Vehicle Overview Although the 2017 Subaru Forester doesn't represent a full redesign, Subaru has introduced a number of changes aimed at keeping this crossover fresh. For one thing, we're down a "Con" from last year thanks to the newly available blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, while the optional EyeSight safety package adds upgraded cameras for improved accuracy as well as — except on the Premium trim — reverse automatic braking and adaptive LED headlights with auto high beams. For another, all Foresters are treated to mild but noticeable exterior styling revisions, along with extra sound-deadening measures for more refined cruising. You can even specify a "Saddle Brown" leather interior on the Touring trim, a nod to the growing demand for luxury in this traditionally pragmatic segment.
At heart, however, this remains the same Forester that's been with us since 2014, which is generally a good thing. Most Foresters will be equipped with Subaru's CVT, which improves fuel economy significantly but might take some getting used to if you're coming from a traditional automatic. Of course, every Forester comes standard with all-wheel drive — a Subaru hallmark — and if the base four-cylinder engine doesn't get your heart pumping, there's an optional turbocharged engine that produces the quickest acceleration in this class. We're also fans of the airy cabin and excellent visibility afforded by the Forester's large windows, and there's plenty of space for both people and cargo.
If you're shopping for a small crossover SUV, the question isn't what's wrong with the 2017 Forester, because the answer is "not much." Rather, it's a question of priorities. The Honda CR-V is exceptionally well-rounded and always a perennial favorite with consumers. It's a similar story with the Toyota RAV4, though its fuel economy isn't quite as good. If you want a sportier driving experience, the Mazda CX-5 remains our top pick, while the new 2017 Kia Sportage delivers distinctive style, good value and a comparable two-engine lineup. But with its various upgrades this year, the 2017 Subaru Forester can stake a legitimate claim to leadership, even with such distinguished rivals to consider.
Performance and MPG All 2017 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 2017 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 28 mpg combined (26 city/32 highway), slightly improved for 2017 and laudable numbers indeed for an all-wheel-drive crossover. The manual transmission is a bit less fuel-efficient. 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 this type of vehicle. The 2.0XT also looks good on the fuel economy front at an EPA-estimated 25 mpg combined (23 city/27 highway), but 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 2017 Subaru Foresters. An upgraded traction control system (X-Mode) with hill descent control is standard on all CVT-equipped models for 2017. Additionally, the 2017 2.0XT Touring with EyeSight inherits an advanced active torque-vectoring system from the high-performance Subaru WRX and WRX STI, promising more neutral and accurate handling in corners.
The Starlink Safety and Security telematics system, which is standard for most Foresters, includes emergency assistance, automatic collision notification and various remote services (door unlocking, vehicle location services, stolen vehicle recovery and alarm notification).
The EyeSight safety package is offered on all but the base Forester, but it comes in a couple different permutations. When added to the 2.5i Premium model, its safety items include a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning and intervention, forward collision warning and a forward collision mitigation system with automatic braking. When added to the 2.5i Limited or 2.0XT Touring, it also includes reverse automatic braking (to prevent collisions while backing up).
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 made this same stop in 126 feet, which is a little longer than average.
Additional Information The 2017 Subaru Forester isn't all-new, but it is freshly tweaked to remain attractive in an increasingly crowded marketplace for compact crossover SUVs. And a few of those changes may just be significant to sway your purchase choice.
First among the tweaks is the newly available blind-spot monitoring system that was notably absent from the option sheet last year. Beyond looking out at the blind spots, the system also includes rear cross-traffic alert. The optional EyeSight safety package fortifies all that with an improved camera and adds reverse automatic braking and adaptive LED headlights (with automatic high beams). Of course, all this can vary by trim level, so use Edmunds.com's purchasing tools to optimize the Forester for your needs.
Although this is fundamentally the same Forester that was introduced for 2014, the styling has been refined for 2017. The nose has been redesigned with a new bumper cover framing a new hexagonal grille, and the headlights now feature a black inner bezel and distinctive C-shaped illuminated element. And the wheels are new too.
The interior itself is now muffled by additional sound-deadening material, and there's a Saddle Brown leather interior option on the Touring model. Even in this most utilitarian of market segments, buyers demand the option of some indulgent luxury. Your dogs will love Saddle Brown leather, right?
Always a solid performer supported by Subaru's reputation for long-lasting quality, the Forester can be tailored to practically any taste. As is true with most of Subaru's lineup (the BRZ sports coupe is the only exception), it's available only with all-wheel drive, but there are two engine choices. The base engine is a 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter flat-four with horizontally opposed cylinders ? just like in an old VW Bug or new Porsche Boxster. Amazingly Subaru still offers this engine with a six-speed manual transmission, but most Foresters will be equipped continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).
2017 Subaru Forester Overview
The 2017 Subaru Forester is offered in the following submodels: SUV. Available styles include 2.5i Premium PZEV 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT), 2.5i Limited PZEV 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT), and 2.5i PZEV 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT). Forester models are available with a 0-liter gas engine, with output up to 0 hp, depending on engine type. The 2017 Forester comes with all wheel drive. Available transmissions include: continuously variable-speed automatic. The 2017 Forester comes with a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. basic warranty, a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 5 yr./ 60000 mi. powertrain warranty.
Is the 2017 Subaru Forester a good car? Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2017 Subaru Forester and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2017 Forester featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
Our Review Process All of our reviews are written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
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What do people think of the 2017 Subaru Forester? Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2017 Subaru Forester and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2017 Forester a 4.2 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2017 Forester.
Vehicle 2.5i Premium PZEV 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT)
Review I have been in the market for a small SUV for a while now. I have driven all of the major players - CR-V, CX-5 and the Forester. I am a long-time Honda person. I liked the CX-5 but it was a bit more cramped inside and the visibility was not as good. The CR-V drove well and had the best CVT behavior but just left me a bit uninspired due to its bland nature. I drove the 2016 Forester and liked it - I have two other family members with Foresters who love them. I found out the 2017 model with a mild refresh was on its way so I waited until they took the first one off the truck at my local dealership (Cannon Subaru in Lakeland is great!). I test drove the 2017 back to back with a 2016 they still had on the lot and the difference was significant as far as solidity, smooth ride and much quieter ride. The new infotainment system was intuitive and easy to use with volume and tuning KNOBS along with a touch screen - compared to the the CR-V's system (a disaster of confusing touch screen with no knob controls!) and the CX-5 which had the frustrating center toggle knob - the Subaru system is much better. The sound quality of the non-upgraded stereo is adequate - meets or exceeds the others in this category. The Forester drives very smoothly and has a solid, quality feel inside and out. The AWD system provides an extra level of stability to the handling. The only small issue is the CVT. Subaru has tweaked the CVT for the 2017 model to attempt to smooth its operation and it is better but still takes some adjustment - this is my first CVT equipped automobile - it is just a different feel and takes adjusting how you drive to a more easy application of the accelerator which gives smooth, linear acceleration (and surprisingly fast!) but driving aggressively with lots of slamming the pedal down - like I was used to doing with the normal automatic equipped small Honda engine automobiles - results in a much worse driving experience with the CVT - I am adjusting and think I'll enjoy the smoothness once I drive a while. If you have never owned a CVT vehicle, I suggest a good test drive to see if you like it - although, your choices are becoming slimmer as most of the major manufacturers are switching to the CVT for its MPG advantages as they attempt to meet the new government requirements. Overall, I would highly suggest you put the 2017 Subaru Forester on your list if you are looking for a solid, reliable, safe small SUV. ***UPDATE...been driving my Forester now for about 6 months...overall the car is good but one glaring thing has come to light....the powertrain is dismal after a while...the CVT shudders and hesitates at odd times and just is not smooth no matter what you do. I have not been able to adjust to it to drive smoothly....there is a surge when you begin acceleration and then the "fake" shift points kick in...they are not well timed. And the incredibly ANNOYING shudder that happens as if the CVT belt is slipping...it happens at different speeds and even when cruising on the highway. I've mentioned it to my dealer and they say others have complained with the 2017 but not really any explanation. My advice, take this car on a long test drive and really pay attention to the CVT behavior - especially in low speed driving conditions - it will only get worse once you buy it and drive it....other than that, the car handles well and is comfortable and practical but if you are picky about smooth driving, skip this one. ***Update 2: After much research and chats on online forums for the Forester, I finally spotted a post about the shuddering CVT issue and the fix that one owner got at his dealership - It was a recently released TSB software update from Subaru - I printed a copy with the TSB number and took it to my dealer and asked to have the update done to my Forester - they did it and the shuddering is GONE - simple fix. I test drove a 2018 out of curiosity and it did not shudder so it appears Subaru has fixed the issue but if you have a 2017 model that shudders, demand to have the software update #11-175-17
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Is the 2017 Subaru Forester safe? The 2017 Subaru Forester earned a 5-star overall safety rating from NHTSA and "GOOD" ratings from the IIHS in the following caregories: Side Impact Test, Roof Strength Test, Rear Crash Protection/Head Restraint, IIHS Small Overlap Front Test Results, Moderate Overlap Front Test Results, and a JD POWER overall quality rating of 2.0 out of 5. Among Edmunds' many tools and resources for finding your perfect car are detailed safety ratings and analysis from NHTSA, IIHS, and JD Power, including overall ratings, frontal barrier crash ratings, side impact tests and crash ratings, rollover test results, roof strength tests, rear crash protection and head restraint ratings, side barrier ratings, combined side barrier and pole ratings, and more.