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2003 Subaru Forester Sport Utility Crossover

4dr 2.5 X Manual

Starting at | Starting at 21 MPG City - 27 MPG Highway

2003 Subaru Forester for Sale

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  • Average Retail is not available
  • $20,845 original MSRP
Printable Version

2003 Subaru Forester Sport Utility Crossover

Printable Version

2003 Subaru Forester Sport Utility Crossover


2003 Subaru Forester

Source: MSN Autos

Let the "look-at-me" crowd buy the big, hulking sport-utility vehicles adorned with lots of chrome. Let them hoist themselves up to get inside.

Sensible folks who don't need to be the center of attention and don't need a mini-workout each morning in the driveway will find plenty to like in Subaru's Forester, which was redesigned for 2003.

Attractively priced
This second-generation Forester didn't generate attention during my test drive. Other drivers didn't seem to notice the new styling that makes this Forester look less like a station wagon and more like an SUV.

With new standard features, a new Hill Holder clutch and dressed-up interior, the 2003 Forester just continues to build on its already exemplary reputation as a durable, smartly sized SUV with a car-like ride.

Best of all, the Forester's pricing remains reasonable, with a starting manufacturer's suggested retail price close to $21,000.

To be sure, the Forester, with standard all-wheel drive and heavy-duty raised suspension, doesn't tower over other vehicles like some SUVs. I could see through and around many cars, but vans, trucks and other SUVs still blocked my view.

Nonetheless, the tester, the upscale 2003 Forester 2.5 XS, maneuvered with ease in city traffic.

Shorter in overall length than Saturn's VUE small SUV as well as Honda's CR-V, it slipped into compact parking spaces in the city without fuss.

The turning circle is just 34.8 feet vs. 38 feet in the VUE, but the CR-V's turning circle is a bit less, 33.8 feet.

Easy to ride in
The Forester's ride is comfortable; front seats include a bit more bolstering than they did in the 2002 model year.

At 5 feet 4 inches tall, I didn't have to squeeze down into the Forester or climb up to get inside. Door openings, front and rear, are accommodating even for bodies that aren't as flexible as they once were.

Both front- and rear-seat legroom is improved from the 2002 model. In fact, the 43.7 inches of front legroom in the 2003 Forester tops the 41.3 inches that's in the VUE and CR-V.

Riders in the Forester do hear road noise nearly all the time, though, and engine sounds come through during acceleration.

Wind noise is reduced from the predecessor model, but if you get Subaru's wonderfully huge, optional moonroof, you'll get wind noise from the roof rack crossbars.

One engine, for now
For 2003 Subaru retains the Forester's 2.5-liter single overhead cam horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine. It's the only engine available and generates the same 165 horses as before, and the same 66 lb-ft of torque at 4000 rpm.

Mated to a five-speed manual transmission in the test Forester, the engine had enough to provide good power in many situations, such as when I was pulling out of parking lots.

However, I had to downshift at highway speeds on the interstate to get enough zip to pass slower cars with efficiency. Otherwise, the Forester would pass others at a pokey pace.

This will be rectified, I suspect, when Subaru adds a 210-horsepower turbocharged and intercooled 2.5-liter four-cylinder boxer engine to the Forester line and calls the new model the Forester 2.5 XT. It's due in showrooms in summer of 2003.

Handy Hill Holder
The Forester's five-speed manual felt notchy, but includes a new feature this year called Hill Holder. Used in earlier Subarus, Hill Holder helps keep the Forester stopped on hills and makes hillside start-ups easier.

Basically, once the clutch and brake have been engaged fully at a hilly stop, the driver can step off the brake pedal — keeping the clutch in — without fear of rolling backward. Hill Holder releases as the driver lifts up on the clutch pedal.

This is a nice solution for drivers who fret about whether they can be quick enough with the pedals on hilly streets.

Updated interior
I felt slight road vibrations as I traveled. On severe road bumps, the vibrations were greater and there was an unsettling "ba-boom" sound.

The Forester's interior is nicely updated. Fabric seats had a jazzier pattern than I expected. Even the carpet looks plusher in the 2003 Forester, and window buttons are now illuminated at night.

Printable Version

2003 Subaru Forester Sport Utility Crossover

Safety Ratings help

What do the Safety Ratings mean?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) performs independent crash testing of new vehicles and then assigns them a score based on their performance. The overall crash test rating is based on how a vehicle performs in the following tests:

Driver Crash Grade:

Measures the chance of a serious injury to a crash test dummy that is placed in a driver's seat and driven into a fixed barrier at 35 MPH. A five-star rating means there is 10 percent or less chance of injury.

Passenger Crash Grade:

Similar to the driver crash grade, only now the focus is on the passenger.

Rollover Resistance:

Simulates an emergency lane change to measure the likelihood of a vehicle rolling over. A five-star rating means there is 10 percent or less risk of rollover.

Side Impact Crash Test - Front:

Focuses on the front side of a vehicle. It simulates crashes that can occur in intersections by striking a 3,015-pound weight against the side of a vehicle at 38.5 MPH. A five-star rating means there is 5 percent or less chance of injury.

Side Impact Crash Test - Rear:

Similar to the front side impact test only now the focus is on the rear passenger.

Driver Crash Grade

No consumer rating

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Passenger Crash Grade

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Rollover Resistance

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Side Impact Crash Test - Front

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Side Impact Crash Test - Rear

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Safety Features & Equipment

Braking & Traction

4-Wheel ABS Std

Passenger Restraint

Driver Air Bag Std
Passenger Air Bag Std
Side Air Bag Std
Child Safety Locks Std

Road Visibility

Daytime Running Lights Std
Fog Lamps Std
Electrochromic Rearview Mirror Opt
Intermittent Wipers Std
Variable Inter. Wipers Std


Alarm Opt
Printable Version

2003 Subaru Forester Sport Utility Crossover

Original Warranty  help
Original Warranty
An original warranty is the warranty associated with a vehicle when it is brand new. In addition to the original warranty, select items, like tires, are typically covered by respective manufacturers. Also, an act of Federal law sometimes provides protection for certain components, like emissions equipment.
The original warranty is often broken down into multiple sections, including:
Basic Warranty:
Typically covers everything except for parts that wear out through normal use of the vehicle. Examples of non-covered items are brake pads, wiper blades and filters.
Drivetrain Warranty:
This warranty covers items the basic warranty does not protect. Wear and tear items such as hoses will not be covered, but key items like the engine, transmission, drive axles and driveshaft often will be.
Roadside Assistance:
The level of service differs greatly with this warranty, but many manufacturers offer a toll-free number that helps provide assistance in case you run out of gas, get a flat tire or lock your keys in the car.
Corrosion Warranty:
This warranty focuses on protecting you from holes caused by rust or corrosion in your vehicle's sheet metal.
Please check the owner's manual, visit a local dealership or look at the manufacturer's website to learn more about the specifics of the warranties that apply to a vehicle.

Basic 3 Years/36,000 Miles
Drivetrain 5 Years/60,000 Miles
Corrosion 5 Years/Unlimited Miles
Roadside Assistance 3 Years/36,000 Miles

Subaru Certified Pre-Owned Warranty  help
Certified Pre-Owned Warranty
To be eligible for Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) status, vehicles generally must be recent models with relatively low mileage. CPO vehicles must also pass a detailed inspection, outlined by the manufacturer, which is measured by the number of inspected points.
Warranty coverage can vary from one manufacturer to the next. While most certified pre-owned programs transfer and extend the existing new car warranty terms, others offer a warranty that simply represents an additional year and mileage value. Always check with the manufacturer for the specific warranties they offer.
Common features and benefits of Certified Pre-Owned warranties include:
Age/Mileage Eligibility
To even be considered for certification, a car must be a recent model year and have limited mileage. The exact requirements are established by individual manufacturers.
Lease Term Certified
Some manufacturers offer certified pre-owned cars for lease. The length of the lease is often shorter than a new car lease, but it will cost you less.
Point Inspection
These inspections entail a comprehensive vehicle test to ensure that all parts are in excellent working order. The point inspection list is simply a numbered list of exactly what parts of the car are examined. While many inspections range from a 70- to 150-point checklist, most are very similar and are performed using strict guidelines. Ask your local dealer about specific details.
Return/Exchange Program
Some manufacturers offer a very limited return or exchange period. Find out if you will get the sales tax and licensing/registration fees back should you return or exchange the car.
Roadside Assistance
Most certified pre-owned programs offer free roadside service in case your car breaks down while still under warranty.
Special Financing
Reduced-rate loans are available through many certified pre-owned programs. Manufacturer-backed inspections and warranties help eliminate the risks involved with buying pre-owned, so buyers who qualify can take advantage of the great offers.
Transferable Warranty
When a new car warranty transfers with the certification of the car and remains eligible for the next owner, it is known as a transferable warranty. Once the original transferable warranty expires, an extended warranty takes effect.
Warranty Deductible
This is the amount for which you are responsible when repair work is performed under the warranty. Some manufacturers require a deductible while others don't, so always ask.

84 months or 100,000 mile powertrain (whichever comes first) from original warranty start. Many upgrade options available.
Age/Mileage Eligibility Model Years 2009-2016 With Less Than 80,000 miles
Lease Term Certified Yes
Point Inspection 152
Return/Exchange Program No
Roadside Assistance Yes
Special Financing Yes
Transferrable Warranty Yes
Warranty Deductible No

Learn more about certified pre-owned vehicles

Printable Version

2003 Subaru Forester Sport Utility Crossover

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