Subaru Forester

#9 in Compact SUVs Overall Score: 8.0 / 10
2016 Subaru Forester View More Photos »
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2016 Subaru Forester Overview

The 2016 Subaru Forester ranks 9 out of 18 Compact SUVs.

If you want a compact SUV with the added traction of all-wheel drive, you won't get it much cheaper than in the 2016 Subaru Forester. All-wheel drive usually costs a couple thousand dollars extra ...

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Pros & Cons

  • Potent turbocharged engine option
  • Spacious interior and cargo area
  • All-wheel drive is standard
  • Small base touch screen
  • Poor reliability rating

Notable for 2016

  • New standard touch-screen infotainment system
  • New safety packages

Subaru Forester Rankings and Research

The 2016 Subaru Forester ranking is based on its score within the Compact SUVs category. Currently the Subaru Forester has a score of 8.0 out of 10 which is based on our evaluation of 27 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.


Overall: 8.0
Critics' Rating: 8.6
Performance: 7.9
Interior: 7.9
Safety: 9.3
Reliability: 2_5


2016 Subaru Forester Pictures

2016 Subaru Forester Review

By Nate Parsons May 23, 2016

If you want a compact SUV with the added traction of all-wheel drive, you won't get it much cheaper than in the 2016 Subaru Forester. All-wheel drive usually costs a couple thousand dollars extra, but it's standard in the 2016 Forester. The Forester's cabin is more utilitarian than chic, with a simple design and durable materials. Both rows of seats are spacious, especially the rear row, which has plenty of legroom. The Forester has more cargo room than nearly every rival, so it's a great choice if you need a vehicle for hauling.

The Forester's base engine should be sufficient for most drivers, though you may want to consider the optional turbocharged engine for its extra punch. The Forester stays smooth and composed over bumpy roads, though it does tend to lean a bit around corners, as it isn't designed with agility in mind. You'll save money at the pump thanks to the Forester's excellent fuel economy. However, you may spend more money and time at the mechanic than with other compact SUVs, as the Forester's predicted reliability rating is below-average for the class.

Forester Interior

Simple Style

The Forester's cabin is designed primarily to be durable and functional. The materials are mostly soft to the touch, though even the top trim has some hard plastics. Lower trim levels come with silver or black cloth upholstery, while higher trims have leather upholstery that's also silver or black. The cabin is well-insulated from road noise, so passengers can talk to each other in normal voices.

Both rows of seats are roomy and very comfortable, though the front seats don't provide much side support when going around corners. The optional 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat makes it easy to get into a good driving position. The back seats are set slightly higher than the front seats, so every occupant has a great view out. The second row's cushion height gives passengers plenty of legroom, and an optional reclining rear seatback makes the back seats even more comfortable.

The Forester is only available with two rows of seats. That is pretty typical for a compact SUV, though a few competitors, like the Nissan Rogue and Mitsubishi Outlander, can be equipped with a third-row seat to accommodate a couple more passengers for short trips.

Handy Hauling

If you buy the base 2016 Forester 2.5i, you'll have 34.4 cubic feet of cargo room behind the rear seats and 74.7 cubic feet with them folded. If you buy any of the other trims, cargo room will drop to 31.5 cubic feet with the back seats in use and 68.5 overall. Even with the smaller cargo area in upper trims, the Forester has one of the highest cargo capacities in the class.

A power liftgate is available, and you can easily open it with a button on the key fob as you walk to the car. All models come with 60/40 split-folding rear seats that give you the versatility to accommodate a back-seat passenger and extra cargo. In the 2.5i Touring and 2.0XT Touring trims, you'll get power-folding rear seats that operate at the press of a button to make them even easier to fold down.

High-Tech Infotainment System

Subaru's STARLINK infotainment system with a 6.2-inch touch screen comes standard in the base Forester, while all other trims come with a larger 7-inch touch screen. You may have difficulty seeing the smaller screen on sunny days, and its small size means the on-screen buttons are hard to press. The larger touch screen can be operated with smartphone-like gestures, including pinching and swiping, so it is intuitive to use.

You can connect the infotainment system to your smartphone via Bluetooth to stream your music, respond to texts, or check the weather. You'll need to download the STARLINK app on your phone and then connect it to the car's infotainment system. Be aware that accessing apps like Pandora or checking the weather with STARLINK will use your phone's data connection.

Adjusting climate and audio controls is simple, thanks to the straightforward arrangement of the physical buttons and knobs on the center stack. Dual-zone automatic climate control is optional, so you and the front passenger can each adjust the temperature to suit your own preferences. If you love music and want the best sound quality possible, a Harman Kardon audio system is available in upper trims.

Options, Trims, and Pricing

The base 2016 Subaru Forester 2.5i (starting around $22,400) comes with a manual transmission, all-wheel drive, cloth upholstery, a 6.2-inch touch-screen infotainment system, a rearview camera, and Bluetooth. An automatic transmission (CVT) is a $1,000 option.

Moving up to the 2.5i Premium trim, which is priced at about $25,300, gets you the larger 7-inch touch screen, satellite radio, a power-adjustable driver's seat, reclining rear seats, and a panoramic moonroof. The automatic transmission is a no-cost option in this trim, but sticking with the manual gets you the All-Weather Package for free, which comes with heated front seats and heated side mirrors. The 2.0XT Premium model comes with the same features as the 2.5i Premium trim, as well as a more-powerful turbocharged four-cylinder engine, for around $29,200.

The 2.5i Limited, which starts around $28,800, comes standard with the automatic transmission (CVT), leather upholstery, the All-Weather Package, single-zone automatic climate control, and a power liftgate. The 2.5i Touring trim is priced at around $30,800 and comes with dual-zone automatic climate control, a Harman Kardon audio system, push-button start, and power-folding rear seats. With the same standard features as the 2.5i Touring and a more-powerful turbocharged engine, the 2.0XT Touring tops the line at around $33,800.

Depending on trim, navigation is optional and priced between $1,300 and $1,900. Subaru's EyeSight driver assistance features are also available on several trims and priced at around $1,300 in most trims.

You can find great savings on the 2016 Forester by using our U.S. News Best Price Program. You can also check out our Subaru deals page for even more savings.

Read more about interior »

Forester Safety and Reliability

The Subaru Forester gets typical crash test scores for a compact SUV, and it earned a Top Safety Pick+ designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Subaru's EyeSight system is new for 2016, and it comes with a suite of high-tech driver assistance features to help prevent an accident.

You can choose a speed at which you're comfortable travelling and adaptive cruise control will maintain that speed as well as automatically slow down if the vehicle in front of you slows down. Should you get too close, and a crash is likely, the automatic emergency braking system will slow you down to minimize any damage. EyeSight also comes with lane departure warning, which will alert you if you start to drift out of your lane.

Most competitors earn significantly higher predicted reliability scores from J.D. Power than the Forester, so you may spend more money in repairs than you would on another compact SUV. For example, the GMC Terrain's reliability score is significantly better than the Forester's reliability score.

Read more about safety »

Forester Performance

Decent Power

You'll have plenty of power for daily driving with the Forester's standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. It makes 170 horsepower, which is typical for the class. The optional 250-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder delivers even more muscle for easily overtaking other cars on the highway or driving up hills when fully loaded with passengers and cargo. A manual transmission is standard, while an automatic (CVT) is optional with the base engine. The turbocharged engine is only available with the automatic. The automatic transmission isn't very responsive at low speeds, but it uses the engine's power efficiently.

A Forester with the standard engine and the CVT gets up to 24 mpg around town and 32 mpg on the highway, which is above average for the class. Fuel economy drops to 23 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway when equipped with the turbocharged engine and CVT.

Smooth Ride

All-wheel drive comes standard on the 2016 Forester, which is unusual for the class. You typically have to pay a couple thousand dollars more than base price for all-wheel drive. All-wheel drive gives you extra traction to keep you on the move when roads are slick.

For the most part, the Forester has a comfortable ride. The Forester has a car-like driving feel, and it stays relatively composed around corners. There is some body roll; it leans a bit from side to side when driving on twisty roads. However, the steering feels sharp and well-weighted, so you'll have lots confidence when you're behind the wheel.

Read more about performance »

Other Cars to Consider

The Chevrolet Equinox has an upscale interior made with high-end materials. You'll be comfortable in both rows of seats, even on long drives. The Equinox can be equipped with some high-tech features that aren't available in the Forester, including a Wi-Fi hot spot and rear parking sensors. A four-cylinder engine is standard, and its power is unimpressive. However, the optional V6 is much stronger. The Equinox earns a much higher reliability rating than the Forester.

If you need a fun-to-drive compact SUV, you should check out the Mazda CX-5. It has exceptionally agile handling and sharp steering to help you make the most out of twisty roads. While the base engine makes only adequate power, the larger engine option delivers quick acceleration. When equipped with all-wheel drive, the CX-5 is nearly as fuel efficient as the Forester. If you can forego all-wheel drive, the front-wheel drive CX-5 with the base engine uses slightly less fuel than the Forester. There are also lots of premium materials throughout the CX-5's cabin, along with a straightforward infotainment system and comfortable, roomy seats.

Compare the Forester, Equinox, and CX-5 in more detail »

Details: 2016 Subaru Forester

The 2016 Subaru Forester seats five and comes standard with all-wheel drive. A 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is standard and a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder is available. A six-speed manual transmission comes standard and an automatic (CVT) is optional. The Forester comes in six trims: 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited, 2.5i Touring, 2.0XT Premium, and 2.0XT Touring. The Forester was redesigned for the 2014 model year and sees few updates for 2016. As a result, this overview uses applicable research and reviews from the 2014 through 2016 model years.

The Subaru Forester comes standard with Bluetooth, a rearview camera, a 6.2-inch touch-screen infotainment system, HD Radio, a four-speaker sound system, and a USB port.

Available features include a 7-inch touch screen, an eight-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, navigation, dual-zone automatic climate control, STARLINK, and the EyeSight safety system.

See 2016 Subaru Forester specs and trims »
  • "The 2016 Subaru Forester may not be the most stylish or sophisticated compact SUV, but there is no denying its appeal. What the Forester lacks in the looks department, it more than makes up for in every other area that counts." -- AutoTrader
  • "If you're seeking a fuel-efficient compact SUV that must also be safe, reliable and affordable, the 5-passenger 2016 Subaru Forester compact-crossover SUV makes an excellent choice. Standard AWD and a host of advanced safety features make it a family-friendly compact SUV that can actually be taken off-road." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Long known as a roomy, sure-footed but slightly dowdy compact crossover, the Forester is more stylish and commodious than before, and it's also much improved in an area that's increasingly important to a majority of buyers: fuel efficiency." -- Left Lane News

Research Prices: 2016 Subaru Forester

Over 75,000 car shoppers have purchased a car through the U.S. News Best Price Program. Our pricing beats the national average 86% of the time with shoppers receiving average savings of $3,279 off MSRP across vehicles. See what others paid for the Subaru Forester and get upfront pricing to make sure you don't overpay. Learn More »

$22,395 - $33,795
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