Compact SUV; Built in Japan
  • 4-door wagon
  • longitudinal front-engine/all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $7,200 – $26,000*

2009 Subaru Forester Front

2009 Subaru Forester Rear

2009 Subaru Forester Interior

2009 Subaru Forester Front-2

  • Cargo room
  • Climate and audio controls
  • Carlike handling
  • Passenger space/comfort
  • Interior materials
  • Road noise

Subaru fans may lament the loss of Forester’s quirkiness in this generation. Truckier styling and larger dimensions make it easier for Forester to compete with the likes of Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, but they also erase its “truck alternative” micro-ute charms. Foresters are noisier and less refined than those rivals, and interior ambiance is a step behind that of other recently-redesigned crossover wagons. The latest-generation model has cost less than its predecessor at new-vehicle dealerships, but those savings came largely at the expense of interior materials quality-which went from near-premium in the outgoing model to just class average in this version. Still, this Recommended pick offers good fuel economy and plenty of features. 2.5 X and 2.5 X Premium models may have offered the most value when new, but they tend to hold their worth well, so used-car prices tend to be on the high side.


Subaru’s compact crossover was redesigned for 2009, receiving more SUV-like styling and an increase in size. As before, this compact wagon had standard all-wheel drive (without low-range gearing). Five trim levels were offered: 2.5 X, 2.5 X Premium, 2.5 X L.L. Bean, 2.5 XT, and 2.5 XT Limited. All models used a horizontally-opposed 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. Dubbed a “boxer” engine, it produced 170 horsepower in all but the turbocharged XT models, where it made 224 horsepower. A five-speed manual transmission was standard on naturally-aspirated (non-turbo) Foresters. Four-speed automatic was optional on naturally-aspirated models and standard on the 2.5 X L.L. Bean edition and all 2.5 XT versions. Standard safety features on all Foresters included antilock all-disc brakes, traction control, an antiskid system, front side airbags, and curtain side airbags with rollover deployment. Other available features included automatic climate control, heated front seats, leather upholstery, and a navigation system. Hill-hold assist was standard on manual-transmission models. Rivals included the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, and Suzuki Grand Vitara.

Yearly Updates

2010 Forester
Apart from a revised instrument cluster, little changed for the 2010 model year. A five-speed manual transmission was standard (four-speed automatic optional) on the 2.5 X, 2.5 X Premium, and 2.5 Limited models. Four-speed automatic was standard on the turbocharged 2.5 XT Premium and 2.5 XT Limited. Leather upholstery was standard on Limited models. Heated front seats were standard on the Limited and optional for the 2.5 X Premium. The available navigation system for Limited models now included Bluetooth wireless cell-phone capability.
2011 Forester
The 2011 Subaru Forester saw a few changes including new trim levels and wider feature availability. New for 2011 were the 2.5X Touring and 2.5XT Touring, with the latter replacing the 2.5XT Limited as the top Forester trim.
2012 Forester
There were no noteworthy changes to the 2012 Subaru Forester.
2013 Forester
With a new Forester on the horizon for 2014, it wasn’t too surprising that the 2013 model didn’t see any dramatic changes. Still, there were a few tweaks. A Bluetooth wireless cellphone link and audio streaming were now standard on the base 2.5X model. The 2.5X Premium with manual transmission now was standard with the All-Weather Package that included heated front seats, heated exterior mirrors, and a windshield wiper de-icer. An optional Plus Package for 2.5X Premium added fog lights and an upgraded audio system. Finally, the 2.5X Premium with automatic transmission became available with a new All-Weather Plus Package that included all the items listed in the All-Weather Package and Plus Package for the 2.5X Premium with manual transmission.


longitudinal front-engine/all-wheel drive

Two 2.5-liter horizontally-opposed (boxer) engines have been available in the Forester. 2.5 X models get a conventional version rated at 170 horsepower, driving either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. Only automatic has been available in the 2.5 XT models, which use a turbocharged version of the 2.5-liter engine that generates 224 horsepower. All Subarus, including Foresters, have all-wheel drive.

ohc 2-rotor Wankel
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.5/150
Engine HP 170
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 170
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual


ohc H4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.5/150
Engine HP 170
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 170
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic


dohc H4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.5/150
Engine HP 224
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 226
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic



Road Test

Acceleration scores best in turbo form. The conventional (non-turbo) four-cylinder engine has no surplus of power, but is wholly adequate for around-town driving. Both engines mate well with Subaru’s automatic transmission, despite its having only four speeds. After a brief bout of turbo lag, the 2.5 XT’s engine delivers stronger acceleration in all situations.

Fuel economy is reasonably good. Non-turbo test Foresters with automatic have averaged 22.5 to 23.9 mpg. A turbo model with automatic averaged 22.4 mpg. Turbocharged models require premium-grade gasoline, while other Foresters use regular.

Ride quality is generally comfortable, with harshness noticeable only over larger road imperfections. Forester’s relatively short wheelbase contributes to more pitching and diving on wavy surfaces than most vehicles in this class.

Like the previous-generation model, Forester retains its carlike demeanor. Steering is direct with sporty heft. Body lean in corners is kept well in check.

Quietness comes across as generally par for the class. Wind sounds are well muted, though road noise is evident on many surfaces. Subaru’s unique “flat” engines, when naturally aspirated, emit a gravelly note that never fully fades, even in gentle cruising. Some testers have appreciated the engine noise as sporty, while others simply found it tiresome. The turbocharged engine is notably quieter and more refined.

Clear, legible gauges and simple-to-use controls make easy work of most driving chores. Audio and climate systems are high-mounted on the center dashboard stack, within easy reach of both the driver and front passenger. Subaru seems to be backing away from its prior near-premium pretensions, as the Forester’s cabin feels decidedly lower in quality than in the prior generation. Still, nothing looks or feels cheap, and the cabin’s overall ambiance is on par with the Forester’s class. One test Forester suffered numerous interior squeaks and rattles.

Front-seat occupants get plenty of adult-size headroom and legroom. A high roof and low step-in height permit easier entry and exit than most vehicles in this class. Modest roof pillars make for good visibility to all corners.

Back-seat space and comfort are a vast improvement over the previous-generation Forester. The rear seat can accommodate two adults comfortably, with short-term space for three. Headroom, legroom, and under-seat floor space are generous for six-footers. On the down side, intrusion from the rear wheel wells slightly pinches entry and exit.

A low load floor and large hatch opening make for good cargo handling. In-cabin storage includes a couple of console bins, two large cupholders, and a large console tray.


Model Tested: 2010 Subaru Forester 2.5 X Premium

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 5
Fuel Economy - 6
Ride Quality - 6
Steering/Handling - 6
Quietness - 5


Controls/Materials - 6
Room/Comfort Front - 7
Room/Comfort Rear - 6
Cargo Room - 8


Value - 8

Total: 63


4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
103.0 179.5 70.1 65.9
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
68.3 15.9 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
41.6 40.4 43.1 38.0
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2009 Forester 4-door wagon


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
Front Passenger Injury - 5

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
Rear Passenger Injury - 5


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Coolant leak
Description: Coolant piping next to radiator may become corroded because of contact with road salt or salt water. (2009-13)
Hard starting
Description: Camshaft position sensor plate can be out of specification because of irregular stamping, causing engine starting problems. A shim can be added to bring into specification. (2011-13)
Vehicle noise
Description: Rubbing noise from the front end, usually more pronounced in cold weather, requires installation of improved stabilizer bushings. (2009-10)
Water leak
Description: Water leaks onto either the left or right front floor due to a bad seal on the body seam near the front fenders, or onto the right side due to a leak in the cowl area. (2009)
Description: The protective film on the rear doors of earlier versions did not extend far enough and the paint gets chipped from stones and road salt. (2009)

Recall History

2009 Forester
Description: Some vehicles may have improperly-assembled cylinder head-side oil supply pipe and turbocharger-side pipe, leading to vibration while driven which, over time, could eventually result in cracking pipe and possible oil leakage, with potential for fire.
2009 Forester
Description: Vehicles may have been equipped with accessory puddle lights that can short circuit under salty and moist conditions and potentially cause a fire.
2009-12 Forester
Description: Automatic locking retractor in the seatbelt assemblies in rear center seating do not meet lockability requirements and may not allow proper secure attachment of a child restraint.
2009-13 Forester
Description: Certain 2009 through 2013 model Forester vehicles may experience brake line corrosion when the brake lines come in contact with road salt splashing onto the lines through a gap in the fuel tank protector.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.

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