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
$12,550 - $20,899

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Do you need a crossover that can handle whatever life throws at it? The Subaru Forester delivers with standard all-wheel drive, a roomy interior and plenty of ground clearance for off-road excursions. You can even add a turbocharged engine, or stick with the base engine for better fuel economy. Let's take a look at the Forester's full range of talents.

Vehicle overview

The small crossover SUV category is intensely competitive, and it's one in which the 2016 Subaru Forester holds its own quite well. Along with the sure-footedness of standard all-wheel drive, the Forester delivers plenty of cargo capacity, roomy seating and an available turbocharged engine that's one of the strongest in its class. There's nothing super flashy about this crossover, but Subaru is a believer in offering functional simplicity. That's precisely what you get with the 2016 Forester.

The 2016 Subaru Forester is as comfortable in the desert as it is on the highway, thanks to standard all-wheel drive and generous ground clearance.

Safety and fuel economy are key attributes for the small crossover class, and the Forester delivers here, too. Though blind-spot monitoring is curiously missing from the Forester's features list, it does offer an available forward collision mitigation system plus perfect crash-test scores. As for fuel efficiency, the Forester's continuously variable transmission (CVT) is a big help, especially when cruising on the highway. But even models with the six-speed manual -- a rare treat in this class -- can hold their heads high when it's time to fill up.

If there's one real drawback to the 2016 Subaru Forester, it's that it doesn't do a whole lot beyond the rational to woo you. Shoppers seeking classier interiors or more engaging on-road manners may find the 2016 Ford Escape and 2016 Mazda CX-5 more to their liking, while the 2016 Hyundai Tucson provides more visual panache. For outdoor recreation enthusiasts, the off-road-tuned Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk is worth a hard look. Then there are the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, which remain tough to beat for all-around competence. Comparison shopping is definitely a must in the small crossover SUV category, but overall we're confident that the 2016 Subaru Forester deserves a spot on your list.

2016 Subaru Forester models

The 2016 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. All models are all-wheel drive.

Standard equipment on the 2.5i includes 17-inch steel wheels, full power accessories, cruise control, a height-adjustable driver seat, 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a rearview camera, a 6.2-inch touchscreen with Subaru's Starlink technology interface, smartphone app integration and a four-speaker sound system with HD radio, a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack and a USB port.

The 2016 Forester is available in six different trim levels, with the Limited and Touring being the most-equipped choices.

Optional for the base 2.5i (with the CVT) are 17-inch wheels and roof rails. These items come standard on the 2.5i Premium, which further adds rear privacy glass, a panoramic sunroof, an eight-way power driver seat (with two-way power lumbar), a rear armrest with cupholders, reclining rear seatbacks, a larger 7-inch touchscreen, voice commands, Starlink Safety Plus (see Safety section below) and a six-speaker sound system with satellite radio and dual USB ports. 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 comes with the All-Weather package as standard and adds automatic headlights, foglights, an adjustable-height power liftgate, a rear roof spoiler, automatic climate control, an upgraded instrument cluster, leather upholstery, a cargo area tray and a standard CVT with hill descent control.

The 2.5i Touring throws in 18-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights, keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-speaker Harman Kardon sound system and one-touch folding rear seatbacks.

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, a sport-tuned suspension, the All-Weather package, a rear roof spoiler, the upgraded instrument cluster and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

The 2.0XT Touring offers the same upgrades as the 2.5i Touring.

Auto-dimming mirrors are optional for all Foresters. Optional on the Premium (except with the manual transmission), Limited and Touring trims is a navigation system and an EyeSight driver assist technology package (see Safety, below) that includes adaptive cruise control.

2016 Highlights

The 2016 Subaru Forester receives a new touchscreen-based technology interface, with the base 2.5i trim level providing a standard 6.2-inch screen and the other trims boasting a 7-inch version that includes enhanced features.

Performance & mpg

All 2016 Subaru Foresters come standard with all-wheel drive. The 2.5i Limited, 2.5i Touring 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 2016 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.

Stronger 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, which is exceptionally quick 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.

Safety

Antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags, a driver knee airbag and a rearview camera are standard on all 2016 Subaru Foresters. The Starlink Safety Plus telematics system, which is standard for most Foresters, includes emergency assistance and automatic collision notification. It can be further upgraded to the Starlink Safety Plus and Security Plus system that adds remote services (door unlocking, vehicle location services, stolen vehicle recovery and alarm notification). Lane departure warning, forward collision warning and a forward collision mitigation system with automatic braking are available via the EyeSight 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 its top score of "Good" in the moderate overlap frontal-offset, small-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and head restraint/seat (whiplash protection) tests. The IIHS also gave the Forester's optional automatic emergency braking system a top score of "Superior."

Driving

The 2016 Subaru Forester 2.5i won't set any speed records with its 170 horses, and while the CVT performs well for the breed, it lacks the responsiveness of a good conventional automatic. Still, the base engine's impressive fuel economy should be enough compensation for most buyers, and it's also the only way to go if you want the manual transmission. As for the 2.0XT's turbocharged engine, it's a strong performer, and ideal if you drive a lot on hilly or high-altitude terrain.

Around town and on the highway, the Forester serves up a comfortable and quiet ride. It's really just on curvy roads that its tall height and compliant suspension become liabilities, as it's simply not as capable or nimble as many rivals. You do get an extra dollop of off-road capability with the Forester, though, thanks to generous ground clearance and an available driver-selectable "X Mode" that maximizes traction in the dirt.

Interior

The various textures and accents used throughout the 2016 Subaru Forester's interior deliver enough visual appeal to keep pace with other affordable crossovers, though the overall look follows Subaru's simplicity-is-better design philosophy. We are happy to see Subaru add its latest technology interface (Starlink) to the Forester. Even the base 2.5i comes with a touchscreen with smartphone app integration (including Aha, Pandora, iHeartradio and Sticher), while the larger 7-inch screen gets upgraded graphics and allows you to use intuitive pinch-and-expand finger movements to zoom in or out.

The Forester offers a useful amount of cargo area with the rear seatbacks up, and is a class leader when they are folded flat.

Where the Forester really shines is in its functionality. Elevated stadium-type rear seating enhances thigh support and legroom and affords a better view. This sense of space is reinforced by a huge cargo hold that yields 34.4 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 74.7 cubic feet with the rear seatbacks folded. The latter is 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 numbers, as models with the panoramic sunroof drop to 31.5/68.5 cubic feet due to a lower roof height.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2016 Subaru Forester.

Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

Take a deep breath!
Bill.Tarkulich,09/27/2016
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
Five Star Car!
Nikki R.,03/31/2016
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.
Scooby DO
Luzbel,02/02/2016
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.
Best in class
Ken,09/22/2015
2.5i Touring PZEV 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT)
Tried the honda crv which has engine vibration at idle. Tried the rav 4 which was more expensive, cheap paper thin leather seats, and an annoying lip on the lower side of front passenger side. Rav 4 did have a super smooth transmission. The Forester had a quiet engine, a semi smooth transmission, and superior cabin noise insulating properties in which road sounds were muted and you can have a conversation inside without raising your voice. They are priced below competition, so not too much price reduction due to high demand and low supply.

Features & Specs

MPG
24 city / 32 hwy
Seats 5
Continuously variable-speed automatic
Gas
170 hp @ 5800 rpm
MPG
24 city / 32 hwy
Seats 5
Continuously variable-speed automatic
Gas
170 hp @ 5800 rpm
MPG
24 city / 32 hwy
Seats 5
Continuously variable-speed automatic
Gas
170 hp @ 5800 rpm
MPG
24 city / 32 hwy
Seats 5
Continuously variable-speed automatic
Gas
170 hp @ 5800 rpm
See all Used 2016 Subaru Forester features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    Overall4 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    Overall5 / 5
  • Side Barrier Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front Seat5 / 5
    Back Seat5 / 5
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover16.9%
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Good
  • Roof Strength Test
    Good
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Good
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2016 Subaru Forester

Used 2016 Subaru Forester Overview

The Used 2016 Subaru Forester is offered in the following submodels: Forester SUV. Available styles include 2.5i Premium PZEV 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT), 2.5i PZEV 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT), 2.5i Limited PZEV 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT), 2.5i Touring PZEV 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT), 2.0XT Premium 4dr SUV AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo CVT), 2.0XT Touring 4dr SUV AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo CVT), 2.5i Premium PZEV 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl 6M), and 2.5i PZEV 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl 6M).

What's a good price on a Used 2016 Subaru Forester?

Price comparisons for Used 2016 Subaru Forester trim styles:

  • The Used 2016 Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium PZEV is priced between $13,228 and$18,900 with odometer readings between 39234 and106589 miles.
  • The Used 2016 Subaru Forester 2.5i Touring PZEV is priced between $16,815 and$20,000 with odometer readings between 19367 and74573 miles.
  • The Used 2016 Subaru Forester 2.5i PZEV is priced between $12,550 and$17,998 with odometer readings between 29853 and113420 miles.
  • The Used 2016 Subaru Forester 2.5i Limited PZEV is priced between $12,710 and$20,899 with odometer readings between 27295 and102656 miles.
  • The Used 2016 Subaru Forester 2.0XT Premium is priced between $16,200 and$16,200 with odometer readings between 125451 and125451 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 2016 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) 2016 Subaru Forester for sale near. There are currently 41 used and CPO 2016 Foresters listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $12,550 and mileage as low as 19367 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 2016 Subaru Forester.

Can't find a used 2016 Subaru Foresters you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Subaru Forester for sale - 4 great deals out of 12 listings starting at $11,983.

Find a used Subaru for sale - 6 great deals out of 6 listings starting at $17,277.

Find a used certified pre-owned Subaru Forester for sale - 10 great deals out of 24 listings starting at $14,075.

Find a used certified pre-owned Subaru for sale - 6 great deals out of 6 listings starting at $8,079.

Should I lease or buy a 2016 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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