forester

  • Thanks to plenty of interior room and available turbocharged power, the 2012 Subaru Forester is a top pick in the highly competitive small-crossover-SUV segment.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Standard all-wheel drive; roomy cabin with ample cargo space; comfortable ride; strong turbocharged engine on XT trims.

  • Cons

    Outdated four-speed automatic transmission dulls fuel economy and acceleration; unimpressive fit and finish.

  • What's New for 2012

    For 2012, the Subaru Forester now comes with a standard height-adjustable passenger seat and a new optional navigation system with added functionality.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Excessive oil consumption

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Vehicle: 2011 Subaru Forester

Like many others on this site, we've been plagued by excessive oil consumption, beginning with the light coming on unexpectedly, and the dealer's telling me that all Subarus use oil between changes. I have never, ever, experienced this with any other model car I've driven, except late into its life, like 185,000 miles, and then only a quart between changes. This is much worse. I would happily join a class-action lawsuit, and will certainly never buy another Subaru

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

This thing is garbage!!!

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Vehicle: 2011 Subaru Forester

It burns oil!!!!! My wife bought this new and we just had to have the engine rebuilt because it had no oil in it at the dealership recommended 7500 mile oil change!!!!! The dealership, with a straight face, tells us that 1 quart every 1500 miles is normal??? I have a 1995 Ford Bronco and it burns a quart every 6k miles. Why is it that an engine that is 19+ years old burns less oil than one 3 years old? How is this ok? How did this pass quality controll??? Why, why, why????? Pass these heaps over if you are wise! It is completely insane that a "modern" vehicle burns oil like its a vehicle from the 1970s, INSANE!!!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Drove it 50,000 miles, absolutely

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Vehicle: 2011 Subaru Forester

I just turned in my XT after 3-year lease was up. It never burned a drop of oil between changes and nothing (other than gas door lever) broke. It was 100% reliable through hard use, on and off-road, hauling bikes, kayaks etc. It was truly my trusted friend, and very fun to drive fast on mountain roads because of the precise, communicative steering. The turbo was powerful. Got a very good lease price, and when I turned it in, the car was worth more than the residual value, so I got a $1700 credit toward another vehicle.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

Subaru forester 2011 lemon

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Vehicle: 2011 Subaru Forester

I suggest never buying a Subaru. I purchased my first one strictly due to their perceived reputation. The 2011 Forester is poorly built. Body trim pieces have fallen off. Their is piston ring slap and it burns oil like there's no tomorrow. Service at Northtown Auto in Amherst NY actually said that this was normal and that Boxer engines are known for burning oil. After recommended oil changes at 3500 and 7500 miles, I was on my way to my 15000 mile change and the engined developed a low-end knock at 13000. Turns out, nearly all the oil was gone and there's not a single leak. Poor quality engine and manufacturing.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful


by on
Vehicle: 2011 Subaru Forester

I bought this car as it was my wife's turn to pick and she wanted something safe. I wanted something economical and comfortable, like a cadilac. No not really but you get the point, seats like a sofa. This car is too narrow and there is no cup holders unless you call the 2 square slots between the seats for my biggulps. and then they sneak a parking break in the middle too that takes up space for my legroom, 6' I am. The door when one closes it sounds tinny. needs some spray insulation. Another thing that rattles me is the transmission as when I'm in my turn right or left it seems to go into neutral and slips and catches as I apply the gas to continue down the street. Service says nothin

16 of 16 people found this review helpful

Warning!!! make sure to check

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Vehicle: 2011 Subaru Forester

If you own a 2011 or newer Forester with the new engine requiring synthetic oil, Check/add oil frequently! Mine requires 1 qt added every 1800 miles on average. I read an account of another 2011 Forester owner who went just over 10,000 miles without checking or changing the oil, and the engine ran out of oil, seized and was destroyed. You will need to add 3-4 qts in between oil changes. Engine rattles loudly at startup for a few seconds. Subaru needs to fix the problem of oil use. Most people are not diligent about checking and topping up their oil. There will be many unhappy owners.

Gas Mileage


  • 21
  • cty
  • 27
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs

Full 2012 Subaru Forester Review

What's New for 2012

For 2012, the Subaru Forester now comes with a standard height-adjustable passenger seat and a new optional navigation system with added functionality.


To many, Subaru occupies a unique position among other, more conventional automakers. There's a certain buyer that has historically been drawn to the brand: a kind of rugged individual who enjoys the great outdoors, yet needs the sensibility of a car that is well suited to urban settings. In many ways, the 2012 Subaru Forester best represents this niche.

Where most crossover SUVs would likely get stranded on a rutted trail, the Forester seems at home wallowing in the mud and climbing rocky wooded paths. With standard all-wheel drive and plenty of ground clearance, this SUV's gifts are certainly uncommon among crossovers that are relegated to carpool and commuting duties.

Fortunately, though, the Forester's off-road prowess doesn't come at the expense of civility. On the contrary, it provides a roomy cabin, plenty of cargo space and a comfortable ride. There's also a turbocharged version to tame the wilds of the freeway on-ramp. And while other vehicles in this class pursue the city-dwelling driver with sleek styling and numerous creature comforts, the Forester remains on the boxy side with just enough in the way of features to stay competitive.

Given the many strong picks in the small-crossover segment, picking the right model can be difficult. The redesigned Honda CR-V will deliver more refinement, and the Kia Sorento and Toyota RAV4 can be optioned with a powerful V6 engine and a third row of seats. Meanwhile, choices like the Hyundai Tucson and Volkswagen Tiguan will likely appeal to drivers who prefer a bit more engagement and excitement. But overall the 2012 Subaru Forester is competitive and well worth a look.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2012 Subaru Forester is a compact crossover SUV available in six trim levels: 2.5X, 2.5X Premium, 2.5X Limited, 2.5XT Premium, 2.5X Touring and 2.5XT Touring.

The 2.5X is equipped with 16-inch steel wheels, cruise control, full power accessories, air-conditioning, automatic headlights, keyless entry, a tilt steering column, a height-adjustable passenger seat, a trip computer and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and auxiliary audio jack. The 2.5X Premium adds 17-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof, roof rails, an eight-way power driver seat with power-adjustable lumbar support, a tilt-and-telescoping steering column, Bluetooth (with streaming audio), USB/iPod integration and reclining rear seatbacks.

The 2.5X Limited adds foglights, automatic climate control, the All-Weather package (including heated mirrors, heated front seats and windshield wiper de-icer) and leather upholstery. The 2.5XT Premium is similar to the 2.5X Premium but has a more powerful engine, a hood scoop and a rear roof spoiler. The 2.5X Touring builds on the 2.5X Limited's list of amenities, adding bi-xenon headlights, dual-zone automatic climate control, a one-touch folding rear seatback, electroluminescent instrumentation, a rearview camera and a subwoofer. The 2.5XT Touring combines the 2.5XT Premium's features with those seen in the 2.5X Touring.

The All-Weather package is optional on the 2.5X Premium, as is a portable TomTom navigation system. Limited and Touring trims are available with a traditional dash-mounted navigation system that includes voice controls, text messaging capability, a rearview camera, a six-speaker sound system (seven with the Touring's subwoofer) and an auxiliary audio/video input jack. Satellite radio and a variety of exterior trim add-ons are offered as stand-alone options.

Powertrains and Performance

As is the case with all Subarus, the 2012 Forester comes with all-wheel drive as standard. The 2.5X models are powered by a 2.5-liter horizontally opposed (flat) four-cylinder engine that makes 170 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque. The XT trims feature a turbocharged variant that produces 224 hp and 226 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard on the 2.5X and 2.5X Premium, with a four-speed automatic offered as an option. The automatic is the only transmission available on the 2.5X Limited, 2.5XT Premium, 2.5X Touring and 2.5XT Touring.

With both the manual and automatic transmissions, 2.5X models earn EPA ratings of 21 mpg city/27 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined, average figures for this segment. 2.5X models sold in states with more stringent emissions standards earn a squeaky-clean PZEV rating. With the XT's turbocharged engine, fuel economy dips to 19 mpg city/24 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined. In Edmunds performance testing, a 2.5XT went from zero to 60 mph in an impressive 6.8 seconds. A 2.5X model with the automatic turned in a rather sluggish 10.1-second acceleration run.


Standard safety features on the 2012 Subaru Forester include antilock brakes with brake assist, traction and stability control, front-seat side airbags and front and rear side curtain airbags. In Edmunds braking tests, the Forester 2.5X came to a stop from 60 mph in 122 feet, which is a good distance for this segment.

In government crash testing, the Forester earned an overall score of four out of five stars, with four stars for overall front-impact protection and three stars for side crash protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Forester its top rating of "Good" in its frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength crash tests.

Interior Design and Special Features

The 2012 Subaru Forester features a pleasantly styled and highly functional cabin design, though fit and finish is a little hit-or-miss. Controls are mostly straightforward and easy to access. The Forester is one of the most spacious vehicles in the segment, comparing favorably with the RAV4, CR-V and Mitsubishi Outlander, all of which straddle the line between compact and midsize SUVs.

This crossover's split-folding rear seat with optional reclining seatbacks deserves special mention here. The term "throne" appropriately describes this seat, as the cushion is so high that rear passengers will feel as though they're looking down on those in front. All but the longest of leg will actually be able to rest their hamstrings flush against the cushion -- a rarity in motorized conveyances without wings or bathrooms. The middle rear seat, however, is compromised by its dual purpose as an armrest and cupholder, making it more of a hard, segmented bench.

The cargo area is generous, boasting 33.5 cubic feet of space with the 60/40-split rear seatback raised and 68.3 cubes with it folded. The Forester's boxy shape also makes it well suited to hauling large bulky objects.

Driving Impressions

The 2012 Subaru Forester has one of the most comfortable rides in the segment. Its crisp steering and tight turning circle also make it surprisingly maneuverable in close quarters. Both engine choices are highly competitive in terms of power and fuel economy, although an automatic transmission with more gears than the Forester's four would make a big difference.

Not only would fuel economy and acceleration theoretically improve, but more narrowly spaced ratios would make gearshifts smoother and less noticeable as well. Brake feel also leaves much to be desired, as the pedal feels spongy and not at all confidence-inspiring. Still, the 2012 Subaru Forester is an able performer, especially in the 2.5XT trims.

The Forester's upright and boxy shape gives it much better outward visibility than you'll find in its sleeker rivals. Wind noise is detectable, but not any more intrusive than you'll find in the average SUV; the same holds true for road noise. Despite its prowess off-road, the Forester still manages to provide a suitably smooth and comfortable ride over bumpy surfaces.

Talk About The 2012 Forester

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