Crossover & Midsize

How Reliable Is the Subaru Forester?

Automaker Subaru is known for its well-designed, safe, and practical vehicles. And with so many awards under its belt, its vehicle lineup is dependable and reliable. But how reliable is the Subaru Forester SUV? Is the Forester worth the investment or not worth the risk?

How reliable is the new Subaru Forester?

Subaru’s newest 2020 Forester receives a good overall score of 84 from Consumer Reports, and an average predicted reliability rating of three (out of five). So why the cool reliability rating on a brand new vehicle? Though it is hard to predict how reliable a new vehicle will be, Consumer Reports uses past data and surveys to establish where possible problem areas could occur. This mediocre rating is mostly a result of the Forester’s overall reliability score for its most-previous three years, which averaged out to 57%.

But don’t let the mild reliability prediction fool you, as Consumer Reports also ranks the Forester as number-two on its list of new compact SUVs. Sharing in the same generation as the redesigned 2019 model, the 2020 Forester’s reliability is expected to excel in the same areas. It is expected to be most reliable in regards to engine issues and cooling, transmission problems, the fuel system, exhaust, and body hardware.

The 2020 Forester is also expected to keep owners happy, with a predicted owner satisfaction score of five (out of five) and an impressive road test score of 90 (out of 100). But understanding how reliable a new vehicle could be to a new owner demands looking at the dependability, and problems, of model years past. 

Are some Subaru Foresters more reliable than others?

This 2001 Subaru Forester is captured hiking up Mount St. Helens in Washington. Which mountains will your Subaru be adventuring to this year? #TBT (📸: Ryan Avet)

Posted by Subaru of America, Inc. on Thursday, January 2, 2020

Consumer Reports’ findings show that some model year Foresters have proved more reliable than others. Looking at the model-year analysis, the 2018 Subaru Forester, for example, receives a perfect reliability rating of five. Many other model years receive a near-perfect reliability rating of four, such as 2016. But nothing is ever perfect, even with the highly-awarded Forester. So what are the potential problems with the Forester?

There are more nearly 700 owner-reported complaints for the Subaru Forester compiled by CarComplaints.com, from the 1998 model year and newer. The 2018 and 2016 model years reflect their reliability rating, with minimal complaints of 14 and 28, respectively. The 2015 Forester, on the other hand, has received 150 complaints. Engine problems seem to be the biggest complaint about Foresters, model years 2015 and older. Engine problems are also rated CarComplaints.com’s worst problem for all model year Subaru Foresters. The most-reported problem, however, is regarding excessive oil consumption. 

Subaru’s history with dependability

The Subaru brand is well-known for producing reliable and safe vehicles. According to Subaru, it’s been named Kelley Blue Book’s Most Trusted Brand for five years running, number one in owner satisfaction for two years in a row by ACSI (American Customer Satisfaction Index), and Lowest Ownership Cost – Popular Brand award winner by IntelliChoice. As if that isn’t enough, statistics prove that roughly “97% of Subaru vehicles sold in the last 10 years are still on the road today.” Maybe that’s why Subaru has earned the top spot in brand loyalty among all auto brands.

Aside from its five-star safety ratings and awards like Best Family Car by Parents Magazine, the Subaru Forester has a long-standing fanbase that will come back time and time again for its dependability. Though there seem to be plenty of complaints, it’s important to take into consideration that the Forester is also one of Subaru’s best-selling vehicles. According to CarSalesBase, more than 180,000 Foresters were sold in 2019; more than any other year on record. As 97% of them are still on the road 10 years later, it is one of the most commonly seen, and reliable, vehicles on the road.