2015 Subaru Forester SUV Review & Ratings | Edmunds
ADVERTISEMENT

2015 Subaru Forester SUV Review

2015 Subaru Forester SUV
Summary

Edmunds Summary 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.

  • 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.

Review

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.

Safety

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.

2015 Subaru Forester Video Review

Reviews from owners of the 2015 Subaru Forester SUV

Average Consumer Rating (See all 102 reviews) Write a Review

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Practical suv

by on
Vehicle: 2015 Subaru Forester

2+ years and about 42k miles later, and no real problems. Great on gas for SUV, best visibility I've ever had in an automobile, and phenomenal AWD. Can't tell from outside but it has a ton of cargo space. I've used every inch of it multiple times. Fit my daughters dresser in it! Plain entertainment and comfort but I don't care for the bells and whistles. I want practical, safe, and fuel efficient. This car has it. Only ding on it would be that it burns oil. Fuel changes are every 6k with full synthetic, but I usually need to add about a quart around 4k.



130 of 130 people found this review helpful

Well just turn me over and look at my blue teeth

by on
Vehicle: 2015 Subaru Forester

The car, Subaru Forester 2015 has a 'strange' habit of the engine not turning over but not flooding or grinding. This is an irregular happening, but often enough to be a scary pain. It is not related to time of day or weather. The dealership could find no problem. Well I said it was irregular. It can happen after I have been driving for awhile or first thing in the morning. The Blue Tooth will accept incoming calls but I can not give verbal commands to make a call. I must pull over to the side of the road and dial via my cell, then listen through the ' radio.' Another annoyance




Glad we chose this

by on
Vehicle: 2015 Subaru Forester

It seems to have more room for storage in back than many of the SUVs we drove. It has zip on the road and feels like it really hugs the road.




Safety first

by on
Vehicle: 2015 Subaru Forester

Great little SUV, good on gas and very reliable. Was looking at CX-5 and RAV 4 but decided to go with Forester because the best all wheel drive system.




Love this vehicle.

by on
Vehicle: 2015 Subaru Forester




Great suv for busy active lifestyle

by on
Vehicle: 2015 Subaru Forester

I've had my forester 1 year and already put 30K miles on it. I commute 80 miles a day and ride/race road and mtn bikes so spend alot of time outdoors in the woods and on long road trips. For my active lifestyle, the simplicity of function over amenities is perfect. I load it up with people, bike racks, kayaks, tools and luggage beating the heck out of this thing and it keeps rocking. Wouldn't be my first choice if I needed a comfy and fancy family grocery getter but for what Subaru designed and market the forester for, its excellent. Even with limited package, my only real complaint is the head unit/speakers looks and sounds like garbage. Like so many said before, interior is plain and seats are firm but the trade off is durability which is what I was looking for. Drives nice in ALL conditions, reliable so far, good gas mileage, decent power, good visibility good value and appears to have great resale value even though I will probably drive this thing into the ground.



ADVERTISEMENT
SPONSORED CONTENT
Edmunds Insurance Estimator

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

$44.00 per month*
*Disclaimer

Talk About The 2015 Forester

2015 Subaru Forester Discussions See all Started By

Karen_CM
Karen_CM
01-03-2014
For current leasing information, go to 2015 Subaru Forester Lease Questions...


ppmd
ppmd
06-12-2015
2015 Subaru Forester 2.5i Touring (CVT) 4dr All-wheel Drive...


Kirstie_H
Kirstie_H
07-08-2014
Welcome to Edmunds discussion dedicated to 2015 Subaru Forester leasing questions....



ADVERTISEMENT

Other Vehicles to Consider

ADVERTISEMENT

Compare upfront prices, lock in the best deal, and bring your certificate to the dealer for a no-haggle purchase.

Build your car and see the Edmunds True Market Value® (TMV®) - the average price paid for this car in your area.

ADVERTISEMENT