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2012 Subaru Forester

Overview
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2012 Subaru Forester Review

By

KBB Expert Rating: 7.2

Smaller crossovers have replaced gas-guzzling SUVs for thousands of drivers concerned with volatile fuel prices or just eager to reduce their carbon footprint without giving up SUV versatility. Among the most praiseworthy of these is the 2012 Subaru Forester, an agile vehicle that's surprisingly well-mannered on the road, and with off-road capability you wouldn't dare try in a Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue or Toyota RAV4. Based on Subaru's signature 4-cylinder boxer engine and Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive (AWD), the Forester's low-profile drivetrain results in a lower center of gravity, promising more stable handling despite its commanding seating height and generous interior volume. Factor in Subaru's excellent reputation for reliability and longevity, along with impressive fuel economy, and the Forester grows even more appealing.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you like equal parts sport and utility in your SUV, the Forester is maneuverable in the city, yet roomy and capable enough for weekend excursions off the beaten path. You'll also like its low starting price, standard AWD, respectable towing ability, top-rated safety and reliability, and turbo option.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you want six cylinders, seven seats or rear-seat entertainment, the Forester is not for you. And although a 5-speed manual transmission is standard on the base and 2.5X Premium models, a SportShift automatic with just four speeds is the only transmission choice on the upper-trim levels or any of the turbocharged models.

What's New for 2012

The Forester's wide range of trim levels includes two turbo models. All include a new height-adjustable front passenger seat for 2012. A new option on the higher trims is a touch-screen navigation system that's bundled with a USB, iPod and Bluetooth features, satellite radio and traffic, and a text-message feature.

Driving the Forester

Driving Impressions Off-roading in the Subaru Forester showcased the vehicle's firmer 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 engine's power to the wheels with the best traction. Back on pavement, we liked the added get-up-and-go of the turbocharged models (who wouldn't?), but those with a more practical and budget-minded outlook will be just as happy dashing around town with the naturally 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 views 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 imparting driving confidence. The Forester's large rear 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 oversized glass roof provides pleasant light to both the front and rear passengers, bringing a bit of the outdoors inside.

2012 Subaru Forester Details
Interior

The 2012 Subaru Forester's colorful gauges are set into a sweeping dashboard with a logical layout. A multifunction display with fuel-economy and outside-temperature readouts is standard, as is a versatile center console with numerous cubbies and two 12-volt sockets. The roomy front seats adjust at least six ways, and materials feel reasonably rich. Rear legroom is plentiful, and the 60/40-split seat folds easily and even reclines in all but the base 2.5X. The wide liftgate opens to 33.5 cubic feet of cargo space, plus such niceties as hooks for grocery bags and other items, tie-downs in the floor, and storage well underneath it.

Exterior

While earlier Foresters looked like tall Subaru wagons, the third and latest generation is a svelte take on the SUV. An upswept beltline, prominent wheel arches and nearly nine inches of ground clearance lend it a clean yet businesslike profile. Up front, a large grille and wraparound "hawkeye" headlights add a hint of sporty aggression, especially in combination with the functional hood scoop on the turbo models. Sporty alloy wheels (optional on the base 2.5X, standard in a 17-inch size on all the higher trims) and a tasteful measure of chrome accents add just enough finesse to its clean, functional design.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The base Forester 2.5X comes with a 5-speed manual transmission, AWD, Hill Start Assist, air conditioning, keyless entry, 16-inch steel wheels, front side-impact and front/rear side-curtain airbags, Vehicle Dynamics Control, driver-seat lumbar adjuster and auto-off headlights. The Premium (in 2.5X or turbo 2.5XT form) adds a panoramic moonroof, 17-inch alloy wheels, 10-way power driver seat, and Bluetooth for audio and phone. The turbo also adds foglights, a rear spoiler and heated front seats. The 2.5X Limited adds leather, automatic transmission, climate control, heated mirrors and 6-speaker audio. The top 2.5X and 2.5XT Touring models include electroluminescent gauges, dual-zone climate control, 7-speaker audio, rearview camera and xenon headlights.

Optional Equipment

Among the Forester's most attractive options is a new touch-screen navigation system with premium audio and iTunes song tagging on Limited and Touring models, or a removable TomTom navigation system for the 2.5X Premium. An All-Weather package for the 2.5X Premium adds heated front seats, heated side mirrors and a windshield wiper de-icer. (It's standard on the higher models, though oddly not available on the 2.5XT Premium.) Other than satellite radio (choice of XM or Sirius), most other options are bundled into the various trim levels. The 4-speed automatic transmission is optional on the 2.5X and 2.5X Premium, and standard elsewhere.

Under the Hood

Powering all 2012 Forester 2.5X trims is a recently revised 170-horsepower 4-cylinder boxer engine (a "flat" engine in which the pistons lie horizontally, one advantage of which is a lower center of gravity). The new-for-2011 engine features a longer stroke and chain-driven dual overhead cams replacing the old engine's belt-driven single cam. A 5-speed manual transmission is standard on 2.5X base and Premium trims, with a 4-speed automatic transmission optional (and standard on all higher trim levels). Forester 2.5XT models enjoy a 224-horsepower turbocharged boxer-4 (not sharing the updates to the 2.5X engine). Although the base engine is practical around town, those seeking more power without suffering typical SUV fuel-economy penalties will appreciate the turbo, as long as they don't mind paying for premium gasoline.

2.5-liter boxer-4
170 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm
174 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm
EPA Estimated City/Highway Mileage: 21/27

2.5-liter turbocharged boxer-4
224 horsepower@ 5,200 rpm
226 lb-ft of torque @ 2,800 rpm
EPA Estimated City/Highway Mileage: 19/24

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2012 Subaru Forester Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.1
Out of 10

Based on 216 Ratings for the 2009 - 2013 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.5/10
    Quality
    8.2/10
  • Reliability
    8.9/10
    Performance
    8.4/10
  • Comfort
    8.0/10
    Styling
    8.2/10

Very Reliable

By on Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 98,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

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

"Minor scrapes & nicks. Interior needs cleaning. CD player not working but radio works fine. Tires low tread but still roadworthy."

Love my Subaru!!

By on Thursday, August 07, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 125,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
2/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
7/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "easy to drive in country, city and all weather"

Cons: "too little leg room in back seat"

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

buying the Christmas Tree!

"Would keep this suv forever if I hadn't had more kids and need the room. Didn't need any major maintenance for 100k miles! Awesome in the snow! Just a bit cramped in the back seat - had trouble getting a car seat to fit."

1 person out of 2 found this review helpful

buying the Christmas Tree!

Everything works fine.

By on Friday, July 25, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 51,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
7/10
Reliability
8/10
Quality
5/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
4/10
Comfort
4/10

Pros: "awd works great"

Cons: "oil consumption rate is excessive"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4

"I have a 2012 Forester and in a 5000 mile oil change interval there is a 4 quart oil consumption. I use a Subaru oil filter and Mobile 1 0w-20 synthetic oil that is recommended. Is this normal or did I get a lemon ?"

6 people out of 10 found this review helpful

Very pleased over all.

By on Sunday, June 15, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 40,400

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
7/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "good gas mileage, reliable, trustworthy"

Cons: "poor cupholders, rear seats don't fold flat."

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

"Subarus are reliable in all kinds of weather. Service them by the owner's manual & they just about run forever. My best one was a '94 Legacy - nearly 300,000 trouble-free miles on it & still running!"

7 people out of 9 found this review helpful

best vehicle ever, except its higher roof is harde

By on Thursday, June 05, 2014

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

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

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

"I have not needed any significant work and I've had the car for almost 5 years. but the mileage is low."

3 people out of 7 found this review helpful

reliable

By on Saturday, May 31, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 89,000

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
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
7/10

Cons: "tire pressure light is very sensitive"

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

"I loved this car until I injured my back. The seats do not have the correct support for me. Long trips were always taxing but now I am in pain within the first mile or two. Have tried sheep skin and memory foam without relief. May have to let it go and get something else. Have not had any problems with it. Have gotten up to 34 mpg and average 28 to 29 mpg."

4 people out of 4 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

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