$20,108 - $30,772

2018 Subaru Forester Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 8.2

The 2018 Subaru Forester makes for a fine daily driver. The base engine has adequate power and good mpg ratings. There's a more powerful engine if you want better acceleration. The Forester provides composed handling and a smooth ride, and it's even capable of some off-roading thanks to standard all-wheel drive and respectable 8.7-inch ground clearance.

  • "Around town and on the highway, the Forester serves up a comfortable and quiet ride." -- Edmunds (2016)
  • "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." -- Kelley Blue Book (2016)
  • "Bottom line, the on-road performance and off-road durability of the 2.0XT provide an intoxicating drive, and its kick-in-the-pants acceleration seems to belie its commuter-friendly fuel efficiency." -- MSN (2014)

Acceleration and Power

The Forester's base engine is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that puts out 170 horsepower. It has ample power for most driving situations, but if you need more power, a 250-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder is available. With the larger engine, acceleration is noticeably better, and the vehicle has an easier time climbing hills.

A six-speed manual transmission is standard with the base engine, while a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is optional with the base engine and standard with the turbocharged engine. The automatic is better for fuel economy, but it's a bit slow to dole out the power when taking off from a stop.

The base engine is the more fuel-efficient choice. With the automatic transmission, it gets an EPA-estimated 26 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway, which are good ratings for the class, especially in an SUV with all-wheel drive. With the larger engine, fuel economy drops to 23 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway.

  • "The all-wheel-drive system, which now includes torque vectoring on turbo models, makes the most of the engine's torque to help deliver smooth and even power delivery regardless of conditions. Regardless of model, that power is delivered through a continuously variable automatic transmission that helps keep fuel economy near the top of the class, but is unfortunately a little sloppy-feeling from a dead stop. But it's a minor hiccup in an otherwise solid drivetrain." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
  • The 2017 Subaru Forester 2.5i won't set any speed records with its 170 horses, and while the CVT performs well for the breed, it produces a telltale high-rpm drone during hard acceleration and lacks the responsiveness of a good conventional automatic. Still, the 2.5i's remarkable fuel economy should hold appeal for most buyers, and it's also the only way to go if you want the manual transmission. As for the 2.0XT's turbocharged engine, it's an exceptionally strong performer; you'll notice a real difference, especially if you drive a lot on hilly or high-altitude terrain." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "The real joy when driving the XT is the rush of power from the turbo engine. If you require superior passing power and jackrabbit sprints, this is the engine you'll want in your Forester." -- Autotrader (2016)

Handling and Braking

The Subaru Forester doesn't have the athleticism of some class rivals, but it delivers carlike handling and a comfortable ride. All-wheel drive comes standard, providing excellent road grip even during inclement weather. The Forester also has the ability to handle moderate off-roading.

  • "The suspension blends comfort and control without sacrificing either, with minimal body roll in corners, but with enough suspension travel to absorb big bumps when taking that less beaten path. 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." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
  • Around town and on the highway, the Forester serves up a comfortable and quiet ride. It's really just on curvy roads that its tall height and compliant suspension become liabilities, as it's simply not as capable or nimble as some rivals." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "While braking is good in 2.5i models, it is even better in 2.0XTs, which feature slightly larger ventilated discs all around." -- Consumer Guide (2014)

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