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).

Performance Pros

Subaru Forester Interior

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.

Performance Cons

  • 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.

Interior Pros

  • 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.

Interior Cons

  • 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

Subaru Forester Front

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.