2018 Subaru Forester
- Black Edition package includes black-finished wheels and trim
- Touring trims get the EyeSight safety bundle, automatic high beams and reverse automatic braking as standard
- Part of the fourth Forester generation introduced for 2014
- All-wheel drive comes standard and doesn't sink fuel economy
- High ground clearance offers better than average off-road ability
- Airy interior with plenty of room for adults both front and rear
- Optional turbocharged engine makes Forester very quick
- CVT feels less responsive and refined than a traditional automatic
- Handling isn't as sporty as some rivals
- Cabin design and materials are just average
- Modest tow rating limits overall utility
Which Forester does Edmunds recommend?
Edmunds' Expert Review
Overall rating7.3 / 10
A roomy cabin and good fuel economy make the 2018 Subaru Forester a solid choice for a compact SUV. But it's the standard all-wheel drive, powerful optional turbocharged engine and high ground clearance for off-road adventuring that set the Forester apart from the pack.
One year after receiving significant upgrades in styling, cabin comfort and safety aids, the Forester carries over into 2018 with only minor changes. Most notable is the new 2.5i Black Edition, which adds a black-out finish on wheels, body trim and grille and extends into the cabin with black cloth upholstery and black gloss dashboard trim.
Last year's update included features such as blind-spot monitoring and reverse automatic braking, enhanced sound deadening for a quieter cabin, and interior options such as Saddle Brown leather that help make the Forester more competitive in its class.
What hasn't changed, however, are the qualities that have made the Forester a top pick since its last major overhaul in 2014, and indeed since its introduction 20 years ago: standard all-wheel drive, extra ground clearance, a spacious cabin with excellent outward visibility, a large and versatile cargo area, and an optional turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Many Foresters come equipped with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), which improves fuel economy, but you can still order a classic six-speed manual for controlling your own shifts. The Forester returns between 24 and 28 mpg combined, depending on which engine and transmission you choose.
Although the compact crossover segment is rich with compelling choices, the Forester stakes a legitimate claim to leadership.
2018 Subaru Forester configurations
The all-wheel-drive 2018 Subaru Forester is a five-seat compact crossover 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 smaller but more powerful 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.
As its name implies, the base 2.5i is powered by a 2.5-liter engine (170 horsepower, 174 pound-feet) matched to a six-speed manual or optional continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Standard equipment includes 17-inch steel wheels, cloth upholstery, a height-adjustable driver seat, a 60/40-split folding rear seatback, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, 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 a panoramic sunroof, power driver seat, reclining rear seats, automatic climate control, 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 with heated front seats and heated side mirrors comes standard on Premium trims with a manual transmission, but it's an extra-cost option on CVT models. The All-Weather package opens the door to the EyeSight safety package, however, 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. These options aren't available for manual transmission models.
The 2.5i Premium Black Edition bridges the Premium and Limited trims with 18-inch black-finish wheels, a black grille and exterior trim, and black cloth upholstery. The Black Edition also adds the CVT and All-Weather package as standard equipment, as well as X-Mode enhanced off-road traction, hill descent control, automatic and adaptive headlights with automatic high-beam control and foglights.
The 2.5i Limited builds on the Black Edition features with a power liftgate, leather upholstery, an upgraded driver information display and a cargo area cover. Blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and 17-inch wheels are also standard.
Optional for the Limited is a technology 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, 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, an upgraded sound system, navigation and one-touch folding rear seatbacks. The EyeSight package is also standard. Black or Saddle Brown perforated leather upholstery is optional.
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 a 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 adds a power liftgate with adjustable height settings.
Auto-dimming mirrors are optional for all Foresters, and all CVT-equipped Foresters can be ordered with a remote engine start feature.
Noise & vibration7.5
Ease of use5.0
Getting in/getting out8.0
Child safety seat accommodation5.5
Audio & navigation6.5
Most helpful consumer reviews
2018 Subaru Forester video
BRYN MACKINNON: I'm Edmunds editor Bryn MacKinnon, and here's a features rundown of the 2018 Subaru Forester. The Forester returns mostly unchanged for 2018, and that's a good thing. It offers a lot more off-road abilities than competing vehicles, with few drawbacks in return. For maximum bang for the buck, we recommend the 2.5i Premium trim, but if your budget can stretch, we like the 2.0 liter turbo engine that comes with the top models for its strong performance. The elevated ride height and standard all-wheel drive make the Forester a great choice for adventure-bound owners or those who live in inclement weather areas. There's a noticeable amount of body roll when cornering, but the Forrester remains composed and very controllable nonetheless. It does remind you, however, that it is less sporty and more off-road capable. There's plenty of cargo space in the back, but we wished the rear seats would fold flat into the floor. Like it's Honda and Toyota rivals, the Forester comes up short in terms of towing capacity against the Ford Escape. Taller passengers are easily accommodated in either the front or rear seats, and even the large sunroof won't affect headroom much. Most interior pieces are attractive and nice to the touch, but on the whole, other SUVs offer more refinement and feel a bit more solid. The newer infotainment system has a sharp display, and most features are easy to use. On top of that, it gets points for the EyeSight suite of advanced safety features. On the downside, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are not available. The driver's seat may be uncomfortably high for some, giving the impression that you're sitting on, not in, the car. Visibility is great, though, and it's easy to maneuver in tight spaces. Subaru Forester's top competitors include Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, and Kia Sportage. The bottom line, if your adventures take you well off the beaten path, the Forester is a great choice, when pitted against more commuter-focused rivals, but you may be disappointed if performance and interior quality are your top priorities.
2018 Subaru Forester Features Rundown
A roomy cabin and good fuel economy make the 2018 Subaru Forester a solid choice for a compact SUV. But it's the standard all-wheel drive, powerful optional turbocharged engine and high ground clearance for off-road adventuring that set the Forester apart from the pack. In this video, we highlight the key features that matter most. From mpg, interior space and technology to design and comfort - these pros and cons will help steer you toward a perfect car.
Features & Specs
Our experts’ favorite Forester safety features:
- Incline Start Assist
- Prevents the vehicle from rolling backward on a hill for several seconds after the brake pedal is released.
- EyeSight Driver Assist Technology
- Helps prevent accidents by adding features such as lane departure warning, lane keeping assist and automatic emergency braking.
- Reverse Automatic Braking
- Helps reduce collisions by applying the brakes if a vehicle is detected crossing the Forester's path while in reverse.
Subaru Forester vs. the competition
2018 Subaru Forester
2018 Honda CR-V
Subaru Forester vs. Honda CR-V
It's hard to beat the Honda CR-V's combination of practicality, comfort and fuel economy. Introduced in 2017 as an all-new model, it impresses on many levels. The size of its cargo area is tops in the class, though the Forester offers more space in the front seat than does the CR-V.
Subaru Forester vs. Mazda CX-5
The Mazda CX-5 took a big step forward with its comprehensive refresh in 2017. Its interior appointments and driving dynamics lead the class, and backseat space is more generous than in the Forester. The CX-5's cargo area, however, is a touch smaller than the Forester's. The CX-5 is the driver's car of the segment..
Subaru Forester vs. Toyota RAV4
The Toyota RAV4 is rather carlike in the way it drives and has a much larger cargo area than does the Forester. However, the RAV4's ground clearance is among the least of any in the compact SUV segment. It is nevertheless a popular choice, with an enviable blend of utility and usability. There's no optional engine in the RAV4, though, while the Forester offers an assortment of powerplants.
Sponsored cars related to the Forester
2018 Subaru Forester for Sale
Is the Subaru Forester a good car?
There's a lot to recommend in the 2018 Forester, thanks to its standard all-wheel drive, a spacious cabin with excellent outward visibility, and a large, versatile cargo area. The base engine won't quicken your pulse, but the optional turbocharged four-cylinder engine is among the punchier powerplants in the segment. As a bonus, base engine variants are available with a manual transmission. We've found, however, that the Forester's interior has room for improvement, due to a high-mounted seat and middling infotainment interface.
Does the Subaru Forester have good MPG?
Overall, the Forester does well here. With 28 mpg EPA combined (26 city/32 highway), models equipped with the base 2.5-liter engine and CVT automatic are the most efficient among Foresters and only 1 mpg shy of the class-leading CR-V's optional engine. Sticking with the manual transmission in the Forester makes its numbers slip to 24 mpg combined (22 city/28 highway), while Foresters with the optional turbocharged engine (paired to the CVT automatic) return 25 mpg combined (23 city/27 highway).
Does the Subaru Forester have good resale value?
If you're ready to buy, you're probably wondering about the Subaru Forester's resale value. How much will a 2018 Subaru Forester be worth in two or five years — or whenever you decide to sell? Check out the Edmunds True Cost to Own (TCO) calculator. It includes projected annual depreciation over the first five years of ownership based on Edmunds' robust market transaction data.
2018 Subaru Forester Overview
The 2018 Subaru Forester is offered in the following submodels: Forester SUV. Available styles include 2.5i Premium 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT), 2.5i Limited 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT), 2.5i 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT), 2.5i Touring 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT), 2.0XT Touring 4dr SUV AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo CVT), 2.5i Premium 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl 6M), 2.0XT Premium 4dr SUV AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo CVT), and 2.5i 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl 6M).
What do people think of the 2018 Subaru Forester?
Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2018 Subaru Forester and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2018 Forester 4.5 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 2018 Forester.
Edmunds Expert Reviews
Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2018 Subaru Forester and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2018 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
This review was 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.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.
Which 2018 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) 2018 Subaru Forester for sale near. There are currently 29 new 2018 Foresters listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $24,970 and mileage as low as 0 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a car from our massive database to find cheap vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the Carfax and Autocheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the 2018 Subaru Forester. Then select Edmunds special offers, perks, deals, and incentives to contact the dealer of your choice and save up to $1,834 on a used or CPO 2018 Forester available from a dealership near you.
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Why trust Edmunds?
Edmunds has deep data on over 6 million new, used, and certified pre-owned vehicles, including rich, trim-level features and specs information like: MSRP, average price paid, warranty information (basic, drivetrain, and maintenance), features (upholstery, bluetooth, navigation, heated seating, cooled seating, cruise control, parking assistance, keyless ignition, satellite radio, folding rears seats ,run flat tires, wheel type, tire size, wheel tire, sunroof, etc.), vehicle specifications (engine cylinder count, drivetrain, engine power, engine torque, engine displacement, transmission), fuel economy (city, highway, combined, fuel capacity, range), vehicle dimensions (length, width, seating capacity, cargo space), car safety, true cost to own. Edmunds also provides tools to allow shopper to compare vehicles to similar models of their choosing by warranty, interior features, exterior features, specifications, fuel economy, vehicle dimensions, consumer rating, edmunds rating, and color.
Should I lease or buy a 2018 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.
Check out Subaru lease specials