2008 Subaru Forester Review

Pros & Cons

  • Peppy base engine, seriously fast in turbocharged XT trim, carlike ride and handling, standard all-wheel drive, reassuring crash test scores.
  • Scarce rear legroom, too much road and wind noise, automatic transmission is slow to downshift.
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Edmunds' Expert Review

Though aged compared to much of its competition, the 2008 Subaru Forester is still a practical and fun-to-drive crossover well-suited to many purposes.

Vehicle overview

At a glance, the 2008 Subaru Forester might seem like any other compact SUV. It shares its basic underpinnings with a car, for instance, and as such it's easy to drive and provides plenty of family-friendly versatility. However, Subaru has instilled enough variations on this basic formula to give the Forester a distinct character in a crowded field. Without a doubt, the Forester has a higher entertainment quotient than most sport-utilities. Its smaller dimensions, lighter weight and responsive handling give it a tossable feel. Even the base four-cylinder engine offers good punch, and the optional turbo engine delivers its power in a sudden, thrilling manner that competitors' V6 engines can't match. Subaru's offering of a manual transmission with either engine should entice enthusiasts further, as should the Forester's standard all-wheel drive. On the whole, this is one fun-to-drive crossover.

At the same time, the Forester also fares well in most practical matters. Its cargo area is surprisingly roomy and usefully square. It rides smoothly enough on the road (if a bit noisily) and treats its front passengers to a user-friendly interior and comfy seats. Rear-seat riders are less lucky, and are apt to complain about the unsupportive cushioning and lack of legroom back here. On the other hand, they're less likely to be injured in a collision, given the Forester's stellar scores in side-impact crash tests.

Despite its advancing age, the 2008 Subaru Forester isn't short on virtues, and those who prefer their compact SUVs a little smaller, sportier and quirkier may find a favorite in the 2008 Subaru Forester. But prospective buyers would be wise to examine its competitors, most of which are younger designs. The latest Honda CR-V, Mitsubishi Outlander and Toyota RAV4 offer roomier interiors than the Subie, and the Toyota and Mitsu even offer a third-row option. In addition, all three offer a higher, more commanding seating position that many SUV buyers find so appealing. Also, some might prefer the Outlander and RAV4 for their V6 engines, which deliver their power in a more familiar, evenhanded fashion than the Forester's turbo.

2008 Subaru Forester models

A compact crossover SUV, the 2008 Subaru Forester comes with one of two engines: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder or a turbocharged version of the same. Foresters with the regular engine carry a "2.5 X" designation and come in base, Sports, Premium and L.L. Bean trim levels. Models with the turbo engine get the "2.5 XT" stamp and come in Sports and Limited trim levels.

The base Forester 2.5 X includes 16-inch steel wheels, a roof rack, a rear wiper with de-icer, air-conditioning, a CD player, full power accessories, cruise control and keyless entry. The first of three upgrades is the 2.5X Sports version, which loses the wiper de-icer but adds alloy wheels, black body accents and silver roof rails, leather trim for the steering wheel and shift knob, automatic climate control and a seven-speaker, MP3-capable stereo with a CD changer and auxiliary input jack. The 2.5 X Premium loses the upgraded speakers but gets back the wiper de-icer. The Premium then adds bigger side mirrors with turn-signal repeaters, rear disc brakes, a limited-slip rear differential, a moonroof, a power driver seat and heated front seats and mirrors. The ultimate 2.5X is the L.L. Bean model, and it comes with leather seats, a leather-and-wood steering wheel and shifter, the upgraded speakers, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass and sturdier plastic trim in the cargo bay.

As for the turbocharged Foresters, the 2.5 XT Sports is mostly equipped like the 2.5 X Premium. It deletes the power driver seat and heated seats and mirrors, but adds 10-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels, a hood scoop, black body accents, silver roof rails, and front and rear spoilers. Finally, the 2.5 XT Limited has five-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels, leather seats and sportier-looking instrumentation.

Options on the 2008 Subaru Forester include a rear spoiler, a rear bumper cover, splash guards, various cargo trays and bins, a short-throw manual shifter and upgraded sound systems.

2008 Highlights

Changes are minimal for the 2008 Subaru Forester. Stability control is now standard on all turbocharged models equipped with an automatic transmission, and Subaru has shuffled the equipment among the Forester's many trim levels. One notable change is the L.L. Bean model's loss of its self-leveling rear suspension, which increased the pressure of the shock absorbers to compensate for heavy loads.

Performance & mpg

Standard on all 2.5 X models is a 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine that makes 173 horsepower and 166 pound-feet of torque. The turbocharged version on the XT packs 224 hp and 226 lb-ft of torque. All trim levels have a choice of a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission, excepting the automatic-only L.L. Bean. Like all Subarus, the Forester comes standard with full-time all-wheel drive, with automatic models using a higher-tech electronic system. Manual models have a Hill Holder feature to keep the Forester from rolling back on inclines.


Antilock brakes are standard on all 2008 Subaru Foresters; traction and stability control come exclusively on turbo models with the automatic transmission. Other safety features include active front head restraints and front-seat side airbags that provide head and torso protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Forester an optimal "Good" rating for frontal offset and side-impact crashes and named it a top safety pick in the compact SUV class. The Subaru Forester also earned a perfect five stars in all front- and side-impact testing conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.


Performance with the base 2.5-liter engine is no more than adequate, though its generous whack of low-end torque makes the Forester feel spirited around town. The turbocharged version, on the other hand, packs a fierce punch, especially when equipped with its crisp-shifting manual transmission. In terms of handling, the Forester is stable and predictable even when pushed to its limits, and its small dimensions and below-average weight make it among the most carlike in its class. The steering is a bit light, but the 2008 Subaru Forester should be nimble enough to suit most drivers. Our main complaints concern the Forester's excessive road and wind noise. Enthusiastic drivers might also find the automatic transmission slow to downshift.


Even the base 2.5 X version of the Subaru Forester has a well-appointed interior with tight build quality and simple controls. If the plastics look a bit utilitarian, the leather seats have an upscale look, and the front seats are comfortable and supportive. The rear seat, in contrast, has tight legroom for taller adults (it's also a problem for those with bulky car seats) and a somewhat unsupportive bottom cushion. Cargo space, on the other hand, is competitive with 31 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seat upright, 69 when folded and a low lift-over height for ease of loading.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2008 Subaru Forester.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Fantastic Car! Buy it if you can!
2.5 X 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl 4A)
This is a fabulous car! I have owned my 2008 Subaru Forester for about 2 and a half years now. It has been without a single problem the entire time. One of the things I love most about my Subaru is its versatility. It gets good gas mileage, but I have also used it for hauling huge items of furniture, kayaks, pontoon rafts, 5 people, all the luggage of a long trip for me and my entire family, and building supplies for my house. It is such as safe car as well. My wife was rear ended while in our in our 1998 Subaru Forester by a Ford F250 going fast when she was at a stop. The car completely absorbed the impact and saved her life. After that, we had to get another Subaru Forester.
Best car I've ever owned
2.5 X L.L.Bean Edition 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl 4A)
Really hate to be the obnoxious reviewer who gives all five stars, but this car has earned it. It's more comfortable than Cadillacs I've owned and has great fuel economy for an AWD (though I wish Subaru would introduce a fleet of hybrids). I usually get 30mpg hwy, but I don't really drive city. 160,000 miles so far and no issues whatsoever. Definitely will buy another one in the future.
175,000 miles few problems
Bob in Silver Spring Md,08/16/2016
2.5 X Premium Package 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl 4A)
Purchased used in September 2009.. Hard to believe it's at 175,000 miles and still runs smooth and responsive. Replaced rear brake pads one time. Most expensive repair. Right rear wheel bearing which is a common problem on Subaru. $450.00 repair. Most expensive maintenance item. Timing belt with water pump and pulleys. I paid $600.00. The dealer charges $1200 or more. Tires are an issue. Buy good ones and they will last. Yokohama seem to last longest. The seats are not good for long trips. Get a small memory foam pillow and that will take care of that. Weird stalling and idle problems started at 142,000 miles and traced to small valve on intake manifold. Remove electric hook up, remove two Phillips screws, spray valve with intake manifold cleaner and problem solved. Remove spark plug wires and inspect for oil. Valve cover gasket leaks common problem on these cars but I haven't had to replace them yet. Overall it's a good safe solid car. Nothing fancy but reliable when you work through the issues. Make sure when replacing plug wires to use spark plug grease on both ends of wires. Another issue. Headlights started leaking at 160,000 miles. Don't even try to fix them. Order new ones off Ebay for $300. You have to remove the entire front end to replace them. It's time consuming not difficult. It's 8 years old at this point and has held up well. Update February 2017. Still running well. Just replaced front and rear pads. And both oxygen sensors 184,712 miles. Update August 2017. 193,783 miles. Replaced valve cover gaskets. Surge and stalling again. Preparing to change out fuel injectors and gas pedal assembly. Most of the time it runs perfect but occasionally stalls. I also suspect it could be accumulation of bad gas. Update February 2018: 199,980 miles. Car running smoothly again. However, turned car over to one of my children in January 2018. He is now over 200,000 miles. Update February 2019: Son sold car at 223,000 miles. Car still ran fine.
The Best Car I've ever had !!!!! Period
Sports 2.5 X 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl 4A)
I had a Chrysler 300 Limited Brand new, Chevy Impala brand new, a coup deville and to me this is the best car I've ever owned, period. The ride is smooth, the vehicle has great power. I put a remote start on It and a trailer hitch. I get about 26 to 27 on the hwy. The interior room is awesome ! I'm 5'10" and 280 pound! I still have plenty of room!


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 2008 Subaru Forester

Used 2008 Subaru Forester Overview

The Used 2008 Subaru Forester is offered in the following submodels: Forester Wagon. Available styles include 2.5 X 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl 4A), 2.5 X Premium Package 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl 4A), 2.5 X L.L.Bean Edition 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl 4A), Sports 2.5 X 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl 4A), 2.5 X 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl 5M), 2.5 X Premium Package 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl 5M), 2.5 XT Limited 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 4A), Sports 2.5 X 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl 5M), 2.5 XT Limited 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 5M), Sports 2.5 XT 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 4A), and Sports 2.5 XT 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 5M).

What's a good price on a Used 2008 Subaru Forester?

Price comparisons for Used 2008 Subaru Forester trim styles:

  • The Used 2008 Subaru Forester 2.5 X is priced between $8,998 and$8,998 with odometer readings between 102617 and102617 miles.

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 2008 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) 2008 Subaru Forester for sale near. There are currently 1 used and CPO 2008 Foresters listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $8,998 and mileage as low as 102617 miles. 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 2008 Subaru Forester.

Can't find a used 2008 Subaru Foresters you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Subaru Forester for sale - 5 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $17,107.

Find a used Subaru for sale - 1 great deals out of 5 listings starting at $24,786.

Find a used certified pre-owned Subaru Forester for sale - 2 great deals out of 15 listings starting at $9,951.

Find a used certified pre-owned Subaru for sale - 3 great deals out of 12 listings starting at $18,222.

Should I lease or buy a 2008 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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