The Forester is a mid-size crossover SUV built by Subaru in 1997. It was the first vehicle to combine all-wheel drive with a boxer engine and made it popular among customers seeking winter traction and year-round capability.
When it comes to auto manufacturers, Subaru is one of the most reliable. While there have been complaints about some of the manufacturer’s design choices, few owners have complained about reliability.
Many professionals have highly rated the SUV. Still, this article will be taking a deep dive into the best and worst years for Subaru Forester.
Let’s list down all of the important years before we get into all of the details:
Best Years for Subaru Forester:
Worst Years for Subaru Forester:
If you want more details, this article will focus on all of the years mentioned above.
Let’s get in to it without any delay!
List Of The Best Years For The Subaru Forester: What Years To Buy
#1 Best Year: 2008 Subaru Forester
Being an old model doesn’t mean that it cannot be good. Proper proof of that is the 2008 Subaru Forester that has been around for more than a decade. Many have declared this model as one of the best Forester ever made.
Well, the 2.5L engine was an amazing performer. The SUV also has excellent fuel consumption, which many will appreciate.
Although this model is pretty old, the manufacturer included an interior that was durable and looked good. The leather seats made it look luxurious. Overall, the 2008 Forester is the best model that one can buy.
#2 Best Year: 2021 Subaru Forester
If you want a variation of the SUV that is not too old, there is nothing better than the 2021 Subaru Forester. The 2021 variant comes very close to the 2008 one in all aspects.
The all-wheel-drive of this vehicle is great on all terrains. The manufacturer has also included an excellent infotainment system that is easy to use and understand.
This SUV has one of the best fuel averages in its class. Topping out at 29 mpg is truly insane, and you will observe that there will be fewer overall trips to the nearest gas station. The seats of this SUV are also comfortable, all five of them.
#3 Best Year: 2013 Subaru Forester
If you have a specific budget and don’t want to settle for a too old model, you should consider the 2013 Subaru Forester. It has an amazing performance. If you opt for the turbocharged variants, you will have a memorable driving experience.
Although the model is almost a decade old, it does have excellent safety features as of writing this article. From antilock brakes to front and side airbags, you will be fully protected in the event of a crash.
#4 Best Year: 2020 Subaru Forester
The 2020 Subaru Forester is another great option for buying the latest SUV generation. This model checks all of the right boxes, regardless of the variation you choose.
Being one of the latest models out there, the 2020 Forester features state-of-the-art technology, such as a user-friendly infotainment system and adaptive cruise control.
Although the drive on this model is not that impressive, its interior is extremely comfortable. The cabin has been isolated nicely. You will not have to worry about road noise.
#5 Best Year: 2007 Subaru Forester
Although the latest models of the Forester are pretty reliable, it should not be forgotten that some old ones were and still are loved by consumers. Take the 2007 model, for example. It is the perfect option for people on a budget.
It is an amazing performer, mainly due to the 2.5L engine present under the hood. Although it is old, the interior of the 2007 Subaru Forester is pretty good.
The manufacturer did not cut any corners while choosing the materials. There is even a lot of cargo space, which many of you will appreciate.
#6 Best Year: 2005 Subaru Forester
Even older models of the SUV are still competent nowadays. The 2005 Subaru Forester is an amazing option for getting the first car for their kids or secondary use. The 2005 model was the first one that featured electronic throttle control.
This SUV has a durable build. It has been designed to last. The engine is excellent, and you will enjoy your daily rides, even though it is almost two decades old. Regardless of the weather and driving conditions, the Forester will drive flawlessly.
#7 Best Year: 2006 Subaru Forester
You could also consider the 2006 Subaru Forester, which is one year newer and is pretty similar to its previous model.
This crossover features a 2.5L engine under the hood that is pretty good and will provide you with a smooth driving experience. This model also has standard safety features such as ABS and airbags.
The 2006 Forester was praised and appreciated by many due to its excellent quality premium-looking interior. The leather seats and large cargo space make the experience of riding in this vehicle truly exceptional. The seating is also comfortable and spacious.
#8 Best Year: 2010 Subaru Forester
Not looking to settle for a model that is too old? The 2010 Subaru Forester comes in the middle and is a model that deserved a spot on this list. The only drawback of this model is that it did not have excellent fuel consumption. It is still pretty good.
The 2010 variant is great on the road. Still featuring the same 2.5L engine under the hood, this option is great for families. Subaru’s have always been known for their lavish interior. The trend continues with this decade-old model.
If you listen to music, you will not be pleased with the inbuilt speakers. Other than that, it is a model that is worth considering.
List Of The Worst Years For The Subaru Forester: What Years To Avoid
With all of the important years being listed above, I thought it was only right to get into the details of all of the models that one must avoid at all costs.
These models have been reported to be the most unreliable ones below:
#1 Worst Year: 2015 Subaru Forester
Although the 2015 Subaru Forester is relatively new, it is the worst crossover model that one can buy.
This year was filled with engine and transmission issues, which caused problems for many people. Unfortunate owners complained about the engine stalling when driving unusually high oil consumption.
The list of problems does not end there. There were many reports of the transmission system slipping when driving. The system would fail too.
Some buyers of this model faced major electrical issues, such as the engine not starting and the batteries dying very quickly.
#2 Worst Year: 2014 Subaru Forester
The 2015 model carried most of the issues from 2014 Subaru Forester.
It had many issues, some of them related to the engine and the suspension. Engine issues were similar to the 2015 model. The engine would die, and it would consume high amounts of oil. This model was also called by many a hassle to own.
The 2014 Forester suffered from transmission issues too. The coil springs would break. There were also reports of the vehicle shaking at high speeds. Some owners also complained that this model had a problem of fuses blowing unexpectedly.
#3 Worst Year: 2017 Subaru Forester
Well, some more recent models are not recommended to buy. The 2017 Subaru Forester is yet another model that one must steer clear of. This vehicle had transmission, engine, and even AC issues.
Buyers complained that the crossover would shake and shudder at high speeds. When talking about the engine, it would stall at high speeds.
Even the issue of excessive oil consumption was present. The air conditioner would also stop working, which is an expensive replacement.
#4 Worst Year: 2019 Subaru Forester
It is expected for a new generation of a vehicle to not do well during the first year. Well, that was exactly the case with the 2019 Subaru Forester.
This SUV had some major issues. The infotainment system would glitch out, which would result in some of the features such as navigation and phone features not working.
The electrical system of the 2019 Forester was not good too. Buyers complained that they had to replace the batteries too often due to them dying too quickly. The lane assist and safety features would become faulty too, which is pretty dangerous.
#5 Worst Year: 2016 Subaru Forester
The 2016 Subaru Forester was plagued with engine issues. These problems were a source of frustration for many owners. Engine issues included a unique one, where the vehicle would not accelerate at all. The idles on startup were pretty rough too.
This is the only model in the entire Subaru lineup that had paint issues. The manufacturer did a poor job on the paint, with the color on some parts not matching with the others.
There were some electrical and transmission system issues too, which were not major but did make owning the crossover an inconvenience.
#6 Worst Year: 2018 Subaru Forester
We are now arriving at vehicles that a person can consider, although not recommended.
The 2018 Subaru Forester was a good vehicle. It was the last model of the fourth generation before the highly complained about 2019 model arrived. The issue with this model was that the windshield would crack unexpectedly.
Another issue with this model was that the preloaded GPS was not updated. This means that it does not reflect the latest updates to the maps.
This caused people to get lost. There were a few reports of the Bluetooth failing. Although they do make the daily experience a hassle, they are fixable.
#7 Worst Year: 2011 Subaru Forester
Well, the 2011 Subaru Forester was not a good vehicle. Although there were fewer problems related to the electrical system and the transmission, the engine and the brakes caused major issues.
The SUV would consume oil excessively. This was noted by users when they smelled the odor of oil burning. The engine on this SUV would also fail unexpectedly, resulting in serious accidents.
The 2011 model can be considered, but you have to be extra cautious while driving it. One interesting issue with this model was that the vehicle would sometimes accelerate when the brakes were pressed. This could again cause a serious accident.
#8 Worst Year: 2009 Subaru Forester
Finally, coming to the final place is the 2009 Subaru Forester. This SUV was pretty decent and was reliable too.
It had engine issues, but other problems were at a bare minimum. If you consider a vehicle from this list, then the 2009 Forester should be your only choice.
The engine issues in this crossover were pretty serious, with the majority of the owners reporting engine failure and leaking of the head gaskets. There were also reports of the engine consuming too much oil, but they were low.
What Are The Most Common Problems With The Subaru Forester?
1. Transmission Issues
The most common issue that owners of the Forester have reported is related to the transmission. They complained that the vehicle would shake and shudder at high speeds, which is a cause for concern.
Although it looked like the issue was related to the software, it was a design flaw. The transmission issues also caused problems with acceleration.
Buyers complained that their Forester would not shift to the correct gear and would not climb steep inclines. This is another major problem that has been confirmed to be not software-related.
2. Engine Issues
Coming next up is an issue found in newer and older models of the Forester. Owners of the vehicle had complaints about the SUV having severe engine issues, some of which are extremely costly to fix.
The most common problem was that the engine would consume oil rapidly. There was no leak, but the engine could not manage its usage.
The issue can only be fixed by getting a new short block or replacing the engine entirely. The cost of a replacement can be extremely high.
The engine on these vehicles also seemed to malfunction when driving. It would stop or sometimes even accelerate on the road. You may have already imagined how serious of an issue this is.
The vehicle would also jump forward when pressing the accelerator lightly. All of these engine problems were a source of frustration for many users. They may have caused accidents, which many users need to be aware of before buying this vehicle.
3. Electrical Problems
Electrical issues are another major cause of concern for the Subaru Forester. These issues varied in each model.
Common problems are the tailgate not opening and the GPS not showing the correct directions. Other frustrated owners reported that Forester’s infotainment system would freeze up repeatedly, which would make it unusable.
Other than this, the camera, the radio, and other electronics would go haywire too. A model of the Forester also had the issue of fuses blowing, which is difficult to diagnose.
These issues can be fixed, but they require extensive diagnosis, which can be hard to fix. It looks like the manufacturer has not worked too much to improve the reliability of this system over the years.
4. Failure Of The Air Conditioning System
Well, there were many models in which the air conditioner would become faulty, which would result in the system not working at all.
Coming up next is another problem that can be difficult and expensive to fix. A fix for the AC system is vital because it is needed in extreme seasons.
According to technicians, the condenser would go faulty, which needed replacement. Owners reported that the system would fail every few years.
Adding up the replacement of the condenser every few years becomes expensive. The problem cannot be fixed permanently for those who want to know. It was mostly found in the 2017 Forester, which is on the avoid list.
5. Sudden Tripping Of Sensors
Finally, coming last on this list is a sensor issue. The issue of tripping sensors is usually found in models manufactured before 2014—the failure of the sensor results in the check engine light becoming illuminated.
Although too many people did not experience this problem, it was a major cause of concern for all people that did face it.
If you wonder which sensor is the source of the problem, it is the oxygen sensor. The sensor develops cracks, which results in the check engine light illuminating.
This is the only problem that resulted in Subaru recalling some of its vehicles. If you own this SUV, you can expect the sensor to trip after driving more than 100000 miles.
Related: Why Won’t My Subaru Forester Start?
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. How Long Will Subaru Forester Last?
According to user reports, the vehicle can last anywhere between 200000 miles to 2500000 miles. If you drive 15000 miles a year, you can expect the vehicle to squeeze out more than 15 years.
That is pretty impressive. It must be noted that the aforementioned number can vary greatly, depending on how it is used and how frequently it is maintained. This also includes fixing all issues as soon as they emerge.
Related: How Long Do Subaru Foresters Last?
Q2. What’s Better Forester Or Outback?
Both of them are excellent choices but are designed for different people. The Forester does not take any risks. Simply put, it is a traditional SUV. The Outback, on the other hand, looks cooler. The manufacturer also uses different engines in these SUV’s.
The Subaru Outback has a turbocharged engine that easily takes the lead over the other one. The Forester is more refined and is more practical as compared to the Outback. So, the Forester takes the lead despite it having a weaker engine.
Q3. What Is The Difference Between Forester Base And Premium?
The Premium variant is basically an upgrade over the base variant. It has halogen lights, roof rails, which many appreciate, and 17-inch alloy rims. The infotainment screen on the premium is larger than the base version.
Other than that, they are basically the same vehicles. All standard amenities are present in the base version. The base version can be upgraded with features that are present in the premium one.
Q4. Are Subaru Foresters Good In Snow?
Yes, they are! The Forester has been praised for a long time because of its excellent driving capabilities in the snow. As the latest iterations of the vehicle are all-wheel drives, they work flawlessly in the snow.
Another important thing to note is that this SUV has a pretty high ground clearance, which is beneficial for people looking to drive in deep snow. The Vehicle Dynamics Control feature is also great for driving in the winter.
Q5. Are Subaru Foresters Expensive To Maintain?
This is a great question, and all potential buyers must know the answer to this question. Unfortunately, the Forester is expensive to maintain, even more than the Outback. With maintenance costs of around $600 annually, some may not prefer it.
As for repairs, they are also generally expensive as compared to other vehicles in the same class. This should be considered before you set out to buy this vehicle.
The Subaru Forester is a great choice for those wanting an SUV with roomy seating and a comfortable ride. It provides a great ride, and with the recent years being extremely reliable, it is my recommendation to go for one of them.
The 2021 Forester looks compelling due to the fact that it is one of the latest models. It has the latest features, which many of you will prefer.
If you were wondering about the best and worst years for Subaru Forester, I hope you found your answer in the article above. It is a great vehicle and will certainly provide you with a memorable experience.
Hi there! I am Tahir Azam, and this is my blog. WVDOT Automotive is a website dedicated to creating high-quality content for car enthusiasts. I am also an avid car driver. I own and drive a Porsche for my daily tasks. It is the perfect vehicle for my family. I am a proud father of two boys. I spend my mornings and evenings catering to clients at my very own software hub. After getting home, I dedicate a few hours of my time to create an article every day. Well, this is a short introduction about me and I am also a publisher on Amazon. I hope you enjoy reading through my articles, and I also hope that I may have helped you choose an upgrade for your vehicle.