2017 Subaru Forester Review


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2017 Subaru Forester Overview

Anyone searching for testimony as to the Subaru Forester’s quality need only turn to the model’s current sales history. In May 2016, Subaru sold well over 15,000 Foresters, and the Forester has sold over 10,000 units a month for 34 months straight (compared with 27 consecutive months for the Outback). Keep in mind that Subaru is a somewhat smaller mainstream automaker, not typically known for moving colossal numbers of cars. And though the simple fact that a lot of people are buying something isn’t always a good reason to buy it yourself, the fickle workings of brand loyalty in the auto industry combined with the Forester’s excellent track record with safety ratings and fuel economy (and its inarguable utility) make a pretty good case for the crossover that has long eclipsed the Outback as Subaru’s top-selling model.

Last redesigned for 2014, the Forester comes into the 2017 model year with a mid-cycle refresh that updates it from the inside out. The hexagonal grille has been redesigned, and new headlights show off a prominent C shape illuminated by LED running lights; both exterior updates keep the Forester more or less on par with current auto-design tendencies like being sleek and a little bit muscular. You can get two new wheel designs on certain trims as well, with a high-contrast black machined finish. The Forester has always had a taller and more rugged exterior than the Outback, including better approach and departure angles to let it nudge its way over larger obstacles (think larger piles of snow).

The Forester model is broken down into trims based on both the powerplant and the level of comfort and convenience. There’s the 2.5i, available in base standard, Premium, Limited, and Touring trims, and powered by a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder horizontal “boxer” engine (H4) that puts out 170 hp and 174 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed manual transmission comes standard on the base and Premium trims, with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) optional—the CVT comes standard on the Limited and Touring. The Forester 2.0XT, available in the Premium and Touring trims, uses a turbocharged 2.0-liter H4 producing 250 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, with the CVT standard. As with other Subaru models, all Foresters come with the company’s highly rated Symmetrical all-wheel-drive (AWD) system, sort of a must-have for the kind of driving at which the Forester excels—navigating nasty weather conditions and tough roads.

Among the Forester’s other strengths is sound fuel economy, with EPA estimates for the 2017 model coming in at 26 mpg city/32 highway/28 combined with the 2.5-liter H4 and 23/27/25 with the 2.0-liter turbo. The new Forester also features a quicker steering ratio and better sound insulation throughout the cabin thanks to added soundproofing, thicker door glass, restructured door seals, underfloor insulation, and an acoustic windshield.

It would probably be better to go for the Limited or Touring if you’re on the choosy side when it comes to interiors. Both versions add leather-trimmed perforated upholstery and heated passenger seats. For 2017, Limited trims include silver-metallic and gloss-black finish on the center dash panel and a leather-wrapped steering wheel; the Touring adds optional contrast stitching, additional leather trim, and a heated steering wheel. All trims feature Subaru’s Starlink infotainment system, with a 6.2-inch touchscreen on the standard and a 7-inch high-resolution screen in the Premium, Limited, and Touring. The upper three trims also include Bluetooth connectivity and an optional navigation system. A Harman Kardon premium sound system is optional on the Limited and standard on the Touring.

Another reason to choose at least the Premium trim is that it’s there Subaru’s EyeSight system becomes available. One of the better suites of safety technology out there, EyeSight has also been updated for the 2017 Forester to include a lane-keeping assistance feature that will guide the vehicle back to the center of the lane if it detects wandering. EyeSight also includes high-beam assist, reverse automatic braking, and steering-responsive LED headlamps; blind-spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert come standard on the Limited and Touring. The 2.0XT Touring trims equipped with EyeSight even add active torque vectoring (which originated with the WRX and WRX STI performance models) for better handling.

Although the 2017 Forester hasn’t yet been safety tested, you can be pretty confident that it will maintain the previous year’s ratings, which were fantastic. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awarded the 2016 Forester 5 out of 5 stars for overall crashworthiness, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Subaru a Top Safety Pick+ rating—though this rating is technically only for Foresters equipped with EyeSight.

Subaru has said to expect the 2017 Forester at dealers sometime during late summer 2016. It has also announced pricing, which starts at $22,595 for the 2.5i standard and runs to $34,295 for the 2.0XT Touring, placing it well within the realm of affordable crossovers.

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