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
I have long thought of the Forester as a rather frumpy-looking car with inferior interior materials and ergonomics (my basis for comparison is my beloved 2005 Outback 2.5 XT Limited with a manual transmission). But my 2017 2.0 XT Touring edition of the Forester (with EyeSight) blows away those perceptions. While the exterior design is more purposeful than elegant, I do not find it objectionable, and the interior is a pleasant, rewarding place to pass the miles. In fact, I opted for the Forester over the Outback 3.6R Touring because I prefer the Forester's interior design and ergonomics as well as its performance and handling, which are more responsive and lively (the Outback is nice, but it's comparatively sedate). I find the build quality of the Forester to be excellent and its aesthetics appropriate to its go-anywhere character. Ingress and egress are excellent and outward visibility is superb, in contrast to competitive vehicles that have huge blind spots in the rear quarters. The Harmon Kardon audio system is very pleasing, and EyeSight does what it's designed to do, very well. The front seats are comfortable, but I wish they had a little more lateral support (because the Forester handles so well) and I wish the passenger seat provided adjustability of height and lumbar support -- significant shortcomings in a vehicle of such overall quality. Also, the tailgate opens and closes rather slowly automatically, but it's quick and easy to do so manually, which I usually do. I initially had serious reservations about going to a CVT, and those reservations were confirmed when test-driving competitive vehicles, but Subaru has implemented this technology extremely well, and I'm very happy with it, in conjunction with SI-Drive. I highly recommend this vehicle for anyone who values function and usability over style, and people of all ages (I'm a "senior") who lead active lifestyles and appreciate a vehicle that's versatile, fun to drive, well built and safe. Yes, the price of this vehicle (loaded, with an extended warranty) approaches $40K, which might strike you as a lot to pay for a Forester, but forget your impressions of previous models; a lot of improvements were made for 2017 (sound deadening, torque vectoring, front-fascia design, steerable LED headlights, interior materials and appointments, etc.), and I consider the 2.0 XT Touring edition of the Forester to be a good value in comparison to competitive offerings. Note that I am still quite new to this car, but after some 1,500 miles, I am so enthusiastic about it that I couldn't wait to post a review. I plan to update this review at a later date if anything changes, although I believe these comments are pretty solid. UPDATE: I now have some 13,000 miles on my Forester and can confirm that the above comments remain accurate. At the same time, I would like to add a few details that might be useful to potential buyers. I live in the "flatlands," but recently returned from a 3,600-mile road trip to Colorado, where Subarus seem to be the "state car," since there are so many of them there -- and for good reason. The Forester handled mountain highways and rocky, steep, muddy unpaved back roads with aplomb. It's no Jeep, so it's wise to take the rough spots gingerly, but the high ground clearance, X-Drive, S# (Sport sharp) mode, short hood (for good visibility), tight turning circle, and generous approach and departure angles worked beautifully and inspired confidence. With 8 (simulated) gear ratios, the CVT provides fine control of engine braking going downhill, and is easily adjusted with the paddles (usually with the transmission in Manual mode). While I find S# mode a little fussy in flat country, I've come to be a great fan of it under more demanding driving conditions. While every previous car I've owned had a manual transmission, and it took me a while to adjust to the CVT, I can say now that I've become a great fan of Subaru's implementation of this technology. I've read some criticisms of it, but I have not had any of those concerns with the high-torque version of the CVT that is paired with the 2.0 XT engine. I also found that the 2.0 XT engine, with its twin-scroll turbo and direct injection, has plenty of power for high-altitude (i.e., thin-air) mountain driving. In short, of all the competitive vehicles I've tested, I consider the Touring edition of the Forester 2.0 XT to be the best blend of "sport" and "utility," with even a hint of (dare I say it?) luxury. It may not have the sexiest exterior styling, but I find it tasteful enough; its build quality, affordability, performance, handling, ergonomics and versatility carry the day. I keep looking for excuses to get in and drive it. I wouldn't try tackling the Rubicon Trail with a Forester, but this is one great car for anyone who has an active lifestyle and enjoys exploring out-of-the-way places.
This is the first Subaru that I have owned. I was looking for a small SUV and I had done a lot of research on them and I was impressed with the Forester. I have had the Forester for almost a month and her are of my observations: Ride: Smooth, quiet and stable; Acceleration: Quick, better than expected; Instrumentation: Excellent; Interior quality: Excellent; Visibility: Excellent with huge windshield and large windows all around; Sunroof: Largest I've ever seen; Car quality: solid as a rock; Safety: There isn't a safer car on the road; Seating comfort and space: Excellent; Cargo capacity: Copious; Gas Mileage: I averaged 33MPG for the first 1000 miles. The Forester is not as swoopy looking as some of its competition but is still a handsome well built compact wagon like utility vehicle.
Was considering the 2.5L normally aspirated engine and but I am so glad I got the 2.0L Turbo. This SUV is quick and fun to drive with a 0 - 60 in 6.3 seconds. Those reviewers who have said it is not I doubt actually own one or neglected to read the owners manual which describes how to use the SI Drive system to choose Sport Sharp mode for maximum driving fun. I know it was a struggle for me to find one to test drive since only 10% of Foresters shipped are turbos. I have had the Forester XT for over a month and have not regretted a single day of driving - in sun, rain, snow, sleet and really bad ice. Nothing stops it. See the SubaruGlobalTV channel on YouTube for the development videos for this current generation Forester which detail how the engineering is brilliantly executed in a well thought out design (Why? Subaru Episode....). I got the Eyesight package and really appreciate all of the features. Only disappointment is the Navigation system but it is bundled with Eyesight. There are so many features in the 2.0XT Touring trim level with Eyesight that I would insist on having in any future vehicle - adaptive cruise control, lane sway warning, lane keep assist, pre-collision braking/throttle management, adaptive LED headlamps, reverse automatic braking, X-mode...the list is extensive. If you are fortunate enough to get the Touring with turbo, add optional Eyesight and are willing to wait for a custom order (in my case, 3 months), you will not be disappointed! To top it off, Subaru was offering very competitive financing (0% at 36 mos or .9% at 48 - 63 months) and deals at or below invoice are common.
I purchased a 2016 Forester Limited 2.5i new last year, but upgraded to the 2017 with eyesight, and what a difference! The 2017 Forester is noticeably quieter, there are now lights on the vanity mirrors...it's a girl thing! The eyesight package is amazing, I just love having all that safety technology, especially with all the distracted drivers on the roads. The peace of mind of the SOS button and road side assistance is a blessing. The steering wheel tracking headlights are so cool! There is a redesigned rear view mirror that is easier to use, with a larger viewing area, love that! The upgraded stereo system is noticeably superior! The trade in process was easy and fair. Love love love it!!!