2016 Subaru Forester | CarGurus Test Drive Review
12 Comments


Hi. I’m Mike Perkins from CarGurus. This
week I’m driving the 2016 Subaru Forester 2.5i Limited. It comes with a 2.5-liter
boxer engine good for 170 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque mated to a
CVT, although a 6-speed manual comes standard on 2.5i and 2.5i Premium
trims. This version comes with the optional
navigation system, which gets you the Harman Kardon stereo and Subaru’s EyeSight active safety system for $2,145. Now two years into the Forester’s
fourth generation, the Starlink infotainment system finally arrives,
providing smartphone functionality for its touchscreen interface. The old
system was a bit of a mess, so let’s see just how much of an
improvement this really is. Even though this is a new system, things still feel a bit behind with
regard to performance. There’s a lot of drag to be dealt with
here, although the pinch-and-drag functionality – that’s very, very welcome. The 7-inch touchscreen’s flanked by
these six touch-capacitive buttons and two knobs, although you’ll notice that some of them are repeated here both on the sides and on the screen. Now what you can do is reorder all of these icons so that your favorites always appear here. And as you can see, the button response time is much quicker than the pinch-and-drag, but what
really bothers me is the response on this tuning knob over here. It always seems to go one more than I’m wanting it to. That’s frustrating. Really, actually
dangerous while driving. Also, I find some of the settings buried
illogically deep in the interface like changing navigation display from on- to
off-road. I had to go to the manual to figure that one out, and that’s something that should just be intuitive. There are some readability issues, though. The screen washes nearly completely out in the sun, which of course is only
exacerbated by this panoramic sunroof. Plus, it’s got one of the lowest-resolution backup cameras I’ve ever tested. Now the system pairs with your
smartphone easily through MirrorLink, but a lot of users have mentioned issues and
errors with different models of phone. Android Auto or Apple CarPlay would be a
much better option here. Something else that would be very
welcome is more power. The CVT does a great job of delivering an
impressive EPA-rated 24 city and 32 highway miles per gallon for a combined
rating of 27, but the power delivery is pretty frustrating and often lurch-y.
Passing and merging will require some planning here. The 6-speed manual would make much
better use of the power available and only drops mileage down to 22 city and 29 highway, or better yet, go for the 2.0XT with the turbo 2-liter in for an impressive
250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque – enough to send the Forester to 60 in just 6 seconds. That engine only comes with the CVT set, but it will still deliver an estimated 23 city and 28 highway, although testers have had some trouble
recreating those numbers. One thing Subarus have always boasted is better off-road capability than your typical crossover. Now since 2014,
Foresters have had the option of the X Mode feature, and that’ll mitigate your
traction/stability control and your engine and transmission settings to
really optimize your traction below 25 miles an hour. Now, it’s not going to give it the
off-road chops of a 4Runner for instance, but with X Mode and 8.7 inches of ground clearance, it’s easily going to best the Escape that I tested just a couple of weeks ago, which can’t even manage a full 8 inches of clearance. That said, there is a trade-off. The
Escape was much more nimble on the road, and here the extra height in the
Forester can definitely be felt, but visibility is excellent. There are
nearly no blind spots, and with a 17.4-foot turning radius, it beats the Escape by a full 2 feet. It also trounces most competitors with regard to space. With 34.4 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 74.7 cubic feet with them folded flat, the Forester beats out usual class leader Honda CR-V by 4
cubic feet, and it’s 10 more total cubes than the CX-5. Although, if you go for the
panoramic sunroof, you’ll be giving up nearly 6 of those from the reduced
headspace. Even so, things feel very spacious in here. At 6′ 4″,
I’ve still got plenty of headroom even with the sunroof, and honestly, things look a
bit better than I’ve come to expect from Subaru interiors. Soft-touch surfaces are
nearly everywhere, and things have been kept rather conservative as per
tradition for Subaru interiors, but there are a few gripes. I’ve never
liked this third screen here. As far as I’m concerned, three screens is at least one too many
considering I like to commit a certain amount of attention to the road in
addition to looking at display screens and gauges. And this center console—it just—it slides far too easily. It’s always sliding forward right when I’m braking
or looking over my shoulder to check for blind spots. And I wish that these
seats had a bit more leg support— I always feel like I’m about to fall
right out of them. What it does have is a near-perfect
safety score from both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. In fact, it received top marks
in all tests except for total frontal impact safety, for which it got 4 out of
5 stars. This version has the EyeSight safety
system, which employs stereoscopic cameras mounted here in the windshield
for things like adaptive cruise, lane- departure warning, and forward-collision
avoidance, but no blind-spot monitor. So I guess
it’s a lucky thing that the visibility is so good. And because EyeSight’s an optical
system, it can actually be compromised in low-visibility situations like
driving straight into the sun or during misty fog or when the windshield gets dirty from things like snow or dust or mud. It’s actually turned off on me a few
times over the past week, and I’d love it if you’d let me know in the Comments
section whether or not you’ve experienced the same. What Subaru has ended up with is a very
competitive offering in the crossover SUV segment. It doesn’t have the off-road
capability of the Trailhawk, and it doesn’t have the on-road manners of the
Escape or the CX-5, but what it does have is very impressive space, a near-
perfect safety record, and enough off-road capability to have some fun. For
32 grand to walk away in this Limited–or even more impressive, under 23 for the
base model–the Forester’s a great deal and worthy of your consideration in this
very competitive segment. Hey, thanks for watching. Don’t forget to
subscribe, and click the link in the description – you can head over to
CarGurus.com and read my full review of the 2016 Subaru Forester.

12 thoughts on “2016 Subaru Forester | CarGurus Test Drive Review

  1. Forester owner, re:eyesight – have had the vehicle 3 months, and it has turned off twice. Both were same time of day, same street, driving into a low late day sun. Love mine!

  2. The radio button response is "dangerous"… Really? Do you wear a helmet to fasten your velcro shoes, too?! Wow. 😛

  3. To quote Fox News, I thought this review was fair AND balanced. Nice work. It's making me rethink my choices for a mid-size SUV.

  4. I love that there are gripes as well as praises. It tells me what I could expect while deciding if I want one. I wish there were more videos like this out there. It's so beneficial to know both the pros and the cons to any vehicle before buying, and not just what's great about it.
    I do wish they'd tell you whether or not it's expensive to fix though. I hear Subarus are notoriously expensive when things break, but I'd like to know if that's true. I understand any car can be quite costly but some are more so than others. Is a Subaru one of those? At this point, that would be the only reason for me not to buy one. I have 2 kids and work part-time (until school lets out). Right now my husband and I share a vehicle. I need something dependable and not super costly to fix if something goes wrong. I was thinking either a Forester or a Toyota Rav4 (I want a crossover.)

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