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2012 Subaru Forester

Overview
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2012 Subaru Forester Review

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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 247 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

Poor quality vehicle..and service department

By on Sunday, June 28, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 40,000

10 5.0
overall rating 5 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

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

"At start up engine sounds like garbage truck; dash board lights on/off intermittently. Serviced and told this was OK. USB in dash smoking; car towed to dealership; car returned with USB charger non-functioning. My Forester will be traded in for a Honda CRV."

A great little SUV.

By on Friday, June 12, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 70,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Very practical, almost a 'do anything' vehicle."

Cons: "Engine and road noise."

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

"Spacious interior. Excellent handling. Feels safe and secure in all weather conditions. My wife wasn't too excited about this particular car because we didn't get leather, heated seats, etc. Then she drove it over the mountains in the snow, and now she wants to look at Outbacks. My 2009 Forester was one of the first to arrive on the sales lot. Sales folks were not yet well informed, so we didn't get all the features we expected, such as premium sound. Also, like earlier Subarus, the head gaskets needed replacement at 60,000 miles. The standard engine provides plenty of power for our purposes, even when the car is heavily loaded - and with the rear seat backs down, we have loaded plenty."

Versatile- Off road solid, commuter comfortable

By on Friday, May 29, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 124,500

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
7/10
Styling
6/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Commuter rough road capable, AWD, decent mileage."

Cons: "Auto is spongy accelerating"

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

"I live down a mile of hilly dirt-gravel road and commute 30 miles of highway city mix to work. On weekends I drive logging roads and some wider 4 wheeler trails. 26-27 city a little better at 70mph +- on interstate. 2.5L 170 hp boxer with automatic transmission. nimble enough to commute milage drops if you push acceleration and don't coast to stops. Far from sporty or a rally car but is tough as a cob on logging roads and washed out trails. If you want a sporty pavement hugger stick with Mazda CX5, Honda CRV or Toyota Rav 4. You want an all weather commuter with a strong enough frame, drive train and heart get the Forester."

4 people out of 6 found this review helpful

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."

5 people out of 6 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."

8 people out of 18 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."

7 people out of 8 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?