$5,278 - $7,508

2009 Subaru Forester Interior Review

Note: This interior review was created when the 2009 Subaru Forester was new.


Interior: 8.2

Test drives have reviewers praising the Forester's larger interior, which boasts more leg room for the rear seat and a new dashboard design. However, some still find the materials quality a bit lacking.

  • "The overall feel and quality is what you have come to expect from Subaru; good quality plastics with good ergonomics." -- Driving Sports
  • "Interior quality is good, if occasionally inconsistent. The materials vary: The upper dash panels have an upscale finish, but some of the plastics lining the glove compartment look grainy and cheap. If you like silver plastic, your day has come: The stuff has spread like foreclosures in Tampa." -- Cars.com
  • "Although it has lost some boxy distinctiveness, the 2009 Forester has been made significantly more spacious (especially in the back-seat area) without growing by much. Based on the new Impreza chassis, it's 3.0 in. longer and 1.8 in. wider than before, on a wheelbase that's grown by 3.6 in." -- Road and Track
  • "The interior design goes right to the top of the charts, a sporty and sophisticated double-scoop dash design centered on an integrated LCD screen. Materials and switch gear are crisp and affirmative." -- Los Angeles Times
  • "The only aspect of the interior that we really liked was the panoramic sunroof, which goes from the front to about half-coverage over the rear seats. It offers some refreshing openness for a car designed for backroads." -- CNET  
  • "Inside, the Forester has ample headroom, comfortably contoured seats and a cabin designed to be practical without being utilitarian. The instrument panel has attractive textures and large gauges. Sweeping brushed silver panels curve from the doors through the dash and into the center console." -- Kansas City Star
  • "We were impressed by the thoughtfulness invested in the interior design of the new Forester line. Everything is exactly where it should be. Instrument dials and gauges are easily reachable and readable. There are more than enough cubby holes in which to store stuff, including a cleverly designed compartment beneath the rear cargo floor." -- Washington Post    


The Forester seats five people in two rows. Test drivers have few complaints about comfort, noting that even the rear seat can easily fit two adults or three in a pinch.

  • "Our tester came with cloth seats, and the front buckets were comfortable for even a daylong drive. The rear bench seat has limited knee room when the front seats are pushed all the way back on their tracks, but otherwise can easily accommodate two adults or three good-size kids." -- Fort Worth Star-Telegram
  • "Front seats are comfortable, roomy, and inviting. Rear leg and foot room qualify as shockingly spacious, even with front seats pushed fairly far back." -- AutoMedia.com
  • "The rear seat's now adult-friendly for two. The middle spot is compromised by the high drive-shaft tunnel and jut of the front console." -- USA Today
  • "Veteran Forester riders will immediately notice the extra room for back seat passengers. Now, a six-foot tall driver can have a comfortable six-foot tall passenger sitting behind him." -- MarketWatch
  • "While the last Forester boasted maximum cargo volume on par with its Toyota and Honda rivals, its passenger compartment was somewhat cramped by comparison. This is thankfully no longer the case, rendering the new Forester a more well-rounded entry." -- Edmunds

Interior Features

The redesigned Forester comes with plenty of standard features, but some reviewers complain that it doesn't offer as many hi-tech gadgets as competitors -- and several complain about poor sound system quality. The Forester is optional with a navigation system, but you may also want to consider portable options. Check out our GPS reviews to learn about the best portable navigation systems.

  • "More modern features have seeped into the 2009 Subaru Forester's portfolio, but it's still cautious with the latest offerings -- and a little Spartan on base models." -- The Car Connection
  • "How lavish? Sufficiently. Among standard features: All-wheel drive (as all Subarus); stability/traction control; anti-lock brakes with force distribution and brake assist; side-impact air bags in front, head-curtain bags front and rear; 5 mph bumpers (instead of common 2.5 mph); AM/FM/CD stereo with input jack; air conditioning; cruise control; trip computer; power steering, brakes, locks, windows, mirrors; tilt-adjustable steering column; remote-control locks; rear-window defroster." -- USA Today
  • "The dash borrows heavily from the new Impreza, with panels flowing toward the A/C and audio controls. For the uninitiated, the layout might take some getting used to -- the miniscule stereo buttons require 20/20 vision, and Subaru has scrapped the intuitive four o'clock cruise-control stalk for less-convenient cruise buttons on the steering wheel." -- Kicking Tires
  • "If we had one gripe with the Forester, it would be with the continuing poor quality of Subaru sound systems. The FM and the AM on our test car sounded about the same regardless of setting." -- MarketWatch
  • "We didn't get along with the navigation system, which comes in a unit with a single-disc CD replacing the standard six-disc CD (it's a space issue). In the daytime it's hard to read with sunglasses, because there's a lack of contrast; once, we even had to remove our sunglasses and close the sunroof, to read the map." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "For entertainment, we hooked up an MP3 player to the car's auxiliary jack, in the console. Unfortunately, the four-speaker audio system did little for our music besides making it audible." -- CNET


Test drivers find no fault with the Forester's versatile cargo space -- 33.5 cubic feet with all seats in use or 68.3 cubic feet with the rear seat lowered.

  • "We think everyone will be impressed with the huge amount of storage space out back. At the Forester's unveiling, Subaru showed that you could stash 4,590 granola bars back there without putting the seats down." -- MarketWatch
  • "The front doors have a nice elbow rest and large pockets each with a recess for 24-ounce bottles." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "The plus side to the Forester's inflation is that its extra capacity is tremendous -- 14.9 cubic feet of extra passenger room and 7.6 additional cargo cubes with the second row folded. And that tall roofline we were talking about? It'll be your best friend when Aunt Bessie offloads that armoire you always had your eye on." -- Motor Trend
  • "The cargo hold is roomy and the flat floor lifts to expose several cubby holes. There also are a variety of clips to secure groceries or gear as well as a power plug in the wall. The seat backs fold to expand space, and the tailgate opens wide for easy loading, unloading." -- Chicago Tribune

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