2018 Subaru Forester

 
2018 Subaru Forester
 
2018 Subaru Forester
 

2018 Subaru Forester

MSRP 
$29,455
Invoice 
$27,572
Target 
 
 

Vehicle Highlights

  • Fuel Economy: 26 mpg City, 32 mpg Hwy
  • Engine: 2.5 L Regular Unleaded H-4, 170 HP
  • Transmission: Automatic
  • Drive Train: All Wheel Drive
  • Passengers: 5
  • Doors: 4

View More Features and Specifications

What You Will Like

The Subaru Forester has always been a great compromise between the practicality of a small hatchback or station wagon and the capabilities of an SUV. The Forester comes standard with all-wheel-drive, unlike most of its competition. Base-model Foresters perform similarly to competitors from Ford and Mazda, while turbocharged versions offer significantly more power, resulting in surprisingly sprightly performance. The Forester's stable and planted on-road handling is more car-like than others in this segment. The Forester starts at just under $23,000.

Compare the 2018 Subaru Forester against similar models

What's New For 2018

The Subaru Forester returns for 2018 with a couple of minor updates and a new special edition. Touring models now come equipped with EyeSight Driver Assist Technology as standard, while that EyeSight system now comes with both high beam assist and reverse auto braking features. Active torque vectoring has also been made standard on the 2.0XT Touring trim.

The new Black Edition offers many of the upgrades previously available only on the Turbo model on the 2.5i Premium trim, making it a great choice for anyone who wants all the bells and whistles but for $4500 less than the more powerful XT. The interior of the Black edition also gets upgraded upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with contrasting stitching and a gloss black center dash panel.

Warranty

  • Basic Warranty: 3 Years / 36,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain Warranty: 5 Years / 60,000 Miles
  • Roadside Assistance: 3 Years / 36,000 Miles

A vehicle's warranty can significant impact your maintenance costs after you drive off the dealer's lot, and it's important to understand the different parts. Typically, a new car warranty includes a Basic warranty, which covers everything except the wear items such as brakes and tires; and a Drivetrain warranty, that covers all the parts that make the car move, such as the engine and transmission

NHTSA Crash Test Rating

  • Frontal Driver: 5 stars
  • Frontal Passenger: 4 stars
  • Side Driver: 5 stars
  • Side Passenger: 5 stars
  • Rollover Rating: 4 stars

The NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) provides consumers with vehicle safety information based on independent testing, primarily front and side crash rating results, and more recently rollover ratings, to aid consumers in their vehicle purchase decisions.

Select options for 2018 Subaru Forester

Est Target Price With Options

$29,455

Est. Savings Of MSRP Price

$0

 
Additional Equipment
Unselected $150 $150
Dealer Installed Options
Unselected Includes: Part number J6010FS000 $26 $40
Unselected Includes: Part number A091SSG000 $97 $150
Unselected Includes: Part number L1010SG611, Requires both trailer hitch parts for proper installation and safety compliance, Trailer brakes may be needed, Hitch ball not included, Trailer Hitch Harness (DIO) Part number H771SSG001 $375 $500
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA342L154 $19 $30
Unselected Includes: Part number B321SFG000 $26 $40
Unselected Includes: Part number E101EAJ500 $45 $70
Unselected Includes: Part number E771SSG350 $52 $80
Unselected Includes: Part number J101SSG703F3 $149 $230
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA7181002 $26 $40
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA7181004 $49 $75
Unselected Includes: Part number F0010SG600 $65 $100
Unselected Includes: Part number E551SSG210 $104 $160
Unselected Includes: Part number J101SSG703V3 $149 $230
Unselected Includes: Part number J101SSG703W6 $149 $230
Unselected Includes: Part number J101SSG703EN $149 $230
Unselected Includes: Part number J101SSG703TR $149 $230
Unselected Includes: Part number J101SSG703E1 $149 $230
Unselected Includes: Part number J101SSG703P4 $149 $230
Unselected Includes: Part number E201SSG000, $300 $400
Unselected Includes: Part number J1010SG100 $322 $430
Unselected Includes: Part number J201SSG301 $128 $200
Unselected Includes: Part number J201SSG601 $155 $240
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA3991700 $49 $75
Unselected Includes: Part number E231SSG200 $65 $100
Unselected Includes: Part number F541SSG001 $65 $100
Unselected Includes: Part number J1010SG300 $78 $120
Unselected Includes: Part number D0518FG010 $26 $40
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA342L120 $20 $31
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA342L104 $19 $30
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA342L152, Slim Line Subaru $23 $35
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA342L153, Slim Line Subaru $19 $29
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA342L127 $23 $35
Unselected Includes: Part number H4510SG160 $251 $335
Unselected Includes: Part number H4510SG170 $251 $335
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA801P000F3 $75 $115
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA3994000 $91 $140
Unselected Includes: Part number M0010AS020 $10 $15
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA801P000V2 $75 $115
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA801P000W6 $75 $115
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA801P000EN $75 $115
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA801P000TQ $75 $115
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA801P000E1 $75 $115
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA801P000U9 $75 $115
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA342L132 $21 $32
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA342L133 $21 $32
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA342L115 $6 $10
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA342L145 $88 $135
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA342L123 $23 $35
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA342L126 $21 $32
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA342L136 $10 $15
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA342L139 $14 $22
Unselected Includes: Part number E551SSG300 $156 $240
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA342L142 $78 $120
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA342L137 $10 $15
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA567B040, $240 $370
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA567B020 $130 $200
Unselected Includes: Part number H631SSG000 $162 $249
Unselected Includes: Part number H631SFJ101 $77 $119
Unselected Includes: Part number F551SSG021 $31 $47
Unselected Includes: Part number J501SSG400 $42 $65
Unselected Includes: Part number H001SSG502 $277 $370
Unselected Includes: Part number C1010FG410 $52 $80
Unselected Includes: Part number 35022AG043 $77 $128
Unselected Includes: Part number C8110FG010 $104 $160
Unselected Includes: Part number C1010FG100 $110 $170
Unselected Includes: Part number 35160FJ000 $76 $126
Unselected Includes: Part number C8110FG000 $91 $140
Unselected Includes: Part number C1010SG101 $117 $180
Unselected Includes: Part number H501SSG203 $136 $210
Unselected Includes: Part number H501SSG303 $214 $330
Unselected Includes: Part number H701SFJ001 $97 $150
Unselected Includes: Part number H701SFJ101 $97 $150
Unselected Includes: Part number H461SFL100 $50 $77
Unselected Includes: Part number J501SSG301 $49 $82
Unselected Includes: Part number J501SSG200 $52 $80
Unselected Includes: Part number 65550SG002VH $110 $170
Unselected Includes: Part number F551SSG201, $251 $335
Unselected Includes: Part number 65550SG011VH, $110 $170
Unselected Includes: Part number F551SSG001 $32 $50
Unselected Includes: Part number F551SSG010 $36 $55
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA567T100 $45 $70
Unselected Includes: Part number J501SSG000 $52 $80
Unselected Includes: Part number E361SSG000 $117 $180
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA567B010 $117 $180
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA567B030 $32 $50
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA567C020 $305 $470
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA567C030 $344 $530
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA567X010 $345 $460
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA567C011, $240 $370
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA567K010 $143 $220
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA567P010 $182 $280
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA567S010 $130 $200
Unselected Includes: Part number 92172AG040 $13 $20
Unselected Includes: Part number F6010AG010 $8 $13
Unselected Includes: Part number H6710SG000 $26 $40
Unselected Includes: Part number H7110SG100 $255 $340
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA342L129 $6 $10
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA342L138 $14 $22
Unselected Includes: Part number H7110SG000 $104 $160
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA868V9501 $35 $50
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA868V9510 $36 $51
Model Option
Selected $0 $0
Paint Scheme
Selected $0 $0
Port Installed Options
Unselected Includes: Kicker Tweeter Kit Part number H631SFJ101, Kicker Speaker Upgrade Part number H631SSG000 $220 $355
Unselected Includes: Rear Bumper Cover Part number E771SSG350, All-Weather Floor Mats Part number J501SSG200, Splash Guards Part number J1010SG300, Cargo Cover - Manual Rear Gate Part number 65550SG002VH, Not for use w/installed Compartment Cover, May be used separately, Rear Seatback Protector Part number J501SSG400 $396 $614
Unselected Includes: Rear Bumper Cover Part number E771SSG350, Auto-Dimming Mirror w/Compass & HomeLink Part number H501SSG303, Map & Dome Light LED Upgrade, Auto-Dimming Exterior Mirror w/Approach Light Part number J201SSG601, Blind Spot Detection $540 $835
Unselected Includes: Rear Bumper Cover Part number E771SSG350, Rear Seat Back Cargo Net Part number F551SSG021, Auto-Dimming Mirror w/Compass & HomeLink Part number H501SSG303, Auto-Dimming Exterior Mirror w/Approach Light Part number J201SSG601, Blind Spot Detection $518 $801
Unselected Includes: Exterior Mirror Hardware Kit Part number SOA635113, Auto-Dimming Mirror w/Compass Part number H501SSG203, Passenger's Side Mirror, Auto-Dimming Exterior Mirror w/Approach Light Part number J201SSG601, Blind Spot Detection, Driver's Side Mirror Part number J205SSG100 $335 $518
Unselected Includes: Exterior Mirror Hardware Kit Part number SOA635113, Auto-Dimming Mirror w/Compass & HomeLink Part number H501SSG303, Passenger's Side Mirror, Auto-Dimming Exterior Mirror w/Approach Light Part number J201SSG601, Blind Spot Detection, Driver's Side Mirror Part number J205SSG100 $413 $638
Unselected Includes: Part number L1010SG611, Requires both trailer hitch parts for proper installation and safety compliance, Trailer brakes may be needed, Hitch ball not included, Non Turbo Trailer Hitch Harness Part number H771SSG001 $464 $619
Unselected Includes: Part number B321SFG000 $52 $81
Unselected Includes: Part number E771SSG350 $63 $98
Unselected Includes: Part number J1010SG100 $378 $505
Unselected Includes: Part number J101SSG703TR $173 $267
Unselected Includes: Part number J101SSG703V3 $173 $267
Unselected Includes: Part number J101SSG703W6 $173 $267
Unselected Includes: Part number J101SSG703EN $173 $267
Unselected Includes: Part number J201SSG601, Blind Spot Detection $177 $273
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA3991700 $49 $76
Unselected Includes: Part number J1010SG300 $110 $170
Unselected Includes: Part number D0518FG010 $35 $55
Unselected Includes: Part number H4510SG160 $286 $382
Unselected Includes: Part number H4510SG170 $286 $382
Unselected Includes: Part number E101SSG000 $34 $53
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA801P001V2 $100 $155
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA801P001W6 $100 $155
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA801P001EN $100 $155
Unselected Includes: Part number SOA801P001TQ $100 $155
Unselected Includes: Part number H631SSG000 $198 $305
Unselected Includes: Part number H631SFJ101 $97 $150
Unselected Includes: Part number F551SSG021 $42 $65
Unselected Includes: Part number J501SSG400 $60 $93
Unselected Includes: Part number H001SSG502 $341 $455
Unselected Includes: Part number C1010SG101 $126 $195
Unselected Includes: Part number H501SSG203 $158 $245
Unselected Includes: Part number H501SSG303 $236 $365
Unselected $64 $99
Unselected Includes: Part number H701SFJ001 $132 $204
Unselected Includes: Part number H701SFJ101 $132 $204
Unselected Includes: Part number J501SSG301 $49 $82
Unselected Includes: Part number J501SSG200 $52 $81
Unselected Includes: Part number F551SSG001 $44 $68
Unselected Includes: Part number F551SSG010 $47 $73
Unselected Includes: Part number J501SSG000 $52 $80
Unselected Includes: Part number 65550SG002VH, Not for use w/installed Compartment Cover, May be used separately $111 $172
Unselected Includes: Part number E361SSG000 $117 $181
Primary Paint
Selected $0 $0
Unselected $0 $0
Unselected $0 $0
Unselected $0 $0
Seat Trim
Selected $0 $0
Total

Specifications for 2018 Subaru Forester

Standard Equipment

  • Safety Options
    • Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
    • ABS And Driveline Traction Control
    • Side Impact Beams
    • Dual Stage Driver And Passenger Seat-Mounted Side Airbags
    • Low Tire Pressure Warning
    • Dual Stage Driver And Passenger Front Airbags
    • Curtain 1st And 2nd Row Airbags
    • Airbag Occupancy Sensor
    • Driver Knee Airbag
    • Rear Child Safety Locks
    • Outboard Front Lap And Shoulder Safety Belts -inc: Rear Center 3 Point, Height Adjusters and Pretensioners
  • Entertainment Features
    • 2 LCD Monitors In The Front
    • Radio w/Seek-Scan, Clock, Speed Compensated Volume Control, Steering Wheel Controls and Radio Data System
    • Radio: Subaru Starlink 7.0" Multimedia Plus System -inc: AM/FM stereo HD Radio w/single-disc CD player w/MP3/WMA/CRR/RW file capability, multi touch gesture high resolution display, 7.0" LCD screen, voice activated controls, Bluetooth audio streaming connectivity, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, Bluetooth hands-free text messaging connectivity, iPod control capability, rear-vision camera, SiriusXM All Access radio (subscription required), SiriusXM Travel Link (subscription required), smartphone integration: AHA, MirrorLink, Pandora and Siri Eyes Free, Starlink cloud applications: refer to subaru.com for app availability, dual USB ports, 3.5mm auxiliary input jack, 6 speakers, body color roof mounted audio, satellite and connected services antenna and Subaru Starlink connected services StarLink enrollment cannot be applicable to Fleet Management Companies (FMCs) or to Commercial fleet accounts at this time.
  • Exterior Features
    • Deep Tinted Glass
    • Galvanized Steel/Aluminum Panels
    • Grille w/Chrome Bar
    • Lip Spoiler
    • Liftgate Rear Cargo Access
    • Tailgate/Rear Door Lock Included w/Power Door Locks
    • Roof Rack Rails Only
    • LED Brakelights
    • Variable Intermittent Wipers
    • Fixed Rear Window w/Fixed Interval Wiper and Defroster
    • Body-Colored Power Side Mirrors w/Manual Folding
    • Body-Colored Door Handles
    • Black Side Windows Trim and Black Front Windshield Trim
    • Black Bodyside Cladding
    • Body-Colored Rear Bumper w/Black Rub Strip/Fascia Accent
    • Body-Colored Front Bumper
    • Express Open/Close Sliding Glass 1st And 2nd Row Sunroof w/Sunshade
    • Clearcoat Paint
    • Compact Spare Tire Mounted Inside Under Cargo
    • Steel Spare Wheel
    • Tires: P225/55R18 97H All-Season
    • Wheels: 18" x 7.0J Black Finish Aluminum Alloy
  • Interior Features
    • Front Bucket Seats -inc: 10-way power driver's seat w/power lumbar support, height and tilt adjustable front head restraints and passenger front seat back pocket
    • 4-Way Passenger Seat -inc: Manual Recline and Fore/Aft Movement
    • 60-40 Folding Bench Front Facing Manual Reclining Fold Forward Seatback Rear Seat
    • Manual Tilt/Telescoping Steering Column
    • Gauges -inc: Speedometer, Odometer, Tachometer, Trip Odometer and Trip Computer
    • Power Rear Windows and Fixed 3rd Row Windows
    • Front Cupholder
    • Rear Cupholder
    • Valet Function
    • Remote Keyless Entry w/Integrated Key Transmitter, 2 Door Curb/Courtesy, Illuminated Entry, Illuminated Ignition Switch and Panic Button
    • Remote Releases -Inc: Mechanical Fuel
    • Cruise Control w/Steering Wheel Controls
    • HVAC -inc: Underseat Ducts
    • Automatic Air Conditioning
    • Locking Glove Box
    • Driver Foot Rest
    • Interior Trim -inc: Metal-Look Instrument Panel Insert, Metal-Look Door Panel Insert, Metal-Look Console Insert and Metal-Look Interior Accents
    • Full Cloth Headliner
    • Cloth Door Trim Insert
    • Day-Night Rearview Mirror
    • Driver And Passenger Visor Vanity Mirrors w/Driver And Passenger Illumination, Driver And Passenger Auxiliary Mirror
    • Full Floor Console w/Covered Storage, Mini Overhead Console w/Storage and 3 12V DC Power Outlets
    • Front Map Lights
    • Fade-To-Off Interior Lighting
    • Full Carpet Floor Covering -inc: Carpet Front And Rear Floor Mats
    • Carpet Floor Trim
    • Cargo Area Concealed Storage
    • Cargo Space Lights
    • FOB Controls -inc: Trunk/Hatch/Tailgate
    • Tracker System
    • Instrument Panel Bin, Driver / Passenger And Rear Door Bins
    • Power Door Locks
    • Power 1st Row Windows w/Driver And Passenger 1-Touch Up/Down
    • Systems Monitor
    • Trip Computer
    • Outside Temp Gauge
    • Digital/Analog Display
    • Seats w/Cloth Back Material
    • Manual Adjustable Rear Head Restraints
    • Rear Center Armrest
    • Perimeter Alarm
    • Engine Immobilizer
    • 3 12V DC Power Outlets
    • Air Filtration
  • Mechanical Features
    • Engine: 2.5L 4 Cyl DOHC 16V w/VVT -inc: Active Valve Control System (AVCS) variable valve timing
    • Transmission: Lineartronic CVT -inc: low shift mode, X-mode and hill descent control (HDC)
    • 3.70 Axle Ratio
    • GVWR: 4,480 lbs
    • Full-Time All-Wheel Drive
    • Battery w/Run Down Protection
    • Gas-Pressurized Shock Absorbers
    • Front And Rear Anti-Roll Bars
    • Electric Power-Assist Steering
    • 15.9 Gal. Fuel Tank
    • Single Stainless Steel Exhaust
    • Permanent Locking Hubs
    • Strut Front Suspension w/Coil Springs
    • Double Wishbone Rear Suspension w/Coil Springs
    • 4-Wheel Disc Brakes w/4-Wheel ABS, Front Vented Discs and Hill Hold Control

Tech Specs

  • Brakes Features
    • Brake ABS System - 4-Wheel
    • Disc - Front (Yes or ) - Yes
    • Disc - Rear (Yes or ) - Yes
    • Front Brake Rotor Diam x Thickness (in) - 11.6
    • Rear Brake Rotor Diam x Thickness (in) - 10.8
  • Cargo Area Dimensions Features
    • Cargo Area Length @ Floor to Seat 1 (in) - 71.9
    • Cargo Area Length @ Floor to Seat 2 (in) - 37.1
    • Cargo Area Width @ Beltline (in) - 45.9
    • Cargo Box Width @ Wheelhousings (in) - 42.2
    • Cargo Box (Area) Height (in) - 34.8
    • Cargo Volume to Seat 1 (ft³) - 74.7
    • Cargo Volume to Seat 2 (ft³) - 34.4
    • Cargo Volume to Seat 3 (ft³) - 34.4
  • Engine Features
    • Engine Type - Regular Unleaded H-4
    • Displacement - 2.5 L/152
    • Fuel System - Sequential MPI
    • SAE Net Horsepower @ RPM - 170 @ 5800
    • SAE Net Torque @ RPM - 174 @ 4000
  • Exterior Dimensions Features
    • Wheelbase (in) - 103.9
    • Length, Overall (in) - 181.5
    • Width, Max w/o mirrors (in) - 70.7
    • Height, Overall (in) - 68.2
    • Tread Width, Front (in) - 60.9
    • Tread Width, Rear (in) - 61.1
    • Min Ground Clearance (in) - 8.7
    • Liftover Height (in) - 28.6
  • Fuel Tank Features
    • Fuel Tank Capacity, Approx (gal) - 15.9
  • Interior Dimensions Features
    • Passenger Capacity - 5
    • Passenger Volume (ft³) - 108.3
    • Front Head Room (in) - 41.4
    • Front Leg Room (in) - 43
    • Front Shoulder Room (in) - 57
    • Front Hip Room (in) - 53.9
    • Second Head Room (in) - 39.8
    • Second Leg Room (in) - 38
    • Second Shoulder Room (in) - 56.5
    • Second Hip Room (in) - 53
  • Mileage Features
    • Fuel Economy Est-Combined (MPG) - 28
    • EPA Fuel Economy Est - City (MPG) - 26
    • EPA Fuel Economy Est - Hwy (MPG) - 32
  • Steering Features
    • Steering Type - Rack-Pinion
    • Turning Diameter - Curb to Curb (ft) - 34.8
  • Summary Features
    • Vehicle Name - Subaru Forester
    • Body Style - Sport Utility
  • Suspension Features
    • Suspension Type - Front - Strut
    • Suspension Type - Rear - Double Wishbone
    • Suspension Type - Front (Cont.) - Strut
    • Suspension Type - Rear (Cont.) - Double Wishbone
  • Tires Features
    • Front Tire Size - P225/55HR18
    • Rear Tire Size - P225/55HR18
    • Spare Tire Size - Compact
  • Trailering Features
    • Dead Weight Hitch - Max Trailer Wt. (lbs) - 1500
    • Dead Weight Hitch - Max Tongue Wt. (lbs) - 150
    • Wt Distributing Hitch - Max Trailer Wt. (lbs) - 1500
    • Wt Distributing Hitch - Max Tongue Wt. (lbs) - 150
    • Maximum Trailering Capacity (N/A) - 1500
  • Transmission Features
    • Drivetrain - All Wheel Drive
    • Trans Type - 6
    • Trans Description Cont. - CVT w/OD
    • First Gear Ratio (:1) - 3.58 - 0.62
    • Reverse Ratio (:1) - 3.67
    • Final Drive Axle Ratio (:1) - 3.70
  • Vehicle Features
    • EPA Classification - Small Sport Utility Vehicles 4WD
    • Annual CO2 Emissions @ 15K mi/year - 6.3
  • Weight Information Features
    • Base Curb Weight (lbs) - 3433
  • Wheels Features
    • Front Wheel Size (in) - 18 X 7
    • Rear Wheel Size (in) - 18 X 7
    • Spare Wheel Size (in) - Compact
    • Front Wheel Material - Aluminum
    • Rear Wheel Material - Aluminum
    • Spare Wheel Material - Steel

2018 Subaru Forester Photos & Colors

Photos

Below are pictures of the 2018 Subaru Forester. Select the picture you want to view below

Available Colors

Below are the available colors for the 2018 Subaru Forester. Select the color to see a close-up view.

  • Crystal Black Silica Crystal White Pearl Ice Silver Metallic
  • Crystal Black Silica
  • Crystal White Pearl
  • Ice Silver Metallic

Compare the 2018 Subaru Forester

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Introduction

The Subaru Forester is familiar, as a pioneer compact wagon-like utility vehicle. It was a crossover before crossovers were called crossovers, meaning it’s based on a car platform. It was boxy then and it’s still boxier than the many copycats that have come along over the years.

Forester brings the ride and handling of a car, with all-wheel drive proven over the ages, and nearly nine inches of ground clearance for primitive pursuits. It’s the most popular Subaru, if not the one you see in pictures, and has won an award or two for being one of the best buys on the market.

A year ago, we spent six months with a turbocharged Forester 2.0XT, testing it in a variety of conditions and terrains, confirming the awards are well-earned. It doesn’t have the agility of the Ford Escape or Mazda CX-5, but feels far sportier than the Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, or Toyota RAV4. It’s got one of the best continuously variable transmissions in the game, and gets an EPA-rated 28 Combined miles per gallon. Its virtues are impressive: reliability, longevity, good handling, all-weather capability, and interior room with cargo capacity.

The Forester’s styling was updated for 2017 (grille, bumper and headlamps), and for 2018 the changes are in packaging. The EyeSight active-safety package is standard on Touring models, a camera system that sees danger ahead and self-brakes. Along with that system comes self-dimming headlamps that turn with the car, and reverse automatic braking. The Touring models also have blind-spot monitors and rear cross-traffic alerts. A Black Edition Package is a new option for 2018 Forester 2.5i Premium models.

The base engine is a 2.5-liter, horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine making 170 horsepower. This boxer engine is mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox or CVT. Acceleration is adequate.

A quicker option is the turbocharged 2.0-liter that makes 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque; it comes only with a paddle-shifting CVT, which can be programmed to feel like a six-speed or eight-speed automatic transmission using Subaru’s SI-Drive system. That 2.0XT model gets 25 Combined miles per gallon on Premium gasoline. Over a few thousand miles during our six-month test with a Forester 2.0XT, we averaged 24.1 miles per gallon.

The federal NHTSA gives the Forester five stars overall for crash safety, and the insurance industry’s IIHS confirms that with top ratings in every crash test including the challenging small overlap frontal crash, making it a Top Safety Pick Plus.

Lineup

2018 Forester 2.5i models come in base ($23,795), Premium ($26,195), Limited ($29,395), and Touring ($30,090) models. Forester 2.0XT comes in Premium ($29,495) and Touring ($36,090).

Standard equipment in all models includes rearview camera, Bluetooth hands-free calling, audio streaming, and a 6.2-inch touchscreen. Options include perforated leather seats, a 7.0-inch screen with infotainment, eight-speaker, 440-watt sound system, and power rear liftgate.

Walkaround

The Forester is anti-swoopy. It’s uncompromising It’s a tall, short, square wagon with the ride height of an SUV. Its design priorities include easy entrance and exit.

We’re not saying it’s ugly. It does step out a bit, with character lines on the hood and sculpting on the sides. The taillamps come from the edgy Impreza. Not everything is neat. On the turbo models there’s an aggressive airdam that looks like dewlaps on a lizard.

Interior

One of the Forester’s strengths, and one reason it’s so popular, is that it’s simple and intuitive. You can climb in the car and operate everything for the first time, without having to refer to a thick manual. Unlike, say, a German car or two.

The instrument panel, shared with the Legacy sedan and Outback crossover, is clean. The audio and climate controls are logical and easy to use. The information screen is mounted over the center console that flows back over bins and cupholders to an armrest.

The interior materials are a mix of matte and soft-touch surfaces with matte metallic trim, including a handsome Saddle Brown perforated leather with contrasting stitching for the Touring model. The 2017 Forester got more sound insulation in the floor, an acoustic windshield, and thicker glass in the doors, all intended to reduce interior noise while underway.

The driving position is high and the window line low, so there’s an unsurpassed feeling of space in front, for a compact car. The dash is located forward and low, to give front occupants more room. But the front seats have short flat cushions and slim bolstering. Tall drivers will find their knees contacting the center console and door panels, which aren’t soft.

The rear seats have a better contour. There’s ample headroom and legroom, with a low driveshaft tunnel, as well as rear doors that are wide enough for easy entry and exit. Every model but the base has a 60/40 rear seat that folds nearly flat with a one-touch mechanism, creating a generous cargo capacity of 74.7 cubic feet. And there’s still a good 34.4 cubic feet behind the rear seat.

Driving Impressions

The Forester is sportier than it looks. It’s quicker and better handling than a Honda CR-V or Nissan Rogue. It brings some fun to its utility.

The base 2.5-liter isn’t so quick, but it will have enough acceleration for most people. We prefer the 6-speed manual transmission to the CVT with this engine, because the CVT in the 2.5 isn’t as sophisticated as it is in the 2.0 turbo. The shift linkage isn’t as tight as it might be, and the throws are a bit long and truckish, but still, the six-speed manual gets the most out of the engine’s torque.

In the Forester 2.0XT, Subaru’s SI-Drive system offers Intelligent, Sport, and Sport Sharp modes, to alter throttle and CVT response. Sport Sharp enables the CVT to shift through eight snappy steps, using paddles on the steering wheel. Sport and Intelligent mode are programmed for six steps. This CVT is the least annoying we can think of.

Forester’s good handling is enhanced by the stout turbo engine. The electric power steering is well tuned and nicely weighted, with a fairly quick ratio. The body scarcely leans, for a tall utility vehicle. The ride is comfortable and not harsh on big bumps.. The 2.0XT Touring adds torque vectoring, which dabs the brakes on the inside rear wheel in corners, helping the car rotate. The Mazda CX-5 might still be better on the pavement, but it can’t match the Forester on unpaved trails, so if you ever go there, you’re ahead with the Subaru.

Forester’s relatively rugged capability on trails is enhanced by 8.7 inches of ground clearance, with approach and departure angles that are quite impressive for a small SUV.

The mechanical all-wheel drive makes the Forester fun and predictable on dirt or snowy roads. For more offroad security, there’s an available X Mode (with hill descent control) that moves the power between the left and right wheels, in addition to the front and rear wheels. This puts the Subaru up there on the sophistication level of Jeep and Land Rover.

Summary

Underneath the Forester’s dated skin lies the heart, soul and spirit of a dominant competitor in the field of compact crossovers. The base 2.5-liter engine with a 6-speed manual transmission brings tremendous value, given the Forester’s proven strengths and capabilities. The CVT with the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine is great for a CVT.

Sam Moses contributed to this report.

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Other 2018 Subaru Forester styles
2018 Subaru Forester 2.0XT Premium CVT
2018 Subaru Forester 2.0XT Touring CVT
2018 Subaru Forester 2.5i CVT
2018 Subaru Forester 2.5i Limited CVT
2018 Subaru Forester 2.5i Manual
2018 Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium CVT
2018 Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium Manual
2018 Subaru Forester 2.5i Touring CVT

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