Like many crossovers, the 2017 Subaru Forester offers a roomy cabin and good fuel economy. But it's also an adventurer, with a powerful optional turbocharged engine, all-wheel drive, and plenty of ground clearance for off-road excursions.
Though crossovers are all the rage now, the segment was a blip on the radar until about 20 years ago when vehicles such as the Subaru Forester came onto the scene to split the difference between family sedans and high-riding SUVs. Today's Forester has ridden that wave of popularity to become one of the best-selling vehicles in Subaru's lineup, and the changes to the 2017 model illustrate why. The upgrades range from mild but noticeable exterior styling revisions to newly available safety features such as blind-spot monitoring and reverse automatic braking. Extra sound-deadening measures have been added for more refined cruising, and the new Saddle Brown leather interior on the Touring trim adds a touch of 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 continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), which improves fuel economy significantly but might take some getting used to if you're used to 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. Even though the crossover segment is thick with compelling choices, the 2017 Subaru Forester can stake a legitimate claim to leadership.
trim levels & features
The all-wheel-drive 2017 Subaru Forester is a five-seat small crossover SUV that offers a bit more off-road prowess than others in its class. Six trim levels are available: 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited, 2.5i Touring, 2.0XT Premium and 2.0XT Touring. The 2.5i models come with a 2.5-liter engine, while the more expensive 2.0XT models use a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine. All-wheel drive is standard on every Forester. Subaru also offers a few option packages that help bridge the gaps between certain trim levels.
Like its name implies, the base 2.5i is powered by a 2.5-liter engine (170 horsepower, 174 pound-feet) matched to your choice of a six-speed manual or a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Standard equipment highlights include 17-inch steel wheels, a height-adjustable driver seat, a 60/40-split folding rear seatback, Bluetooth, a driver information display, a rearview camera, a 6.2-inch touchscreen with Subaru's Starlink technology interface, smartphone app integration and a four-speaker sound system.
Optional for the base 2.5i (with the CVT) is an Alloy Wheel package that includes 17-inch alloy wheels, roof rails and automatic up/down front windows.
Those items come standard on the 2.5i Premium, which further adds rear privacy glass, a panoramic sunroof, a power driver seat, a rear armrest with cupholders, reclining rear seatbacks, automatic climate control, a larger 7-inch touchscreen, voice commands, Starlink Safety Plus telematics (emergency assistance, automatic collision notification and various remote services), and an upgraded six-speaker sound system with satellite 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 All-Weather package opens the door to the EyeSight safety package, which adds adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning and intervention, and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking. A version of this package is available with foglights and an adjustable-height power liftgate.
The 2.5i Limited comes with the All-Weather package, the CVT, foglights and a power liftgate. It further adds automatic headlights, an upgraded driver information display and leather upholstery.
Optional for the Limited is a package that bundles navigation with an eight-speaker Harman Kardon sound system. The Limited's EyeSight package includes the upgraded sound system, navigation, all features from the Premium's EyeSight package, adaptive LED headlights with automatic high-beam control and reverse automatic braking (to prevent collisions while backing up).
At the top of the 2.5i line is the 2.5i Touring with 18-inch alloy wheels, the adaptive LED headlights, upgraded side mirrors with integrated turn signals, keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, a heated steering wheel, driver-seat memory settings, the upgraded sound system and one-touch folding rear seatbacks. EyeSight is again optional on the Touring.
If you want more power, there's the Forester 2.0XT Premium. It has all the equipment of the 2.5i Premium plus a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (250 hp, 258 lb-ft) paired with a CVT. Other XT-specific features include 18-inch alloy wheels, larger brakes, a sport-tuned suspension, additional selectable driving modes, shift paddles, the All-Weather package and the leather-wrapped steering wheel. Note that the EyeSight package is not available on this model.
The 2.0XT Touring offers the same upgrades as the 2.5i Touring, and its EyeSight package includes the same features as with its non-turbocharged counterpart.
Auto-dimming mirrors are optional for all Foresters. All CVT-equipped Foresters can be ordered with a remote engine start feature.
The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the (turbo 2.0L flat-4 | CVT automatic | AWD).
noise & vibration
ease of use
getting in/getting out
child safety seat accomodation
audio & navigation
edmunds expert review process
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