2011 Subaru Forester

The 2011 Subaru Forester ranked 7 out of 23 Affordable Compact SUVs. People say that it can be the most refined compact SUV that one can buy but its low price, standard all-wheel drive, spacious interior and fun driving experience makes it one of the better values in the class.

It is a good choice for someone looking for an SUV with a roomy and comfortable interior, with some available tech features and at a low price.


General Info
Vehicle Type: Compact SUV Base Price: $20,495.00
Fuel Tank Capacity: 16.9 gallons (64 liters) MPG: 21 city / 27 hwy
Length: 179.5 in. (455 cm) Width: 70.1 in. (178 cm)
Height: 66.9 in. (170 cm) Wheel Base: 103 in. (261 cm)
Curb Weight: 3250 lbs (1474 kg) Ground Clearance: 8.7 in. (22 cm)
Luggage Capacity: 33.5 cu ft Maximum Seating: 5 people
Engine: 16-Valve DOHC 4 Cylinder Displacement: 2.5 liter
Horsepower: 170 HP Max RPM: 6000 RPM
Torque: 174 lb-ft @ 4100 rpm Transmission: 5-Speed Manual
0-60 mph: 10.4 seconds Max Towing Capacity: 2400 lbs (1088 kgs)
Available Trims & Engine
Option:Forester Premium MSRP: $23,195; MPG: 21 city / 27 hwy
Option:Forester Limited MSRP: $26,495; MPG: 21 city / 27 hwy
Option:Forester Touring MSRP: $27,995; MPG: 21 city / 27 hwy
Option:Forester Premium 2.5XT Turbo MSRP: $26,995; MPG: 19 city / 24 hwy
Option:Forester Touring 2.5XT Turbo MSRP: $29,995; MPG: 19 city / 24 hwy

The Forester was redesigned with a slightly larger and more rounded look for 2011. Its look is more sophisticated and looks more like a tall box than a small-scale SUV. Inside, the Forester is a bit plain but it’s good for outdoor enthusiasts because of its class-leading 8.7 inches of ground clearance and standard all-wheel drive.

The Forester is one of the few small crossovers that offer a turbocharged engine which is appealing to some people who often drive at high altitudes. In manual transmission, the Subaru Forester has five speeds while the optional automatic transmission offers only four speeds. This is the only concern on the Forester when it comes to transmission because most of its competitors have a five-speed or a six-speed transmission.


The 2011 Forester comes in several trims with standard all-wheel drive (AWD). The trim levels include the base 2.5X, 2.5X Premium, 2.5X Limited while the turbocharged include 2.5XT Premium, 2.5XT Touring and 2.5XT Limited. Unlike the base line, the touring line features HID headlights, back up camera, dual-zone climate control, roof rails, and integrated turning signals on the side mirrors.

The big news for the Subaru Forester is that it has the most significant change in the all-new engine for 2011. It’s a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that still achieves 170-horsepower as the old model but it gets better fuel economy at 16-mpg in the city and 28-mpg in the highway. The torque is 174-pound feet. Turbocharged four-cylinder engines can make 224 horsepower. Although the power has been praised by some reviewers, the forester still has shortcoming in the four-speed automatic transmission that is why it has been recommended to get the five-speed manual instead.

Exterior & Interior

The shape of the 2011 Subaru Forester is boxy creating more space inside along with ideally placed seating and low cargo floor that cannot be found in other vehicles of its class. It can accommodate five adults comfortably. The cargo space behind the backseat measures 30.5 cubic feet and when the backseat is folded it will make a space of 63.0 cubic feet for more cargo room and easier loading.

The Forester’s interior features a pleasantly styled and highly functional cabin design although the fit and finish has some flaws because of its unremarkable dash plastics that can feel a bit hard and hollow. It has features that can be generation old with a crummy headliner, undersized stereo knobs and a flimsy fob. Legroom and the headroom in the backseat are good but the issue is that the seat could sit a bit higher off the floor.

In the gadget features on the Forester, the base model does not offer much high tech quality even the navigation system is not that good compared to the other competitors. It comes with single-disc CD player with auxiliary audio input jack, cruise control, air conditioning, a manual height-adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support, a steering column that tilt-adjustable, rear seat heat ducts and a rear window wiper with washer.


There are optional features on the 2.5X Limited including the navigation system and premium stereo system integrated with Bluetooth hands free functions, six speakers, Bluetooth audio streaming, iPod controls, a USB port and Sirius Satellite Radio compatibility. The 2.5X Touring trim’s additional feature is the dual-zone climate control and a rearview camera.

Safety & Reliability

The Subaru Forester has a reputation for being one of the safest vehicles in its class though the side protection of the vehicle has been questioned. As of February 2011, the federal government’s score on the Forester are far from top-notch. It only gave three-star rating for side impact, and in the new side pole test it just scored two stars out of five.

The insurance industry, on the other hand, gave the Forester a top score in frontal, side impact and rear crash. It also earned a top score in roof strength and was even named a 2011 “Top Safety Pick”. The 2011 Forester however comes with a long list of safety features which include a standard four-wheel anti-lock brakes (with brake assist), traction and stability control, front-seat side airbags and front rear side curtain airbags.

Reliability for base models is relatively high while the turbo models’ are just about average. Its Predicted Reliability rating is 7.0 out of 10.o as provided by J.D. Powers. This data is based specifically on the Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS) and the Initial Quality Study (ISQ).

The Competition

The 2011 Subaru Forester is closely compared to Toyota RAV-4 (MSRP $22,475; 22 city / 28 hwy) and Honda CR-V (MSRP $21,895; 21 city / 28 hwy). The Forester is priced thousand less than the RAV-4 plus a towing capacity of 2,400 pounds compared to the RAV-4’s 1,500 towing capacity. Furthermore, the Forester has standard driver’s power seat which is optional in the Toyota counterpart.

The Forester and the Honda CR-V cost roughly the same however the latter has an optional all-wheel drive while in the Forester, it is a standard feature. The standard 10-way power driver’s seat, the standard Bluetooth hands-free phone and the standard panoramic sun roof which are featured in Forester 2.5X is not available in Honda CR-V.


  • Standard All-wheel drive feature
  • Roomy cabin with large cargo space
  • Strong turbocharged engines on the XT Trims
  • Excellent handling


  • Four-speed automatic transmission is outdated
  • Fit and finish is unimpressive

Overall Rating
78 out of 100

What others say:

“The roomy, versatile 2011 Subaru Forester handles better than just about any other small crossover, though the need for a more modern transmission and a little more cabin refinement keep it from greatness.”Car Connection

“Forester has a car-like demeanor. Steering is direct with sporty heft. Lean in corners is kept well in check, though some testers complain of a slightly top-heavy feel.”Consumer Guide

“The redesigned Forester is among the best small SUVs.”MSN Auto-ConsumerReports

“More grown up in both size and character than past iterations, the 2011 Subaru Forester is a top pick in the highly competitive small SUV segment.”Edmunds

“With volatile gas prices compelling many large SUV owners to abandon their fuel-hungry rides, small crossovers like the third-generation 2011 Subaru Forester have never looked better.”KBB