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MPG: 21 City / 27 Hwy
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2013 Subaru Forester Review

This review was written when the 2013 Subaru Forester was new.

A large back seat and standard all-wheel drive are among the 2013 Subaru Forester’s high points, though auto reviewers say some competing SUVs offer nicer interiors or better fuel economy.

The base Forester has a four-cylinder engine that’s paired with a five-speed manual transmission and standard all-wheel drive. A more powerful, turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a four-speed automatic transmission are also available. Most auto writers note that power is adequate with the base engine, though they generally prefer the turbocharged engine’s extra power. On the downside, a few complain that the automatic transmission is outdated, and that the Forester’s fuel economy and acceleration suffer as a result. The base Forester gets an EPA-estimated 21/27 mpg city/highway, which isn’t horrible, but it’s still easily beaten by newly-introduced SUVs like the Ford Escape, Mazda CX-5 and Subaru’s own XV Crosstrek. Despite these concerns, reviewers approve of the Forester’s sporty handling and comfortable, car-like ride. They also like the Forester’s standard all-wheel drive system, which they say is capable and reassuring on snow-covered roads or dirt trails.

The Forester stands out with useful cargo and passenger space that auto writers appreciate. They say that the back seat is particularly spacious, and that the Forester offers plenty of head- and legroom. Wide door openings also make entry and exit a breeze in the 2013 Forester. However, a few reviewers mention that the Forester’s interior materials aren’t as nice as they’d like, and that overall build quality seems better on rivals like the Honda CR-V. For 2013, the Forester gains a standard USB port, as well as Bluetooth phone connectivity and audio streaming, which should quell some reviewer complaints that the 2012 model didn’t offer a competitive list of standard features. Optional features include dual-zone climate control, navigation, heated front seats, a backup camera and a panoramic moonroof.

  • "It's neither the most efficient nor the most luxurious small crossover available, but the Subaru Forester will hold special appeal for those drivers who frequently enjoy the great outdoors." -- Edmunds
  • "Best of all, the Forester is reasonably priced, holds it value well, and is an IIHS Top Safety Pick." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Forester is roomy, reasonably priced alternative to the bellwethers of the compact-SUV class. At the same time, it's noisier and less refined with an interior ambiance that trails many of its rivals." -- Consumer Guide (2012)
  • “The Forester retains the strong taste of vanilla in terms of exterior and interior styling -- far more satisfying than exciting. The same holds true for road performance -- perfectly competent for dry-road highway runs, accelerates well when necessary and handles well in high-speed highway traffic." -- Washington Post (2010)

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Other SUVs to Consider

Reviewers say that the new Subaru XV Crosstrek also has an underpowered base engine and some cheap interior materials. However, the XV Crosstrek uses significantly less fuel, and also shares some of the Forester’s best attributes, including ample passenger space and standard all-wheel drive.

The Chevrolet Equinox doesn’t come with standard all-wheel drive, but test drivers agree that its advantages lie elsewhere. Like the Forester, the Equinox has a spacious back seat, but it also offers slightly better safety scores, sliding rear seats and high-quality cabin materials that reviewers like.

Compare the Forester, XV Crosstrek and Equinox »

Details: 2013 Subaru Forester

The 2013 Subaru Forester seats five and has standard all-wheel drive. A total of six trims are available, ranging from the base 2.5X to the top-of-the-line 2.5XT Touring. A 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a five-speed manual transmission come standard in 2.5X models, while 2.5XT versions get an automatic transmission and a more-powerful turbocharged four-cylinder engine as standard equipment. For 2013, the Forester adds a USB port and Bluetooth phone and audio streaming to the list of standard equipment. The Forester hasn’t changed much since it was redesigned in 2009. As a result, this overview uses applicable research and reviews from 2010, 2011 and 2012, as well as the current model year.

See the full 2013 Subaru Forester specs » 

Review Last Updated: 10/8/13

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