Used 2013 Subaru Forester SUV Review & Ratings | Edmunds

Used 2013 Subaru Forester SUV Review

2013 Subaru Forester SUV

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Edmunds Summary Review of the 2013 Subaru Forester SUV

  • It's neither the most efficient nor the most luxurious small crossover available, but the Subaru Forester will hold special appeal for those drivers who frequently enjoy the great outdoors.

  • 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    Outdated four-speed automatic transmission dulls fuel economy and acceleration; unimpressive fit and finish.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 2013

    For 2013, every Subaru Forester comes standard with Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, as well as an iPod/USB audio interface. A new touchscreen audio system interface is also now available.

    2013 Subaru Forester Video Review

Full Edmunds Expert Review: 2013 Subaru Forester SUV

What's New for 2013

For 2013, every Subaru Forester comes standard with Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, as well as an iPod/USB audio interface. A new touchscreen audio system interface is also now available.


Small SUVs are primarily suburban runabouts. They need to have room for the kids, a Bluetooth connection for the phone and an elevated ride height for that commanding view of the road. Some are even designed for style or sporty handling. But tackling the great outdoors? That's pretty much unheard of these days. Yet the 2013 Subaru Forester remains a notable exception.

A rock crawler it is not, but its standard all-wheel-drive system that constantly shunts power to each wheel (rather than reacting when the front wheels slip) is well-suited for muddy fields or light sand. Should you actually encounter a few rocks, the Forester provides about 2 more inches of ground clearance than the average small crossover. It's well suited for the things you bring along as well, with a huge cargo area and especially useful roof rails that make it easier to carry bikes, kayaks or whatever other outdoorsy leisure equipment you might possess.

What's more, the Forester is an appealing choice even if the closest you'll ever get to the great outdoors is watching the movie starring John Candy and Dan Aykroyd. It has the aforementioned suburban-friendly attributes, plus handling that's in fact quite sporty. And that huge cargo area is just as good at bringing home a TV from Best Buy as it is hauling camping gear from Yosemite.

Now, the 2013 Subaru Forester does have its drawbacks. The cabin is down-market compared to competitors like the Ford Escape, GMC Terrain and Honda CR-V, with cheaper plastics and some questionable fit and finish. Its four-speed automatic transmission also sets it back in terms of fuel economy and acceleration. True, the turbocharged 2.5XT model is one of the quickest in the class, but the base four-cylinder is one of the slowest.

If you find this problematic but still like the Forester's outdoorsy resume, we suggest checking out the similarly priced Subaru Outback, which features a more refined interior and a more advanced transmission. It doesn't provide that same high-up commanding view, but it's got the same ground clearance, the same all-wheel-drive system and even more cargo capacity. So whether you're looking for something that can take you fly fishing or simply want a pick that will comfortably take the kids to school, Subaru at least gives you two solid choices.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2013 Subaru Forester is a compact crossover SUV available in six trim levels: 2.5X, 2.5X Premium, 2.5X Limited, 2.5X Touring, 2.5XT Premium and 2.5XT Touring. The X and XT indicate different engines.

Standard equipment on the 2.5X includes 16-inch steel wheels, full power accessories, keyless entry, cruise control, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-only steering wheel, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface. The Alloy Wheel package adds 16-inch alloy wheels and roof rails.

The 2.5X Premium adds on 17-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, upgraded exterior trim, roof rails, a panoramic sunroof, an eight-way power driver seat (plus two-way lumbar), a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a reclining rear seat. The 2.5XT Premium is virtually identical, but has a more powerful engine and isn't eligible for the following options. The All-Weather package (standard with the manual transmission, optional with the automatic) adds heated front seats, heated mirrors and a windshield wiper de-icer. The Plus package adds foglamps and a touchscreen audio system interface. A TomTom-sourced navigation system can be integrated into this interface.

The 2.5X Limited comes standard with the automatic transmission and the above packages. It also adds automatic climate control, leather upholstery, a cargo area tray, a rearview camera and a six-speaker sound system that adds iTunes tagging capability.

The 2.5X Touring adds xenon headlights, dual-zone automatic climate control, a one-touch folding rear seatback, upgraded gauges and a subwoofer for the six-speaker sound system. Besides its engine, the 2.5XT Touring is virtually identical.

The 2.5X Limited and both Touring trims can be equipped with a different navigation system that includes a larger touchscreen display and satellite radio.

Powertrains and Performance

Every 2013 Subaru Forester comes standard with all-wheel drive. The 2.5X trims feature a 2.5-liter horizontally opposed (or "boxer") four-cylinder that produces 170 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission with a hill holder function is standard on the 2.5X and 2.5 Premium trims. A four-speed automatic is optional on those trims and standard on the others. In Edmunds performance testing, a 2.5X with the automatic went from zero to 60 mph in 10.1 seconds, which makes it one of the slowest small crossovers. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 21 mpg city/27 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined regardless of transmission.

The 2.5XT trims get a turbocharged version of that same engine. It produces 224 hp and 226 lb-ft of torque. The four-speed automatic is standard. In Edmunds testing, it hit 60 mph in 6.8 seconds, which actually makes it one of the quickest small crossovers. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 19/24/21.


Every 2013 Subaru Forester includes antilock brakes, traction and stability control, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. A rearview camera is optional. In Edmunds brake testing, the Forester came to a stop from 60 mph in 122 feet, an average distance.

In government crash testing, the Forester received four out of five stars for overall crash protection, with four stars for frontal protection and four stars for side protection. In crash testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Forester received the highest possible rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests.

Interior Design and Special Features

The 2013 Subaru Forester features a pleasantly styled and highly functional cabin design, though materials quality is mediocre and fit and finish is a little hit-or-miss. Controls are at least straightforward for the most part, and easy to access. What the Forester lacks in interior ambience, however, it makes up for by being one of the most spacious vehicles in the segment. Like the Honda CR-V and Kia Sorento, it straddles the line between compact and midsize SUVs.

The Forester'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 for hauling large bulky objects.

Driving Impressions

The 2013 Subaru Forester has much better outward visibility than you'll find in its sleeker rivals. Wind noise is detectable, but not any more intrusive than is typical for this type of vehicle. The Forester's crisp steering and tight turning circle make it surprisingly maneuverable in close quarters, while its all-wheel-drive system and generous ground clearance lend it a fair amount of off-road capability. One of the most comfortable rides in the segment is another boon.

The Forester's spongy brake feel and powertrain options are less praiseworthy. While the 2.5XT's turbocharged four-cylinder makes the Forester one of the swiftest SUVs in its class, the base four-cylinder is one of the slowest. Fuel economy is also unremarkable. Much of the blame can be placed on the four-speed automatic transmission, which is practically an antique given that even five-speed automatics are now behind the times.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

Average Consumer Rating (See all 18 reviews) Write a Review

Subaru forester oil consumption

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Vehicle: 2013 Subaru Forester 2.5X PZEV 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl 5M)

The Subaru Forester - is an oil consuming machine. The dealer and manufacturer do not stand behind their products. So much oil consumption that the catalytic converter will need to be replaced every 50000 miles to the tune of $2000 each time. Subaru has acknowledged the issue but does not stand behind their products. Anyone thinking of purchasing a Subaru should seriously consider another manufacturer.

Amazing on every level, just not mpg!

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Vehicle: 2013 Subaru Forester 2.5XT Touring 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 4A)

This is my first Subaru, I am technically the second owner, the first being my mother, she love it as much as me, and in fact purchased a 2015 Non turbo touring as her replacement. As far as comfort its a great car, driven it in my cross country move from Texas to Pennsylvania. My only complaint about the car is the gas millage and having to use Premium Gas, this is the cars only down fall. I have to drive almost 100 miles a day and she sadly chugs gas like a frat boy chugs beer. No issues mechanically, only a puddle light has gone out. Oil changes lasting as long as they do is a god sent. All in all a great car!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Oil burner fixed by subaru

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Vehicle: 2013 Subaru Forester 2.5X Premium PZEV 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl 5M)

Bought a 2013 Forester new for my daughter. It consumed oil right from the start. Presently has 55,000 miles and uses one quart every 1300 miles. Will be taking it to dealer for their assessment. Assuming they give me a runaround, will probably trade it in. Wonder how many other Subarus out there have a similar problem. So watch out . Will update this if they make it right. Update: 5/4/2016 Dealer did not give me a runaround. Dealer suggested a 1200 mile oil consumption test. They measured 1.5 quarts used in 1200 miles. This qualified for new short-block which the dealer installed. No cost to me. Currently we are doing our own mileage test to see if the new short-block made any difference. She now has about 600 miles on the new block and I will update this post when we get more miles. The dealership in this case has been extremely helpful and I give Subaru credit for standing behind this problem. Hopefully the short-block solves the problem. Update: 5/5/2016 Good news. I got a chance to check the oil level on my daughter's car. Since the new short block was installed she has driven 1800 miles. The oil level on the dipstick has gone down 1/4 of an inch from where I first measured it. If this rate of consumption holds, I will consider that the problem has been solved. At this rate she should not have to add oil between oil changes at 4000 miles. And if this rate of consumption holds, my faith in Subaru will have been restored and I would consider buying another one.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Short people need not beware..

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Vehicle: 2013 Subaru Forester 2.5X Premium PZEV 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl 4A)

I'm 4 ft 9" , yes you read that right lol. This car is awesome for someone who loves the great outdoors and also need an everyday car. The seats lift up manually on the passenger and drivers seats. The steering wheel is very nice, seats are very comfortable. The inside is spacious, and the auto headlights are very handy. My only regret is how much the dog hair shows on my black seats! Brakes work fantastic, the value is really good. The stereo is basic but still nice. The ride is decently smooth, and the interior noise could also be better, but again overall this car is awesome. I got the 2013 once my 99' forester died and I would absolutely purchase it again!

2 of 7 people found this review helpful

Short people beware

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Vehicle: 2013 Subaru Forester 2.5X PZEV 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl 5M)

I bought a used 2013 forester with about 13,000 miles on it. The car is really spacious, pretty good on gas (average 24.6 mpg, although I can get up to 30 mpg on the highway) and looks beautiful. I am about 5' tall. But, I can't reach the brake pedal, (it is too high up and I have put two pillows under the floor mat), the seat doesn't go high enough and I need two pillows for that also, the steering wheel is to wide and my hands are cramping up from holding it, I have severe lower back pain, (am now trying an attached back support for the seat), sciatica pain, and cramps and soreness in my feet (from stretching to reach the pedals). In addition, there is no shade darkening on the top of the front windshield, my legs burn up. So I am updating this a year later. I still have back pain, leg cramps and foot pain and need pillows on the floor and on the seat. I got a special car lumbar support thing and that helps a little. I would never buy another subaru. It doesn't handle well (although snow tires made a big difference), and I am unimpressed with all-wheel drive. I still miss my jeep. I went to trade it in, and was told it is only worth $12,000 now. I tried to return it to Gengras, the dealer in CT I bought it , week after I bought it, and they refused, even though they advertise that they will take back a used car if you aren't happy. So there are things I like about it, but as soon as I can afford it, I'll get something else...

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Pay more

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Vehicle: 2013 Subaru Forester 2.5X PZEV 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl 4A)

Do yourself a favor by opting for a higher trim...if you have a BACK problem. I purchse 2013 base model just because of the color. It is brown/burgundy (new for 2013) and either wait 8 weeks or take the base model. After 13,000 miles later, I regret my purchase only because of the lacking(or Non) lumbar support and a thigh support. I have a back issue since purchasing this CUV. Of course, if you are moderate sized person, this would not be an issue. Otherwise, it is a very solid vehicle. This is my 4th Subi and would not be the last.

Talk About The 2013 Forester

2013 Subaru Forester Discussions See all Started By

Over the last 2 days, I have a weird issue with my 2013 Forester. When I turn the car off and remove the key I get a beeping like the alarm system and lock system engaged but the doors do not lovk nor...

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Gas Mileage


  • 21
  • cty
  • 27
  • highway
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Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2013 Subaru Forester Suv in VA is:

$54.08 per month*

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