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3/4 Front Glamour 2013 Subaru Forester

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Expert's Rating


MPG 20 City / 26 Highway
  • Large cargo area
  • Back seats easy to fold down
  • Comfortable seats
  • Surprisingly tight turning circle
  • Low base price
  • Interior quality just average
, Automotive Editor -
The Forester could be the best Crossover currently available, with loads of utility and quality at a price that's tough to beat.


The Subaru Forester has made a name for itself in the compact crossover segement as a capable and comfortable vehicle that's just the right size for a lot of consumers. Bearing the traditional Subaru trait of standard all-wheel drive also helped it gain traction among adventurous buyers and those living in snowy climates. But buyers in any climate will like the ease of entry, spacious interior and driving experience that ranges between competent with the standard four-cylinder to brisk with the turbocharged engine. What's more, the Forester is available in lots of different trims and packages that are likely to suit a wide variety of consumers. The Forester also has a history of dependability among Subaru's loyal owners. Anyone looking for a capable crossover will find a lot to like in the Forester.

The base Forester is the 2.5X. Standard is the 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 170 horsepower going through all four wheels with a five-speed manual as standard. A four-speed automatic is optional. Power windows, locks and mirrors are also standard, along with Bluetooth, cruise control and a four-speaker audio system with AUX and USB inputs. The 2.5X is relatively rare on dealer lots, though. More buyers opt for the better-equipped 2.5X Premium, which adds 17-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, power driver's seat, telescopic adjustment to the tilt steering wheel, a panoramic moonroof and privacy glass.

The 2.5X Limited adds automatic transmission, heated front seats, windshield de-icer, heated mirrors, automatic climate control and a touchscreen radio with backup camera. The 2.5X Touring also boasts dual-zone automatic climate control, Xenon headlamps and premium audio system. The 2.5XT Premium is equipped similarly to the 2.5X Premium but adds the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 224 horsepower, also mated to a four-speed automatic. The top Forester trim is the 2.5XT Touring, which aside from the engine is identical to the 2.5X Touring.

The Honda CR-V is very spacious and efficient but only offers optional all-wheel drive and one four-cylinder engine that isn't terribly powerful. The Ford Escape has highly sophisticated optional features and three engines to choose from, but can be expensive and isn't the largest crossover in the segment. The Kia Sportage is attractive and very well-priced but is smaller and has a hard ride, especially on the sporty SX model. And the Volkswagen Tiguan's turbo four-cylinder is more than a match for the Forester's, while it has a nicer interior, but also costs much more.

While the Forester isn't the freshest design up against some brand new and visually exciting competitors, it does have most of the bases covered for crossover shoppers. Its upright design lends good visibility and there are both naturally aspirated and turbocharged engines to choose from. In addition, there's a wide variety of trim levels and packages to suit different budgets. For buyers looking for a competent and comfortable vehicle, especially those attracted to all-wheel drive, the Forester could fit the bill.

Which Style To Buy?

2013 Subaru Forester
Starting price

2013 Subaru Forester 2.5X

Recommended for: Buyers who want an inexpensive, all-wheel drive crossover

The base Forester includes most of the features buyers in the compact crossover segment consider essential. It starts with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 170 horsepower and all-wheel drive. A five-speed manual is standard, but a four-speed automatic is optional. Also included are power windows, mirrors and locks with remote keyless entry. Sixteen-inch wheels are standard, as is a panoramic moonroof, air conditioning, split-folding rear seat, tilt steering wheel, trip computer and alarm. A Value Package adds 16-inch alloy wheels and roof rails, but the limited options list keeps the 2.5X as the low-price leader of the Forester line. These models are fairly rare at dealerships, though, so most buyers would be better served by stepping up to one of the higher trims, which offer a lot more desirable features, too.

2013 Subaru Forester
Starting price

2013 Subaru Forester 2.5X Limited

Recommended for: Buyers who want more luxury features

The 2.5X Limited boasts some luxurious features for compact crossover buyers looking for even more comfort. The Limited gets a standard automatic transmission, fog lights, leather upholstery with leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, removable cargo tray, automatic climate control, the All-Weather Package with heated front seats, heated mirrors and a de-icer an the touchscreen HD radio with six speakers, subwoofer and iPod integration. The optional Navigation Package adds a larger touchscreen with satellite radio, Sirius traffic and weather and text message capability. A backup camera is optional.

2013 Subaru Forester
Starting price

2013 Subaru Forester 2.5X Premium

Recommended for: Buyers looking for more features

The 2.5X Premium adds more features to the relatively spartan 2.5X and makes it the best value in the Forester line. Standard on the Premium are 17-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, body-color exterior trim, a 10-way power driver's seat, reclining rear seatbacks, rear cup holders and telescopic adjustment for the steering wheel. The All-Weather Package includes heated front seats, heated outside mirrors and a windshield de-icer. The All-Weather Plus Package adds a touchscreen HD radio with six speakers and iPod control on top that. The Navigation Package, available only with the automatic transmission, adds a detachable TomTom navigation unit. A backup camera is also available on models with automatic transmission and navigation.

2013 Subaru Forester
Starting price

2013 Subaru Forester 2.5X Touring

Recommended for: Shoppers who want the most luxurious Forester

The Touring trim is the most luxurious Forester there, combining all of the most advanced features available. These include a dual-zone automatic climate control, xenon headlamps, turn signals integrated into the outside mirrors, silver roof rails, an upgraded gauge cluster and a backup camera. The optional Navigation Package includes a 6.1-inch touchscreen with satellite radio, traffic and weather and phone integration. In terms of equipment, the Touring manages to combine a lot of desirable premium features with the same comfort and practicality attributes of the basic Forester formula.

2013 Subaru Forester
Starting price

2013 Subaru Forester 2.5XT Premium

Recommended for: Shoppers who want more performance in a Forester

The 2.5XT Premium adds significantly more performance to the normal Premium trim. The biggest change is the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that turns out 224 horsepower. XT models are distinguished by the functional hood scoop. The turbo engine brings the Forester closer in line with performance of competing V6 models. All XTs get the four-speed automatic transmission. The 2.5XT Premium also includes a rear spoiler, body-color trim, a panoramic moonroof, 10-way power driver's seat, reclining rear seat, rear cup holders, aluminum pedal covers, the All-Weather Package and the four-speaker audio system with USB input and Bluetooth. Options include the Navigation Package.

2013 Subaru Forester
Starting price

2013 Subaru Forester 2.5XT Touring

Recommended for: Buyers interested in a powerful, luxurious small crossover

Looking for the fastest, most luxurious Forester? The 2.5XT Touring packs all of the features of the 2.5X Touring into a more athletic package. That means it includes features like xenon headlamps, dual-zone climate control, turn signals integrated into the outside mirrors, leather upholstery, upgraded gauge cluster, backup camera and silver roof rails. The XT also adds a hood scoop, rear spoiler and aluminum pedal covers. The Navigation Package with the touchscreen navigation system, Sirius traffic and weather and phone integration, is optional. In the end, the Forester 2.5XT Touring is worth considering if you're looking at premium, turbocharged compact crossovers but don't want to spend thousands of dollars more just to get that more expensive badge. It's a fast, versatile vehicle.

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