By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
KBB Expert Rating: 9.1
The 2016 Subaru Forester may not be the most racy-looking compact SUV, but its practical nature more than makes up for any visual banality. The Forester’s tall greenhouse offers excellent visibility in all directions, and its roomy rear seat and cargo area are two features sometimes lacking in this class. Unlike the Ford Escape or Hyundai Santa Fe, the Forester offers an advanced collision-avoidance system and adaptive cruise control, as well as the option of a manual transmission with its AWD setup. On the safety front, the Forester takes top honors in all of its crash tests, and ranks near the top of its class in the areas of fuel economy and resale values. Did we mention it starts just over $23,000?
If you’re seeking a fuel-efficient compact SUV that must also be safe, reliable and affordable, the 5-passenger 2016 Subaru Forester compact- crossover SUV makes an excellent choice. Standard AWD and a host of advanced safety features make it a family-friendly compact SUV that can actually be taken off-road.
The 2016 Forester from Subaru isn’t the sleekest or most luxurious crossover SUV in the compact segment. Those looking for more pizazz both inside and out might prefer the Hyundai Santa Fe, Ford Escape or Nissan Rogue.
KBB Expert Ratings
For 2016, the base Subaru Forester 2.5i receives a new 6.2-inch Starlink touch-screen audio unit with single-touch gesture display and satellite radio. Premium, Limited and Touring trims get a larger 7-inch touch screen with multiple-gesture display and the Safety and Security package. EyeSight-equipped models gain steering-responsive fog lights.
Thanks to a rigid central structure, wide track and Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, Subaru’s 2016 Forester crossover SUV delivers stellar performance on- and off-road. Subaru has dialed in the right amount...
... of shock stiffness to deliver a comfortable ride with minimal body roll and dive, and the electrically boosted power steering provides positive feedback without feeling over-assisted. Subaru’s continuously variable transmission (CVT) is one of the best in the industry, aiding fuel efficiency and performance. Unfortunately, the CVT also sometimes caused our Forester to lurch from a stop, which can be annoying in stop-and-go traffic. The sportier suspension settings on the 2.0XT turbo model make it feel a bit more WRX-like, adding larger wheels and the WRX’s tri-mode SI-Drive that turns the humble CVT into a virtual 8-speed transmission. With 250 horsepower on tap, the XT can dash to 60 mph in just 6.3 seconds, not bad for a compact family hauler.
X-MODE WITH HILL DESCENT CONTROL
Subaru’s X-Mode optimizes control of the throttle, AWD, stability and traction control and Hill Descent Control to maximize the Forester’s low-speed on- and off-road potential. Standard on the Limited, Touring and XT trims, the system improves traction on inclines as well as on slippery surfaces.
EYESIGHT DRIVER ASSIST SYSTEM
The available EyeSight system employs stereo-camera technology to enable such advanced features as pre-collision braking, lane-departure warning, steering-responsive fog lights and adaptive cruise control into one well-reviewed unit. Missing from the EyeSight menu is blind-spot monitoring, a feature available on many Forester competitors.
Subaru’s 2016 Forester SUV has a spacious and inviting cabin that is quieter and more comfortable than ever. Soft-touch surfaces lend a premium feel, and the wide seats offer excellent support plus are positioned high for superior visibility. Large, wide-opening doors ease entry and exit, and legroom in the 60/40 rear bench is good, even for adults. When cargo takes precedence, the seatbacks 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.
The 2016 Forester compact-crossover SUV displays a tall, robust, SUV-like look combined with Subaru’s usual off-beat styling. 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 make the Forester a favored SUV for 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 aluminum-alloy wheels, where the 2.5i version is shod with 225/60 rubber on either 17-inch styled-steel or aluminum rims. Ample and well-laid-out windows create good outward visibility.
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, 6.2-inch Starlink touch-screen audio, variable wipers, 6-speed manual transmission, a rearview camera and color multifunction display. The 2.5i Premium adds a moonroof, power driver’s seat and enhanced 7.0-inch touch-screen audio. The 2.5i Limited includes the CVT, leather, reclining rear seatbacks, automatic climate control and a power liftgate. Moving up to the Touring trim brings electroluminescent gauges, HID headlights, keyless access and start, harman/kardon premium audio and dual-zone climate control.
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 (automatic only). Also available on that tier is an All-Weather Package with heated seats and side mirrors (standard with the manual transmission). Those seeking the more powerful turbocharged engine can have it in XT trims of the 2016 Forester, while accessories across the range include a trailer hitch, remote engine starter and heavy-duty roof cargo basket.
The 2016 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 pounds. Models with the 2.5-liter engine can run on regular, 87-octane gasoline, while turbocharged Foresters require 91 octane (with 93 octane recommended).
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 turbocharged boxer-4
250 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
258 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000-4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/28 mpg
The 2016 Subaru Forester has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at just over $23,245 for a base 2.5i model with manual transmission. An automatic transmission lifts that base price to $24,245. A top-line 2.5i model arrives at roughly $31,645, while the turbocharged 2.0XT model begins around $30,045. A top-line 2.0XT Touring model with navigation and the EyeSight system tops out around $36,500. The Subaru Forester is comparable to compact-SUV rivals such as the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, Hyundai Santa Fe and Chevrolet Equinox. Less expensive alternatives include the Nissan Rogue Select and Mitsubishi Outlander Sport. Starting at just over $25,000 with AWD, the Mazda CX-5 is also a value player. Check our Fair Purchase Price to see what folks in your area are paying for the Forester. Resale value is a strong point for Subarus, and the Forester is predicted to hold its value better than most rivals.