2016 Subaru Forester Review
Pros & Cons
- Airy interior with plenty of room for adults in both seating rows
- impressive fuel economy for an all-wheel-drive crossover
- optional turbocharged engine provides spirited acceleration
- above-average off-road ability
- top safety scores.
- Doesn't feel as sporty around turns as some rivals
- blind-spot monitoring isn't offered.
List Price Range
$12,900 - $25,000
Used Forester for SaleSee all for sale
Edmunds' Expert Review
Most helpful consumer reviews
2.5i Limited PZEV 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT)
This is the "utility" review. I've now owned this vehicle for two years and 35,000 miles. I no longer have a daily commute, but we get thousands of miles going to and fro the wilderness. I volunteer hundreds of hours annually for the U.S. Forest Service. In the spring, summer and fall am regularly on forest roads, gravel, grass and mud. I am usually getting somewhere for a work project in the back country. I navigated around a downed tree blocking the road by driving down and into the muddied ditch alongside the roadway. The car handles superbly on steep dirt roads. I am 5'6" so having the seat able to get up high allows me even better visibility. Muddy roads and crossing small brooks are regular events. It's also great at getting in and around tight spaces where the road (if you call it that) is narrow and not well tended to. Last spring, I came upon a 3' high, heavy spring snow and ice pile a plow left across the road. I didn't feel like walking the last 1/4 mile, so I pushed my way through it quite handily. Might not have been the brightest move, since it did break loose some of the plastic ski guard under the engine. The ground clearance is really what gives me the flexibility to go over things, especially protruding rocks in the road. 360 degree driver visibility is wonderful. Add to that the large sunroof and I always feel like I'm outside. I rarely have passengers any more, but you always will find my car loaded with dirty tools, emergency supplies, blankets, paint, ropes, packs, food, tents, and even the trusty old yoga mat. Admittedly the car does not get cleaned much inside and out. The rubber mats are a life saver. I do wish the cargo space was a tad bit longer. Some things have to go in diagonally or down over the center console. But a big reason I bought this The roof racks have hauled 2-bys and pipes with ease. I do wish there were more little storage spaces to put things I use now and then. Replacing the cabin and air filters (which I need to do more than most) is a snap. Its a easy,clean, five minute job and probably saves me $50. I would agree that the seats are not as plushy as my old Audi, but I knew that going in and it doesn't bother me. Got plenty of USB ports and I use them mostly to play memory sticks full of tunes. They really gotta work on playlist features when the music is on usb. I use bluetooth always for phone. Callers still say the car cabin sounds very noisy. this is another thing they can fix in software. I get amazing gas mileage. In the summer, it's 32-34 mpg. I keep the highway speeds down to 65-60. That includes forest road and mountain steeps. In the winter, I have winter tires all around , that takes it down to 28mph. I could care less about this lame metric of needing more power for passing. I do just fine. Just don't don't attempt dangerous passing folks; chill. Handling in the winter with snows is the only way to go. Just chugs along the steep road and bend to our ski lodge. It's nice and warm in the winter, clears the windows great on those snowy, sleet, hail days. I swear by winter tires here in New England. Not had any issues with the CVT that I've been reading about. I find that frightening since I plan to keep this vehicle for 200,000 miles or 10 years as I do all my cars. I no longer try to punch the gas pedal immediately after I shift into drive. If I do that I experience what seems to be hesitancy. It's just the car not having "shifted into gear". Wait a couple seconds until you hear the load go on the engine and a slight change in pedal pressure. Then go. I really hate touch screens. I always end up touching things I don't want changed. I would prefer having more programmable physical knobs. Speaking of hate, I never liked the toy sounding horns, so I replaced mine with a 300/500 electric horn. Doesn't sound like and 18 wheeler, but it does sound like something big! Original Review was done in 2016, 3,500 miles
2.5i Premium PZEV 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT)
Update: I still do love the car, however the A/C system leaves much to be desired. I often have to crank it up to 3 or 4 in the summer to cool down which is LOUD and still isn’t even that great. If you have it on head / feet mood, it tends to be inadequate. Would be tough for someone living in a really hot or cold climate. I absolutely love my new Subaru Forester. I will be driving this car until I just can't drive it anymore. I've been shopping for a crossover SUV for about a month now. I bought my Forester two days ago after much hesitancy. EVERYONE in the state of Oregon drives a Subaru and I didn't want to be just another Subaru driver. Sometimes it's fun to stand out! But now that I've owned one, I totally get the hype. The car handles well, it's fun to drive and so far it has been good on gas. I've done mainly city driving and it's been between 25 - 30 mpg. There are a lot of choices in the world of crossover SUVs, and I feel as though I drove most of them. This one (for me) had the best driving experience and the best value by far. The mid-trim level (Premium) gets you a lot (heated seats, a beautiful moonroof) and I'm happy that I stepped up to it. If you're in the throes of crossover suv car selection like I was for a month, give the Forester a try. Some like it, some don't but the quality, value and driving experience are really top notch. Update: 3/31/17: The air-conditioning system leaves a bit to be desired. Even if you have it going on full blast it's not really that adequate, especially on a very hot day. The same goes for the heat. I often need to turn on my heated seats, and the heat to stay warm when it's cold out.
2.5i PZEV 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT)
I believe this car is for the person who is focused on having a reliable, functional, simple yet user friendly, safe SUV. If you want a car that will change and powder you, this isn't it. This a car for someone who wants some of the luxuries of what is expected in modern cars but not really super fancy. When I set out to find a new vehicle, I looked for, reliability, power, all terrain capabilities, handling, decent looks, space, economy, and comfort. All of these have been met and surpassed. <br><br> The car looks well built and symmetrical. No weird chattering or shaking, no cheap plastics, no seemingly loose parts, and according to my research on engine and trans, they are bullet proof (figuratively speaking). That's to be expected from Subaru though. 5th on the best quality cars in 2015. <br><br> I was afraid that the 170hp 2.5 Boxer would not be enough for an suv but I have never been more wrong. It has ample power and moves briskly. Its not the turbo version by any means but definitely gets out of its own way and, not that I recommend it but, it has enough power and torque for spirited driving, off-roading, and hills. I've never liked a car that cant react quickly to the throttle, and the throttle response is great. I believe Having power is just as important as good breaks and handling to get out of dangerous situations and the forester has it all. I'm also a manual transmission kind of guy and I went with the CVT because of my Girlfriend and the economy. I'm blown away by the performance of this thing. Die hard, traditionalist, Manual trans folks, it ok to trust the CVT its nothing like the laggy ATX's of the past. <br><br> I have not done much off-road driving but what little I have done, I can hardly tell the difference between tarmac and gravel. This car likes to grip the road and not let go. Im newish to AWD and the level of command this car has on less-that-desirable road conditions is outstanding. Compared to something like the RAV4 this is true AWD and behaves as such. <br><br> As stated above the handling is great, you point the steering wheel and there it goes. At first I was a little turned off by the lack of steering feedback but the comfort it provides when driving down bad roads is a blessing. You don't have to fight this car, it is under your command and will do your bidding. The body roll is minimal. It has less body roll than many sports cars I have driven, coupled with the symmetrical AWD, its fun on the twisties, for an SUV that is. The braking is also very responsive and I have already had experiences with people cutting me off and it just digs in to the ground but doesn't take away your control. If you want to test a cars brakes, come to Florida during season. This car is Florida season approved, if there was such a thing. <br><br> Looks are great, much preferred over the past models Subaru has put out, but then again that's a matter of opinion. The forester doesn't brandish fake scoops or anything to augment its looks and thats how I like it. I like simple and it looks great while being simple. <br><br> The space is ample inside. I traded my crew cab chevy 3500 for this and I am happy with the space. Nowhere near a large SUV but I keep thinking its larger on the inside. Might have to name it Tardis but its not blue. <br><br> For the power and space the 2016 Forester offers is really economic. It has enough get-up-and-go but also has superb gas millage and if you find the sweet spot and hit the cruise control you can easily surpass the EPA rating. <br><br> The way I define comfort is that the car does what it needs to do when it needs to do it while making the experience a positive one. It doesn't have temperpedic seats with butt warmer and a coffee maker, but as previously stated this is not what Subaru had in mind with this car, or so I think. This does not mean its uncomfortable, I like the seats (great lumbar suport), tilt and telescopic steering wheel is really nice to get that perfect "in control" feel. The leg room is ample and the storage is great. Getting in feels like a large car, and looking out of the windshield feels like an suv. The windows are big and there is virtually no blind spot to speak off. a quick glance to the side, after looking out of the mirrors, is more than suited for merging. Batman could drive this and not worry about raising his insurance premiums due to his limited neck rotation. <br><br> Overall, I couldn't be happier with the car, Its what I wanted, something nice, comfortable, reliable, strong, with excellent off-road capability and economy that matches that of cars. Very well rounded vehicle.
2.5i PZEV 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl 6M)
I own a Highlander ('08 & driven '13 my g/f owns) and also currently driving the '16 Forester to get my '13 WRX serviced. It's the first time I've driven a Forester and after Subaru really designed these cars including the Outback to be a crossover than the old wagon. I was pleasantly surprised at the visibility of the Forester as soon as I got in. The sunroof is HUGE! It's almost too bright (not a bad thing) without any sort of tinted window but felt both very naked but comfortable as I felt as though blind spots were almost non-existent. While it's narrower than the Highlander I was surprised the ride height felt very similar; maybe couple inches or so lower but also didn't feel like the Forester was an enormous car having to be extra careful when parking. Highlander sometimes can be tricky in that sense. I buckled my daughters' car seat & a booster and it was very easy to install. They both sit nice and flat on the seat so the adjustment was easy to do. The cargo space was also great hauling a cart of groceries without any issue. The height of the trunk was also perfect as it doesn't sit as high as most SUV's. I do feel for a family of four this would be the perfect vehicle. If packing extra load for camping I'm sure you can get a cargo carrier and strap them on top. Considering the price of the Forester I didn't expect a ton of technology built in but also was surprised. Bluetooth pairing was I hate to admit x10 easier than my WRX. The touch screen and all the bells & whistles that's built in are far better than what's in my g/f's '13 Highlander. While I don't care too much for the Nanny devices like the lane drifting alert and EyeSight, if you're looking for added safety features it's not a bad thing to have. It has the emergency SOS (Starlink) button which I do feel is a good feature in case of an emergency and need assistance. While I wasn't impressed with the overall control and design of the interior, I guess for the price you would pay it's not horrible. The dial knobs for the temp controls felt stiff and very generic. Back up camera is a very nice touch with the great display for the fuel economy. And speaking of which this car has been getting 28 mpg with mix of city & highway driving. I've yet to see the gas gauge (all digital) go down by a mark. Not a bad thing as my WRX with a turbo get a gas mileage that of a Highlander. Now onto the driving experience, I have a mixed review. It's not race car or V6 power and does have decent power band for the most part. If you have the car packed and need to get out quick, the Forest may not be the fastest car to pull out. It's not terrible either but I felt like it could use a little bit of boost. The ride overall is very comfortable. It's not too noisy and can still have normal conversation. I felt that the Highlander did better in terms of lower frequency noise like the road noise itself. Suspension isn't stiff nor too plush. Cornering and braking was predictable. The brakes are awesome in this car by the way. I almost nose dived not being used to driving this vehicle on the first day. One thing I thought it was odd is the Forester I'm renting after backing out in reverse then shifting back to Drive, there's a weird 2-3 second delay before the drive engages to move forward. And then there was this odd 'pocket' where if you don't have gas going in, the car seems to almost stall like it was a manual car. I had to sort of punch it to get the car going again. It may have been a fluke but considering this vehicle at the time of rental only has 3,400 miles total it may just be the way this car is perhaps. So there's a little bit of lag on the power/drivetrain front but the car excels at the overall ride comfort, visibility, excellent fuel economy and what it offers. Of course if you want more power, I would get either the turbo version or a different model with a 6-cylinder (which I haven't driven like the Outback 3.6R). Headlight is halogen and the high beam was very bright. I felt it was brighter than my '13 WRX. Sitting up higher may have helped also. Overall I would recommend this car; for a small family but not for a family of 5+ (Outback then?). I would love to try this car in the snow but know with Subaru's AWD you can't go wrong (as long as you're not trying to push through heavy unplowed snow.