2010 Subaru Forester Expert Review

You'll Like The 2010 Subaru Forester If...

If you like your SUVs to be true to the "Utility" in "Sport Utility Vehicle," while still being small enough to comfortably maneuver in a city, the Forester may be the vehicle for you. With a low starting price, standard AWD, proven reliability, more towing power than many others in its class and great visibility all around, there's certainly a lot to love.

You May Not Like The 2010 Subaru Forester If...

If you want a V6 engine, room for seven or rear-seat entertainment, the 2010 Subaru Forester may not be for you. And although a manual transmission is offered on some trims, a SportShift four-speed automatic is the only transmission available with the turbocharged engine.

What's New

A simplified model range now includes Standard, Premium and Limited for the 2.5X, and Premium and Limited for the turbocharged 2.5XT. All models receive a new instrument cluster while the Limited trim's optional navigation now features Bluetooth wireless connectivity.

Interior Features

The 2010 Subaru Forester features gauges that are colorful and easy to read, plus audio and climate controls configured in a logical, clear manner. A single cup holder is located next to the driver, while an additional bottle holder is situated in each door. Back in the second row, leg room is plentiful and the seats are wide and comfortable. In all trims except the 2.5X, the second-row seats recline. Cargo room in the back is a respectable 33.5 cubic feet, made all the more accessible thanks to a wide-opening rear gate door.

Exterior Features

The latest version of the Subaru Forester is a little less wagon and a little more modern crossover. Overall, the vehicle is taller and longer than previous generations, with up to 8.9 inches of ground clearance that comes in handy when the road gets rough. Up front, a large grille and "hawk eye" headlight treatment impart a more aggressive appearance, especially when paired with the available turbocharged engine's air scoop and fog lights. The optional chrome door handles and tailpipe add a bit of fresh bling to the Forester's exterior, while the wheelwells are filled with 16-inch steel or available 17-inch alloy wheels.

Driving Impressions

Off-roading in the 2010 Subaru Forester showcased the vehicle's stiffer suspension, direct steering and notable ground clearance, all of which came into play when traversing rocks and ditches. Also helpful was the Forester's standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive (AWD) system, capable of transferring up to 100 percent of the available power to the wheels with the best traction. Back on the pavement, we liked the added get-up-and-go provided by turbocharged models (who wouldn't?), but those with a more practical and budget-minded outlook will be just as happy buzzing around town with the normally-aspirated engine. Getting in and out of both rows of seats was a breeze thanks to wide-opening doors, and we found the all-around visibility from the driver's seat to be excellent; a boon when changing lanes, reversing, and exploring dirt roads.

Pricing Notes

A base 2010 Subaru Forester 2.5X with manual transmission starts around $21,000. Stepping up to the XT trim brings the price closer to $27,000, while the XT Limited with navigation and satellite radio will run closer to $31,500. At the Forester's base price, its closest competitor is the Nissan Rogue – but the Rogue does not offer AWD as standard in base trim. The Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Hyundai Santa Fe all start around $22,000, also without AWD. However, as inexpensive as the Forester seems at first blush, adding options quickly makes the price move upward and it ends up on the higher end of many of its competitors. In terms of resale, the Forester is expected to maintain value better than the Rogue and the Santa Fe but below the industry stalwarts CR-V and RAV4.

Notable Equipment

The base 2010 Subaru Forester 2.5X comes equipped with a five-speed manual transmission, Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, Hill Start Assist, 16-inch steel wheels and 8.7-inches of ground clearance. Notable interior touches include a height-adjustable driver's seat with adjustable lumbar support and auto-off headlights. Opting for the XT trim will add the turbocharged engine, SportShift four-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control, 17-inch wheels (helping to bump ground clearance to 8.9 inches), premium sound, fog lights and a telescoping steering column. To help keep occupants safe and sound, both trims feature six airbags, Vehicle Dynamics Control and anti-lock brakes (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution and Brake Assist.

Notable Options

Some of the 2010 Subaru Forester's most attractive options include a navigation system (Limited trims only), leather seating, power driver's seat, panoramic moonroof, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, premium sound, automatic climate control, satellite radio (choice of XM or SIRIUS), and cold-climate desirables like heated seats, heated side mirrors and a windshield wiper de-icer.

Favorite Features

Rear Visibility

Being able to see what's behind a vehicle when backing up, changing lanes, or even venturing off-road can make a big difference in how someone behaves while driving. The Forester's large back window allows the driver to see an object only 39 inches tall within 39 inches of the vehicle.

Panoramic Moonroof

Although not as large as others we've seen, this moonroof provides pleasant light to both the front and rear passengers, bringing a bit of the outdoors inside.

Under the Hood

Powering the base Forester X is a 170-horsepower four-cylinder Boxer engine (a "flat" engine in which the pistons lie horizontally, an advantage of which is a lower center of gravity) with a five-speed manual transmission, available only in this trim. Moving up to the Limited adds a four-speed automatic transmission, while the XT trims come with a 224-horsepower turbocharged Boxer engine. Although the base engine is practical for around town driving, those looking for a little more power without a significant drop in fuel economy will likely appreciate all that the turbocharged version has to offer – if they don't mind paying for premium gas.

2.5-liter Boxer-4

170 horsepower @ 6000 rpm

170 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm

EPA Estimated City/Highway Mileage: 20/27 (manual), 20/26 (automatic)

2.5-liter Boxer-4 Turbocharged

224 horsepower@ 5200 rpm

226 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2800 rpm

EPA Estimated City/Highway Mileage: 19/24

Editors' Notes

With volatile gas prices compelling many large SUV owners to abandon their fuel-hungry rides, small crossovers like the third-generation 2010 Subaru Forester have never looked better. An agile vehicle built to handle practically anything man or nature can put before its tires, the latest iteration has a much more contemporary-looking exterior complemented by a more spacious interior and a smoother, quieter ride. And with a respectable four-cylinder Boxer engine under the hood and Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive as standard, the Forester offers the capability of an SUV with fuel economy that won't break the bank. This segment has seen a lot of growth in the last few years, but the Forester can go places the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and Nissan Rogue can't.

Road Test Video Reviews

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Owner Reviews


223 Reviews

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Owner reviews are verified by our team and cannot be altered or removed.

Safe Fun Subaru: Everything you need and everything you want.

Love ,love,love my Subaru Forester! So much so that my mom bought one then she bought one for her grand daughter. It makes me feel so safe. I have been asked to pick coworkers up for work during snow storms. I stay at work during blizzards when others can't make it in because because my Subaru gets through it all. I get my family where they need to go in hard rain. Miles per gallon are very good for an SUV. I can haul much more in my smaller SUV than the larger over priced ones. I moved a big oversized chair that my friends could not fit in their Durango or Lexus. My friends think the seats are comfortable. The ride is smooth.

- Lisa C

My Subaru forester is completely dependable.

I have owned a Subaru forester for almost 8 years and have only had problems with one tire (which I purchased after buying the car) in that time. It has several ways to adjust seating, and is comfortable for me and my husband who is 9 inches taller. We both find the car easy to handle as well. My dogs (I have 3 large dogs) easily fit in the back with plenty of room for stretching out, and never seem to mind long drives. In the back, there are actually 4 safety belts that I can hook onto the dog's car harnesses if I want extra protection for them.

- Jann L

It's great in the snow and is super reliable car. You will always feel safe in it no matter what.

I love my Forester for the most part. It's great in the snow and I always feel super safe in it no matter what! It's big enough to make it feel like an SUV for me but because I'm a smaller woman it doesn't feel too big and uncomfortable to drive. It gets good gas mileage as well which is a plus. My only compliant has been since I hit 100K a lot of stuff has gone wrong. My head gasket is about to go, they said in the next 50K or so miles. Also the heat shield rattles like crazy. Other than that, I would total purchase again!

- Tara B