2015 Subaru Forester SUV Review & Ratings | Edmunds

2015 Subaru Forester SUV Review

2015 Subaru Forester SUV

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Edmunds Expert Review of the 2015 Subaru Forester SUV

  • Competitive fuel economy, a spacious cabin and available turbocharged power make the 2015 Subaru Forester a solid pick for a small crossover SUV.

  • Safety | Reliability
  • Pros

    Roomy interior; admirable fuel economy; availability of a stout turbocharged engine; standard all-wheel drive; great safety scores and available advanced safety features.

  • Cons

    Finicky touchscreen interface; base engine is raucous at higher rpm.

  • What's New for 2015

    The 2015 Subaru Forester receives minor feature changes, including a standard rearview camera on all models and larger 18-inch wheels for the 2.5i Touring trim.


Reviews from owners of the 2015 Subaru Forester SUV

Average Consumer Rating (See all 63 reviews) Write a Review

Not safe! intermittent temporary loss of power

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Vehicle: 2015 Subaru Forester 2.5i PZEV 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT)

not safe: intermittent temporary loss of power up to 4 seconds! service department ran diagnostic test and then refused to acknowledge the problem and stated the car is safe to drive.I refused to drive it and traded it in immediately for a Honda. I was very disappointed in Subaru.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

Depends on your priorities

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Vehicle: 2015 Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium PZEV 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl 6M)

Gas mileage - awesome; nothing better out there. Sturdiness - OK, feels very lightweight like a tin can. Handling - very good. A/C - worst of any car I've ever driven, blows hot air at least 60% of the time; sucks cause I live in Phoenix :( and dealer claims it's due to "large cabin volume". Seriously? I've had bigger cars that do just fine with that. Eyesight accessory - love it. Trunk also slow on mine & sometimes doesn't work. Overall mixed feelings but probably wouldn't buy a car with crappy A/C ever again.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

3 months / 5000 miles - great car!

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Vehicle: 2015 Subaru Forester 2.5i PZEV 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT)

Purchased car in Auburn, Washington, and had the best customer experience ever in over 40 years of car buying. Took a road trip to Yellowstone and was very satisfied with performance, handling, standard radio system. Averaged over 32 mpg on a trip that was mostly highway driving, but, included mountains and a few days of backroad touring on paved roads. Around town mileage is somewhat lower, but, averaging better than 24 mpg in suburban driving. Only disappointment so far is air conditioning effectiveness - cooling is marginal in direct sun when over 90 degrees (perhaps due to untinted windows on base model). Not a single mechanical problem has surfaced so far. Very satisfied with the car and ownership experience to date.

3 of 6 people found this review helpful

Never another subaru don't ever buy this car

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Vehicle: 2015 Subaru Forester 2.5i Limited PZEV 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT)

We had a 2014 Forester, after about a year wanted to get some upgrades. After some looking we decided to stay with the forester and get a 2015. Now after only 13k miles and 8 times in the dealer tech has come to this conclusion on 2 issues. Issue 1. Our ac fan will not stay on high for more than a couple mins. They have said the car is not designed to have the fan on high for min than a couple mins. From there on it will cycle from high to about every 2 seconds. Really!! It gets better. Issue #2. When you step on the gas the car will not go over 15 or 20 mph for about a quarter to half mile. I am told that I should not expect the car accelerate continuously. Due to the cvt I should let my foot off the gas for about 10 seconds then try to accelerate again. I have nearly been in 4 accidents, I am going guess in the near future there are going to a lot more problems. And of course the bucking and rough idle normal too. This car is junk. Do not buy it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Good car, lousy accessories - yes, the hitch sucks

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Vehicle: 2015 Subaru Forester 2.5i Limited PZEV 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT)

I wish I had read the review above before I installed the Forester OEM hitch. I like the Subaru Forester. I like it enough that I have driven it 20,000 miles in the nearly 18 months (bought it early May 2014). I am not too crazy about the (lack of) pickup speed, but I knew that getting in. I bought the limited edition with EyeSight. I love EyeSight. It has saved my wife and myself enough number of times. Adaptive cruise control is such a nice feature on Hwy 5. The car is spacious, the moon roof is very nice and it feels and handles like a very safe car. The automatic lift gate has a mind of it's own. It is very slow to open and often would just emit out an annoying beep sign without opening. The less said about the touch screen, the better. The 2016 Forester has a much better touch screen is what I hear. I wish I had read the review about regarding the trailer hitch. I was stupid enough to ask my local Subaru dealer to install the OEM hitch. The $400 price for the hitch and $280 to install must have been a warning, but I wanted to get this installed before summer was out and being too lazy to find out who else can install a hitch and what to read about, I installed it. The OEM trailer hitch is worth its weight in human manure. It's class 1, comes with a 1.25" hitch. To make this worse, the pinhole is too far close to the front opening that only ONE Yakima bike rack is blessed to work with it. I needed a bike rack that will take 4 bikes. There are a few bike racks that will work with a 1.25" hitch, but all of them need a class 2 hitch, which this "pile of human dung" isn't. I wish my local service adviser was good enough to point that out to me - but I won't blame him if I walked in with a big loser sign in my forehead. Unlike the reviewer above me, I couldn't get this hitch to work, even with the crappy blessed Yakima bike rack. I begged my local dealer to take the hitch back, I will eat the $280 installation charges. I am getting a class 3, 2" trailer hitch installed by U-Haul for $215 (total, including labor) and will install an appropriate bike rack that will support 4 bikes on it. I will return the bike rack and pray that the dealer refunds me the $399 at least. Like the reviewer above, I am so pissed with Subaru. I trusted Subaru and I trusted that the $700 hitch would be the best in it's class and work magically with all accessories. The fact that it's the worst piece of crap out there and seriously crippled by Subaru has left me very very very unhappy. I refuse to part any more money to Subaru going forward. I have pre-paid my services up to 48,000 miles (did I mention the loser sign before?), once that's done, I will avoid Subaru and it's over-priced dealerships for the rest of my life. I have recommended and my family & friends have bought 3 different Subarus based on my recommendation, but no more. Subaru - you have lost a potential life long customer because of your stupid crippled accessory.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

Brakes over heat on long down hills

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Vehicle: 2015 Subaru Forester 2.5i PZEV 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT)

No engine braking in L unsafe on long hills , very unsafe if car is loaded. Brake rotor temps read around 350 -500 degres Shifting from M to L is like sticking your hand out the window . Word is that this transmission is not sold in Europe because of the mountains . Subaru must think that their customers now live with no hills !


Full 2015 Subaru Forester Review

What's New for 2015

The 2015 Subaru Forester receives minor feature changes, including a standard rearview camera on all models and larger 18-inch wheels for the 2.5i Touring trim.


A year ago, Subaru redesigned its Forester crossover SUV, adding sharper styling, a roomier and nicer-looking interior and enhanced fuel economy. The 2015 Subaru Forester is essentially unchanged, but that's not an issue as this is still one of the better choices for a small crossover this year.

Part of the Forester's fuel economy secret is its continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), replacing the conventional automatic in the previous model. But the standard manual transmission is more efficient, too, boasting six speeds instead of five for improved cruising efficiency. As usual, the Forester also comes in turbocharged XT trim, which offers impressively quick acceleration along with a still respectable EPA fuel economy rating.

The Forester's interior design is nothing special, but it does provide ample room for bikes, tents, canines and other tools of the trade among Subaru's loyal fans. Safety is another draw with the Forester; it boasts near-perfect crash test scores as well as an available low-speed frontal crash mitigation system, which is a feature more commonly found on luxury cars than affordable family crossovers such as this.

Understandably, though, Subaru isn't the only automaker offering a quality crossover at this price. The Ford Escape and 2015 Mazda CX-5 handle better on-road and have nicer interiors, while it's tough to beat the all-around appeal of the nicely packaged Honda CR-V. If it's off-road credentials you're after, the Jeep Cherokee is certainly worth a look. Given the high quality of the competition, we certainly recommend shopping around. But if you're looking for serious space and standard all-wheel-drive traction, the 2015 Forester is an excellent all-around solution.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2015 Subaru Forester is a compact crossover available in six trim levels. The 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited and 2.5i Touring all come with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, while the 2.0XT Premium and 2.0XT Touring come with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder.

Standard equipment on the 2.5i includes 17-inch steel wheels, full power accessories, cruise control, a height-adjustable driver seat, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a color multifunction display, a rearview camera and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack and iPod/USB connectivity.

The 2.5i Premium adds 17-inch alloy wheels and roof rails (optional on the base 2.5i with CVT), rear privacy glass, a panoramic sunroof, a 10-way power driver seat (with power lumbar adjustment), a rear armrest with cupholders, reclining rear seatbacks and a six-speaker stereo system with HD radio. An All-Weather package (heated side mirrors and heated front seats) is standard if the manual transmission is specified, but it's an extra-cost option with the CVT.

The 2.5i Limited makes the All-Weather package standard and adds automatic headlights, foglights, an adjustable-height power rear liftgate, a rear roof spoiler, automatic climate control, an upgraded instrument cluster, leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a cargo area tray.

The 2.5i Touring throws in a premium eight-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, 18-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlamps, keyless entry and ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control and a one-touch folding rear seatback.

Moving to the 2.0XT Premium brings all the equipment of the 2.5i Premium, plus the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine and CVT, 18-inch alloy wheels, dual exhaust outlets, the All-Weather package, a rear roof spoiler, alloy pedals, an upgraded instrument cluster and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The 2.0XT Touring offers the same upgrades as the 2.5i Touring.

Optional on the Premium (except with the manual transmission), Limited and Touring trims is a 6.1-inch touchscreen navigation system with voice controls, satellite radio and Aha smartphone app integration. The Limited trim's navigation system includes the Harman Kardon audio setup. All of these trims are also eligible for the Driver Assist Technology package, which integrates adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and pre-collision braking functions.

Powertrains and Performance

Every 2015 Subaru Forester comes standard with all-wheel drive. The 2.5i Touring, 2.5i Limited and all 2.0XT models have an additional driver-selectable mode that optimizes various functions to improve traction on slippery surfaces. These models also include hill descent control.

The 2015 Subaru Forester 2.5i features a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 170 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard for the 2.5i and 2.5i Premium trims, with a CVT optional. The higher trims are CVT-only.

The EPA rates CVT-equipped 2.5i models at 27 mpg combined (24 city/32 highway), a laudable achievement for an all-wheel-drive crossover. If you get the manual transmission, the numbers drop to 25 combined (22 city/29 highway). In Edmunds testing, a CVT-equipped Forester 2.5i Limited accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 9.0 seconds, which is about average for a base-engine AWD crossover in this segment.

More performance is available if you choose the 2.0XT. Its standard turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder churns out 250 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque and comes only with the CVT. In Edmunds testing, a Forester 2.0XT Touring accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds, a quick time even for a crossover in this class with an upgraded engine. The 2.0XT could also impress on the fuel economy front; the EPA estimates 25 mpg combined (23 city/28 highway), though our test vehicle struggled to match these numbers in real-world driving. The other downside is that the 2.0XT can tow just 1,500 pounds -- same as the base Forester.


Every 2015 Subaru Forester includes antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags, a driver knee airbag and a rearview camera. Lane departure warning, frontal collision warning and a frontal collision mitigation system with automatic braking are available via the Driver Assist Technology package.

In Edmunds brake testing, a Forester 2.0XT stopped from 60 mph in 119 feet, a good number for this class. A Forester 2.5i (with the 17-inch wheels) made this same stop in 126 feet, which is a little worse than average.

In government crash tests, the Subaru Forester earned a top five-star rating for overall protection in crash tests, with four stars for total frontal-impact safety and five stars for total side-impact safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Forester a top score of "Good" in the moderate overlap frontal-offset, small-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact, roof strength and head restraint/seat tests. The IIHS also gave the Forester's optional frontal crash mitigation braking system a top score of "Superior."

Interior Design and Special Features

The various textures and accents dispersed throughout the 2015 Subaru Forester's interior deliver enough visual appeal to keep pace with other affordable crossovers. But make no mistake: The Forester maintains the simplicity of Subaru's design philosophy. Aside from three large climate control dials and steering-wheel-mounted multimedia controls, there's not a lot going on here unless you add the optional navigation system. Unfortunately, that system's touchscreen interface comes up short in terms of both graphics and functionality when compared to today's best.

Where the Forester shines is in its refreshing focus on functionality. Elevated stadium-type rear seating enhances thigh support and affords a better view, while the Forester's rear legroom is only about an inch shy of what you'll find in a Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan. This sense of space is reinforced by a huge cargo hold that yields 74.7 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. That's nearly 4 more cubic feet than the Honda CR-V, which has traditionally been at the head of this class. The caveat is that you'll need to stick to the base model if you want the big number, as models with the panoramic sunroof drop to 68.5 cubic feet due to a lower roof height.

Driving Impressions

The 2015 Subaru Forester 2.5i won't set any speed records with its 170 horses, and although the CVT performs well for the breed, it still lacks the responsiveness of a good conventional automatic. Still, this powertrain's impressive fuel economy gives it an edge over most rivals. If you've got the need for speed, the 2.0XT's turbocharged engine delivers some of the quickest acceleration times found in this class.

In normal use, the Forester serves up a comfortable ride with either the 17-inch or 18-inch wheels. Subaru loyalists will be pleased by the noticeable reduction in road and wind noise for this generation. However, while the 2015 Forester's handling is stable and composed, there are no sporting pretensions here. Rather, this crossover trades on its extra dollop of off-road capability, which comes via generous ground clearance and a driver-selectable "X Mode" that maximizes traction in the dirt.

Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2015 Subaru Forester Suv in VA is:

$123.00 per month*

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