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2011 Subaru Forester

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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 261 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
    8.0/10
    Styling
    8.1/10

Loved it, until....

By on Friday, April 22, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 54,500

10 5.0
overall rating 5 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Great in snow"

Cons: "Poor build quality"

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

"My Subaru Forester has been an awesome vehicle in comfort and dependability up until 54,500 miles when the head gasket began leaking oil. Because it is 1 year out of warranty, I am now left with a hefty repair bill. No car should have such a major problem with this low mileage. Very poor build quality. Sadly, I now no longer want another Subaru. If you are considering buying this year Forester, do your research online first. You will see many complaints of head gasket issues."

1 person out of 1 found this review helpful

Great value. Would purchase again.

By on Monday, April 04, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 75,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Price, Safety, Ground Clearance, Looks"

Cons: "Plastic interior, Fuel mileage, Tires must match"

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

"I bought my Forester used a couple of years ago when my Wife and I were expecting our first child. It feels really stable with the all wheel drive, especially in inclement weather. It does feel a little cushy during cornering but that may also be due to my other car being a Mazda 3 with sportier suspension. Dependable and reliable. I've only had to change the battery aside from the scheduled maintenance. One thing to keep in mind is with the AWD the tires need to be similarly worn or it could harm the drive train from what I was told, so be sure and balance and rotate your tires as recommended. Also if you have a flat tire and you have to use the donut, be sure to disable the AWD system until you're back on 4 matching tires. The interior looks good. I don't have leather and some of the plastic is a little cheap feeling. Also, when you slam the doors it makes more of a hollow sound than what I'm used to but that may just be me being overly critical. I do mostly stop and go driving and average around 21 mpg. This improves to somewhere around 25 on road trips typically. In my opinion this was a great combo of price, safety, looks, usability, and light off road capability for my little family."

2 people out of 2 found this review helpful

Take anywhere in any conditions

By on Friday, April 01, 2016

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

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Versatile, reliable, affordable"

Cons: "Interior by Lego"

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

"This is a relable car that becomes more fun to drive the worse driving conditions get. Offroad mud and pastures to rain covered city streets and interstates it is awesome. Good little commuter car easy to manuever in traffic and parking. Wow factor for car badge snobs, not so much. Cheap foam seats and interior design by Lego and a little light on HP with AC on or when the tranny searches for a gear when you are in a hurry to merge. Sturdy good offroad better than RAV 4, CRV, and Mazda. This is a vehicle for those that prefer functional relaibility over style. Get the 5 speed if you get the boxer 4 cylinder without the turbo. 24-26 MPG in city and at 75 on interstate."

Love my Subaru.

By on Thursday, March 17, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Handles well in ice."

Cons: "Poor gas mileage."

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

"This is my 4th Subaru. Love how it handles in the snow and ice. A little top heavy for curves at high speeds. Good pick up. Carries all my camping gear but would like to be able to fit in a 4 x 8 sheet of plywood. GAS mileage could be better. Still think Subaru is the best. I have needed almost no repairs to any of my Subaru's."

excellent allaround car-great AWD-handles well

By on Monday, March 14, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 126,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "economical, fun, very versatile ; handles well"

Cons: "little noisy on highway and starting up"

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

"very good car; rides and handles well in all weather; economical; great visibility/braking good; a little noisy on highway ( road/wind noise );good paint and wear; reasonably comfortable seating; loads of cargo space. I highly recommend Forester."

2 people out of 2 found this review helpful

Best Vehicle Ever.

By on Thursday, January 07, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 155,000

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: "Great price, fun to drive, comfortable, reliable"

Cons: "I didn't own one before."

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

"My Forester's name is Birdie. I have travelled coast to coast, border to border multiple times without hesitation due to her reliability. I plan on driving her until she can't go any further."

10 people out of 13 found this review helpful

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