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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 234 Ratings for the 2009 - 2013 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.4/10
    Quality
    8.2/10
  • Reliability
    9.0/10
    Performance
    8.3/10
  • Comfort
    8.0/10
    Styling
    8.1/10

mosr unreliable vehicle i have ever owned

By on Friday, November 14, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 104,000

10 1.0
overall rating 1 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
1/10
Value
1/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
6/10
Performance
1/10
Styling
2/10
Comfort
1/10

Pros: "check engine lights light up the dash very well"

Cons: "can't see on dash led light."

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

"I was told not to buy this car even by the dealership. not sure why, as the vehicle had low miles, looked at the carfax and that was good. this is the 5 speed manual transmission. I purchased an extended warranty and my first unpleasant surprise was that the worry free driving was about to end. the throw out bearing($1,000) had premature failure, and was not covered by the extended warranty(read the fine print). Next the catalytic converters failed, another $1,100 and now replacement of the timing belt and water pump, another $1,000. this past weekend it snowed in MN and now I have more engine work related to the exhaust system, another $200+. none of this work covered by any warranty and the dealership told me to call the Subaru USA number. they offered $200 out of pity, but still have not received the voucher in over a month. my advice is to run, not walk away from this "rugged, reliable vehicle" and to read closely any aftermarket warranty sold by Subaru. read the posts from consumers with multiple problems with the 2009 and newer Foresters, you will be shocked how the quality of these vehicles has gone down hill. I purchased the Forester in 2011. i'm retired and these repair bills have been devastating."

3 people out of 5 found this review helpful

A proverbial "school-teacher-owned" car.

By on Wednesday, November 12, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 36,000

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: "Roomy family car designed for complete safety."

Cons: "Can't think of any cons."

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

"Bought in Wisconsin, this Forester SUV type was great in winter where I had to drive up and down icy hills--hence, the dependable AWD. I used it for a couple of cross-country trips, but otherwise drove it 3 miles to school and back each day. It has been a faithful car for me, but now I do not need the AWD, and am looking to trade for a smaller car. The car has a skylight, is a medium blue color, and is named "Blue," in excellent condition."

Reliable car with awful local dealer

By on Friday, October 31, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 37,500

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
5/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Value solid reliable"

Cons: "dealer service dealer service dealer service"

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

"After 4 years with this Subaru, I am impressed with its solid feel and consistent reliability. Great for carrying large items like bikes - easily. Comfortable as well. Downside: mileage is about 21 MPG - expected better. Brakes do not inspire confidence. Transmission thumps into gear, but that's how it works. Had I known the dealer service before buying, I would never have bought the car. When I asked about the spongy brakes, they question my driving skills. There was 1 minor recall that took several appointments to resolve. Routine maintenance like an oil change is $$$, twice or three times as much as any other car. 30,000 mile service is like a down payment."

1 person out of 2 found this review helpful

It's the little things

By on Saturday, October 25, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 22,000

10 6.0
overall rating 6 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
6/10
Value
5/10
Reliability
Not Rated
Quality
7/10
Performance
4/10
Styling
4/10
Comfort
8/10

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

"No temp gage ---- sun visor not wide enough--noisy---xmission down shifts often--seats to short for good support---leather fair quality--overall no problems, but would not buy again"

5 people out of 12 found this review helpful

Low beam headlights are useless.

By on Wednesday, October 22, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 24,000

10 5.0
overall rating 5 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
5/10
Value
6/10
Reliability
6/10
Quality
5/10
Performance
3/10
Styling
4/10
Comfort
5/10

Pros: "All wheel drive"

Cons: "Questionable headlights"

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

"I bought this car with the intention of keeping for quite a few years. I'm afraid that won't be possible unless I can get the headlights improved. The low beam illumination is minimal at best and Subaru tells me they redesigned the headlights because of complaints about the low beams. Will the new headlights fit in this car? NO. Can I put brighter bulbs in this car? NO. So, apparently, I spent top dollar for bad headlights that they knew about and have no way of fixing. Needless to say, I am not happy."

3 people out of 4 found this review helpful

Subaru over-hyped by company ads

By on Monday, October 13, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 50,000

10 3.0
overall rating 3 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
3/10
Value
5/10
Reliability
6/10
Quality
2/10
Performance
5/10
Styling
1/10
Comfort
1/10

Pros: "Nothing to recommend it."

Cons: "See following"

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

"Lousy mileage: <27 mpg hwy, for a car this size? Obvious engineering deficiencies: Grossly underpowered; Sun visors too small; LED display invisible in daylight; interior rear-view mirror bracket too weak; Requires very expensive special-order Yokohama tires available only from a CA tire dealer;"

6 people out of 13 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?