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2008 Subaru Forester

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2008 Subaru Forester Review

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When the SUV craze took off in the mid-nineties, Subaru, which had built its reputation on the all-wheel-drive category, found itself without an entry. But Subaru didn't take long to remedy this problem, giving birth to its first SUV: The Forester. Based on the Impreza platform, the Forester is basically a very tall wagon with some added ground clearance. As such, it retains all of the safety and stability features found in Subaru cars, but offers headroom and cargo space exceeding the popular Legacy and Outback wagons. Chock-full of options and with a choice of a normally-aspirated or turbocharged engine, the 2008 Subaru Forester serves up a bit more spice than either the Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4, and for not much more cash.

You'll Like This Car If...

If performance is a prime selling point, Subaru claims that a manual-shift 2.5 XT Limited can accelerate from zero to 60 miles per hour in less than six seconds, which is rather swift for a compact SUV.

You May Not Like This Car If...

Because the Forester delivers a choppier ride than some rivals, it might not appeal to those who favor an always-gentle road experience. Refinement is approximately on par with the competitive Ford Escape and Mazda Tribute, but it falls short of Honda's CR-V.

What's New for 2008

Forester Sport models receive a revised front end, while turbo models equipped with the optional automatic transmission receive the Variable Torque Distribution (VTD) version of Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive.

Driving the Forester

Driving Impressions Especially with the turbocharged engine, Foresters are eager and frisky performers. Acceleration is especially snappy with the manual gearbox, which gives a more enthusiastic nature to the driving experience. Considerably...

more snug inside than Subaru's Tribeca, the Forester offers ample headroom in both front and rear, while rear-seat legroom is fair and toe space, under the front seats, is excellent. On smooth surfaces the ride isn't bad, though some choppiness and road vibration might be evident. The turbo engine is a little buzzy but delivers responsive performance. Gauges and controls are ordinary but sensibly arranged for ease of viewing and operation.

Hill Holder
Manual-shift models are equipped with a Hill Hold feature that helps keep the Forester from rolling backward when starting on an upgrade.

Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive
Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive means, in Subaru's terminology, that the system was designed from the start to be an all-wheel-drive layout and not converted from an existing two-wheel-drive arrangement. The Variable Torque Distribution system utilizes an electronically-controlled hydraulic transfer clutch to control the distribution of torque between front and rear axles.

2008 Subaru Forester Details
Interior

Stepping inside the Forester is easy, and its familiar interior has received modifications that increase its utility and comfort. A multi-functional center console features a sliding armrest, while, in the cargo area, floor bars are accompanied by four utility hooks. The 2.5X features a passenger seatback net storage pocket and offers front and rear cup holders and a rear-seat folding armrest. A wide rear seat with plenty of thigh support welcomes passengers and the standard retractable cargo cover is high enough to accommodate tall items.

Exterior

Fresh front-end styling gives the 2008 Subaru Forester a bit more pizzazz, creating a "more unified, sophisticated, and more modern form," according to Subaru. Smooth side cladding and curvaceous rear glass produce a clean look, while eight inches of ground clearance provides ample ability for plowing through deep snow. The Forester sports a handsome fascia, flared front bumper and fenders and large outside mirrors with integrated turn signals available. The heavy-duty four-wheel independent suspension promotes enhanced performance.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

All Foresters with the naturally-aspirated engine are called 2.5 X and include head/chest side-impact airbags, anti-lock brakes (ABS), 16-inch wheels, air conditioning, an AM/FM/Weather-band stereo with CD player and remote keyless entry. The 2.5 X L.L. Bean Edition adds desert beige leather-trimmed upholstery with perforated Alcantara bolsters, a security system with shock sensor, Momo wood and leather steering wheel and an L.L. Bean-embossed cargo-area tray. The 2.5 XT Limited includes a 224-horsepower turbocharged engine, leather-trimmed upholstery and sporty electroluminescent gauge pointers.

Optional Equipment

Subaru's Premium Package, available on the 2.5 X only, includes rear disc brakes, eight-spoke alloy wheels, panoramic glass moonroof, heated front seats, automatic climate control, a six-CD changer, heated side mirrors with integrated turn signals and trim upgrades.

Under the Hood

Subaru's 2.5-liter, horizontally-opposed (boxer configuration) four-cylinder engine is naturally-aspirated for 2.5 X models and turbocharged for the 2.5 Sport XT and Limited. One advantage of the boxer-configuration engine is that it offers a lower engine height, and thus a lower center of gravity, which can contribute to enhanced handling. It should be noted that Subaru recommends premium gas for its turbocharged models.

2.5-liter Boxer-4
173 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
166 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/27 (manual), 20/26 (automatic)

2.5-liter Boxer-4 Turbocharged
224 horsepower @ 5600 rpm
226 lb.-ft. of torque at 3600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/24 (manual), 18/23 (automatic)

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2008 Subaru Forester Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.6
Out of 10

Based on 369 Ratings for the 2004 - 2008 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.9/10
    Quality
    8.8/10
  • Reliability
    9.1/10
    Performance
    8.9/10
  • Comfort
    8.3/10
    Styling
    8.4/10

Subaru Forever!

By on Thursday, August 06, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 157,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "holds its value, safe, comfy, great off-road"

Cons: "small console"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

A roof basket is a good investment

"Half of my family members drive Subarus, so when it came time to buy my first car I looked heavily into Subarus and Japanese cars in general. This car is by far one of the best investments of my life. I bought it with 140000 miles on it and I've put almost 20,000 miles on it and it's still purring like a kitten. My friends with big SUVs joke around about it's low horsepower and torque, but I can still drop the hammer on the interstate! My forester is one of the most versatile cars on the market: it's spacious and comfy, economical, easy to drive, and surprisingly great off road! I can keep up with my friend's lifted 4runner up in Georgia. I've never hydroplaned or even felt a tire slip in the rain thanks to the AWD. This car is the Little Engine That Could. Definitely recommend it to potential buyers."

4 people out of 4 found this review helpful

A roof basket is a good investment

average quality, overly hyped by reviewers

By on Wednesday, July 15, 2015

I owned and sold this car
Reason: time for new

10 7.0
overall rating 7 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
7/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
7/10
Quality
6/10
Performance
7/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
6/10

Pros: "AWD, visibility, tight steering control"

Cons: "see above"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3

"Noisy at highway speeds Unreliable engine; replaced head gasket at 80,000 miles and this appears to be the norm for the 2.5L engine. Needs a five speed automatic to cut noise levels at highway speeds. Parts and service are expensive. Poor quality and thin carpeting. Radio reception is very poor. Poor mileage for a four cylinder. Spongy brakes and brake discs are too cheap and small."

9 people out of 12 found this review helpful

Great in the snow!

By on Wednesday, July 15, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 45,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
7/10
Performance
6/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
6/10

Pros: "Reliable, comfortable, very stable in snow"

Cons: "Noisy, not great gas mileage"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"I have owned this car after purchasing it in 2008 as a demo. At the time of purchase, it had 10k miles on it. This vehicle handles so well in the snow, but have not really taken it off road. Not much power to get up I 70 to get to the mountains. But always starts up! My SO who owns an Exterra loves the lower center of gravity, says it feels so much more stable on both ice and snow. I feel more confident driving this in the snow. My major complaint with this vehicle is the noise! Very noisy driving around town. Quieter on newly paved roads. Gas mileage about 23 mpg."

4 people out of 6 found this review helpful

second owner

By on Monday, July 06, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 111,000

10 7.0
overall rating 7 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
7/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
7/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
7/10

Pros: "great car for me"

Cons: "tight car for my husband"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"Engine had timing belt and new engine gaskets done at 105,000 miles. nov-2014 70,000 mile tires were installed."

5 people out of 7 found this review helpful

Don't Ever Want To Let My 2005 Forester Go!

By on Friday, July 03, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 210,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Great size, good clearance, sticks to the road"

Cons: "Dirt collects on back window, tire pressure touchy"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I love my Subaru Forester as a true and trusted friend. I have traversed the country, built a home and filled it with supplies and materials, and traveled dirt roads daily in the desert where I live, and after 10 years it is still in very good shape. She may have developed some character lines, but I can't imagine a more perfectly sized and functioning car for me. The new Foresters I've heard are great but they are quite a bit bigger. Ce la vie!"

7 people out of 8 found this review helpful

Good, not Great.

By on Tuesday, June 30, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 141,000

10 7.0
overall rating 7 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
7/10
Value
6/10
Reliability
7/10
Quality
6/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
5/10
Comfort
7/10

Pros: "Fun to drive, stable in bad road conditions"

Cons: "Less reliable than advertised, interior dials"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6

"I bought my Forester new and have put a lot of miles on it in 9 years. The car has been a good one. On the plus, it is fun to drive on the mountain roads I use it on - hiking and hunting. The car is really nimble on curvy, gravel roads and ice. It literally saved my life one time, when I tried to drive off a hairpin curve in New Mexico - that's another story. On the negative side, the car has been slightly less reliable and maintenance-free than the Subaru reputation. The head gaskets blew in 100K mile, necessitating an engine overhaul. Also, the interior controls are very cheap. Dials wear down and do not work. I have had to replace the cable connecting the heater controls 3 times at about $190 each time. Again, I have gotten good service out of the car. I hope to continue driving it a few more years. I like it, but I do NOT love it. I will probably buy a Toyota or Honda next time. I would buy a Kia before I bought another Subaru."

5 people out of 8 found this review helpful

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