$9,864 - $14,078

2012 Subaru Forester Interior Review

Note: This interior review was created when the 2012 Subaru Forester was new.


Interior: 7.9

By and large, reviewers like the 2012 Subaru Forester’s spacious seating and decent cargo hold. However, some critics note that the Forester’s stereo and navigation systems seem antiquated compared with other affordable compact SUVs. One test driver also thought that the Forester’s materials and build quality trailed the competition, citing interior squeaks and rattles in his test SUV.

  • "Clear, legible gauges and simple-to-use controls make easy work of most driving chores. The audio and climate systems are mounted high on the center dashboard stack within easy reach for driver and passenger." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "Inconsistent dashboard materials." -- Cars.com 
  • "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 Forester seats five in two rows. Test drivers have few complaints about comfort, noting that even the rear seat is quite spacious. A manual height-adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support comes standard on the base Forester.

  • "The rear seat can accommodate two adults comfortably, with emergency space for three. Headroom, legroom, and under-seat foot space are generous for 6-footers. Intrusion from the rear wheel wells slightly pinches entry and exit." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "Comfortable seats." -- Cars.com 
  • "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
  • "Three adults in the back seat sit close to each other, but they have rear-seat legroom of 38 inches, which is better than what's in the Tucson. It's also enough to allow me to extend my legs comfortably in the back seat, even with front seats pushed back on their tracks." -- The Associated Press

Interior Features

The Subaru Forester comes with plenty of standard features. However, some reviewers complain that it doesn't offer as many high-tech gadgets as competitors – and the ones that it does offer, such as a navigation system, don’t measure up. Additionally, some test drivers say that the Forester’s stereo system also offers subpar sound quality.

The base Forester comes standard with a single-disc CD player, auxiliary audio input jack, air conditioning, cruise control, a tilt-adjustable steering column, rear-seat heater ducts and a rear window wiper/washer.

To get the optional navigation system and premium stereo system, you’ll have to upgrade to the next trim, the 2.5X Premium. Bluetooth is standard for all trims but the base model. Also, the 2.5X Touring trim has upscale features like dual-zone climate control and a rearview camera.

  • "Forester's cabin feels decidedly lower quality than the premium atmosphere Subaru wants to portray. The overall ambiance is on par with class rivals. One test vehicle suffered from numerous interior squeaks and rattles." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "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


The Subaru Forester has good cargo space for its class, though a few competitors have more. The Forester provides 33.5 cubic feet with all seats in use (30.8 with the optional moonroof) and 68.3 cubic feet with the rear seats down (or 63 with the moonroof).

The Forester comes with plenty of small storage spaces for corralling your stuff. These include two cargo-area grocery bag hooks, four tie-downs, a multifunction center console, front and rear cupholders, two front bottle holders and a lockable glove box.

  • "A low load floor and large hatch opening make for good cargo handling. In-cabin storage includes a couple of console bins, two large cupholders, and a large console tray." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "No-nonsense cargo area ..." -- Cars.com
  • “Cargo space of 30.8 cubic feet is more than the 22.7 cubic feet in the Tucson and the 28.9 cubic feet in the CR-V. And since the cargo floor isn't as high off the ground as it is in some other SUVs, it's relatively comfortable to load items inside." -- The Associated Press
  • "The front doors have a nice elbow rest and large pockets each with a recess for 24-ounce bottles. The center console is deep, and slides forward four inches to make an armrest." -- New Car Test Drive

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