2011 Subaru Forester Review

The much-anticipated Subaru Forester review is here! Prepare yourselves.

Exterior: 7/10

It is not a bad looking crossover/small SUV by any means. However it is a bit boring. Nothing fancy here, but nothing that will make you gouge out your eyes either. I love the red paint on ours.

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Interior: 7/10

Again, no surprises here but it is well designed and has a good, easy to use layout. Good build quality... there is some cheap plastic but what do you expect for the money. It's very comfortable and not that noisy (though it can be a bit loud during high acceleration). Roomy in the front and rear; plenty of trunk space too. My only real gripe is that the front seats are a bit lower than what you would expect. Visibility is excellent; the only car I've driven that has better is a Jeep Wrangler (and that's a box on wheels!).

Drivetrain: 5/10

I have no qualms about the boxer engine... it is smooth and makes 173 hp (mine is PZEV). Acceleration to 60mph is probably in the high 7s or low 8s. It's adequate and there aren't many times when I yearned for more power. It feels faster than it is. The 4 speed automatic is one of the better 4 speed autos I have used but the car could've really done better with a 5 speed auto instead. Or manuel too; as many of you would like. Fuel economy is pretty decent; city is around 22-24mpg and highway is between 26-30 mpg... a few times I have gotten 31. Decent if not somewhat outdated engine but the 4 speed was thankfully replaced in the new model by a CVT. Would've rather had a 6 speed auto, but whatever.

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Handling: 8/10

I know this seems high for a small SUV. But believe me, this thing is fun to drive! It turns on a dime and has a tight turning radius that bests some compact cars. If you were to drive one; this is the one thing about the car that would surprise you. The AWD system is very good too; I've driven this through mud, 2 feet of snow, a foot deep of flooded water and it just handles anything I throw at it. Probably not what you want to use for rock climbing and heavy off roading though... save that for a body-on-frame 4WD beast.

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Ride: 6/10

Comfortable but can be a bit bouncy and rough on uneven roads. Very good on long drives... I've driven/sat it in for 12 hours in a day and never complained. Your rear seat passengers will enjoy their legroom.

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Brakes: 6/10

They work well. They do what they're supposed to do. I've driven the 2009-2012 generation of Foresters since they first came out and there have been very few times I needed to slam the brakes.

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Utility: 7/10

You can tow small things like an ATV or jetski, etc. if you want and there are roof rails so you can attach your weekend getaway cargo or canoe, etc. to the top. There's plenty of space inside and you can even squeeze in a mattress. It's a good choice for a family of 5 or less. The trunk makes a nice spot for your large dog.

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Audio: 4/10

The engine noise isn't anything great but it's not bad. It's just there. I rarely pay attention to it. The audio system however... it has nice features like an AUX jack and USB port... but the speaker system leaves much to be desired. 4 speakers and it sounds rather lame. If you get one, I would suggest upgrading the audio system.

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Toys: 7/10

For what it is, I honestly do not know what else you would need in this. It's got heated seats (even though mine are cloth), power driver's seat, cruise control, Bluetooth phone support, steering wheel radio controls, power doors locks etc. and a GIANT sunroof. It's really neat; driving with the sunroof all the way back. It's no panoramic sunroof but it is roughly 1.5x the size of a standard sunroof. The audio has the aforementioned AUX and USB jack/port. Mine doesn't have nav, but really, I have a phone for that and I keep a map in the car regardless.

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Value: 7/10

Ours MSRP'd in the low 20s, around $23k. It's good bang for your buck and it's a Subaru so it has good resale value. You get a lot for the money. It is also one of the safest small crossovers.

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Overall: 64/100

Verdict: If you or a loved one/family member is looking for a small SUV/crossover... you can't go wrong with the Forester. The new one has a better ride, a bit more room, and a better drivetrain while still keeping the fun handling. Personally I would choose a Forester over even a BMW X3 and Audi Q5... not just cause they're twice the price but rather I like the Forester THAT much. I don't like small SUVs much and I've been in many, driven a few. This is the ONLY one I have ever liked. I am sure some of you would enjoy it too.

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Highs: Surprisingly good handling, roomy, comfortable, giant sunroof, good visiblity

Lows: 4 speed auto, poor audio speakers

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