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
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.
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!!!
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, it is not at all 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. Having owned vehicles with manual transmissions for most of my adult life, I had serious reservations about going to a CVT. 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 3,200 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 I think may be useful to potential buyers. The LED high beams are excellent. The low beams, however, require precise leveling, because the cut-off at the far end of the light pattern is very sharp. Set them too high, and you'll blind oncoming drivers; too low, and you'll tend to overdrive them. Even when adjusted optimally, this is something you should be particularly aware of (and choose your speed accordingly) when driving through dips in the road (transitioning from downhill to uphill). It would be helpful if the lenses were designed to make the cut-off more gradual (or "feathered"). I have read some reviews that are critical of the CVT, but I have not had any of those concerns. My impression is that those reviews pertain to the version of the CVT that is mated to the 2.5i engine; the XT has a "high-torque" version of the CVT, which might explain why I'm so happy with it. The characteristics of the CVT do take a little adjusting to, but I have no issues with how it performs. For highway driving, I use "I" mode; for back roads, I use "S"; "S#" is fun and useful on rare occasions, but I find it a little fussy for most driving conditions. I'm a little over 5' 11" tall, and I need to duck a little to avoid hitting the tailgate when it's open; it would be great if it would open about 2" more. One test of a new car is how your feelings about it change over time. After four months, some of the novelty has worn off, but my appreciation for the Forester continues to grow. I haven't had the opportunity to drive it on any long trips yet, but for moderate trips and local driving, it's been excellent. I keep looking for excuses to get in and drive it. I consider it the best blend of "sport" and "utility" of any SUV (or crossover) I've driven. Its exterior styling may not be the sexiest, but I'm just fine with that (I don't find it at all objectionable) and that can even be a plus in that it doesn't tend to draw attention when parking it at a remote trailhead (a security concern). In short, I'm still one happy owner.
After much research I determined that the 2017 Forester was going to be the SUV for me. And I haven't been disappointed...granted I've only had it 2 and half days. The stories, reviews and forum posts were more than enough to help me make my choice. This is not only my first Subaru but is also my first new vehicle. I have to say that the package I picked (2.0XT Touring in Sepia Bronze Metallic w/Saddle Brown leather interior) is stunning!...inside and out. The LED headlights are beautifully done. It is gorgeous! You WILL get noticed. It took about 30 minutes for the guy at the dealership to show me all the features. Acceleration is fantastic for an SUV...and I haven't even been able to test out the turbo yet. First impressions with how it handles on the open road and curvy hills were I live were impressive...for an SUV. I read reviews on earlier models about comfort issues in the front seats. I feel that they are more than adequate in the comfort department on the 2017...remember, this not a sports car. The leather really helps with the comfort factor, IMO. One of my favorite features is the visual display you receive with the large, over-sized sun roof coupled with the large windows. Interior controls don't include anything fancy, but again are more than adequate and reasonable. The 7" touch-screen display seems easy to use and is user friendly. I have not had any problems with Bluetooth with the few calls I've made so far. I could go on with this review but the bottom line is I'm very please with my purchase. And I don't mind the looks I get when driving down the highway either.