By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 6.7
Big, heavy gas-guzzling SUVs have their place, but if you don't need room for seven or the ability to tow a heavy trailer, a vehicle like the 2013 Subaru Forester makes much more sense. Easy on gas, the 4-cylinder Forester combines car-like ride and handling with the ground clearance and AWD tenacity of a light-duty off-road vehicle. Unlike most compact crossovers, the Forester's Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive is permanently engaged, providing excellent traction in all weather conditions. The Forester's roomy interior is highly versatile, and Subaru offers an abundance of roof-rack accessories for securing everything from cargo to kayaks. Best of all, the Forester is reasonably priced, holds it value well, and is an IIHS Top Safety Pick.
If you like the ride and handling of mid-size sedan, but the need for maximum cargo space requires a more SUV-like solution, the Subaru's 2013 Forester gives you the best of both worlds. Its low-profile boxer engine gives it remarkable poise in the curves, and its AWD lets it go places no car would dare to venture.
If you need room for seven, the ability to tow more than 2,400 pounds, or a rear seat DVD entertainment system, the Subaru Forester probably won't make the grade. Its outdated 4-speed automatic transmission doesn't provide the best fuel economy and the 5-speed manual isn't available on the sportier turbo models.
For 2013, the Subaru Forester 2.5X receives a new radio with built-in Bluetooth and streaming capabilities, as well as iPod control and a USB port. Steering-wheel audio controls are standard on the base trim, while Premium models get a new Value Package that includes an upgraded radio display, fog lights and the Cold Weather Package.
Driving Impressions We took our 2013 Subaru Forester on some light off-road trails, which 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 system, capable of transferring up to 100 percent of the engine's power to the individual 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.
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 2013 Subaru Forester's large rear window allows the driver to see an object only 39 inches tall within 39 inches of the vehicle.
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.
The 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 are height adjustable, and the 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, plus tie-downs in the floor and a storage well underneath it.Exterior
While earlier Foresters looked like tall Subaru wagons, the Forester for 2013 is a svelte take on the SUV. 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 accenting add just enough finesse to its clean, functional design.
The Subaru Forester 2.5X comes with a 5-speed manual transmission, AWD, Hill Start Assist, air conditioning, keyless entry, 16-inch steel wheels, six airbags, driver-seat lumbar adjuster, auto-off headlights, and Bluetooth for audio and phone. The Premium (in 2.5X or turbo 2.5XT form) gains a panoramic moonroof, 17-inch alloy wheels and a 10-way power driver seat. The turbo also adds fog lights, a rear spoiler and heated front seats. The 2.5X Limited adds leather, an automatic transmission, climate control, heated mirrors and a 6-speaker audio system. The top 2.5X and 2.5XT Touring models include electroluminescent gauges, dual-zone climate control, 7-speaker audio, rearview camera and xenon headlights.
Among the Forester's most attractive options for 2013 is a touch-screen navigation system with premium audio and iTunes song tagging on Limited and Touring models. Premium models can be equipped with a removable TomTom navigation system. 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, 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.
Powering all 2013 Forester 2.5X trims is a competent 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). This engine features chain-driven dual overhead camshafts for greater power and longevity as well as quieter operation. A 5-speed manual transmission is standard on 2.5X base and Premium trims, with a 4-speed automatic optional (and standard on all higher trim levels). The Forester 2.5XT enjoys a 224-horsepower turbocharged boxer-4. 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.
170 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm
174 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm
EPA Estimated City/Highway Mileage: 21/27 mpg
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 mpg
A base 2013 Subaru Forester 2.5X with manual transmission starts around $22,000, while the 2.5X Limited with navigation bumps the price to about $29,000. The turbocharged 2.5XT Premium brings the price closer to $28,000, with no options offered. The top-dog 2.5XT Touring with navigation tops out just over $32,000. At the Forester's base price, its closest competitor is the Nissan Rogue, but the base Rogue does not include AWD. The Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Ford Escape all start around $23,000, also without AWD. However, as inexpensive as the Forester seems at first, adding options quickly escalates the price and it ends up at the higher end of its segment. To compare actual transaction prices for the Subaru Forester, be sure to check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price. For resale value, the Forester is expected to maintain value better than the Rogue, but a few points below the CR-V, Escape and RAV4.
By BS (OH) on Sunday, November 17, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 4,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great price, smooth ride, fun to drive,"
Cons: "Front seats"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"* Fantastic value for an SUV, compared to CRV/RAV4 * Some folks expressed apprehensions over the CVT, but it's a very smooth driving experience. * Great exteriors, more SUV-like than its predecessors * Like the high-ride. Good view of the road & surroundings. Also easy for folks to get in and out of, especially folks who may have back issues and hence have problems getting in and out of smaller cars/sedans. * Big windows, good view of the road. This is in comparison to the CRV and RAV4 which seem very narrow in terms of their view of the road and surroundings. * Like the lamps on the mirrors and doors which illuminate your path when you get out of the car * Pretty huge moon-roof * Decent instrument panel and dials are easy to read * Might not have spent enough time with all the features on the instrumentation panel, but it's not that easy to deal with. * Have the all-weather package and like the warmed front seats and the mirror warmers * The seats are something which other owners would also have mentioned as needing some improvement. They are comfortable to a large extent, but could be better. * The AC/heater is also something which needs improvement. To have a decent temperature inside the car, it often needs to be at level 2. Folks in the back seat don't get enough air unless it's at level 2. * The back seats are quite comfortable, and have a lot of leg room. * The boot is quite spacious and can accommodate 3-4 huge suitcases (29") and 4 cabin luggage (20") * Like the rear view camera. Also: * Like the fact that there are a lot of cup holders * Like the storage area between the passenger and driver seats - good space for change, cables and creams."
13 people out of 13 found this review helpful
By Krishna (CA) on Monday, November 11, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "AWD, good MPG, traction,visibility & ride quality"
Cons: "Smaller back up camera"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I purchased this vehicle some 3 months back. i was considering between Mazda CX5, Honda CRV and Subaru forester. after lot of research, test driving and thinking i have zeroed in on 2014 Subaru forester premium 2.5i model because the forester has standard AWD ( in others we have to pay extra for AWD), moon roof (standard in premium trim), backup camera(standard in premium trim) and better MPG. Iam now very happy with my decision to go with Subaru. Here are my observations. -> ride quality & seating dynamics are good -> cabin noise on certain roads (cement/concrete) is some what louder. but in general it is low & comparable to other competitor models -> traction and pickup are nice -> my son & wife like the larger moon roof that goes until the rear seat row! -> Mileage is good on highways where braking is limited. (In certain long highway trips i achieved mpg of 34 as well!). But when i drove in shorter distances with long time intervals mileage drops to around 21 mpg or so. -> I wish the rear view mirror is slightly bigger as well as the backup camera screen. -> Lot of cargo space. this was able to accommodate about 6 baggage pieces when i picked up by friend's family recently from airport."
6 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Tony (TX) on Monday, October 28, 2013
I don't own this caroverall rating 5 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"I test drove a new 2014 Forester Premium Friday evening and liked the vehicle a lot....until I took it up to highway speed and the wind noise inside the vehicle was very bothersome. Haven't ever had a vehicle this noisy except for an old Dodge work van 35 years ago. Everything was closed up tight so I'm afraid this will be a deal breaker for me. Anyone else have this problem??"
12 people out of 18 found this review helpful
By Captain (NY) on Sunday, October 27, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 500overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great sunroof,good sound system,gas mileage."
Cons: "Noisy jittery ride on highway,oddly placed mirrors"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"The look of the vehicle is nice.Highway road noise is pronounced.The mirrors are oddly placed.They seem too close to the driver.I also had trouble adjusting the seat for a long ride.Very jittery nervous ride on concrete roads with a seam.Also the cabin is very cramped,not a lot of storage.the gas mileage was very good.We had traded in a Toyota Sienna for this vehicle.The Sienna had a much smoother quitter ride.We averaged about 19mpg in the Sienna and about 27 in the Forester.This car is for my wife,and although i regret the purchase it seems like a very safe capable vehicle.Do your homework.Take it for a long test drive on the highway.Interior quality seems cheap.Also the technology is a few years behind the competition."
10 people out of 13 found this review helpful
By Amanda (NH) on Thursday, October 24, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 11,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great gas mileage, rides nicely"
Cons: "Driver & passenger seats could be slightly bigger"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"After I fell in love with my parents 2010 Forester I decided to trade my Honda Civic in and get a Subaru. I had seen the commercials for the 2014 and liked the improvements that Subaru had made (better MPG, changes in the exterior/interior etc.). I test drove the car, loved it & purchased an automatic 2.5i Premium. I've owned my Forester for about 6 months now. It is an extremely comfortable ride, it’s very smooth on the road. The gas mileage is the best part. I drive 30 miles back and forth to work every day on back roads (speed limit ranges from 30-45) and my odometer averages 29 mpg. The car is very sleek looking. The interior is very roomy. This car is extremely practical & was exactly what I needed in a car. I’d recommend this car to anyone looking for a smaller SUV with great gas mileage. It was money well spent!"
11 people out of 12 found this review helpful
By Frankie (IL) on Wednesday, October 16, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 600overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "All wheel Drive, Smooth Ride"
Cons: "None so far"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Purchased the Base w/Automatic on 9/23/2013. Feel I got a good purchase price of $21,129. A lot of large windows which is great. CVT responds well and very smooth. The ride is nice and controlled. Pick up is good. But not happy with the MPG. Around town I am getting 21.4, I did expect to get more. I am a big guy and the seats and head room is fine. Fit and finish seems a little cheap, and I am not a big fan of the cloth pull handles on inside of doors. Blue Tooth works well, the sound system is OK, added the tweeter kit and it does make a difference. I truly hope this car will serve me well thru the rough Chicago Winters. I will write another review in the Spring"
7 people out of 7 found this review helpful