Subarus are well-known for their all-weather ability, strong safety record and nearly cult-like owner loyalty. So it’s no wonder a 2015 Subaru Forester is such a popular used car choice. The Forester isn’t flashy, especially when compared to vehicles like the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Kia Sportage. But, what the Forester lacks in visual appeal, it more than makes up for in areas that matter most to SUV buyers: Interior room, good fuel economy, best-in-class resale and excellent crash test scores. With its optional EyeSight driver assist system, the Forester takes safety to a new level, while the turbocharged XT model offers the kind of power rare in this segment.
Need more convincing? Consider that the Forester is larger than most compact SUVs, with tall side glass that permits excellent visibility and long rear doors, making it easy to load in large items like a child safety seat. Base and Premium models offer a manual transmission, although most used Foresters will come equipped with Subaru’s excellent CVT automatic. The Forester also comes standard with Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive and 8.7 inches of ground clearance, allowing it to tackle some pretty nasty off-road situations.
For 2015, all Foresters came with a rear backup camera, while the Premium model with the manual transmission got a standard panoramic power moonroof. The XT models gained the All-Weather Package (heated seats, side mirrors and windshield wiper de-icers) as standard equipment.
What We Like
Excellent safety ratings; good fuel economy; powerful turbocharged model; roomy interior; real off-road ability; available EyeSight collision avoidance system
What We Don’t
Base engine isn’t terribly powerful; stiff suspension sometimes makes for a bumpy ride; outdated audio and navigation systems; bland styling
Fuel Economy & Engine Specs
The base engine in the 2015 Forester 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited and 2.5i Touring is, to no one’s surprise, a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder boxer engine producing 170-horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque. With the 6-speed manual transmission, this engine earns an EPA estimated 22 miles per gallon city and 28 mpg highway. The CVT automatic ups those figures to 24 mpg city and 31 mpg hwy.
The XT Premium and XT Touring models use a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine good for 250 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy for the turbo is rated at 23 mpg city and 27 mpg hwy. Premium fuel is recommended but not required.
Standard Features & Options
The 2015 Forester comes in two models and four trims, which include 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited, 2.5i Touring, 2.0XT Premium and 2.0XT Touring.
The 2.5i includes a 6-speed manual transmission, a rear backup camera, air conditioning, cruise control, Bluetooth, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, power windows, power mirrors, power door locks, remote keyless entry, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, a rear wiper/washer and a 4.3-in color multi-information display. Options for the base include a CVT automatic transmission and an alloy-wheel package.
The 2.5i Premium adds a panoramic power moonroof, 6-speaker audio, 17-in alloy wheels, HD radio, a 10-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar support, reclining rear seats, rear privacy glass and the All-Weather Package (manual only) that adds heated side mirrors, heated front seats and a windshield wiper de-icer. Optional on CVT-equipped is the EyeSight collision mitigation system with adaptive cruise control and lane-departure warning, the All-Weather Package, navigation and satellite radio.
The 2.5i Limited adds X-Mode with hill-descent control, leather seating, automatic climate control, the All-Weather Package, fog lights, auto headlights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a power rear tailgate. EyeSight, an 8-speaker 440-watt Harman Kardon audio system and navigation radio are also optional.
The 2.5i Touring adds Harman Kardon audio, Sirius satellite radio, 1-touch folding rear seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, integrated side-mirror turn signals and polished 18-in wheels. Options include the EyeSight, keyless access and start plus HID headlights and a navigation radio.
The 2.0XT Premium brings a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine, sport suspension, 18-in wheels, a high-torque CVT automatic with SI-DRIVE, X-Mode and dual exhaust pipes. Eyesight is not offered on this trim.
The 2.0XT Touring adds all the 2.5i Touring features to the 2.0XT Premium.
The 2015 Forester retains excellent resale values, with the Premium and Limited trims holding slightly higher values than the manual transmission and turbocharged XT models. Even high mileage Foresters demand a premium, especially in areas prone to snow. To get a good idea of the Forester’s price range, we suggest using the used car values at KBB.com. You can also search the AutoTrader Classifieds to see which models are currently for sale in your area.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, has issued the following recalls for the 2015 Subaru Forester:
A recall was issued for a possible problem with the XT turbocharger’s intake duct that may crack, leading to a stall.
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
In the area of safety, both NHTSA and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) give the Subaru Forester high marks. NHTSA gave the Forester a 5-star overall rating, with four out of five stars in front-end and vehicle rollover tests, and five stars in the side-impact test. The IIHS calls the 2015 Forester a Top Safety Pick +, earning Good ratings in every crash test category except side impact, which earned a Marginal score. The Forester also earned a Superior rating in the crash avoidance and mitigation test when equipped with the optional EyeSight system.
All Subaru Foresters for 2015 left the factory with a fully transferable 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 vehicle program, the car undergoes a 152-point inspection, offers 24/7 roadside assistance plus a 3-month free trial subscription to SiriusXM satellite radio (on models so equipped). The CPO powertrain warranty period is extended to seven years and 100,000 miles, and owners have the option to buy plans that will cover electrical, steering, suspension, brakes, air-conditioning and fuel-system parts.
Other Cars to Consider
2015 Honda CR-V — Because it offers the option of front-wheel drive, a comparably equipped Honda CR-V can cost significantly less than the Forester. The Forester does have more interior room and better visibility, plus the option of a turbocharged engine. Both SUVs have excellent reliability and resale ratings.
2015 Hyundai Santa Fe — Hyundai’s SUV is more stylish than the Forester and offers more features and much better audio and infotainment options. The Santa Fe’s base engine isn’t very powerful, and its fuel economy isn’t as good as the Forester’s. Rear visibility is also somewhat hindered by the wide D-pillars. However, buying a CPO Santa Fe sees the 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty reinstated.
2015 Ford Escape — The Escape will cost much less and offers three engine options as well as a number of trims and upgrades. The Escape drives better than the Forester, and its audio and infotainment option are superior. Regrettably, the Escape’s repair and recall history is somewhat dubious, and its interior seems almost diminutive when compared with the Subaru.
We think you’ll find the Premium trim is the best bargain. It offers a lengthy standard equipment list, the option of a manual or automatic transmission and really good fuel economy. If you’re looking for more power, the XT Touring would be our pick, as the XT Premium doesn’t offer many features like automatic climate control, navigation or a high-end audio system.