Looking for a Used Forester in your area?

CarGurus has 21,024 nationwide Forester listings starting at $600.

Average user score
4.5 5 stars
Based on 15 reviews

2003 Subaru Forester Overview

Though it was probably responsible for kick-starting the crossover trend, the 2003 Subaru Forester gets a major overhaul this year in an effort to stay competitive with the growing number of car-like SUVs hitting the market. Blending the versatility and cargo room of an SUV with the safety, maneuverability, and comfort of a sedan, the Forester has remained a popular family car. For 2003, the body and suspension have been stiffened and brake size increased for more stable performance, while overall weight has been reduced to accommodate more standard features.

Trim names have changed for the 2003 Forester. Now available as the base 2.5X and 2.5XS, about the only thing that's stayed the same is the full-time AWD and the 2.5-liter, 165-hp H4 engine with choice of 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic. New standard features on all Foresters include bigger 16-inch tires and keyless entry. In addition to ABS brakes, dual front airbags, and foglights, the 2003 Forester gets standard side impact bags, active head restraints, and a Hill Holder system that finds the right gearing to prevent rollbacks. The 2.5XS adds electronic brakeforce distribution to its front and rear disc brakes (the X only has front discs). The IIHSA gave the 2003 Forester its best pick for a compact SUV.

On the outside, a bigger grille and redesigned taillights are most noticeable on the 2003 Forester. Fender flares increase in size and halogen headlights are added. Interior rear legroom has been enlarged slightly, though the backseat is still most suitable for children. Cargo room remains the same, at 64 cubic feet with the split-folding seats down. Drivers love the reliability and strength of the AWD on snow and ice, and parents appreciate the safety and reliability of the 2003 Forester. Handling and turning ratios also get high marks. But owners feel the Forester is in need of a power boost, and the most common complaint was the inadequate tires. There is also mention of road and wind noise and a confusing climate control system.


What's your take on the 2003 Subaru Forester?

  • Report
  • Report
Have you driven a 2003 Subaru Forester?  
Rank This Car

Looking for a Used Forester in your area?

CarGurus has 21,024 nationwide Forester listings starting at $600.

Have questions?   Ask a question

Subaru Forester Questions

Engine Swap

I have a 2003 Subaru Forester and I’m wanting to swap the Ej 25 for a 2jz gte and need to know what all I’ll have to do.


Tail Lights Won't Shut Off.

The running-tail lights will not shut off. The brake lights are fine. They shut off. It's the automatic tail lights that will not shut off. I have read the manual, worked every switch and dial and n...

2003 Subaru Forester Black Dash Connector

I have a 2003 Subaru Forester with a lose connector coming from under the dash (Black Dash Connector). See pictures. What does this go to and where do I reconnect it?

03 Subaru Forester Bogging Down

I recently bought a Subaru forester for a individual. I has been sitting for a while. But started right up. I drove about 10 miles and it acts like it bogging down. So I drain all the gas out and p...

2003 Forester Heating Up I All Ready Replaced The Radiator And Thermostat ...

2003 forester heating up i changed radiator,thermostat and water pump. what should i do?