2015 Subaru Forester Review
2015 Subaru Forester Review
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Edmunds' Expert Review
by the Edmunds Experts
- Roomy interior
- admirable fuel economy
- availability of a stout turbocharged engine
- standard all-wheel drive
- great safety scores and available advanced safety features.
- Finicky touchscreen interface
- base engine is raucous at higher rpm.
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.
Competitive fuel economy, a spacious cabin and available turbocharged power make the 2015 Subaru Forester a solid pick for a small crossover SUV.
Calculate my fuel costs
Cost to DriveCost to drive estimates for the 2015 Subaru Forester 2.5i PZEV 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl 6M) and comparison vehicles are based on 15,000 miles per year (with a mix of 55% city and 45% highway driving) and energy estimates of $3.57 per gallon for regular unleaded in Virginia.
Monthly estimates based on costs in Virginia
$177/mo for Forester 2.5i PZEV
Forester 2.5i PZEV
Avg. Midsize SUV
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.
Performance & mpg
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."
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.
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.
2015 Subaru Forester models
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.
3.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
4.38 out of 5 stars
Exactly what I need
2015 Subaru Forester 2.5i Touring PZEV 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT)
I keep seeing reviews of this car, saying that it is too spartan. To be honest, I only need that and nothing more. There are things that regardless of money, you simply can't find anywhere else aside from the Forester and those things are: easily the best visibility of any vehicule I've ever driven; best AWD system, best fuel economy for an AWD compact SUV, best safety rating in its … class, among the most spacious compact SUV, having among the biggest panoramic sunroof. For those reasons alone, I'm extremely happy with my purchase! Honestly, I don't want to pay more for a name or for gadgets that would not make a difference if there's a snowstorm outside and that I needed to go somwhere.
5 out of 5 stars
Our second XT , just as good as the first! UPDATE
2015 Subaru Forester 2.0XT Touring 4dr SUV AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo CVT)
We've had this car for 8 weeks, bought to replace our 2004 XT. It's astounding how far technology and design has improved. The car is so much more comfortable than the 2004 , especially for 4 passengers. The Forester greenhouse has been preserved, which makes it one of the easiest cars to drive. The Eyesight system , with adaptive cruise control, object detection and automatic speed … reduction works extremely well and very smoothly. The ride is a bit hard, not unexpected in a AWD small SUV with lots of ground clearance and sport rims and tires. The touchscreen MMI is simply awful...I cant believe Subaru fell short on this while doing so well on everything else. UPDATE: After 2 years plus of ownership, we are still very happy with this car. Great for city, road trips, hauling dogs and kayaks, kids to college. So far no mechanical or electric issues or repairs. MMI is still frustrating. UPDATE II: After 4+ years, still going strong, only one major repair issue. The passenger side front axle started making a clicking noise when turning, diagnostic of a common problem in this model but they said it was only that side and replaced it under warranty. The same problem has returned after less than 5K miles. Back to the shop. Otherwise, Eyesight system is industry's best for a reason, MMI is still awful. Passenger side electric seat would be a nice improvement. Our 2 yellow labs agree: DOG -APPROVED! Update III - 6 years and 90K miles later, still going strong ! The clicking front transaxle issue persisted, and it turned out the local dealership changed out the wrong side! They corrected this at no charge, Otherwise, no repairs, no issues. We moved into a new home in a mountain community with some steep roads and drives and our gravel driveway is 300 ' of slope. The Forester never spins a tire.
5 out of 5 stars
5000 mile update
2015 Subaru Forester 2.0XT Premium 4dr SUV AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo CVT)
Not much has changed in my overall opinion over that past 5000 miles. Still a hoot to drive, lots of pull with the turbo engine. I installed an aftermarket tow hitch to carry my mountain bike, still have plenty of ground clearance. Gas mileage has been fine at around 22mpg, with mostly city driving. Have seen over 30mpg on slower highways(65mph). Will be installing snow tires next … winter, had it up in the mountains in some pretty deep snow and slick roads, it made it up no problem with the OEM tires, but I do like the extra grip of snow tires on slick roads.
5 out of 5 stars
My 4th Subaru- Much Improved
2015 Subaru Forester 2.5i Touring PZEV 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT)
This is my 4th Subaru. I also had a 2009 Forester and it was a great car. The 2015 is quite a step-up. The CVT is an excellent transmission and I regulary get 34 mpg on the highway and 25 mpg around town. The Subaru Forester is unstoppable in the mountains of western Washington. The 8.7" of ground clearance allows the car to be driven almost anywhere. The Premium package is simply … amazing for comfort and quality. The Forester is quiet and easy to drive. Passengers in rear find ample leg room. The storage is quite good for hauling things. The trailer towing capabilities are limited but that's why I have Toyota Tundra. Long road trips are easy on the back with adjustable lum
2015 Subaru Forester videos
ALISTAIR WEAVER: Today, the Subaru Forester and Mazda CX-5 go head to head in Edmunds exclusive, bespoke, unique, five category comparison. [MUSIC PLAYING] ALISTAIR WEAVER: Hello, I'm Alistair Weaver and I'm joined once again by the frosted Nixon of the Edmunds team. James Riswick will be representing the Subaru Forester. Mike Monticello, the Mazda CS-5. The first category up is performance. Mike, Mazda used to be all about zoom-zoom, but tell me, is there any zoom left? MIKE MONTICELLO: Absolutely, I mean performance is where the CS-5 shines. It's steering and it's handling are unlike anything else in this segment. You throw it into a corner, it always remains poised. And let's talk transmissions. The CX-5 has a traditional six speed automatic with quick, but yet smooth, shifts. The Forester has a CBT and it's not even a very good CBT at that. JAMES RISWICK: You know, I can't really argue with anything Mike says there. But I will add that the Forester has something that the CX-5 does not have, a two liter turbocharged four cylinder. It allows the Forester to go from 0 to 60 in 6.3 seconds. Nothing in the segment is even close. It's two seconds quicker than the best CX-5 engine. The other thing about the Forester, it's better off road. It has higher ground clearance and approach angles. ALISTAIR WEAVER: Well, this is tougher than you might think. The Mazda has more verve, but Uncle Scooby has more pure grunt, and it secures my first point. MIKE MONTICELLO: What? ALISTAIR WEAVER: Moving on to comfort. Can you chillax in the Forester? JAMES RISWICK: Absolutely. And it's really easy to do it because you have so much space. The back seat is high mounted and you have a lot of legroom, tons of headroom as well. And really it's boxy shape makes it feel a little less claustrophobic inside. It also has better visibility. Now I'm not going to say that the CX-5 is uncomfortable, but if you're looking for a comfier, softer ride the Forester will deliver that. MIKE MONTICELLO: People who really like driving are going to like to the CX-5's front seats. They're nicely contoured which means they have really good side bolstering. So the seats are going to hold you in place through corners. The Forester seats are wide and flat. Despite the CX-5's handling, which we've already discussed, it still offers a pretty darn smooth ride. ALISTAIR WEAVER: It's another close call but for a superior interior space, the Forester scores another point. 2-nil. So we know the Subaru has more space. But Mike, does the CX-5 hit back with the quality of its interior? MIKE MONTICELLO: Well, I think it does. The CX-5's interior is inviting for the sake of driving. It's easy to get in and out. The doors open nice and wide. Now, I know James is going to want to talk about maximum cargo room, but I'd rather talk about daily usable cargo room, meaning the space behind the rear seat. There, the Forester has 34.4 cubic feet of cargo room. The Mazda has 34.0. Which, according to my new math, that's a tie. JAMES RISWICK: You know, I will grant you that in numbers that these two cars are pretty close. Although, again, the Forester is bigger. But in terms of actual real world space, I actually went car shopping with friends who have a big old golden retriever. She didn't fit in the back of the CX-5. She fit easily in the Forester. Elsewhere in the cabin, you have nice, simple controls in the Forester, especially compared to the Mazda. ALISTAIR WEAVER: Well, despite being a major dog lover myself, I'm still going to give the point to the Mazda. So it's currently 2-1 to the Forester. But can it's boxer engine deliver the killer punch? JAMES RISWICK: Well, the Forester is a few hundred bucks more than the CX-5, but you do get standard Bluetooth, a rear view camera, and most importantly standard all-wheel drive. Now, not everybody needs all-wheel drive but when there's no cost, fuel economy, or performance penalty, why not? In terms or fuel economy, they're also even. Even the 2.0 XT, the turbo model, is only two miles per gallon lower than the CX-5 and it's a lot more powerful. MIKE MONTICELLO: Well, despite its [INAUDIBLE] performance, this little Mazda actually gets pretty good fuel economy. The base engine with all-wheel drive gets 28 MPG combined which is one MPG better than the Forester with its base engine. And the 2.5 liter engine in the CX-5 also gets better fuel economy than the Subaru Forester Turbo. Admittedly, that car is just a little bit quicker than CX-5. Now, Subaru has a reputation for building rugged interiors, but the CX-5's interior is just a really nice place. And to me, there is value in giving buyers a nice place to spend time. ALISTAIR WEAVER: I'm all for utilitarian sheep, but to be honest, at times the Subaru just feels a bit drab. So point to the Mazda. 2-all. So the last and decisive category is personality. Mike is a serious wheelman. Does the CX-5 make you smile? MIKE MONTICELLO: Absolutely, it sure does. The CX-5 owner they're probably looking more forward to the actual drive. Where as the Forester owner's maybe thinking more about what kind of activities are they going to do once they get to where they're going. Now, the CX-5 is the kind of vehicle that the driving dynamics put a smile on your face. The other thing about the Forester is, it's kind of boring looking these days. You can mistake it for one of like 20 other crossovers out there. The CX-5, in contrast, I mean it's a great looking vehicle. And to me, part of the fun of owning a vehicle is enjoying looking at it. JAMES RISWICK: Yeah, I don't really enjoy looking at the Forester. I'll give you that. And it's not really that fun to drive either. It's certainly easier to drive, great visibility, nice, big old mirrors, and I will also agree with you that the Forester's the sort of car you have more fun at your destination with all of your fun leisure activity equipment. ALISTAIR WEAVER: To be honest James, only one of these cars sets out to be genuinely fun to drive and that's why I'm giving the category to the Mazda. It's victory to Mike, Mazda, and the CX-5. But tell us, would you choose the Mazda over the Scooby? And for more information, explore Edmunds.com.
2015 Subaru Forester vs 2015 Mazda CX-5 Comparision Test
Two crossover SUVs and two Edmunds.com editors Face Off: the Subaru Forester vs the Mazda CX-5. Editors James Riswick and Mike Monticello debate the merits of each SUV, including their performance, comfort, interior, value and how much (or little) they're fun to drive. Which car would… you buy: the Forester or CX-5?
2015 Forester Highlights
|Combined MPG||25 MPG|
|Cost to Drive||$177/month|
|Cargo Capacity |
All Seats In Place
|Drivetrain||all wheel drive|
|Warranty||3 years / 36,000 miles|
NHTSA Overall Rating5 out of 5 stars
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverall4 / 5Driver5 / 5Passenger4 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverall5 / 5
- Side Barrier RatingOverall5 / 5Driver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront Seat5 / 5Back Seat5 / 5
- RolloverRollover4 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of Rollover16.9%
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
- Small Overlap Front Driver-Side TestGood
- Small Overlap Front Passenger-Side TestNot Tested
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – OriginalGood
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Side Impact Test – OriginalGood
- Side Impact Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Roof Strength TestGood
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintGood