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2018 Subaru Forester

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2018 Subaru Forester Expert Review

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KBB Expert Rating: 8.9

The 2018 Subaru Forester is one of over a dozen compact-crossover SUVs vying for your attention, but it's the only one with standard all-wheel drive. That trait has long made Subarus the favored vehicles of cold-weather states, while the Forester's ample ground clearance and ability to venture off-pavement have made it popular with the adventure-minded. Those abilities set it apart from rivals like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, but they're not the only compelling reasons for the Forester. It can be outfitted with a robust suite of safety and driving aids, a turbocharged engine and, on lower models, it's among the last of its kind to offer a manual transmission. With its remarkable resale value, the Forester further stands out from the pack.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you want a 5-passenger crossover SUV with the surefootedness that comes with all-wheel drive (AWD) and has great visibility, laudable fuel economy and above-average ground clearance all at cost that's a good value up front and great in the long-term, you'll find it in the 2018 Forester.

You May Not Like This Car If...

Another defining trait of the Subaru Forester is its boxer engine, which has a lower center of gravity but can sound raspy, especially at startup. If you want a compact SUV that's more fun to drive and is among the best-looking of its kind, try the Mazda CX-5.

KBB Expert Ratings

  • 8.9
  • 7.1
  • 6.9
  • 7.5
  • 8.9
  • N/A
How It Ranks
2018 Subaru Forester Low/wide front photo What's New for 2018

The Forester Black Edition trim package arrives for 2018, bringing darkened aesthetics and paddle shifters, while models with the EyeSight driver-assist package get reverse auto braking and high-beam assist. Touring models receive the EyeSight Driver Assist as standard, with the turbo 2.0XT Touring models also gaining torque vectoring as standard.

Driving the Forester
2018 Subaru Forester Front angle view photo
Driving Impressions

Subaru’s 2018 Forester is the rare crossover SUV that’s equally adept on-road and off-road. The AWD system makes the most of the engine's oomph to deliver smooth, even power regardless...

... of road conditions. In most models that power is delivered through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that helps keep fuel economy near the top of the class. Our one gripe is throttle tip-in -- initial accelerator response can be touchy, causing the Forester to feel like it's lurching. After a while you should get used to it, or you can opt for the 6-speed manual transmission. The Forester's suspension blends comfort and control without sacrificing either, with minimal body roll in corners but enough travel to absorb ruts when the asphalt ends. The electrically assisted power steering feels precise, and if you want extra power, the XT turbo models are downright quick, getting to 60 mph in about six seconds.

X-MODE WITH HILL DESCENT CONTROL
X-Mode, standard starting on the Premium trim with the CVT transmission, burnishes the Forester's off-road reputation. Press the corresponding button, and this Subie will optimize control of the throttle, AWD system, stability and traction control, and Hill Descent Control to maximize the Forester for tackling slippery surfaces and steep inclines.

EYESIGHT DRIVER-ASSIST SYSTEM
The 2018 Forester's available EyeSight system uses two color cameras to view the road ahead, allowing advanced safety features such as pre-collision braking, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control and more.

2018 Subaru Forester Details
2018 Subaru Forester Dashboard, center console, gear shifter view photo Interior

With the addition of thicker glass, an acoustic windshield, new door seals and additional sound deadening under the floor last year, the latest Subaru Forester promises to be notably quieter than its predecessor. Soft-touch surfaces already helped make the Forester feel upscale, and the newly upgraded interior on the Forester Touring models ups that ante. The 2-row/5-passenger interior design is excellent thanks to its generous visibility and sensible design. The doors open wide, there's good rear-seat legroom, and there's a ton of cargo space: over 30 cubic feet behind the rear seats, and around 70 cubic feet with the seats folded.

Exterior
2018 Subaru Forester photo

With an exterior that also was updated last year, the 2018 Forester’s sleek headlights incorporate Subaru's C-shaped LED motif and a fresh-looking hexagonal grille. The headlights also received a functional upgrade with an available steering-responsive feature that turns them with the steering wheel to give better views at night. The Forester rides 8.7 inches off the ground, ground clearance that makes it especially competent in snowy climates. Turbocharged XT models have a unique front end and a rear roof spoiler, while the new Black Edition -- actually available in four exterior colors -- has darkened alloy wheels and other exterior treatments.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The 2018 Forester is available in six trims, including the top two 2.0XT turbocharged models. At its most basic, a 2.5i includes AWD, the Subaru Starlink infotainment system with 6.2-inch display and 4-speaker AM/FM/CD system with HD Radio, Bluetooth connectivity and USB and auxiliary inputs. We recommend stepping up at least one trim to the 2.5i Premium, which adds a panoramic sunroof, 10-way-power driver's seat, reclining rear seatbacks and fold-down rear armrest with cup holders, upgraded infotainment system, alloy wheels, automatic climate control, roof rails and body-color side mirrors. That trim also opens a door to convenient options like a power tailgate.

Optional Equipment

Forester 2.5i Limited models bring leather seating and standard CVT automatic transmission, and add features that are optional on the Premium model such as blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, power tailgate and fog lights. Continuing the climb, Touring models bring 18-inch wheels, dual-zone climate control, heated steering wheel, one-touch folding rear seats and LED headlights. Other options include navigation, harman/kardon premium audio system, and the EyeSight suite of driver-assist and active safety features. If you must have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, you'll have to look elsewhere as it isn't available on the 2018 Forester.

Under the Hood
2018 Subaru Forester Engine photo

Two engines remain available in the 2018 Forester, both of which are 4-cylinder “boxer” -- or flat -- engines. This setup allows the engine to be placed lower in the vehicle, which in turn creates a lower center of gravity and enhanced stability. Most Foresters are equipped with a non-turbo 2.5-liter that makes 170 horsepower, backed by either 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. This smaller engine develops 250 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, routing it to all four wheels through a High-Torque Lineartronic CVT with multi-mode SI-Drive that can emulate six or eight virtual gear ratios. Neither model is particularly well-suited for towing, rated at only 1,500 pounds.

2.5-liter boxer-4
170 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm
174 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/28 mpg (manual), 26/32 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: 23/27 mpg

The 2018 Subaru Forester SUV has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $23,710 for a base 2.5i model with manual transmission. An automatic transmission costs $1,000 more. More recommendable is the better-equipped 2.5i Premium trim starting at $26,610 with a manual or $27,110 with the CVT. The 2.5i Touring trim begins just over $34,000. Turbo Forester models start at $30,410 for the 2.0XT Premium. At the top is the all-in 2.0XT Touring, at $37,005. At its starting price, the Forester is in line with the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Nissan Rogue. The Ford Escape starts slightly less, as do the Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage and new Jeep Compass. Keep in mind that AWD on all these will cost extra. Check the Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying. The Subaru Forester's resale value is expected to be at or near the top of the pack.

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