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2011 Subaru Forester

Overview
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2011 Subaru Forester Review

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KBB Expert Rating: 6.6

With volatile gas prices compelling many large SUV owners to abandon their fuel-hungry rides, small crossovers like the third-generation 2011 Subaru Forester have never looked better. An agile vehicle built to handle practically anything man or nature can put before its tires, the latest iteration has a much more contemporary-looking exterior complemented by a more spacious interior and a smoother, quieter ride. And with a respectable four-cylinder Boxer engine under the hood and Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive as standard, the Forester offers the capability of an SUV with fuel economy that won't break the bank. This segment has seen a lot of growth in the last few years, but the Forester can go places the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and Nissan Rogue can't.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you like your SUVs to be true to the "Utility" in "Sport Utility Vehicle," while still being small enough to comfortably maneuver in a city, the Forester may be the vehicle for you. With a low starting price, standard AWD, proven reliability, more towing power than many others in its class and great visibility all around, there's certainly a lot to love.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you want a V6 engine, room for seven or rear-seat entertainment, the 2011 Subaru Forester may not be for you. And although a manual transmission is offered on some trims, a SportShift four-speed automatic is the only transmission available with the turbocharged engine.

What's New for 2011

A revised model range now includes Standard, Premium, Limited and Touring trims for the 2.5X, and Premium and Touring trims for the turbocharged 2.5XT. An all-new 2.5-liter engine produces more low-end torque and better mileage in the base trims, while Bluetooth is now standard on all but the base models. New radios include an available removable TomTom navigation unit and a rear backup camera (standard on Touring trims.)

Driving the Forester

Driving Impressions Off-roading in the 2011 Subaru Forester showcased the vehicle's stiffer suspension, direct steering and notable ground clearance, all of which came into play when traversing rocks and ditches. Also helpful...

was the Forester's standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive (AWD) system, capable of transferring up to 100 percent of the available power to the wheels with the best traction. Back on the pavement, we liked the added get-up-and-go provided by turbocharged models (who wouldn't?), but those with a more practical and budget-minded outlook will be just as happy buzzing around town with the normally-aspirated engine. Getting in and out of both rows of seats was a breeze thanks to wide-opening doors, and we found the all-around visibility from the driver's seat to be excellent; a boon when changing lanes, reversing, and exploring dirt roads.

Rear Visibility
Being able to see what's behind a vehicle when backing up, changing lanes, or even venturing off-road can make a big difference in how someone behaves while driving. The Forester's large back window allows the driver to see an object only 39 inches tall within 39 inches of the vehicle.

Panoramic Moonroof
Although not as large as others we've seen, this moonroof provides pleasant light to both the front and rear passengers, bringing a bit of the outdoors inside.

2011 Subaru Forester Details
Interior

The 2011 Subaru Forester features gauges that are colorful and easy to read, plus audio and climate controls configured in a logical, clear manner. A single cup holder is located next to the driver, while an additional bottle holder is situated in each door. Back in the second row, leg room is plentiful and the seats are wide and comfortable. In all trims except the 2.5X, the second-row seats recline. Cargo room in the back is a respectable 33.5 cubic feet, made all the more accessible thanks to a wide-opening rear gate door.

Exterior

The latest version of the Subaru Forester is a little less wagon and a little more modern crossover. Overall, the vehicle bears a slight resemblance to the BMW X3, with its swept-up rear quarter window and sporty wheels. The Forester offers up to 8.9 inches of ground clearance, a necessary requirement when the road gets ugly. Up front, a large grille and "hawk eye" headlight treatment impart an aggressive appearance, especially when paired with the available turbocharged engine's air scoop and fog lights. The optional chrome door handles and tailpipe add a bit of fresh bling to the Forester's exterior, while the wheelwells are filled with 16-inch steel or available 17-inch alloy wheels.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The base 2011 Subaru Forester 2.5X comes equipped with a five-speed manual transmission, Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, Hill Start Assist, 16-inch steel wheels and 8.7-inches of ground clearance. Notable interior touches include a height-adjustable driver's seat with adjustable lumbar support and auto-off headlights. Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, audio streaming and iPod integration is standard on all but the base trim. Opting for the XT trim will add the turbocharged engine, SportShift four-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control, 17-inch wheels (helping to bump ground clearance to 8.9 inches), fog lights, 10-way power driver's seat, rear backup camera and a telescoping steering column. The new Touring model adds HID low-beam headlamps with automatic height adjustment, dual-zone automatic climate control, electroluminescent gauges and side mirrors with integrated turn signals. To help keep occupants safe and sound, both X and XT trims feature six airbags, Vehicle Dynamics Control and anti-lock brakes (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution and Brake Assist.

Optional Equipment

Some of the 2011 Subaru Forester's most attractive options include a removable TomTom navigation system (Premium trim) or integrated navigation radio (Limited and Touring), leather seating, power driver's seat, panoramic moonroof, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, premium sound, automatic climate control, satellite radio (choice of XM or Sirius), and cold-climate desirables like heated seats, heated side mirrors and a windshield wiper de-icer.

Under the Hood

Powering the base Forester X is a newly revised 170-horsepower four-cylinder Boxer engine (a "flat" engine in which the pistons lie horizontally, an advantage of which is a lower center of gravity) with a five-speed manual transmission, available only in this trim. The new engine features a longer stroke and a chain-driven dual overhead cam replacing the old engine's belt driven single overhead cam. Moving up to the Limited adds a four-speed automatic transmission, while the XT trims come with a 224-horsepower turbocharged Boxer engine (this engine does not benefit from the updates to the normally aspirated 2.5-liter engine.) Although the base engine is practical for around town driving, those looking for a little more power without a significant drop in fuel economy will likely appreciate all that the turbocharged version has to offer – if they don't mind paying for premium gas.

2.5-liter Boxer-4
170 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
174 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4100 rpm
EPA Estimated City/Highway Mileage: 21/27 (manual), 21/27 (automatic)

2.5-liter Boxer-4 Turbocharged
224 horsepower@ 5200 rpm
226 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2800 rpm
EPA Estimated City/Highway Mileage: 19/24

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2011 Subaru Forester Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.1
Out of 10

Based on 244 Ratings for the 2009 - 2013 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.4/10
    Quality
    8.2/10
  • Reliability
    8.9/10
    Performance
    8.3/10
  • Comfort
    8.1/10
    Styling
    8.1/10

Subaru will do....

By on Friday, May 01, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 26,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

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

"We bought this vehicle new and have driven it for four years. Reliable, comfortable, attractive, and reasonable gas mileage."

3 people out of 3 found this review helpful

worse car I ever owned

By on Wednesday, April 15, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 9,826

10 1.0
overall rating 1 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
1/10
Value
1/10
Reliability
1/10
Quality
2/10
Performance
5/10
Styling
5/10
Comfort
5/10

Pros: "None"

Cons: "service for Subaru is not good."

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

"Have had this car for less than 3 years. Battery has been replaces 2Xs. Service tells me that the battery is bad. Something must be making the battery fail. Can't find anything other than the battery needs replaces. Heated seats do not work correctly. They have been checked repeatedly and nothing found wrong with them. Had the windshield wiper arm replaced because the screw would loosen and it would quit working when needed. Had window issues where the window will not wind up and stay up. Had this checked quite a few times before I was told it has to be the window guards since they could not find anything wrong with it. Gas mileage is very bad Subaru claims 21 MPG city and 27 MPG highway. I average 16 MPG city."

6 people out of 11 found this review helpful

Essentially Perfect!

By on Friday, April 03, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 23,000

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
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "handling, ride, capacity, styling, reliability"

Cons: "no light in glove box"

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

"This car is so perfect it is almost boring. Seriously, this is a superb automobile. I've owned 20 cars in my lifetime and this is the best. The quality construction, the all wheel drive handling, the reliability, the value for the money,and the cargo capacity are superb. I really have to look for a flaw. Oh yeah, sometimes I hit my head on the sun visor if I leave it half way down. Actually my own fault. You could spend twice as much for a compact SUV and not do any better."

6 people out of 7 found this review helpful

Drives and rides like a regular sedan. Very agile.

By on Thursday, March 26, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 106,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "One of the best, great price, My Forester is great"

Cons: "Got up to 29 mph on HW, but city < 18"

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

"I'm second owner and love my first Subaru. Got my first suggestion to try Subaru 20 years ago from my favorite cousin. Love the Crossover handling and smooth automatic pick up and go. Easy to care for, all I've done in years is to recently change over the entire suite of timing belt and water pump and pulleys. The AWD (my first experience) is an excellent addition to any vehicle. It very road hugging like my new MGB 36 years ago. Negatives, I wish it got better mileage in the city, and the engine heat indicator that turns off when the car is "ready to drive" takes a minute. I've always only waited maybe 15 to 30 sec's and take it easy for the first few miles."

2 people out of 5 found this review helpful

best vehicle ever!!!

By on Monday, March 09, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 112,000

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
10/10
Comfort
10/10

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

"This is my first Subaru but it will not be my last! I went 92k miles before any major repairs were needed, new brakes. At 95k new tires were added."

5 people out of 8 found this review helpful

A Great Automobile

By on Sunday, February 15, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 44,600

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
10/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "A great reliable car that is fun to drive ."

Cons: "Wish they had cup holders"

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

"I have 2011 Forester and will buy another. It handles like a sports car the engine is quick and responsive and the steering is quick and precise. In snow it goes as well as my 4x4 jeep My only complaint, I'm about 6'1" tall and the drivers seat doesn't go quite far enough back for my comfort on long drives. I just sat in a new 2015 Forester and I love what they did with it. Beefed up the body style made the interior roomier and the drivers seat goes back far enough someone 7' tall. The car is reliable and other than normal service have not had any service issues with the car"

11 people out of 15 found this review helpful

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Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

Buying this car?