Used Car Review

2013 Subaru Forester: Used Car Review

See all Subaru Forester articles
Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Subaru cars, trucks and SUVs
Acura cars, trucks and SUVs Alfa Romeo cars, trucks and SUVs AMC cars, trucks and SUVs Aston Martin cars, trucks and SUVs Audi cars, trucks and SUVs Bentley cars, trucks and SUVs BMW cars, trucks and SUVs Bugatti cars, trucks and SUVs Buick cars, trucks and SUVs Cadillac cars, trucks and SUVs Chevrolet cars, trucks and SUVs Chrysler cars, trucks and SUVs Daewoo cars, trucks and SUVs Datsun cars, trucks and SUVs DeLorean cars, trucks and SUVs Dodge cars, trucks and SUVs Eagle cars, trucks and SUVs Ferrari cars, trucks and SUVs FIAT cars, trucks and SUVs Fisker cars, trucks and SUVs Ford cars, trucks and SUVs Freightliner cars, trucks and SUVs Genesis cars, trucks and SUVs Geo cars, trucks and SUVs GMC cars, trucks and SUVs Honda cars, trucks and SUVs HUMMER cars, trucks and SUVs Hyundai cars, trucks and SUVs INFINITI cars, trucks and SUVs Isuzu cars, trucks and SUVs Jaguar cars, trucks and SUVs Jeep cars, trucks and SUVs Kia cars, trucks and SUVs Lamborghini cars, trucks and SUVs Land Rover cars, trucks and SUVs Lexus cars, trucks and SUVs Lincoln cars, trucks and SUVs Lotus cars, trucks and SUVs Maserati cars, trucks and SUVs Maybach cars, trucks and SUVs Mazda cars, trucks and SUVs McLaren cars, trucks and SUVs Mercedes-Benz cars, trucks and SUVs Mercury cars, trucks and SUVs MINI cars, trucks and SUVs Mitsubishi cars, trucks and SUVs Nissan cars, trucks and SUVs Oldsmobile cars, trucks and SUVs Plymouth cars, trucks and SUVs Pontiac cars, trucks and SUVs Porsche cars, trucks and SUVs RAM cars, trucks and SUVs Rolls-Royce cars, trucks and SUVs Saab cars, trucks and SUVs Saturn cars, trucks and SUVs Scion cars, trucks and SUVs smart cars, trucks and SUVs SRT cars, trucks and SUVs Subaru cars, trucks and SUVs Suzuki cars, trucks and SUVs Tesla cars, trucks and SUVs Toyota cars, trucks and SUVs Volkswagen cars, trucks and SUVs Volvo cars, trucks and SUVs Yugo cars, trucks and SUVs

author photo by Joe Tralongo May 2016

Searching the used compact-SUV market can feel like a daunting task, with numerous choices ranging from good to great. If you're feeling overwhelmed by the options, we recommend taking a long, hard look at the 2013 Subaru Forester. This compact crossover has a stellar reputation for safety, strong resale value, reliability, roominess and year-round driving confidence. Based on the proven Impreza sedan platform, the Forester offers 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 allow it to confidently tackle deep snow and rutted off-road excursions. Inside, the Forester offers a large back seat and good cargo space, and its upright profile and tall side glass create an open, airy feeling with 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.

For 2013, Subaru added Bluetooth and a USB/iPod interface to every trim, along with steering-wheel audio controls.

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; mediocre audio and navigation options; cabin prone to squeaks and rattles

Fuel Economy & Engine Specs

The 2013 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-cylinder 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. 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 2013 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 16-inch steel wheels, power windows, air conditioning, auto-off headlights, height-adjustable driver's and passenger seats, driver's-seat manual lumbar support, power mirrors, power door locks, cruise control, Bluetooth, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, a USB/iPod interface, 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-in alloy wheels, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, a panoramic glass moonroof, body-colored side mirrors, rear privacy glass and a 10-way power driver's seat with power lumbar support. Optional on the Premium is the All-Weather Package, which adds heated front seats, heated outside mirrors and front windshield-wiper de-icers. The All-Weather Plus Package brings fog lights, an upgraded touchscreen audio system and an available 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 6.1-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, 7-speaker audio and integrated side-mirror turn signals. A 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, the turbocharged engine and a hood scoop. Navigation is the only option.


The Subaru Forester retains strong long-term residual values. As such, finding a low-priced, low-mileage model in excellent condition may be difficult. It's also likely that the Forester will cost a bit 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 You can also search the Autotrader Classifieds to see what models are currently for sale in your area.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued the following recall for the 2013 Forester:

A recall was issued for a possible problem with road salt corroding the rear brake lines. Corrosion may result in the lines leaking fluid, which could adversely affect the vehicle's ability to slow or stop.

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 good marks for safety, scoring four out of five stars in NHTSA's front-end, side-impact and rollover crash tests. In its 2013 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

2013 Honda CR-V -- The CR-V doesn't come standard with AWD, but it is available. The front-wheel-drive CR-V will cost less than a comparably equipped Forester, and it gets better gas mileage.

2013 Ford Escape -- The 2013 Ford Escape offers a choice of engines, including two turbocharged units. The Escape's styling and handling abilities are superior to the Forester, as are its navigation and audio systems. However, this first-year redesign came with a lot of recalls (13 total) and consumer complaints.

2013 Toyota RAV4 -- Like the Ford and Honda, the RAV4 is a front-wheel-drive vehicle with optional AWD available. However, the RAV4 only comes with a single 4-cylinder engine with no manual transmission option. The RAV4's Entune infotainment system is superior to the Forester's system, and its styling is more attractive.

Autotrader's Advice

Unless you need luxuries such as leather seating and automatic 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 available 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.

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.
2013 Subaru Forester: Used Car Review - Autotrader