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2012 Subaru Forester

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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
8.0
Out of 10

Based on 262 Ratings for the 2009 - 2013 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.4/10
    Quality
    8.1/10
  • Reliability
    8.9/10
    Performance
    8.3/10
  • Comfort
    8.0/10
    Styling
    8.1/10

2010 Forester = worst vehicle ever

By on Wednesday, June 22, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 96,000

10 1.0
overall rating 1 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Air bags and AWD"

Cons: "History of oil leaks."

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

"2010 Forester is well known, among mechanics, for oil leaks. Had to put in a new engine 1-1/2 years ago because it ran out of oil less than 3000 miles after last oil change. Subaru, upon notification, didn't care and is still depending on reputation of older models to sell newer defective vehicles."

2 people out of 2 found this review helpful

long time subaru customer,very disappointed!!!

By on Saturday, May 21, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 52,000

10 6.0
overall rating 6 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
6/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
4/10
Quality
4/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "good driving great in bad weather"

Cons: "subaru quality and reliability seem to be fading"

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

"As a 23 year subaru customer very disappointed in our 2011 Forester. At 51000 miles oil leaks required both head gaskets to be replaced. Fortunatley car was still under 5 year power train warranty! This was a new engine design and still Subaru has head gasket issues,but now a cooling system conditioner/stop leak treatment won't stop OIL LEAKES! Thinking of a different brand in the future, what a shame."

7 people out of 10 found this review helpful

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."

10 people out of 16 found this review helpful

Great value. Would purchase again.

By on Monday, April 4, 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."

6 people out of 6 found this review helpful

Take anywhere in any conditions

By on Friday, April 1, 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."

1 person out of 2 found this review helpful

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."

3 people out of 5 found this review helpful

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