Best Years For Subaru Forester

Best Years For Subaru Forester – Which Are The Best Ones?

Are you on the market for a Subaru Forester and do you want to learn the best years for Subaru Forester? If that is the case, then you are at the right place because we are going to cover everything you need to know when it comes to this model.

Doing the proper research before you jump out there on the market and look for a car is key in order not to get ripped off by sellers and also not end up with a basket case full of issues. You probably don’t want that to happen to you. Since most of the repairs can cost even thousands of dollars to fix.

And let me tell you that not all cars are equal, some of them have more problems than others and some cars are a better deal than other cars. Another aspect is the overall value of the car, if you get a car that was expensive when it was new, you are likely going to pay a lot of money on possible repairs that will come up here and there. That’s why you need to know everything when it comes to the Subaru Forester.

In this article, we are going to teach you precisely that. We will cover the last four generations of the Subaru Forester. We will learn the specs in which they were offered as well as the problems for each of these generations. Also for each generation, we are going to list the best years for Subaru Forester. Lastly, we are going to list the alternatives. So, let’s get to work.

What Is The Subaru Forester?

The Forester is a compact SUV manufactured by Subaru since 1997. But what does a compact crossover SUV mean? This means that the Subaru shares the same proportions in length and width as the compact class of cars. These include sedans, hatchbacks, and crossovers.

The Forester is sharing the same platform with the Impreza and this means that a lot of the components are shared among them as well. Under the hood, they are basically the same vehicle. What is different is the looks and the equipment.

The crossover class in simple words is a crossbreed between a sedan and an off-roader. It has the best of both worlds. Increased ride height with soft suspension and also some good off-road abilities. More precisely the increased ride height means that the Forester can easier go over obstacles than a regular car.

Best Years For Subaru Forester

But this doesn’t mean that you can climb the highest hills with these SUVs. They are built for the roads mainly and there is their territory where they handle and drive the best.

The Forester comes in all-wheel drive only. This means that there is no front-wheel or rear-wheel drive like other SUVs so you later pay for extra options that include an AWD system. Subaru is very straightforward when it comes to this and they include only the best in their cars. And buying one has never been easier.

As we said the Forester is produced since 1997. So, what are the best years for Subaru Forester? More on that in the following chapters where we are going to discuss the generations of the Forester.

Subaru Forester Generations

In the following chapters, we are going to cover the last four generations of the Forester. We will learn about the specs in which they were offered. Then we will list all of the problems with these generations. After that, we will see which are the best years for Subaru Forester. So, let’s discuss.

Second Generation Subaru Forester 2002 – 2008

The second generation of the Forester was introduced in 2002 for the 2003 model year. This generation of the Forester was produced until 2008 when it was replaced with the new model.

This generation of the Subaru Forester closely resembles the first generation of this model. Only with some refinement that improved the vehicle’s performance. This vehicle was built on the Impreza platform and shares a lot of the internals with it.

When it comes to trim levels, there were a few of them. There was the base model or X as it is known. Then there was the XS. The turbocharged option was intended for the XT. The XT was the top-of-the-line model.

After 2006, there was a refresh that greatly improved the looks of the Forester. These changes implemented a more contemporary design rather than the 90’s style from the earlier cars. But what about the best years for Subaru Forester? More about that in a bit after we cover the specs.

Engines & Transmissions

In terms of engines, there were two engine options. The base was a 2.5L naturally aspirated boxer engine that outputted 150hp and there was a turbocharged 2.5L boxer engine that produced 208hp and later was bumped to 230hp.

In terms of transmissions, there were three of them. 5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic, and a 6-speed manual for the STI model.

Subaru Forester Second Generation Problems

Now Let’s discuss the problems that this Subaru has. This will help you out immensely and make you aware of possible issues with the Forester that you plan to purchase. After, we are going to cover the best years for Subaru Forester.

1. Timing Belt Often Snaps When Not Changed On Time

The timing belt knows to snap on these Subarus quite often if it was not replaced on time. You need to be aware of this issue and if you purchase a used Forester, make sure that you replace the timing belt before you put on a lot of miles on it.

Best Years For Subaru Forester

First, check its condition and see the service history to learn if this service has been done to it before. If not, do it immediately after your purchase. If not, you risk the chance of the belt snapping and causing major engine damage.

2. Head Gasket Problem

The head gasket is notorious to fail in these Subarus as well. More precisely the early models of the Forester up to 2003 or 2004. But if you want to get a later model you shouldn’t be complacent because these fail as well sometimes.

When the gasket fails, the coolant either leaks out from the engine or mixes with the oil. Either way, not good. If you buy one of these make sure that this service has been done to it. If not, do it immediately after your purchase. Also before purchase be aware of overheating issues and possible engine damage done from overheating.

But what about the best years for Subaru Forester? More on that in a bit after we finish the problems.

3. Turbine Failure

Turbines also tend to fail quite more often than usual on these. Make sure that you get a vehicle with a good turbine if you plan to purchase the XT model. Or you will have to pay up to $2,000 for a turbine rebuild.

4. Rust Problems

Rust problems are also present in the Subaru Forester from this generation. They tend to rust like crazy, especially in colder climates where is a lot of salt on the streets during the winter. Before buying, inspect the car in depth to learn if there are major rust issues. If there are rust issues, stay away from them. But what about the best years for Subaru Forester? That’s what we are going to cover next.

Best Years For The Second Generation Subaru Forester

The best years for Subaru Forester from this generation would probably be the years between 2005 to 2008. The latter the model, the better and the less chance for you of running into a big problem that will cost you thousands of dollars to fix. Now let’s move on to the next one.

Third Generation Subaru Forester 2008 – 2013

The third generation of the Subaru Forester was introduced in 2007 for the 2008 model year. This generation was Subaru’s effort to ditch the station wagon design and offer more of an SUV-looking model.

This new design was a bold move by Subaru and for sure that it created some turmoil among the die-hard Subaru enthusiasts in terms of the design language that Subaru chose for it. But still, it sold quite well.

There were a few trim levels. The base was the X, then was the X Premium, X Limited, and the XT. Both the Limited and the XT were turbocharged. But what about the best years for Subaru Forester? More on that in a bit.

Engines & Transmissions

The base engine was a 2.5L 4-cylinder boxer engine that produced 175hp. And then was the EJ255 turbo engine that made 260hp.

In terms of transmissions, there were a few of them. A 5-speed manual for the base model, a 4-speed automatic, and a 5-speed automatic for the S-Edition.

Subaru Forester Third Generation Problems

Now let’s discuss the problems with this generation of the Forester, we will stick to the engine issues since they are the most prevalent.

1. Engine Failure

Engine failures are present on the Forester from this generation. This is mostly caused by problems accumulated over time and the unawareness of the owners about these issues.

Then the engine completely failed while driving and they had to replace the engine with a brand new engine. Not an ideal situation since it costs a whole fortune to replace the engine. When buying an EJ25 or EJ255 make sure that everything is sorted and the engine works well. Because these problems can get really expensive.

2. Turbo Failure

The turbos are known to fail on the EJ255. When they fail, you will notice a significant loss of power and weird noises coming from the engine bay. The solution for this issue would be getting a new turbine and replacing the old turbo. Or having it rebuilt. Either way, an expensive job with no less than $2,000 spent on possible repairs.

3. Head Gasket Leak

Head gaskets can fail on the newer models as well. When they fail the coolant either leaks from the sides of the engine, or the oil and coolant mix between them. Not an ideal situation because a lot of damage will be done to the engine since the gasket will not do its job properly.

Best Years For Subaru Forester

The only solution is to replace the gasket or before you do anything look for the best years of Subaru Forester. Knowing the years will help you avoid a problematic model. But more on that later.

4. Oil Consumption

Oil consumption is another problem that this Subaru model has. This problem can be quite a pain to solve since this issue requires a full rebuild of the engine and it is hard to get it sorted completely. The main culprit for this issue is the oil rings that are often known to fail and let the oil enter the combustion chamber. Causing increased oil consumption in the process. But what are the best years for Subaru Forester? That’s what we are going to cover next.

Best Years For The Third Generation Subaru Forester

When it comes to best years for Subaru Forester from this generation, we would tell you to go for a later model if you really want one of this generation, Subaru Forester.

More precisely 2011 and 2013. Based on owner reports from, these two years have the least complaints on them and they are probably a better deal than the earlier ones.

Fourth Generation Subaru Forester 2014 – 2018

The fourth generation was introduced in 2012 for the 2013 model year. Overall, this generation was a big improvement in design as well as the implementation of new technologies. But it is still a Subaru, which means that it has some issues that we are going to cover later.

Nevertheless, this model included a more modern transmission, revised suspension, and an increase of interior space. This means that it is quite roomier than the previous generation of the Forester that we covered.

There were the same trim levels as the previous generation.

Engines & Transmissions

When it comes to engines, the new Subaru came equipped with a 2.5L boxer engine that produced 170hp. There was also a turbocharged 2.0L H-4 boxer engine that produced 276hp. Which is rather good for the performance of the Forester.

Along with these engines, there were two transmission options. One of the transmissions was a 6-speed manual. While the other was a CVT automatic transmission. If you want to go for sportiness the manual is the way to go. If you want to go for comfort, the CVT should be your best bet. But what about the best years for Subaru Forester? More on that in a bit, let’s first discuss the problems of the Forester.

Subaru Forester Fourth Generation Problems

In this chapter, we are going to discuss all of the problems that this generation of the Forester has. After we finish the problems we are going to discuss the best years for Subaru Forester. So, let’s get into it.

1. Oil Consumption Issues

Oil consumption stayed a big problem for this engine as well. If you have these engines, you will likely experience increased oil consumption. What is worse is that this consumption starts to appear on relatively low miles and you will definitely have to top off the oil here and there. And pay attention so the engine does not starve for oil as well.

2. Engine Shuts Off By Itself

Some owners have reported that the engine on their Subaru suddenly shut off in the middle of the road. Then the engine started again by itself. Pretty strange situation. There were a few instances based on owners’ testimonies on this topic so we decided to list them here.

3. Broken Coil Springs

Broken coil springs are also common. This happens where the component that is in charge to hold the spring in place fails completely and the spring just pops off. Making the front end sag and making it undrivable. Bad situation, to be honest.

Suspension coil springs broken leak repair troubleshooting

And this is all because of poor build quality. The solution for this problem is a replacement of the coil spring with a new one.

4. CVT Transmission Problems

The problems with the CVT transmission are also present. Many people reported jerking, lurching into gear, shuddering here and there. Overall, not a very pleasant experience to drive this transmission on your Subaru. If you want to go for a more proven transmission, choosing the manual will be the way to go since the manual does not have any particular problems except common wear and tear. But what are the best years for Subaru Forester? More on that in the following chapter.

Best Years For The Fourth Generation Subaru Forester

In this generation, most of the production years have a ton of reports for problems. It is rather a difficult task to list an actually good year. 2016 and 2018 have the least issues, so, I would say stick to these two years. Or find a Subaru from a different year, but a sorted one. Don’t go for a car that you don’t know for sure that was properly maintained.

Fifth Generation Subaru Forester

The fifth generation of the Forester is the latest one that Subaru has introduced. It is in production since 2018. This generation unlike the older generations is using a completely new platform. More precisely the Subaru Global Platform is shared with the Impreza and other Subaru products available.

This new generation is a huge leap forward in comparison to the previous generations. All trim levels include all-wheel drive. The trim levels are pretty much the same as the previous generation of the Forester. What is new is the new hybrid system that Subaru introduced called e-BOXER.

Engines & Transmissions

When it comes to engines, all the Foresters come equipped with the same 2.5L H-4 engine that produces 182hp. This engine is paired with a CVT automatic transmission as a standard.

Subaru Forester Fifth Generation Problems

In this chapter, we are going to discuss the problems with the latest generation of the Subaru Forester and then we will move on and cover the best years for Subaru Forester.

The problems with this generation are mostly concerned with the internal accessories and also with electrical issues inside of the cabin.

Since this model is new in the Forester lineup, these things are very common. Since they were only tested in the factory and when the vehicles are first released in real-world situations problems like these may arise.

Fortunately, the mechanical problems and most of the issues that were in the previous generations of the Subaru Forester were patched with this generation. So, what are the best years for Subaru Forester? That’s what we are going to cover next.

Best Years For The Fifth Generation Subaru Forester

So, what are the best years for Subaru Forester in this latest generation? The best I would say is to go for a 2020 or 2021 model. Avoid the early models of 2018 and 2019. They have some electronic issues that can be frustrating to deal with. So, if you don’t want to deal with problems, the newer the better.


When it comes to alternatives to the Subaru Forester, we can say that there are plenty of good options. Namely, the Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5, Chevy Equinox. All these cars are great replacements for the Forester. Some are even much better at certain aspects of it. Depending much on your personal preferences of what type of vehicle you are after.

SUV crossover reliability problems Japanese repair maintenance

Checking the alternatives is a good thing because you never know some of them might be the right option for you.

Facts about Best and Worst Years for Subaru Forester

  • The Subaru Forester is a mid-size crossover SUV with all-wheel drive and a boxer engine that offers year-round capability and winter traction.
  • Subaru is considered a reliable auto manufacturer, and Forester is competitively priced compared to rivals such as Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.
  • The top eight best years for the Subaru Forester, including 2008, 2021, 2013, 2020, 2007, 2005, 2006, and 2010, based on performance, safety features, and reliability.
  • The 2008 model is an excellent performer with a durable interior and comfortable leather seats, while the 2021 variant features an excellent infotainment system and good fuel consumption.
  • The article also highlights the worst years to avoid, which are 2015, 2014, 2017, 2019, 2016, 2018, 2011, and 2009, based on engine and transmission issues, electrical problems, and sensor failure.
  • The most common problems reported with the Forester include transmission and engine issues, electrical problems, air conditioning system failure, and sensor failure.
  • Transmission issues cause shaking, shuddering, and acceleration problems, while engine issues include excessive oil consumption, malfunctioning, and sudden acceleration or stalling.
  • Electrical problems affect the tailgate, GPS, infotainment system, camera, radio, and fuses.
  • Air conditioning system failure results from a faulty condenser, and sensor failure involves the oxygen sensor tripping, causing the check engine light to illuminate.


In this article, we covered a lot when it comes to the Subaru Forester. First, we learned what the Forester is. Then we covered the last four generations of the Forester.

First, we learned the specs, and then we learned the problems for each of these generations. And problems were plenty, to be honest. Mostly of mechanical nature. Problems like drinking oil failed gaskets, engine failures are pretty common with the Forester.

Then we have covered the best years for Subaru Forester. It was extremely hard to get a good year for this model. But we did our best when it comes to it. Lastly, we focused on the alternatives that are out there.

It is quite useful to check the alternatives as well. Since most of them are less prone to issues than the Forester and you might get yourself a better car in the end.

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