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2016 subaru forester
EPA est City/Hwy
23/28
Starting at
$29,195
Engine
2.0L Turbo
Power
250 hp
Powered by Subaru
Starting at
$29,195
Engine
2.0L Turbo

Power
250 hp
EPA - est City/Hwy
23/28
Seats
5


2016 Subaru Forester The Car Connection


MSRP Starting From

$29,195


The Car Connection Expert Review
John Voelcker

John Voelcker

Senior Editor

MSRP Starting From

$29,195


DISLIKES
  • Paddles shifts only on turbo
  • No manual offered with turbo
  • Priciest models not all that premium

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The 2016 Subaru Forester is a clean, straightforward design inside and out, and it avoids the syling excesses of some other SUVs.

By now, the Subaru Forester is a well-known and instantly identifiable sight in cold-weather and more rugged regions of North America. Its shape is clearly that of a tall wagon with SUV ride height, and Subaru has thankfully ignored the fashion for swoopy designs and racy-looking utility vehicles.

Instead, the 2016 Forester is a handsome vehicle, a slightly less boxy but still evolutionary take on the previous generation that keeps easy access and outward visibility as its priorities. A few design themes, including sculpted body sides and the taillight shapes, are shared with the current Subaru Impreza. There are fewer exaggerated creases, just modest fender flares, and the grille and front lamp units taper and sweep further around the car than before.

The hood line is slightly higher than before, with a more chiseled front end slightly let down by a profusion of details in its lower front end, including an aggressive airdam on turbo models that brackets the front end like dewlaps. Turbo models lose the hood scoop, too, meaning they're more sophisticated in appearance at first glance.

Moving inside the Forester, the instrument panel shares its relatively simple layout with the larger Legacy mid-size sedan and Outback crossover utility. It's further forward, and lower, giving more openness to the front-seat areas. Materials throughout the interior have been upgraded, with a mix of matte and soft-touch surfaces accented with matte-finish metallic trim. Larger multi-information screens for 2016 top a center console that contains simple, intuitive climate and audio controls and sweeps into a center console with an armrest, the inevitable cup holders, and a variety of storage bins.

The 2016 Subaru Forester is a clean, straightforward design inside and out, and it avoids the syling excesses of some other SUVs.

360° Exterior View

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The 2016 Subaru Forester offers capable off-road ability, enjoyable on-road driving, and spirited performance if you get the turbocharged XT model.

The 2016 Subaru Forester comes down slightly on the sportier end of the performance scale, with better acceleration and more reassuring handling than a Honda CR-V or a Nissan Rogue. It doesn't have the athletic ride or steering of the Ford Escape, or the driving pleasure of the Mazda CX-5, but it blends a pleasing amount of fun into its eminently capable all-weather-wagon recipe.

The standard powerplant on the 2.5i models is a 2.5-liter, horizontally opposed 4-cylinder engine with 170 horsepower, paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) or a 6-speed manual. All-wheel drive is standard on every Forester.

The 2.5i Foresters aren’t all that quick, but they’re adequately powerful for a vehicle weighing in at about 3,300 pounds. Move up to the Forester 2.0XT, however, and the picture changes. That turbocharged, direct-injected 2.0-liter engine, also a flat-4, puts out a stout 250 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque (on premium gas). It comes only with the CVT, though; no manual shifting here. The curb weight on top trims rises to about 3,600 pounds, but that's offset by a tow rating of up to 1,500 pounds for the Forester 2.0XT.

The Forester's capable roadholding is best shown off by the more powerful turbo engine. This Forester rides more comfortably than previous generations, with less abruptness over large bumps. It now has especially good body control, as well as very well-tuned and nicely weighted rack-mounted electric power steering. Considering the toughness of the little SUV, and its cargo capacity for weekend outdoor gear, that's a win. We might still prefer a Mazda CX-5 if we were using it entirely on pavement, but for any off-road or trail use, the Subaru gets the nod.

The Forester's rugged trail prowess includes 8.7 inches of ground clearance and approach and departure angles that even off-road purists won't quickly dismiss. For additional security in off-road conditions, Subaru has added a function dubbed "X-Mode" that distributes power left to right at low speeds—supplementing the all-wheel-drive system’s standard front-to-back distribution. That function, plus impressive approach and departure angles, let Subaru’s utility wagon play on some of the same hills as competitors from off-road stalwarts Jeep and Land Rover.

Back on the pure performance side, Subaru's SI-Drive system offers three modes—Intelligent, Sport, and Sport Sharp—that tweak the way its accelerator and powertrain respond to driver inputs. Sport Sharp transforms the 2.0XT's CVT—it simulates an 8-speed automatic, with snappy shifts and manual control via steering-wheel paddle-shifters (not offered on 2.5i models). In Intelligent or Sport there are instead 6 simulated gears available via the paddle-shifters.

If you’re going for the standard 2.5i model, the CVT will be just fine for most people, though we remain fond of the 6-speed manual, an increasingly rare offering in compact crossover utilities these days. Its shift linkage may be a little sloppy, and its throws are long and truck-like, but it’s the way to get the most power out of the torquey boxer engine. Plus, the mechanically split all-wheel-drive system makes the Forester a little more fun, as well as a little more predictable, whenever traction gets scarce. If you want to go with the greater performance of the XT, though, the CVT is livable and unobtrusive, and its simulated 8-speed mode really redeems it.

The 2016 Subaru Forester offers capable off-road ability, enjoyable on-road driving, and spirited performance if you get the turbocharged XT model.

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The 2016 Subaru Forester combines excellent passenger and cargo space with practicality, even if it's a touch plain.

The 2016 Subaru Forester is the same length it's been for the last eight years even as the current generation added more interior space and a greater perception of roominess. It's a compact SUV, but the Forester boasts roughly the same cargo-carrying capacity as the bigger Outback thanks to a taller design.

The Forester offers surprising space in its 181-inch length, including almost 40 inches of rear seat head room (without the sun roof), 34.4 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, and 74.7 cubic feet when the second-row seats are folded down. It also has 8.7 inches of ground clearance.

Subaru has heavily refined the interior of the current Forester. Materials—from upholsteries to door trims—are a solid step up from before, and more insulation in both the door panels and the area ahead of the instrument panel makes a big difference in keeping the cabin quieter on rough surfaces. Tire thrum at highway speeds is still a constant presence, and Subaru's reduced—but not eliminated—wind noise from around its large, useful door mirrors, a perennial brand weak spot.

The driving position is pleasantly high, with the dashboard far enough away to give a sense of spaciousness. It has a lot of front elbow room, too. The window line is lower than in other compact crossovers, meaning the interior is light and outward visibility is excellent. In short, Forester passengers' perception of space is unsurpassed in this class.

Our one complaint is that the front seats lack enough bolstering on their short, flat bottom cushions, and bigger drivers will find that they continually touch the Forester's center console and door panels—both of which lack some soft surfaces. The front-seat issue is more acute in turbocharged models, as there's no sport-seat option offered. The commanding view and outward visibility is worth those minor trade-offs, in our view.

The rear seats are easy to get into, with good leg room and a low driveshaft tunnel for the segment, and their subtle contouring should make them comfortable for longer trips. All but the base model get three-position recline for the (60/40-split) rear seat backs, an unusual and welcome feature, and all models now get a fold-down center armrest in the rear too, including solid-looking cupholders. The rear seat back almost folds flat with one button.

The 2016 Subaru Forester combines excellent passenger and cargo space with practicality, even if it's a touch plain.

The 2016 Subaru Forester earns top safety scores, its EyeSight system is among the best, and outward visibility is excellent.

For many years, the Subaru Forester has garnered exceptional safety scores in the small SUV class, and it customarily earns one of our highest safety ratings. For the 2016 model year, the NHTSA gave it an overall five-star rating, with almost perfect detail scores, except for a single four-star rating on front-impact protection test.

The IIHS awarded the Forester its coveted Top Safety Pick+ designation, thanks to its highest score of "Good" in every single test category, coupled to the available forward-collision protection system.

The Forester's outward visibility is superb, better than that of almost any other compact crossover. There's a small triangular glass pane that lets drivers see out the area ahead of the door-mounted side mirrors. The Forester's simply one of the easiest vehicles to see out of—an often overlooked aspect of safety.

Last year, Subaru made a rearview camera standard on all Foresters. Optional active-safety features include adaptive cruise control that runs at speeds of 25 mph up to 90 mph, and Subaru's highly-ranked EyeSight system for spotting road hazards up to 80 meters ahead, using a pair of cameras. That system can potentially avoid an accident, or reduce its severity, by automatically braking at up to 0.4g. Finally, the Forester's off-road "X-Mode" uses hill-descent control to keep speeds slow and safe while heading down steep, slippery slopes.

The 2016 Subaru Forester earns top safety scores, its EyeSight system is among the best, and outward visibility is excellent.


NHTSA 5-Star Safety Rating

2016 Subaru Forester Models

Overall Rating

5/5

Overall Frontal Barrier Crash Rating: (4/5)
Overall Side Crash Rating: (5/5)
Overall Side Barrier Rating: Not Rated
NHTSA Roll-over Resistance Rating: (4/5)



Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Ratings

2016 Subaru Forester Models

Side Impact Test Good
Roof Strength Test Good
Rear Crash Protection/Head Restraint Good
IIHS Small Overlap Front Test Results Good
IIHS Moderate Overlap Front Test Results Good


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The 2016 Subaru Forester offers premium options like leather and a moonroof, but it's most honest in its basic models.

The 2016 Subaru Forester has changed little from the previous two years, with the latest model year seeing only the addition of Subaru's well-received infotainment platform across the range to provide hands-free connectivity and various safety and entertainment services. A rearview camera was made standard on all Foresters last year, and options such as navigation, a moonroof, and Subaru's well-known All-Weather Package are available across a wider range of models than before.

Prices range from $23,245 (including destination) for a base Forester 2.5i with 6-speed manual gearbox to $34,645 for the top-of-the-line Forester 2.0XT Touring model, which comes only with the continuously variable transmission (CVT). All Foresters for 2016 come standard with a tilting and telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, steering-wheel controls for the audio system, and a 6.2-inch Starlink multimedia touchscreen for the rearview camera and various trip computer and temperature functions.

Above the base 2.5i model, there are three trim levels: Premium, Limited, and the high-end Touring line. The Premium model adds 17-inch alloy wheels, a 10-way adjustable power driver's seat, reclining rear seatback, panoramic power moonroof, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment. Manual-transmission 2.5i Premium cars get the All-Weather Package—including heated front seats and side mirrors, plus a windshield-wiper deicer—as standard, while it's optional on models with the CVT.

Limited and Touring models make the CVT standard, and include automatic climate control, perforated leather trim on the seats, leather wrappings on the shift knob and steering wheel, the All-Weather Package, fog lights, and a power liftgate, which can be operated manually with low effort or be configured to open short of a low garage ceiling. (Some of those can be added as options on Premium models as well.)

Only the Touring model, however, includes a 440-watt premium audio system, keyless ignition, an excellent one-touch folding rear seat back, and other additional features.

The 2016 Subaru Forester offers premium options like leather and a moonroof, but it's most honest in its basic models.


Vehicle Incentives and Rebates

8 Incentives Available for 2016 Subaru Forester


1

Payment Waiver

1

Cash

1

Deferred Payment


Get Incentives


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The 2016 Subaru Forester, at 27 mpg combined, does all right in fuel efficiency, but now several AWD vehicles beat those ratings.

The powertrains of the 2016 Subaru Forester are unchanged since its makeover two years ago, and hence its EPA ratings remain the same as well. Having put a few thousand miles on a turbocharged Forester XT last year, we can confidently say that its ratings are within reach in real-world conditions.

The base 2016 Forester 2.5i with a 2.5-liter flat-4 and continuously variable transmission (CVT) boasts EPA ratings of 24 mpg city, 32 highway, 27 combined, which falls to 25 mpg combined if you specify the 6-speed manual. Direct injection in 2.0XT models helps them attain an EPA combined rating of 23/28/25 mpg, though shoppers should note that premium fuel is recommended in the Forester XT turbo models.

In the mixed driving of our Forester XT six-month road test, we measured just over 24.1 mpg overall—which is well within the EPA's suggested variance of 10 to 20 percent from its combined ratings.

The 2016 Subaru Forester, at 27 mpg combined, does all right in fuel efficiency, but now several AWD vehicles beat those ratings.


Fuel Economy Information

Ratings Based on 4 cyl, 2.0 L, 6-Speed Shiftable CVT

25

Combined

4 gals/100 miles

23

City


28

Highway


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