1998 Subaru Forester Review

Pros & Cons

  • Handles like a car. Accelerates like a car. Rides like a car.
  • Travels off-road like a car.
List Price Estimate
$639 - $1,358

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Vehicle overview

What do you do when sport-utility buyers won't drive home in your all-wheel drive station wagon, which is dressed up like an SUV, because it's too "wagony" in appearance? If you're gutsy like Subaru, you put a taller, more squared-off body on your wagon chassis, and call it good. The new Forester is a Subaru parts bin exercise, and since the parts bin is rather small at Fuji Heavy Industries, which owns the upstart all-wheel drive automaker, the car is cobbled together from a mixture of Impreza and Legacy bits.

Based on the rally-proven Impreza platform, the Forester uses the same AWD system found in other Subaru models. The 2.5-liter boxer engine comes from the Legacy Outback and makes 165 horsepower in the Forester. This means the Forester has gobs more power than its primary competitors.

Also, thanks to its hunkered-down stance, low center of gravity, and car-based foundation, the Forester handles better than the Chevrolet Tracker, Honda CR-V, Suzuki Sidekick and Toyota RAV4. The trade-off is lower ground clearance and less capable off-road ability, but you weren't going to go too far off the beaten path anyway, were you? (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.)

Inside is room for four adults, with a rear center position marked off for a fifth rider in a pinch. Cargo space is equivalent to what you'd find in the RAV4 or Tracker, and storage room abounds.

Three Forester models are available: the base, the mid-level L and the high-end S. Air conditioning, roof rack, rear defogger, tachometer, power windows, tilt steering, rear wiper/washer and an 80-watt cassette stereo are standard on the base model. The L adds antilock brakes, power door locks, and cosmetic goodies. With a base price barely over $20,000, we believe the L will be Subaru's volume seller. The uplevel S gets a toothy chrome grille, alloy wheels, bigger tires, rear disc brakes, cruise control and upgraded interior trimmings. Remote keyless entry is optional on the L and S, while leather can be added to the S only. Options include CD player, alloy wheels, cruise control, trailer hitch and a variety of cosmetic upgrades.

While we are partial to the Impreza Outback Sport and Legacy Outback models, the Forester will attract buyers who want an inexpensive, functional all-wheel drive vehicle that looks like a truck and drives like a car. As long as Subaru can keep a lid on pricing, the Forester should pick right up where the Outback wagons leave off.

1998 Highlights

Subaru attacks the mini-SUV market head-on with the Forester, which actually constitutes an SUV body on an Impreza platform with a Legacy engine under the hood. The most carlike of the mini-utes, Forester is also the most powerful. Airbags remain the full power variety, despite new rules allowing lower deployment speeds.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 1998 Subaru Forester.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

The Subaru That Keeps Going
L 4dr Wagon AWD
Unlike many other reviews that I have read on the 1998 Subaru Forester mine keeps going no matter what I do to it. I have never had a problem with head gaskets or wheel bearings. Yes I have replaced the timing belt at 80k but I do that with every new vehicle I buy. Other things that I have replaced over the life of the car are struts to an adjustable bilstein coil over , rotors and pads to brembo drilled and sloted rotors and pads , cv joints were changed based on the fact the car had 150 k and it was time, clutch to a center force stage two and two sets of tires cause each set wore out after putting over 75 k on each.
The best part is it was Free :D
4dr Wagon AWD
I got this car back in October from my cousin who was getting a new car and didnt want to trade his Subie in. GO HIM! lol It is by far the best vehicle I've ever owned. Reliability is amazing, the car has 136k miles on it, and i drove 400 miles to Ohio through the rain soaked mountains of West Virginia with no problems. Enough said. For reference in the rest of this, the Subie I own is a 2.5L 5 speed manual.
A Disappointment
A Disappointment,08/02/2006
L 4dr Wagon AWD
I'm a believer of the safety features after hitting a deer with the Forester at 65 mph on the freeway. I also love the way the Forester handles. But there were a few bugs that I wouldn't have expected given that the Legacy chassis had been out a while. First, the wheel bearings went out at 20K on two wheels. Then the oil seals went at 70K and 140K (just like our 95 Legacy). The head gasket went out at 140K When I complained about a manufacturer defect at 70K because of similar problems with our Legacy, Customer Service said it was coincidence and wouldn't negotiate a better rate on repairs, stating the warranty went out at 60K. If you buy a Subie, you better extend the warranty!
So great, I won two of them!!
Joe I,05/10/2017
S 4dr Wagon AWD
I currently have 2 forester S. I first had a white one with automatic transmission, bought for $2000.00 with 130k miles. Finally, at 170k, timing belt gave out and bent intake valves. I did most of the maintenance on the car since I owned it, with the exception of the timing belt (which apparently wasn't done right - failed after 1000 miles). It was immaculate. everything worked, even the cruise control! Excellent in the snow and rain. Always confident that my Subaru would make it no matter the conditions. I was so devastated when the timing belt slipped that I needed another. I found another 1998 Subaru Forester S with 188,000 miles on it. Its black and has a manual transmission. This car is still like brand new!! No squeaks, rattles, clunking, ticking, smoking or knocking. This car drives and handles the way I'd expect a brand new one off of the showroom floor to. Best of all, its better on fuel than my automatic was. I've owned approximately 20 cars; all different makes and models. I'm hooked on my Subarus! You can't beat them!!


IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 1998 Subaru Forester

Used 1998 Subaru Forester Overview

The Used 1998 Subaru Forester is offered in the following submodels: Forester Wagon. Available styles include 4dr Wagon AWD, S 4dr Wagon AWD, and L 4dr Wagon AWD.

What's a good price on a Used 1998 Subaru Forester?

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 1998 Subaru Foresters are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 1998 Subaru Forester for sale near. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 1998 Subaru Forester.

Can't find a used 1998 Subaru Foresters you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Subaru Forester for sale - 11 great deals out of 17 listings starting at $21,232.

Find a used Subaru for sale - 1 great deals out of 8 listings starting at $22,564.

Find a used certified pre-owned Subaru Forester for sale - 7 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $16,861.

Find a used certified pre-owned Subaru for sale - 4 great deals out of 16 listings starting at $7,910.

Should I lease or buy a 1998 Subaru Forester?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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