The Subaru Forester is the perfect vehicle for people who like to see the outdoors, but don’t like getting 10 MPG in a jacked-up old truck. What do you need to know before you buy a Subaru Forester? Don’t worry, we’ll tell you everything right here in the Ultimate Buyer’s Guide.

If you really want to go crazy off-road, you have to buy a big, lifted, body-on-frame SUV that devours old dinosaurs like Indominus Rex. But you don’t want to go crazy off-road, because you probably have a real life with a commute that isn’t the Rubicon Trail. It’s a safe bet that 99.9 percent of people in the crossover market are happy with a vehicle that can get them down a dirt road or through some snow-covered back roads, and for those folks, the Subaru Forester is the car to get. The Forester is safe, efficient, and comes with tons of available options. It has a good all-wheel drive system as standard, and has a reputation for being a solidly reliable vehicle.

What’s New About The 2016 Subaru Forester:

The fourth generation Forester launched for the 2014 model year with a new CVT, revised suspension, increased interior volume, a bunch of new safety features, and, most importantly, that new polarizing fascia.

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Since then, Subaru hasn’t changed much about the Forester. They’ve moved around some standard features and introduced a new Starlink in-car communication system, but otherwise the 2016 model is quite similar to the ‘14 model.

Powertrain Breakdown

Subaru offers two boxer engines in their Forester. You can get a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated engine, or a 2.0-liter turbocharged boxer engine. The 2.0-liter steals the show, here, producing a massive 80 horsepower more than the 2.5-liter, and cranking out 84 more lb-ft of torque.

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2016 Subaru Forester Engine Options

EngineMax Horsepower (hp)Max Torque (lb-ft)
2.0L Turbo flat4250 @ 5600 rpm258 @ 2000 rpm
2.5L I4170 @ 5800 rpm174 @ 4100 rpm


Fuel Economy Breakdown

There are many CUVs on the market that get much better fuel economy than the Forester. Heck, the Mazda CX-5 gets a whopping 35 MPG highway and 29 MPG combined. That might make the 2.5-liter Forester’s 32 MPG highway and 27 MPG combined seem a bit on the short end, but then you realize that all Foresters come with all-wheel drive.

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And compared to its all-wheel drive competition, the Forester’s fuel economy is very good. In fact, the 2.5-liter Forester actually bests the CX-5 in all-wheel drive fuel economy by two MPG highway and one MPG combined. So, if you want the most fuel efficient CUV, this isn’t it. But if you want all-wheel drive and fuel efficiency, then the Forester is a great option.

The base 2.5-liter engine with the CVT automatic sneaks out the best mileage, reaching 27 MPG combined. The manual 2.5 coming in second at 29 MPG highway and 25 MPG combined. Finally, the powerful 2.0-liter brings up the rear, scoring 28 MPG highway and 25 MPG combined.

2016 Subaru Forester Fuel Economy Ratings (City/Highway/Combined)

2.0L Turbo flat-4
2.5L flat-4
Fuel Economy - Manual
NA
22/29/25
Fuel Economy - Auto
23/28/2524/32/27

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Trim Level Breakdown

All Foresters come with all-wheel drive, front MacPherson strut suspension, rear double-wishbone suspension, and electric power steering.

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Foresters come in six trim levels: 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited, 2.5i Touring, 2.0XT Premium, and 2.0XT Touring.

  • 2.5i: Starts at $22,395. Notable standard features: 6-speed manual transmission, 2.5-liter flat-4 engine, cloth seats, 17 inch steel wheels, air conditioning, 6.2-inch multimedia display, keyless entry, power windows, rear vision camera, front and side airbags. Notable options: CVT Automatic ($1000); Alloy Wheel Package: 17 inch aluminum wheels, raised roof rails ($600+CVT auto); 17 inch aluminum wheels ($877); fog lights ($377); trailer hitch ($607).
  • 2.5i Premium: Starts at $25,295. Notable standard features over 2.5i: 17 inch aluminum wheels, heated mirrors, windshield wiper de-icer, roof rack, heated seats (standard on manual trans only), power moonroof. Notable options: CVT Automatic ($500); All Weather Package: windshield wiper de-icer, heated side mirrors and heated front seats ($500+CVT auto); All Weather Package + EyeSight: All weather Package plus adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, and lane departure and sway warning ($1,295+CVT auto); All-Weather Package + EyeSight + Navigation: All Weather Package + eyesight, voice activated GPS system with 7 inch touchscreen and smartphone integration ($1,895+CVT auto).
  • 2.5i Limited: Starts at $28,795. Notable standard features over 2.5 Premium: CVT transmission, Leather trimmed heated seats, leather wrapped steering wheel, automatic climate control, fog lights, rear spoiler, chrome exhaust tip. Notable options: Navigation System + audio w/Harman Kardon Package: GPS, Harman Kardon 8-speaker system with 440 Watt amplifiers, 7 inch touchscreen display ($1,350); Navigation System + audio /Harman Kardon + EyeSight Package: Navigation System + audio w/Harman Kardon Package plus adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, and lane departure and sway ($2,145).
  • 2.5i Touring: Starts at $30,795. Notable standard features over 2.5 Limited: 18 inch aluminum wheels, HID headlights, unique mirrors, one-touch folding rear seatbacks, keyless ignition, dual zone climate control, eight Harman Kardon speakers, satellite radio. Notable options: Eyesight + Navigation System ($1,395); trailer hitch ($607).
  • 2.0XT Premium: Starts at $29,195. Notable standard features over 2.5 Premium: 2.0-liter turbo flat-4, CVT transmission, X-MODE traction assist with hill descent control, larger front and rear brake rotors, vented rear brake rotors, dual chrome exhaust, unique front fascia, roof rails, windshield wiper de-icer, rear spoiler, 18 inch aluminum wheels, heated seats, more heavily bolstered front seats. Few notable options.
  • 2.0XT Touring: Starts at $33,795. Notable standard features over 2.5i Touring: 2.0-liter turbo flat-4, CVT transmission, X-MODE traction assist with hill descent control, larger front and rear brake rotors, vented rear brake rotors, dual chrome exhaust, unique front fascia, unique 18 inch aluminum wheels. Same options as 2.5i Touring.

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Which One We’d Buy

The sweet spot for us is the base model. Why? Well, we thought the CVT’s fake shift points were a bit... odd. But more importantly, we like that we can get a manual transmission on the 2.5i, and the fact that the fuel economy is pretty decent for an all-wheel drive car. Plus, with power windows, power locks, rear view camera, AC, and plenty of safety tech, the 2.5i offers great value. [Build Your Own]

Important Facts At A Glance:

MSRP: $22,395 - $33,795 Max Advertised Towing Capability: 1,500 pounds

MPG: 24 city/ 32 hwy / 27 combined [2.5L Auto]

Engines: 2.0-liter turbo flat-4, 2.5-liter flat-4

Curb Weight: ~3,300-3,650 pounds IIHS Rating: Top Safety Pick +

Transmissions: 6-speed manual, CVT Automatic

Drivetrain Layout: Front engine, AWD

Photo credit: Subaru

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