2011 Subaru Forester 2.5X Review

Expert Reviews Subaru

Interior Comfort and Ergonomics:

Subaru has a good grasp on both passenger comfort and utility with the third generation Forester. There is ample cargo space and utility, along with comfortable settings for the passengers. Two bikes and traveling gear can be easily packed into the car with the rear seats folded and still have enough space to bring home more goodies.

Cabin quality was similar to the competition with lots of robust plastic panels and rugged cloth upholstery. Aesthetically, it’s hard to get over the cheap plastic feel of the interior and in some areas the plastic pieces were not well aligned. The upholstery was comfortable, but bland.

2011 Subaru Forester interior

Of particular note, the integrated TomTom GPS/Stereo/Bluetooth system was a stand-out feature. The optional TomTom Navigation System has a removable 4.3-inch touch screen which can be used as a portable navigation device. The touch-screen was intuitive to operate, easy to switch between the GPS and radio, and presetting the radio or finding a destination was a breeze.

Bluetooth is now standard on all except the base Forester. Our experience with the Bluetooth was a little finicky and had issues picking up my phone. And the call sound quality was poor on both ends of the line. I found myself yelling at the caller just so I could be heard on the other side. That was really the only draw back of an otherwise well incorporated set of features

Rear passengers only get 38 inches of legroom in the Subaru Forester USB port for iPod devices TomTom navigation system

For the driver’s comfort, the 10-way adjustable power seat came with  with a lot of space fore and aft. The front seat passenger has a seat with manual seat adjusters. Overall, the seating area was comfortable with lots of legs room for our testers on trips short or long.

At the other end of the spectrum, the backseat comfort was dismal. The seats were very rigid and upright. The headrests were like Roman pillars which are probably great for neck support in the event of an accident, but are pathetic for passenger comfort. There is no way anyone can fall asleep in the back seat in this car on long trips since there’s no way to settle into a comfortable position. Incredibly, airplane seats are more comfortable for resting than the Forester. I was extremely disappointed.

Cargo Volume Compared Behind 1st Row
Behind 2nd Row
2011 Subaru Forester
68.3 ft3
34.0 ft3
2011 Honda CR-V
72.9 ft3
35.7 ft3
2011 Toyota RAV4
73.0 ft3
36.4 ft3
2011 Kia Sportage 56.4 ft3
26.1 ft3
2011 GMC Terrain 63.9 ft3
31.6 ft3
2011 Hyundai Tucson 55.8 ft3
25.7 ft3


For a car that’s under $30k, has good standard features, has Subaru’s excellent long-term reliability, all things considered, this car is a good deal. The Premium model comes with a navigation system, AM/FM radio, single CD hidden behind the navigation system screen, iPod/USB ports, Bluetooth is standard in all Foresters (except the base 2.5X), cruise control, power locks and doors, heated seats, panoramic moonroof, safety and airbags everywher. Even upping to the more upscale versions are still under $30k. It’s a no brainer – a great value at many trim levels that is a great functional and spacious utility SUV.

Sensible Value and Utility

Admittedly, I was pretty skeptical when given the opportunity to test drive the Subaru Forester. With some consumer reviewers dubbing it, “the best rental car they ever had,” I will admit to being a little less thrilled about the whole endeavor. Happily, the Forester left a good impression with its spry handling, ample cargo space and utility being top-notch compared to other cars in its class.

2011 Subaru Forester Tessa is packed and ready for action

An obvious plus is all models come standard with all-wheel drive. And while the Forester isn’t meant to conquer serious off-road trails, its AWD and excellent ground clearance allow it to tackle nasty weather conditions with ease. The good fuel economy of this 4-cylinder engine, decent driving dynamics, and generous interior space put the Forester above par with vehicles in its class. It’s worth a test drive and a place on your consideration list.

RATING 4.0 3.5 4.0 4.0 4.0 4.5 3.9/B-


A Green Machine?

Looking at the rear end, the Subaru Forester has the PZEV (Partial Zero Emission Vehicle) badge prominently displayed on its tailgate. I had no clue what this meant, but through some quick research discovered that car companies are encouraged to produce vehicles with no direct air pollution emissions. Governmental agencies (like the California Air Resources Board) set and enforce emission standards for motor vehicles and rate cars according to their emission of smog-forming pollutants. The higher rated the car, the more green the car. For example, in California, the PZEV rating tells people that the Subaru Forester satisfies the standard for qualifying as a Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV) plus has near zero evaporative emissions and has a 15-year/150,000-mile warranty on its emission control equipment. Meaning that Subaru guarantees for this 15-year/150,000 mile time frame, the Forester will have the same amount of emission as the day it was purchased. Why care? One can come up with many reasons, like helping save our planet from green-house gases, and such, but buyers can also qualify for incentives offered by local, state and federal agencies that provide benefits to car buyers purchasing clean vehicles.

Calif_vehicle_emissions_ratings chart

For those of you interested in more information about vehicle emission ratings and possible low-emission incentive programs, check out greenercars.org and driveclean.ca.gov for more information.

2011 Subaru Forester Photo Gallery

2011 Subaru Forester instrument pod

2011 Subaru Forester Specs

Mitsubishi MotorsOfficial website for Subaru of America – www.subaru.com

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