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2015 Subaru Forester

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2015 Subaru Forester Expert Review

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KBB Expert Rating: 7.4

Fully redesigned last year, the 2015 Subaru Forester boasts good fuel economy, advanced safety features, and numerous structural and chassis enhancements that help this 4th-generation model stand out. Where the Subaru Forester continues to one up rivals such as the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Ford Escape in the competitive compact SUV segment is with its standard all-wheel drive, a trait that helps the Forester remain sure-footed no matter the terrain or weather. Available nicely equipped even in lower trims or in higher-end form with a turbocharged engine and leather interior, the 2015 Forester is a smart choice for a range of buyers and a winner among our 10 Best SUVs Under $25,000.

You'll Like This Car If...

For those who require all-wheel drive for slick, low-traction environments, the 2015 Subaru Forester is almost the default choice in the compact-SUV segment. It's also a good choice for those seeking an extra measure of safety, reliability and resale value in their 5-passenger SUV.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If your priorities include expressive styling, a pillow-soft ride, the most sophisticated telematics/infotainment system – or you simply need a 3-row SUV with greater towing capacity – you'll have to look beyond the Forester to one of its rivals or something larger like a Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota Highlander or Honda Pilot.

KBB Expert Ratings

  • 7.4
  • 7.4
  • 6.9
  • 7.4
  • 7.9
  • N/A
How It Ranks

#21

out of 28

Fuel Economy

#13

out of 27

Horsepower
View all rankings

Consumer Rating

8.0 out of 10
View all
consumer ratings
2015 Subaru Forester Low/wide front photo What's New for 2015

A rearview camera now comes on base 2015 Forester models, making it standard across the board. Turbocharged XT models now include the All-Weather Package, and 2.5i Premium models equipped with a manual transmission receive a standard moonroof. Navigation becomes optional instead of standard in higher trims.

Driving the Forester
2015 Subaru Forester Front angle view photo

Driving Impressions With its rigid central structure, wide track, lengthened wheelbase, and Subaru's signature Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, the new Forester SUV is a good performer on road or off. This new generation's...

... more efficient electrically-boosted power steering provides more positive feedback, while the revamped chassis does an admirable job of keeping body roll in check under hard cornering. The continuously variable transmission (CVT) on automatic models aids fuel efficiency but may take some getting used to. It also tends to make the Forester lurch from a stop, which is irritating in stop-and-go traffic. Tauter underpinnings on 2.0XT turbo models add sportiness with minimal impact on ride compliance, while the tri-mode SI-Drive feature allows one to better exploit the 80-horsepower advantage this engine has over the one in its naturally aspirated 2.5i sibling – an edge that helps trim the 2.0XT's 0-60 mph times from 9.3 to 6.3 seconds.

X-MODE WITH HILL DESCENT CONTROL
Standard on 2.5i Limited and all higher-level Forester models, Subaru's new driver-selectable X-Mode integrates and optimizes operation of the throttle, transmission, AWD, Vehicle Dynamic Control, and Hill Descent Control systems to enhance the Forester's low-speed operational capabilities on inclines and when negotiating various low-friction surfaces.

EYESIGHT DRIVER ASSIST SYSTEM
This optional system bundles advanced features such as adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, and lane-departure warning (but not blind-spot monitoring, a safety feature that isn't available – at least for now – in the Forester).

2015 Subaru Forester Details
2015 Subaru Forester Dashboard, center console, gear shifter view photo Interior

This new-generation Forester has an expanded and well-appointed SUV cabin that is quieter and more comfortable than ever. Soft-touch surfaces lend a premium feel, and the seats offer improved support and have been repositioned to grant better visibility. Larger, wider-opening doors ease entry and exit, and legroom in the 60/40 rear bench is good, even for adults. When cargo takes precedence, the backs fold near-flat to stretch stow space from 34.4 to 74.7 cubic feet. The liftgate, which is power-activated on Limited/Touring models, simplifies loading and unloading.

Exterior
2015 Subaru Forester photo

Several years ago the Forester made the leap from a quasi-wagon to a larger, more traditional SUV. In its latest generation the Forester keeps its tall and robust looks but adds contemporary flair. All models except the very base 2.5i have roof racks that add functional and visual appeal, and all boast an impressive 8.7 inches of ground clearance that makes the Forester a favorite in snowy locales. Turbocharged XT models feature a bolder front fascia treatment and subtle rear roof spoiler, and wrap 225/55 all-season tires around 18-inch alloy wheels where the 2.5i version is shod with 225/60 rubber on either 17-inch styled-steel or alloy rims. Ample and well-laid-out windows create good outward visibility.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

Progressing through its model hierarchy richens the Forester's equipment mix, but even the 2.5i features a full array of power assists, air conditioning, cruise control, a multifunction steering wheel, Bluetooth, and variable wipers. New this year, the 2.5i also gets a backup camera and color multi-function display. The 2.5i Premium gains a moonroof and enhanced 6-speaker audio with HD Radio. Key gains on the 2.5i Limited include the CVT, leather, reclining rear seatbacks, automatic climate control, and a power liftgate. Moving up to the Touring trim brings electroluminescent gauges, keyless access and start, harman/kardon premium audio with satellite radio, and dual-zone climate control.

Optional Equipment

Most extras on the 2015 Forester come by climbing trims. Major options for the 2.5i and 2.5i Premium models include a CVT automatic transmission in place of the 6-speed manual, while the 2.5i Premium, like Forester models above it, can be had with voice-activated navigation and the EyeSight Driver Assist System. Also available on that tier (and standard with those above it) is an All-Weather Package with heated seats and side mirrors. Those seeking the more powerful turbocharged engine can have it in XT trims of the 2015 Forester, while accessories across the range include a trailer hitch, remote engine starter, and heavy-duty roof cargo basket.

Under the Hood
2015 Subaru Forester Engine photo

The 2015 Forester offers two 4-cylinder "boxer" engines. The majority of models use a naturally aspirated (non-turbocharged) 2.5-liter that makes 170 horsepower and can be backed by a 6-speed manual transmission or the Lineartronic CVT automatic. Forester 2.0XT SUVs offer more power thanks to a turbocharged, direct-injected 2.0-liter engine. Though smaller, the turbocharged 4-cylinder develops 250 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. The sole transmission for the turbocharged engine is a High-Torque Lineartronic CVT with multi-mode SI-Drive that can emulate six or eight virtual gear ratios. Towing capacity for both models is limited to a rather light 1,500 pound. Models with the 2.5-liter engine can run on regular, 87 octane gasoline, while turbocharged Foresters require 91 octane (with 93 octane recommended).

2.5-liter horizontally opposed 4-cylinder
170 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm
174 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/29 mpg (manual), 24/32 mpg (automatic)

2.0-liter horizontally opposed turbocharged 4-cylinder
250 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
258 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000-4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/28 mpg

The 2015 Subaru Forester has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at just over $23,000 for a base 2.5i model with manual transmission. Most buyers will opt for an automatic transmission, which lifts that base price to $24,000. A top-line 2.5i model arrives with a roughly $31,000 price tag, while the turbocharged 2.0XT model begins around $29,000. A top-line 2.0XT Touring model with navigation and the EyeSight system can reach about $36,000. At these prices, the Subaru Forester is comparable to compact-SUV rivals such as the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, and Chevrolet Equinox. Less-expensive alternatives include the Nissan Rogue Select – a carryover version of the former model – and the smaller Mitsubishi Outlander Sport. Starting at just over $22,000, the Mazda CX-5 is also a value player. Resale value is a strong point for Subarus in general, and the Forester in particular is predicted to hold its value better than most rivals.

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2015 Subaru Forester Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.0
Out of 10

Based on 137 Ratings for the 2014 - 2016 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.5/10
    Quality
    8.4/10
  • Reliability
    8.9/10
    Performance
    8.0/10
  • Comfort
    7.8/10
    Styling
    8.0/10

Comfy affordable small SUV for bad roads

By on Friday, January 22, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 48,500

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Great value, capable, comfy, easiest entry/exit"

Cons: "iPhone w/Google Maps app better than factory nav."

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

15 years apart but nothing has changed that would dissuade my faith in the Subaru ethos.

"I spend a lot of time on our extremely neglected south Louisiana roads for ministry and making visits to friends and family. I needed the cargo and the capability of an SUV but wanted something a bit smaller if it meant better mpg. First off, on the need for an SUV down south, I truly believe that automakers should be making cars that are more adapted to endure the poorly maintained asphalt roads that get worse with every rainfall. I became a Subaru lover when I decided that the sport-tuned suspension of a 2014 Ford Fusion was too delicate for our pothole-racked eroded roads and replaced it with a 1999 Subaru Forester S. That may sound like quite a regression but the build quality was far superior to the Fusion, despite the Forester being 15 years older. I simply could not see that Ford Fusion holding up as well after 15 years of driving on these roads. The first generation Forester felt like a tank from the very first test drive and I knew that thing could take the punishment of my schedule and routes. Fast forward, I handed over my beloved 99 Forester to a family member who needed wheels and it is still running very well only needing required maintenance and in my opinion looks just as handsome if not more so than the current generation Forester. I needed a vehicle to replace it and I went immediately to a local Subaru dealership for a newer/used 2015 Forester Premium with the 2.5 but found it too expensive at the time. So I wound up settling on a brand new 2015 Toyota R.A.V.4 nearby for thousands cheaper...but unfortunately so was the quality. The R.A.V.4 is not too bad in most respects, outstanding cargo capacity actually, but it is a crossover that is way more like a car than an SUV with all too low ground clearance at 6.3 inches. (To put that into perspective the 2015 Camry has 6.1 inches of ground clearance...! Inches make a difference in flood country) The R.A.V.4 does handle curves and speeds sufficiently, kinda like a car, but please don't make the mistake of thinking that it is built tough "because it's like an SUV". The absolute WORST part about the R.A.V.4 hands down is the ride, the rear suspension especially. In 2 months or less all of that new car tightness faded considerably and every bump I thought was being soaked up came through into the cabin with a vengeance. You can search for "rough", "harsh" and even "bone-jarring" regarding the 2013-15 R.A.V.4's ride and you will find consumers who agree. In January of 2016, after suffering 3 months with the brutal ride of the R.A.V.4, I was tired of being deceived by the crossover mentality that led Toyota to design such a poor suspension and brand it "compact SUV". So I decided to test drive my first love again and tried out a used 2015 Subaru Outback that again was a little out of my price range but is definitely the most comfortable all wheel drive wagon/SUV vehicle I have ever driven. The 2015 Outback has an unbelievable capacity to soak up bad roads and irregular pavements and expansion joints, and the big American-comfortable driver's seat with power lumbar is designed very very well. 18.5 gallon gas tank with great mpg with the continual variable transmission means you can reach a far off destination without stopping often for gas. The new Outback is so worth a test drive, but for my budget and the fact that it has a shorter interior cargo height (I like to haul my bike standing up inside) I decided to try the new Forester again. I found a used 2014 2.0 turbo touring edition with black leather and I can tell you that despite the short wheelbase and the fact that I can hear the bumps come into the cabin I feel NONE of them. The back and bum do not feel dragged across the pavement as they do with the R.A.V.4. The Forester's visibility, comfort (esp. w/leather), full time all wheel drive capability, fantastic ground clearance of 8.7 inches, a very decent average mixed city/hwy mileage of 28 mpg (even with the 250 HP turbo engine) all come together to make for a lot of value for the money. I hope to post an update after clocking some more miles. I highly recommend a used 2014+ turbo Forester if you're looking for a comfortable small SUV worthy of the class that is truly capable and that will give you the most for an investment in the $25,000 range. P.S. Please do your research on oil consumption issues with some new Outbacks and Foresters and you will find that the 2.0 Direct Injection Turbo engine in the Forester is not suffering with the oil consumption problem. Personally I would avoid the 2.5 engine and enjoy the extra power and decent mpg of the 2.0."

3 people out of 4 found this review helpful

15 years apart but nothing has changed that would dissuade my faith in the Subaru ethos.

Poor ride and infotainment system!

By on Tuesday, January 19, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 11,000

10 5.0
overall rating 5 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
5/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
1/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
3/10

Pros: "Economy, visibility, room, performance."

Cons: "Extremely poor ride, poor infotainment system"

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

"My 2014 Forester has a number of great features. I love the great visibility, impressive economy, and responsiveness of the CVT. As usual for a Subaru, the traction in snow is excellent, a necessary feature in Denver where street plowing is marginal. The car is roomy for its exterior dimensions, and I find the seats quite comfortable. The car seems well made and was a good value for me. However, all this great stuff is ruined by the incredibly stiff ride of the car. This is a big problem in Denver where years of poor street maintenance present challenges to any vehicle. These challenges simply overwhelm the Forester. which pitches, lurches and thuds constantly. My poor wife has had two major back operations since we bought this car, and she is constantly in pain when she rides in it. Adjusting the tire inflation is no help, and no one at Subaru seems to know how to re-engineer the shocks/suspension to soften the ride. Another major annoyance is the primitive and often dysfunctional infotainment system, which does not communicate well with my iPhone6. Thus I cannot reliably receive or make phone calls using the system, and playing music from my iPhone often crashes it, requiring a cold-restart (i.e. turning off the car). This is our 7th Subaru, but my experience has been so disappointing that it may be our last..."

3 people out of 8 found this review helpful

Great AWD SUV

By on Thursday, January 14, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Lots of room, Power and trim level"

Cons: "Locks do not auto lock when you put into drive mod"

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

"This SUV has everything I need and The limited Trim is a great value over the higher priced Trims. Leather Seats are comfortable and There is so much space. I get 26-28 Mpg with mixed driving. Best Part is I enjoy taking my Subie everywhere and noticing that there are not so many out there. Only issue is locks do not automatically lock when you put into drive."

2 people out of 3 found this review helpful

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