2017 brings mild improvements to Subaru’s crossover

The Forester has truly come into its own in the last few years, receiving plenty of accolades and praise for its utilitarian personality and car-like refinement in this latest generation. Completely revised in 2014, the Forester gets a few updates for 2017 that make it even more a bargain to brag about. While the quirky little crossover isn’t fast, sporty, or particularly good-looking as some of its competition, it is outstandingly practical.

A small $200 price hike over the 2016 model covers a multitude of added features, including a revised front grille, bumper, and new headlights. The EyeSight system also gets an upgrade to include Lane Keep Assist. Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Reverse Automatic Braking are now standard. Lastly, the Forester 2.0XT Touring offers an available Active Torque Vectoring system.

Everything else that made the 2014 Forester a success has carried over, including an unchanged pair of engines and transmissions. Base models get the 2.5-liter flat-four mated to a six-speed manual transmission. The combo is good for 170 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque. The CVT remains an optional extra. The more powerful option is the 2.0-liter turbocharged flat-four making 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet. Unfortunately, upgrading to the turbo relegates the transmission choice to the CVT.

Trim levels for the 2.5-liter still include 2.5i, Premium, Limited, and Touring, while the more-upscale 2.0-liter turbo is only adorned with the Premium and Touring trims.

In all, the Forester is an honest crossover that works well. For some, it just takes getting past what looks to be a bland cover to find a multifaceted vehicle well positioned to tackle nearly any task the average American brood can throw at it.

Update: Subaru has announced pricing for the 2018 Subaru Forester. As with the year before, prices increased marginally across the board. Check the prices section below for details.

Continue reading for the full review

  • 2015 - 2017 Subaru Forester
  • Year:
    2015- 2017
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    flat-4
  • Transmission:
    six-speed manual
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    170 @ 5800
  • MPG(Cty):
    24
  • MPG(Hwy):
    32
  • Torque @ RPM:
    174 @ 4100
  • Energy:
    Direct Injection
  • Displacement:
    2.5 L
  • 0-60 time:
    7.5 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    122 mph
  • Layout:
    Front engine; All Wheel Drive
  • Price:
    22595
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:
  • Overall:
    7.3/10

Exterior

2015 - 2017 Subaru Forester High Resolution Exterior
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2015 - 2017 Subaru Forester High Resolution Exterior
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2015 - 2017 Subaru Forester Exterior
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Things have remained unchanged in this department for the Forester. The two body styles return for 2015, the less aggressive, more rounded front fascia of the 2.5-liter and the more sinister, angular look of the 2.0-liter turbo. The two styles seem to speak for Subaru designers knowing the types of customers who buy what models. More power equals more sporty looks. It’s a simple recipe, but one Subaru could use more of.

Three choices of alloy wheels return, one measuring 17 inches, the other two in 18. We’re particularly fond of the 18-inch dark grey wheels with the machined face. Combined with the more aggressive front fascia, along with the optional HID headlights on the 2.0XT Touring package, the trio of options adds some much needed character.

New for 2017

The 2017 model year brings a handful of changes for the Forester’s front end. The grille, lower fascia, and headlights all receive updates. The result is a more mature and sculpted look, one befitting the crossover’s attitude. The grille features three horizontal black bars with a single, chrome bar holding the Subaru logo. Below, the new bumper has an air intake that spans wider than the grille. The lower bumper section features redesigned fog light housings with chrome accents. The headlights are perhaps the most recognizable change, with LED accents main beams. Likewise, the taillights received a similar C-shape LED element to tie the Forester’s two ends together.

There’s also two new alloy wheel designs are available on certain trim levels. Both wheel designs feature a high-contrast black and machined finish look. 2.5i Premium models get the 17-inch wheels while the 2.0XT receives 18-inch rollers.

Beyond the changes, the Forester remains a capable crossover with wagon roots. Its large cargo area makes for easy hauling, especially with the 60/40 split rear seat folded flat. What’s more, the Forester’s relatively tall ground clearance gives it better “soft-roading” abilities than many of its competitors. Of course, the standard AWD system and available X-Mode are the foundation the Forester is built on.

Exterior Dimensions

Wheelbase 103.9 / 2,640
Length 180.9 / 4,595
Width 70.7 / 1,795
Height With roof rail: 68.2 / 1,735 without roof rail: 66.4 / 1,687
Track 60.9 / 1,547
61.1 / 1,552
Ground clearance 8.7 / 220
Angle of approach 23.0 deg.
Angle of departure 25.0 deg.
Ramp breakover angle 21.0 deg.

Interior

2015 - 2017 Subaru Forester Interior
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2015 - 2017 Subaru Forester High Resolution Interior
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2015 - 2017 Subaru Forester High Resolution Interior
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Like the outside, things are basically the same for 2015. The only major difference centers around the center stack and its 4.3-inch multi-function screen perched up top. It’s now a standard feature in the base 2.5i, along with the backup camera. The multi-function screen is controlled with steering-wheel-mounted buttons, as is the smaller information screen within the gauge cluster. Both the tach and speedometer are clear and easy to read with their white on black color scheme.

A standard radio head unit or the infotainment screen inhabits the dash – based on trim level. The standard unit is simple and easy to use, and has plenty of buttons for quick changes in stations, volume, and media inputs. The navigation includes voice control and comes with either a six-speaker sound system or the optional eight-speaker Harmon Kardon system.

The Forester’s rear cargo area is about as functional as it gets. Fold the 60/40 rear seats down for an enormous 74.7 cubic feet of space. Even with the seats upright, the rear area still offers 34.4 cubic feet or storage. Both cloth and leather seats are available on their respective trim levels. Since the Forester is so tall, the seating is upright with occupants’ knees nowhere near their chests.

New for 2017

Inside the Forester, the 2017 model year brings a new steering wheel with integrated audio, Bluetooth, and cruise control switches. Engineers also added improved soundproofing materials to quiet the ride, including thicker door glass, and acoustic windshield, revised door seals, and underfloor insulation.

Limited trim levels now come with dash panel trim work colored in silver metallic and gloss black finishes. The steering wheel is also leather-wrapped. Range-topping Touring models now have an optional Saddle Brown leather option with contrast stitching. Matching door panels are present as well. For those cold-weather climates, the Touring trim also brings a heated steering wheel, an option not previously offered in the Forester.

Coming standard on all Forester models is Subaru’s StarLink infotainment system. The 2.5i base car gets a 6.2-inch screen with single-touch gesture control. Upgrade to the Premium, Limited, and Touring trims, and the 7.0-inch LCD screen comes standard with hands-free SMS text messaging, two USB ports, and SiriusXM.

New for 2016

  • New SUBARU STARLINK™ Safety and Security features
  • New STARLINK Audio Systems

Drivetrain

2015 - 2017 Subaru Forester High Resolution Drivetrain
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2015 - 2017 Subaru Forester High Resolution Drivetrain
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2015 - 2017 Subaru Forester Exterior
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The Forester lineup gets its power from two horizontally opposed four cylinders. The standard flat-four mill is a 2.5-liter, naturally aspirated unit making 170 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque. It comes with two transmission options: a fun six-speed honest-to-goodness manual or the not-so-fun CVT. If choosing the 2.5-liter, we’d save the money and skip the CVT every time. However, the manual is only available with the 2.5i and 2.5i Premium trim levels.

Filling the more premium roll is a turbocharged 2.0-liter flat-four making 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Though the engine would assuredly be a blast with the manual tranny, it’s not offered. Both Boxer engines come with variable valve timing to more precisely control the 16 valves.

As will all Subarus except the rear-wheel-drive BRZ, the Forester comes with Symmetrical all-wheel-drive. New for 2014 and continued over is X-MODE – an electronic traction assist system with Hill Decent Control. It’s kind of like engaging "go-anywhere mode."

Fuel economy ratings for the 2.5-liter are 24 mpg city, 27 mpg combined and 32 mpg highway, while the 2.0-liter Turbo gets 23 mpg city, 25 mpg combined and 28 mpg highway.

Drivetrain Specifications

Model 2.5i 2.0XT
Configuration 2.5L 4-cylinder, horizontally opposed (Boxer); aluminum cylinder block and heads 2.0L 4-cylinder, horizontally opposed (Boxer), turbocharged/intercooled, aluminum cylinder block and heads
Displacement 2,498 cc 1,998 cc
Bore x Stroke 94.0 mm x 90.0 mm 86 mm x 86 mm
Compression ratio 10:1 10.6:1
Horsepower 170 @ 5,800 rpm 250 @ 5,600 rpm
Torque lb.-ft. 174 @ 4,100 rpm 258 @ 2,000-4,800 rpm

Prices

2015 - 2017 Subaru Forester High Resolution Exterior
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Pricing for the Forester starts at modest and rises to middle class. A base 2.5i will set you back $22,395 while the range-topping 2.0XT Touring starts at $33,795, both including an $850 destination charge. Choosing the CVT in either the 2.5i or 2.5i Premium costs $1,000 or $500 respectively. Otherwise, the CVT’s cost is included in the other 2.5i trim packages.

Subaru has no shortage of options and accessories for the Forester; from battery warmers and engine block heaters, to trailer hitches and ski racks – all at their own price with some dependent on dealer instillation charges.

2018 Subaru Forester - Prices

Pricing for 2018 has increased marginally across the board. Most models increase by $200 while the range-topping XT Touring trim increases by as much as $1,795.

Model Transmission Option Code MSRP
2.5i 6MT 01 $22,795
2.5i CVT 01,02 $23,795
2.5i Premium 6MT 11 $25,695
2.5i Premium CVT 12,13,14,15,16 $26,195
2.5i Limited CVT 21,22,23 $29,395
2.5i Touring CVT 31,32 $33,090
2.0XT Premium CVT 11 $29,495
2.0XT Touring CVT 31,32 $36,090

Prices for 2017

Prices don’t rise dramatically for 2017 – only $200 for the base 2.5i. That’s the same jump the Forester made going from 2015 into 2016. There are still a multitude of option packages and features available throughout the Forester trim range, so check the chart below.

2017 Subaru Forester - Prices

Model/Trim Transmission Applicable Option Code MSRP MSRP + destination and delivery
2.5i PZEV 6MT 01 $22,595 $23,470
2.5i PZEV CVT 01, 02 $23,595 $24,470
2.5i Premium PZEV 6MT 11 $25,495 $26,370
2.5i Premium PZEV CVT 12,13,14,15 $25,995 $26,870
2.5i Limited PZEV CVT 21, 22, 23 $29,195 $30,070
2.5i Touring PZEV CVT 31, 32, 33, 34 $31,295 $32,170
2.0XT Premium CVT 16 $29,295 $30,170
2.0XT Touring CVT 31, 32, 33, 34 $34,295 $35,170

2017 Subaru Forester - Option Packages

CODE 01 Standard Model 2.5i N/A
CODE 02 Alloy Wheel Package $600
CODE 11 Standard Model 2.5i Premium 6MT N/A
CODE 12 Standard Model 2.5i Premium CVT N/A
Code 13 All Weather Package $500
CODE 14 All Weather Package + EyeSight + Blind Spot Detection/Rear Cross Traffic Alert $1,695
CODE 15 All Weather Package + EyeSight + Blind Spot Detection/Rear Cross Traffic Alert + Power Rear Gate $2,145
CODE 16 Standard Model 2.0XT Premium N/A
CODE 21 Standard Model 2.5i Limited N/A
CODE 22 Navigation + Audio w/ Harman/Kardon® Amplifier and Speakers $1,300
CODE 23 Navigation + Audio w/ Harman/Kardon® Amplifier and Speakers + EyeSight $2,945
CODE 31 Standard Model 2.5i Touring and 2.0XT Touring (Black interior) N/A
CODE 32 Standard Model 2.5i Touring and 2.0XT Touring (Saddle Brown interior) N/A
CODE 33 EyeSight + Navigation (Black interior) $1,595
CODE 34 EyeSight + Navigation (Saddle Brown interior) N/A

2016 Subaru Forester - Prices

Model/Trim Transmission MSRP MSRP + destination and delivery
2.5i 6MT $22,395 $23,245
2.5i CVT $23,395 $24,245
2.5i Premium 6MT $25,295 $26,145
2.5i Premium CVT $25,795 $26,645
2.5i Limited CVT $28,795 $29,645
2.5i Touring CVT $30,795 $31,645
2.0XT Premium CVT $29,195 $30,045
2.0XT Touring CVT $33,795 $34,645

2015 Subaru Forester - Prices

Model/Trim Transmission MSRP MSRP + destination and delivery
2.5i 6MT $22,195 $23,045
2.5i CVT $23,195 $24,045
2.5i Premium 6MT $24,595 $25,445
2.5i Premium CVT $25,095 $25,945
2.5i Limited CVT $28,095 $28,945
2.5i Touring CVT $30,095 $30,945
2.0XT Premium CVT $28,495 $29,345
2.0XT Touring CVT $33,095 $33,945

Options

Option Price
Alloy Wheel Package $600
All Weather Package $500
All Weather Package + EyeSight $1,295
All Weather Package+ EyeSight+ Navigation $2,395
Navi+ Audio w/Harman Kardon® Amplifier and Speakers $1,850
Navi + Audio w/Harman Kardon ®Amplifier and Speakers + EyeSIght $2,645
EyeSight + Navigation $1,895

Competition

2017 Ford Escape

2017 Ford Escape
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The Ford Escape is all-new for 2017 and brings new levels of refinement and tech. The Escape is now more angular, with a more grown-up appearance. Its six-sided grille and LED-encrusted headlights give it a premium look. Two brand new engines are available. A 1.5-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder slots as the standard engine and produces 180 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque – at least in its pre-production form. A revised 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder is said to have better efficiency than before while delivering an impressive 245 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque.

Prices have not been released yet, but expect Ford to only boost its base price by a modest amount. The base Escape should start around $23,000. Opt for the range-topping Titanium trim and the price will exceed $30,000.

Read our full review on the Ford Escape here.

2016 Mazda CX-5

2016 Mazda CX-5 High Resolution Exterior
- image 616412

The Mazda CX-5 is the liveliest of the bunch, coming with Mazda’s well-tuned suspension and peppy 2.5-liter Skyactiv four-cylinder. Updated for 2016 were soon reinforced with a rare mid-model-year update labeled 2016.5. This makes things like a backup camera and navigation standard across the board, among other changes. The CX-5, like the Escape, does comes standard with FWD, so those needing AWD will have to purchase the option.

The 2.5-liter, naturally aspirated four-cylinder makes 184 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque, pushing the crossover to 60 mph in 7.7 seconds. That’s not as quick as the 2.0-liter EcoBoost-equipped Escape, but it’s still respectable.

Prices start at $25,325 and crest into the mid-$30,000 range when fully optioned.

Read our full review on the Mazda CX-5 here.

Conclusion

2015 - 2017 Subaru Forester High Resolution Exterior
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The Forester is arguably the most utilitarian crossover on the market today. It’s combination of AWD, loads of interior cargo room, and creature comforts make it a smart choice for someone needing an all-in-one vehicle. Its on-road dynamics are more car-like while it somehow does a really respectable job off road. It’s great that Subaru still offers a manual transmission, but it’s a shame it can’t be matched with the 2.0-liter turbo.

For those who want the good driving characteristics of a car yet need the all-weather capabiltiy of a crossover should definitely give the Forester a look.

  • Leave it
    • 2.5-liter is a little asthmatic
    • Manual not offered with 2.0-liter Turbo engine

Update History

Updated 06/15/2015: Subaru announced prices for the 2016 Forester — a model that remains pretty much unchanged from the previous year. The model received only a series of new standard features, translated into a price increase of $200. For 2016, the Forester starts from $22,395 for the 2.5i version.

Updated 05/19/2016: Subaru announced prices for the 2017 Forester which will arrive at retailers late summer 2016. Check the "Prices" section to see how much you will have to pay for it.

Press Release

Subaru of America, Inc. has announced pricing on the carmaker’s award winning crossover the 2015 Subaru Forester. The Forester is a two-time winner of the coveted Motor Trend Sport/Utility Vehicle of the Year award.

2015 - 2017 Subaru Forester High Resolution Exterior
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The Forester 2.5i model will be available in base, Premium, Limited and top-line Touring versions. Pricing begins at $22,195 for the base model 2.5i with six-speed manual transmission. The turbocharged 2.0XT will be offered in the Premium and Touring versions, with the Premium starting at $28,495. The 2.0XT Premium now features a standard All Weather Package. All prices are MSRP and do not include $850 destination charge.

For 2015, the base model 2.5i gets rear vision camera and color multi-function display as standard equipment. Previously unavailable, the 2.5i Premium manual transmission model is now equipped with a moonroof standard. New for 2015, the 2.5i Touring models will receive standard high luster 18” alloy wheels. All Touring models feature Keyless Access & Start, HID lights and chrome rocker trim. Navigation is now optional on Touring models.

2015 - 2017 Subaru Forester High Resolution Exterior
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Subaru’s EyeSight driver-assist system earned the highest rating given by Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), a Superior rating, when IIHS conducted its first test of accidence avoidance technologies. The EyeSight system integrates Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Collision Braking and Vehicle Lane Departure Warning.

One of the most affordable such technologies available in the U.S. market, EyeSight uses a stereo camera design developed by Subaru to provide a detection angle wider than that of radar-based systems. EyeSight option packages are lowered $500 from the previous model year.

As with all previous Forester models, the 2015 comes standard with Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, a distinction from the competitive models that come with front-wheel drive as standard and offer all-wheel drive as an extra-cost option.

2015 - 2017 Subaru Forester High Resolution Exterior
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The Subaru Forester’s continued sales success has helped Subaru achieve five consecutive annual sales records.

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