2017 Forester New Car Test Drive
The Subaru Forester is well known by now, as a compact, wagon-like utility vehicle. With the ride and handling of a car, it was basically a crossover before crossovers were invented, bringing superb all-weather security with all-wheel drive, and primitive road capability with nearly nine inches of ground clearance. Forester is the best-selling Subaru, and in 2014 it won The Car Connection's Best Car To Buy award.
We recently spent six months with a turbocharged Forester 2.0XT, testing it in a variety of conditions and terrains, confirming our belief it's an excellent car to buy. The CVT works very well, and delivers fuel mileage as high as 28 miles per gallon. Forester doesn't have the agility of the Ford Escape or Mazda CX-5, but from the driver's seat it feels far sportier than the Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, or Toyota RAV4.
The 2017 Forester gets updated styling, with a mesh grille, tweaked front bumper on Forester 2.5i models, and a C-shape for the headlamps and taillamps. One thing that remains is superb visibility through the upright glass.
Base engine is a 2.5-liter, horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine making 170 horsepower. This boxer engine is mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox or continuously variable transmission (CVT). Acceleration is adequate.
A quicker option is the turbocharged 2.0-liter that makes 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque; it comes only with a paddle-shifting CVT, which can be programmed to feel like a six-speed or eight-speed automatic transmission using Subaru's SI-Drive system.
The 2017 Subaru Forester 2.5i CVT delivers EPA-rated fuel mileage of 26/32 mpg City/Highway, or 28 mpg Combined; the 6-speed manual transmission is rated only 25 mpg Combined. The 2017 Forester gets an increase of one mpg over the 2016 model, thanks to sharpened engine management.
The 2.0XT model, with the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, which requires Premium fuel, is rated at 23/27/25 mpg City/Highway/Combined. Over a few thousand miles during our six-month test with a 2.0XT, we averaged 24.1 miles per gallon.
The federal NHTSA gives the Forester five stars overall for crash safety, and the insurance industry's IIHS confirms the praise with top ratings in every crash test including the challenging small overlap frontal crash, to Top Safety Pick Plus.
The 2017 Forester makes available some new active safety features: The EyeSight camera system, which spots dangers on the road ahead and self-brakes, gets a longer and broader field of vision. The 2017 Forester offers reverse automatic braking, and the automatic headlamps now turn with the car. 2017 Forester Limited and Touring models have blind-spot monitors and rear cross-traffic alerts.
2017 Forester 2.5i models come in base, Premium, Limited, and Touring models. Forester 2.0XT comes in Limited and Touring.
Standard equipment in all models includes rearview camera, Bluetooth hands-free calling, audio streaming, and a 6.2-inch touchscreen. Options include perforated leather seats, a 7.0-inch screen with infotainment, eight-speaker, 440-watt sound system, and power rear liftgate.