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2016 Subaru Forester Review

The 2016 Subaru Forester has lots of seating and cargo space. It also comes standard with all-wheel drive, which is rare for a compact SUV. However, the Forester falls in the middle of our rankings because many rivals have higher reliability ratings.

Pros & Cons

  • Spacious interior and cargo areas
  • Standard all-wheel drive
  • Potent turbocharged available engine
  • Small base touch screen

Rankings & Research

The 2016 Subaru Forester's #9 ranking is based on its score within the 2016 Affordable Compact SUVs category. Currently the Subaru Forester has a score of 8.0 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 27 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.




Critics' Rating: 8.6
Performance: 7.9
Interior: 7.9
Total Cost of Ownership: 8.9
Safety: 9.3
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2016 Subaru Forester Overview

Is the 2016 Subaru Forester a Good Used SUV?

The 2016 Subaru Forester is a good compact SUV for those who value practicality over style. It's roomy and it features a well-made cabin. Few compact SUVs come standard with all-wheel drive, but the Forester does, making it a good option for those who drive in harsh weather conditions.

Why You Can Trust Us

Our Subaru Forester review includes far more than just one person's opinion. We collected professional evaluations from 27 sources and combined them with concrete data like fuel economy estimates, safety features, and performance specs to help you make an informed buying decision.

At U.S. News & World Report, we rank the Best Jobs, Best Hospitals, and Best Colleges to guide readers through some of life’s most complicated decisions. We've been ranking and reviewing the Best Cars since 2007, backed by a team with more than 75 years of combined automotive experience. To keep favoritism out of the picture, we maintain a separate advertising team and decline expensive gifts and trips from car companies.

How Much is the 2016 Subaru Forester?

On average, list prices for a 2016 Forester range between $17,000 and $27,700, with the mean price landing at $22,300. We analyzed more than 700 listings of used 2016 Foresters on our site to come up with those numbers, but keep in mind that factors such as vehicle condition and mileage can sway the price tag on a particular Forester.

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How Much Does the 2016 Subaru Forester Cost to Own?

You'll spend about $22,600 over five years on insurance, repair, maintenance, and fuel costs on a 2016 Forester. That's about $1,700 more than you'd spend with the 2016 Honda CR-V.

Is It Better to Buy a Used or New Forester?

The 2018 Forester's starting price is only $500 more than the average 2016 Forester list price on our site, making this one of the few instances when buying new might not cost much more than buying used. Most of the differences between the 2016 and 2018 model years relate to the available safety equipment. On the new Forester, you can select advanced features such as adaptive headlights (for better corner illumination) and reverse automatic braking (to prevent you from hitting unseen objects behind you). The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety doled out identical crash test scores to each model, but IIHS reports that the 2018 Forester has better headlights and easier-to-use child seat anchors. Just be aware that the entry price for the new model may include less equipment than you'd get in a similarly priced used model.

Read about the new Subaru Forester »

If you're looking for a less expensive new crossover SUV, consider the 2018 Hyundai Tucson. It costs a little less than a new Forester, and it's even slightly less than the average price of a 2016 Forester by about $1,000. It's built more for on-road arenas than gravel roads, and though it lacks the off-road talents and equipment that the Forester offers, the Tucson is a comfortable, nimble highway cruiser.

If you want to buy new and stay in the sub-$22,000 price range, you'll have to step down to a smaller SUV. Of these, the Mazda CX-3 stands out as one of the most athletic crossover SUVs. The Honda HR-V is an appealing alternative if you want a spacious back seat and a versatile cargo area. MSRPs for both start at around $20,000 or less.

See the Best New Car Deals »

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How Reliable Is the 2016 Subaru Forester?

The 2016 Forester has a reliability rating of three out of five from J.D. Power. While that's average for a used vehicle (and higher than rivals like the Mitsubishi Outlander and Jeep Compass), it's on the low side next to many other compact SUVs.

Read more about Forester reliability »

2016 Subaru Forester Recalls

Subaru has issued one recall on the 2016 Forester as of this writing. The recall affects about 18,200 vehicles and relates to a turbocharge air duct that may crack and affect engine performance. Before buying a used Forester, you can search the VIN to see if any recalls pertain to that specific vehicle. Always make sure that any open recalls are addressed before you buy.

See more information on Subaru Forester safety recalls »

Which Model Year of the Subaru Forester Is Best?

The 2016 Subaru Forester is part of a generation that began in 2014 and includes the 2018 model year. Older models of this generation have a similar score to the 2016 model, and they'll likely cost less to purchase. However, you won’t get some of the 2016 Forester's features, including a standard touch-screen infotainment system, available adaptive headlights, and available Subaru EyeSight (a suite of safety technology).

Compare the 2014, 2015, and 2016 Forester »

Which Used Subaru Forester Model Is Right for Me?

The 2016 Subaru Forester comes in six trims: 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.0XT Premium, 2.5i Limited, 2.5i Touring, and 2.0XT Touring. The Forester 2.5i, the base model, comes with all-wheel drive, Subaru's Starlink touch-screen infotainment system, cruise control, and a rearview camera. The 2.5i Premium adds a few features, including power-adjustable front seats, reclining rear seats, and a panoramic moonroof. The 2.0XT Premium comes with the same features as the 2.5i Premium, but it adds a more powerful turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

The 2.5i Limited is the lowest trim that comes standard with a continuously variable automatic transmission (it was an extra-cost option in the lower trims when the car was new). It also adds a power liftgate, leather seats, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The 2.5i Touring trim comes with keyless access, push-button start, dual-zone climate control, a Harman Kardon stereo, and power-folding back seats. The top-of-the-line Forester 2.0XT Touring has all of the 2.5i Touring's features, plus a stronger turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

The lower trim levels offer the best value of the six, combining a nice array of standard features with a lower purchase price. That said, if you want an SUV that has a little pep, we recommend the Forester 2.0XT Premium and its turbocharged engine.

See 2016 Subaru Forester trims and specs »

What Does Subaru's Certified Pre-Owned Warranty Cover?

Subaru offers a certified pre-owned program for vehicles five years old or less and with fewer than 80,000 miles. Eligibility is determined by the vehicle’s initial sale date. For its certified pre-owned vehicles, Subaru extends the original new-car powertrain warranty to seven years from the original sale date or 100,000 miles. Subaru provides no additional coverage for CPO vehicles, so buyers receive the remainder of the original three-year/36,000-mile new-car warranty. However, buyers can purchase additional coverage. Every CPO Subaru must pass a 152-point inspection. Additional benefits like owner loyalty discounts, a one-year Starlink Safety Plus trial subscription, towing, and roadside assistance may be available, so read the Subaru warranty page carefully.

Subaru’s CPO program isn’t particularly robust, according to our analysis. Among affordable automakers, Toyota, Mazda, Honda, and many others have better programs.

See the best CPO programs »

How Safe Is the Forester?

The 2016 Forester has an above-average safety score for the class. It earned the highest score of Good in all five Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests, as well as an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ designation. In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration testing, the 2016 Forester received five out of five stars overall and in side crash testing. It earned four stars in the frontal and rollover tests.

A rearview camera comes standard in the 2016 Forester. Subaru EyeSight comes in some well-equipped Foresters and includes safety features like adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, and steering-responsive fog lights.

See Forester safety scores »

2016 Subaru Forester Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: 2016 Subaru Forester or 2016 Honda CR-V?

The Honda CR-V beats the Subaru Forester in a few ways. Both SUVs have roomy seats, but the CR-V has a more stylish cabin. The CR-V also gets better fuel economy estimates than the Forester, earns higher safety ratings overall from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and won our 2016 Best Compact SUV for Families award.

Which Is Better: 2016 Subaru Forester or 2016 Subaru Outback?

The Subaru Outback boasts better performance, safety, and reliability scores than the Forester. It tends to be pricier than a Forester (by an average of $2,400), but if your budget can accommodate this, you should buy an Outback instead.

Which Is Better: 2016 Subaru Forester or 2016 Mazda CX-5?

For some excitement behind the wheel, the Mazda CX-5 is the way to go. Its athletic handling and precise steering make it one of the most fun-to-drive SUVs in the class. With its base engine, the CX-5 gets better fuel economy estimates than the Forester – though its standard and available engines aren’t quite as strong in comparison. The Mazda has a sleek cabin made with top-notch materials, but it doesn’t have as much interior or cargo space as the Subaru.

Compare the Forester, CR-V, and Outback »

2016 Forester Performance

How Does the 2016 Subaru Forester Drive?

Forester models with 2.5 in the name come with a 170-horsepower four-cylinder engine that produces adequate acceleration in most driving situations. However, the available turbocharged, 250-horsepower engine in 2.0 models delivers better power for highway driving and hill climbing. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, and a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is available. The Forester has a comfortable, composed ride.

Does the 2016 Subaru Forester Get Good Gas Mileage?

The Forester gets slightly better gas mileage than the average compact SUV. CVT-equipped models earn an EPA-estimated 24 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. With either the turbocharged engine or the manual transmission, these drop by 1 to 2 mpg in the city and 3 to 4 mpg on the highway.

2016 Subaru Forester Towing Capacity

You can tow up to 1,500 pounds with the 2016 Forester.

Read more about Forester performance »

2016 Forester Interior

How Many People Does the 2016 Forester Seat?

The five-seat Subaru Forester has a quiet, well-built, stylish cabin. The seats are comfortable and spacious – even the back row has plenty of legroom. Outward visibility is good in most directions.

How Many Car Seats Fit in the 2016 Subaru Forester?

The Forester can accommodate three child safety seats. The rear outboard seats each have a complete set of LATCH connectors. The rear middle seat has an upper tether anchor and the ability to borrow one lower anchor from each of the outboard seats. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2016 Forester's LATCH system a Marginal rating – the second-lowest score – for its ease of use.

2016 Subaru Forester Features

The 2016 Forester comes with a 6.2-inch touch screen (which is smaller than some rivals' screens), the Starlink infotainment interface, HD Radio, and a USB port. A 7-inch touch screen, an eight-speaker Harman Kardon stereo, navigation, and Subaru’s EyeSight safety suite of driver assistance features are available in some trims.

See 2016 Subaru Forester specs »

Read more about Forester interior »

2016 Subaru Forester Dimensions

Subaru Forester Cargo Space

The Forester has up to 74.7 cubic feet of cargo space, which is great for the class.

Subaru Forester Length and Weight

The Forester measures just over 15 feet from end to end. Curb weight ranges between 3,296 and 3,651 pounds, depending on the configuration.

Where Was the 2016 Subaru Forester Built?

Subaru built the 2016 Forester at its Ota Gunma factory, which is about ninety minutes north of Tokyo, Japan. The Legacy, Outback, and Impreza are also produced at this location.

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Honda CR-V 2016 2016 Honda CR-V

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