Used Car Review

2011 Subaru Forester: Used Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Joe Tralongo April 2016

If you're looking for a reliable, comfortable and fuel-efficient used compact SUV with a good safety record and the ability to venture confidently off-road, a 2011 Subaru Forester makes a great choice. Because it is based on the proven Impreza sedan platform, the Forester is able to offer up a carlike ride backed by the surefootedness of Subaru's standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive (AWD).

Unlike the Impreza, however, the Forester's 8.7 inches of ground clearance allows it to confidently tackle deep snow and rutted off-road excursions. Inside, the Forester offers a large back seat and good cargo space, plus its upright profile and tall side glass create an open and airy feeling offering great 360-degree visibility. Power from the base 2.5-liter engine is about average in this class, although the 4-speed automatic transmission is a bit antiquated and doesn't return the best fuel economy. Thankfully, the Forester offers the option of a 5-speed manual, a rarity in this class. You can also opt for a turbocharged engine for better performance, but only with the automatic.

As with all Subarus, the Forester excels in the areas of safety, reliability and strong resale. For 2011, an improved 2.5-liter engine was added, as was a new Touring trim. Bluetooth was made standard on all but the base 2.5X, and a TomTom navigation radio with a removable navigation unit and rear backup camera was offered on the Premium trim.

What We Like

Standard AWD; good safety and resale record; available 5-speed manual transmission; roomy rear seat; good visibility; powerful turbocharged model

What We Don't

Average fuel economy; boring styling; front seats sit very low; poor audio and navigation options

Fuel Economy & Engine Specs

The 2011 Subaru Forester is powered by a choice of two 4-cylinder engines. The base 2.5X trims get a normally aspirated 2.5-liter flat-4 -- good for 170 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque. When teamed with the 5-speed manual, this engine returns fuel economy figures of 21 miles per gallon in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. When teamed with the 4-speed automatic, fuel economy figures remain identical to the manual model.

Standard on the 2.5XT trim is a turbocharged 2.5-liter engine good for 224 hp and 226 lb-ft of torque. The only transmission offered is the 4-speed automatic, which limits the XT's fuel economy to a disappointing 19 mpg city/24 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The 2011 Forester is offered in six trims: 2.5X, 2.5X Premium, 2.5X Limited, 2.5X Touring, 2.5XT Premium and 2.5XT Touring.

The base 2.5X comes with a 5-speed manual transmission, Subaru's Symmetrical AWD and hill-start assist (a braking system that keeps the car from rolling backward until the clutch pedal is released). Other standard features include power windows, air conditioning, auto-off headlights, a height-adjustable driver's seat with manual lumbar support, power mirrors, power door locks, cruise control, a rear defroster with a wiper-blade de-icer, a tilt steering wheel and a 4-speaker stereo with a single-CD player.

The 2.5X Premium adds reclining rear seatbacks, 17-inch alloy wheels, a 4-speaker stereo with an iPod/USB port and satellite radio capability, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, a panoramic glass moonroof, Bluetooth, body-colored side mirrors, steering-wheel controls for audio and Bluetooth, a 10-way power driver's seat with power lumbar support and rear privacy glass. Optional on the Premium is the All-Weather package that adds heated front seats, heated outside mirrors, front windshield-wiper de-icers and the TomTom navigation radio with a rear backup camera.

The 2.5X Limited adds leather seating, fog lights, the All-Weather package, automatic climate control, a leather steering wheel and shift knob, steering-wheel audio controls and two additional speakers. The only factory option is a 7-in touchscreen navigation audio system with a rear backup camera.

The 2.5X Touring adds HID headlights, electroluminescent gauges, dual-zone automatic climate control, 1-touch folding rear seatbacks and integrated side-mirror turn signals. A 7-in touchscreen navigation unit is the only option.

The 2.5XT Premium gets an automatic transmission, a turbocharged 2.5-liter engine, 17-in alloy wheels, roof rails, a rear spoiler, a hood-scoop air intake, a panoramic moonroof and reclining rear seats. There are no options, and the All-Weather package is not available on this trim.

The 2.5XT Touring adds all the features of the 2.5X Touring, plus the turbocharged engine and a hood scoop. Navigation is the only option.

Pricing

The Subaru Forester retains strong long-term residual values. As such, finding a low-mileage model in excellent condition may be difficult. It's also likely that the Forester will cost more than a comparable Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4 and far more than a Chevrolet Equinox or Ford Escape.

To get a good idea of the Forester's price range, we suggest checking the Kelley Blue Book used-car values at KBB.com. You can also search the Autotrader Classifieds to see what models are currently for sale in your area.

Recalls

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued the following recalls for the 2011 Forester:

A recall was issued for a possible problem with road salt corroding the rear brake lines.

A recall was issued for vehicles equipped with optional puddle lights. A short circuit may occur when the lights come in contact with road spray containing salt or another electrolytic source.

A recall was issued regarding the rear center seat belt. The belt may fail to meet government regulations and may therefore fail to permit proper installation of a child safety seat.

Recall repairs are required by law, even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed and, if not, will fix the car at no charge to you. You can also check the NHTSA website: Simply enter your vehicle's identification number for a list of performed recall repairs.

Safety Ratings & Warranties

Both NHTSA and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the Subaru Forester their highest marks for safety, scoring five out of five stars in NHTSA's front-end and side-impact tests and four out of five stars in the rollover test. In its 2011 test, IIHS named the Forester a Top Safety Pick, earning Good ratings in the moderate-overlap, side-impact and roof-strength crash tests.

The Forester left the factory with a 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. If you purchase your Forester through Subaru's certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicle program, the powertrain warranty period is extended to 7 years and 100,000 miles. CPO cars also include a 152-point inspection, 24/7 roadside assistance and a 3-month trial subscription to SiriusXM. Additional coverage is also available.

Other Cars to Consider

2011 Honda CR-V -- The CR-V doesn't come standard with all-wheel drive, but it is available. The front-drive CR-V will cost less than a comparably equipped Forester, and it has a better long-term reliability rating.

2011 Ford Escape -- Due to its lower resale values, the Escape will cost less than the Forester, and it offers the option of AWD and a V6 engine. There's even a hybrid model. We also like the Escape's navigation system much better.

2011 Toyota RAV4 -- Like the Ford and Honda, the RAV4 is a front-drive vehicle with optional AWD available. However, the RAV4 offers a V6 engine and a small but still usable third-row seat.

Autotrader's Advice

Unless you need luxuries such as leather seating and auto climate control (both standard on the Limited and Touring trims), we'd seek out a 2.5X Premium. It will give you the option of a manual or automatic transmission and the All-Weather package, plus it comes standard with a nice big moonroof, alloy wheels, Bluetooth and an iPod-compatible audio system. If you want the extra power of the XT turbo, you should get the Touring model. The XT Premium is sparsely equipped for the price.

Find a Subaru Forester for sale

RELATED INVENTORY
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
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Used 2011 Subaru Forester 2.5X
Used 2011 Subaru Forester
$16,803
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
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Used 2011 Subaru Forester 2.5X
Used 2011 Subaru Forester
$10,803
Saving this vehicle to yourMy Autotrader account
Are you sure you want to delete?
Used 2011 Subaru Forester 2.5X
Used 2011 Subaru Forester
$9,988
This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2011 Subaru Forester: Used Car Review - Autotrader