2003 Subaru Forester Consumer Review: Wanted to love it; absolutely

2003 Subaru Forester - Consumer Review

Average Consumer Rating

184 Total Reviews

X Wagon (2.5L 4-cyl. AWD 4-speed Automatic)

Build Quality
Reliability Value
7 of 11 people found this review helpful
Wanted to love it; absolutely hate it
By kal13 on


2003 Subaru Forester X AWD 4dr Wagon (2.5L 4cyl 4A)


This is my wife's car but I drive it more than her because she cannot stand the road noise, brake noise, lackluster A/C and other querks that cannot be fixed.
My wife had wanted a subaru for a while so we traded in her truck for a forester to get better MPG and handling while keeping AWD for winter safety.
It has been disappointing from the start.
There is horrible wind noise above 35mph that gets exopentially louder with increased speed.
Dealer and independent mechanics say it is window/door design and cannot be fixed.
brakes squeel embarassingly loud regardless of pad type.
It is mediocre at best in the snow - on par with most FWD cars.
Head gasket went at 100K mi - $2,000 repair.

Best Features

AWD - gives the allusion of safety ayway. MPG - averages 25 if you baby it, about 22-23 in normal driving conditions. Cargo capacity - very versatile with folding seats. Easy to park. Takes curves and mountain roads well in dry and wet weather - would not try it in the snow. Ground clearance is great for a car-based SUV. This vehicle seems apropriate for a teenager's first car or for someone who only drives short distances around town. Would look at the Jeep Patriot or AWD Pontiac Vibe/Toyota Matrix over this vehicle.

Worst Features

Wind noise is a must-fix; the radio cannot get ooud enough to drown it out. Car feels cheap, like it will fall apart at any minute. Reliability - head gasket at 100,000mi; radiator at 101,000mi; power steering pulley at 114,000mi(replaced with head gasket at 100K also). Most of our cars approach 200,000mi with no such issues. Headlights act up intermittenly - currently the brights do not work(not the bulb, fuse or wire as all have been replaced). Layout is not driver friendly - small controls, unsafe cruise control(must take eyes off road for 3-5 seconds). Airbag light comes on intermittenly. Overall I do not feel safe with my wife driving this car and will replace soon.
Recommend (7) (4)

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