More than most vehicles, the Forester, like other Subarus, has developed quite a loyal following over the years. Compact crossover fans often favor the Forester not just for its quality and sensible price, but for its endearing, even slightly off-kilter, character. Rather than a wagon aimed at families, the Forester tends to attract outside-the-mainstream individualists, qualifying as more of a lifestyle-focused vehicle than a strictly practical, all-wheel drive people carrier.
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2016 Subaru Forester Overview
What's New for 2016
Not much has changed. Premium, Limited and Touring trim levels now have new Subaru Starlink Safety and Security features, including automatic collision notification, maintenance notifications, SOS emergency assistance, and a monthly vehicle health report. All 2016 Foresters get new Starlink audio systems. Models with Subaru’s optional EyeSight driver assist system now include steering-responsive foglamps.
Choosing Your Subaru Forester
Fully redesigned for 2014, the Forester ranks among the most capable crossovers in its class. As with all Subarus, all-wheel drive is standard. Owners also benefit from a class-leading 73 cubic feet of cargo space.
The standard engine is a flat (horizontally-opposed) four-cylinder, making 170 horsepower and mating with a six-speed manual gearbox; or with an optional continuously variable transmission (CVT), which yields substantially better fuel economy. The CVT is mandatory with the more potent 250-horsepower, 2-liter turbocharged engine in 2.0XT models.
Fuel economy for the 2.5-liter engine is estimated at 22 mpg city/29 mpg highway with manual shift, or 24/32 mpg with automatic. The 2-liter turbo is estimated at 23 mpg city/28 mpg highway.
Six trim levels are offered, with two engine possibilities:
Premium trim level and above can have an optional EyeSight driver assist system, including adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, sway warning, pre-collision braking, and steering-responsive foglamps.
If there’s a choice between manual shift and the smoothly efficient CVT, we definitely recommend the latter. Your best bet may be the 2.5i Premium trim, which offers plenty of useful features for a reasonable price. For safety’s sake, the available EyeSight system is worth considering.
2016 Subaru Forester Review
The compact crossover segment continues to burn very hot, though it has cooled a bit with the arrival of newer subcompact models. The 2016 Forester is Subaru’s competitor in this packed field of small people haulers.
Pricing and Equipment
Compact crossovers are some of the hottest vehicles on the market today, so pricing is very competitive. The Forester tosses its hat into the ring at a competitive $22,395. At this price point, we think the base Forester 2.5i is pretty well equipped, with standard features like:
- 17-inch wheels
- A color multifunction screen that measure 4.2 inches
- Steering wheel-mounted controls
- Starlink 6.2-inch multimedia infotainment system with four speakers
More loaded versions of the Forester include the 2.5i Premium ($25,295), 2.5i Limited ($28,795), and 2.5i Touring ($30,795). For a more performance-oriented ride, there are also the 2.0XT Premium ($29,195) and 2.0XT Touring ($33,795).
The Forester provides a nice balance between comfort and sportiness, as its suspension is more responsive than most, but not as tight as others. We also felt that its two available engines give buyers great options.
- Opting for the turbocharged 250-horsepower 2-liter engine makes the Forester surprisingly quick.
- 8.7 inches of ground clearance is plenty for most people.
- All-wheel drive comes standard.
- Those who prefer a manual transmission can still have one with the 2.5-liter engine.
- While we love the 2-liter engine used in performance-oriented models, the fact that it's only available with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) is disappointing.
- We're also unimpressed by a towing capacity of 1,500 pounds -- not that great for a small SUV.
- The Forester is surprisingly roomy -- both in front and back.
- The driver's seat is perfectly positioned for a great view of the road.
- Plenty of sound deadening keeps the cabin surprisingly quiet.
- While comfortable, the front seats don't have enough bolstering to keep you in place during spirited driving, and there isn't a sport seat option to remedy the situation.
- The legs of larger front-seat riders might rub against the center console's hard plastic.
The Most Pleasant Surprise
In our testing, the 2.0XT model was surprisingly quick with a 0-to-60 mph sprint in the low six seconds. Its capable suspension was a pleasing complement.
The Least Pleasant Surprise
The lack of sportier interior options in the 2.0XT is pretty shocking. If you’re going to offer a potent model that performs as well as the Forester 2.0XT does, you should also offer sports seats, a sportier steering wheel, and some other styling bits in an optional package.
The Bottom Line
The Forester is Subaru’s best-selling model for a reason. Roomy inside, compact outside, and fuel efficient, all 2.5-liter-equipped models tick most the boxes on a crossover shopper's list. The 2.0XT models, meanwhile, show a peppier side of the equation.
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