Ratings, Reviews, Pictures, Features | J.D. Power

2009 Subaru Forester SUV - Overview

Research another Forester:

$19,995 – $29,995 MSRP

$18,938 – $28,059 Invoice

19 / 24 MPG City/Hwy


2009 Subaru Forester SUV

Enter your information and a representative will contact you for this 2009 Subaru Forester !


What Changed for 2009:

  • Complete redesign for third generation

  • New interior and exterior styling for 4-door wagon

  • Roomier seating for 5

  • Three inches longer than outgoing model with 3.6-inch longer wheelbase

  • Improved all-wheel drive (AWD) for automatic models

  • Broader torque curve for naturally aspirated and turbocharged 4-cylinder engines

  • Vehicle Dynamic Control standard on all models

  • Roof crossbars now optional, not standard

  • Wider-opening front and rear doors

  • Sales began in April 2008
Subaru introduced the Forester in 1997 as a 1998 model. Its car-type platform, 4-door wagon body style, high ground clearance, and standard AWD made it one of the first crossover utility vehicles (CUVs). The Forester received its first redesign for the 2003 model year and added turbocharged power for 2004. Styling of the 2009 model is more SUV-like, on an all-new, stiffer platform that promises improved ride/handling. The third-generation Forester arrived for sale in April 2008.

For 2009, the Forester has returned as a 4-door, AWD wagon. Naturally aspirated and turbocharged 4-cylinder engines carry over, but both benefit from some improvements. Seating is still for 5 occupants, with folding rear seats to create a large load area. Although the new model is slightly larger, it still qualifies as a compact. The wheelbase has increased by 3.6 inches to 103 inches; overall length has grown by 2.9 inches to 179.5 inches. The 2009 Forester is about 4 inches taller and 1.8 inches wider, but cargo volume has not grown. Ground clearance measures up to 8.9 inches, allowing the Forester to go off-road. Occupants get 4.3 more inches of rear leg room. Front shoulder space has grown by 2.6 inches; rear shoulder space by 2 inches. Rear doors now open almost 90 degrees. Wind noise considerations caused Subaru to move roof crossbars from standard equipment to the options list, according to the company.

Model Lineup
Subaru's 5-model lineup for the 2009 Forester includes the 2.5X, 2.5X Premium Package, and 2.5X L.L. Bean Edition. Turbocharged 2.5XT models come in base and Limited trim. The 2.5X model has cloth upholstery; air conditioning; cruise control; interior air filter; tilt steering wheel; 60/40-split folding rear seat; power windows, mirrors and door locks; remote keyless entry; vehicle information center; AM/FM/CD stereo with auxiliary input jack; alarm; and P215/60R16 tires on steel wheels. The Premium package includes 17-inch wheels, a moonroof, rear-seat retractable tray, roof rails, steering-wheel audio controls, and reclining rear seatbacks. L.L. Bean Edition models come only with an automatic transmission and add automatic climate control; perforated leather-trimmed upholstery; a 10-way power driver's seat with power lumbar adjustment; fog lamps; 6-CD changer; an all-weather package; and L.L. Bean embroidered floor mats. Forester 2.5XT models are similarly equipped, but also include P225/55R17 tires on alloy wheels, cloth upholstery, a telescoping steering column, and a functional hood scoop. The 2.5XT Limited includes leather-trimmed upholstery, automatic climate control, a 10-way power driver's seat, and leather-wrapped steering wheel. New options include a navigation system and an upgraded audio system. XM and Sirius satellite radio are offered.

The 2009 Subaru Forester again offers a choice of two 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder "Boxer" engines (with horizontally opposed cylinders). The naturally aspirated engine loses three horsepower, but gains a bit of torque. Subaru says both engines provide better low-end and mid-range torque for more responsive everyday performance. This year's naturally aspirated engine produces 170 hp at 6000 rpm and 170 lb.-ft. of torque at 4400 rpm. The turbocharged dual-cam version, available in 2.5XT models, makes 224 hp at 5200 rpm and 226 lb.-ft. of torque at 2800 rpm (versus 3600 rpm last year). As before, 5-speed manual and 4-speed automatic transmissions are offered. Fuel economy is close to that of the 2008 model. According to EPA estimates, the base engine can get 20 mpg city/26 mpg highway with either transmission, while last year's manual-shift model managed 27 mpg. The turbocharged version earns an estimate of 19 mpg city/24 mpg highway with either transmission. Last year, the manual-shift Forester rated 19 mpg city/25 mpg highway, versus 18 mpg city/23 mpg highway for automatic transmission. Subaru also offers PZEV (Partial Zero-Emission Vehicle) versions of the 2.5X models. Engines sit 0.4 inch lower than before. Foresters equipped with the manual transmission incorporate an Incline Start Assist feature.

Like the 2008 model, the 2009 Forester uses a strut-type front suspension. Subaru says the new double-wishbone rear suspension provides better handling and ride quality, improved crashworthiness, and increased interior space and cargo room. Produced in two forms, depending on transmission, Subaru's AWD system lacks low-range gearing.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Subaru Forester receives 5-star ratings for all occupants in frontal crash testing. Side-impact crash testing has not yet been done. In its own crash-test program, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has made the 2009 Forester a "Top Safety Pick," as a result of "Good" scores in front, side, and rear collisions and the availability of electronic stability control.

Standard safety features on the redesigned 2009 Subaru Forester consist of dual-stage front air bags; head-protecting curtain side air bags that have rollover sensors and cover both seating rows; anti-lock brakes with brake assist that can help in emergency conditions; traction control; and Subaru's Vehicle Dynamics Control (electronic stability control). Active front head restrains also are standard. The Forester's rear frame height now matches that of an ordinary sedan.

Subaru's Symmetrical AWD is so called because the components, including the low-mounted, squarish Boxer engine, allow for better side-to-side and front-to-rear balance than most other AWD systems, Subaru says. This system uses a limited-slip center differential to send power to all wheels simultaneously. It constantly adjusts the amount of torque sent to each wheel to provide maximum grip on slick surfaces. Two distinct AWD systems are used. Models with manual shift get AWD with a viscous-coupeing locking center differential, which splits power 50/50 (front/rear). With automatic transmission, a continuously variable transfer clutch manages the power split according to acceleration, deceleration, and available traction. A limited-slip rear differential is added for XT and L.L. Bean Edition models. Incline Start Assist aids starts on hills by temporarily holding the brakes to provide enough time for the driver's foot to move from the brake pedal to the throttle pedal.

Available Trims for the 2009 Subaru Forester SUV

  Transmission MSRP Engine City/Hwy MPG
2.5X (M5) 5 speed manual $19,995 170-hp / 2.5L 4-cyl 20/27
2.5X Limited (A4) 4 speed automatic $25,995 170-hp / 2.5L 4-cyl 20/26
2.5XT (A4) 4 speed automatic $26,195 224-hp / 2.5L 4-cyl 19/24
2.5XT Limited (A4) 4 speed automatic $28,195 224-hp / 2.5L 4-cyl 19/24

Top Rated Compact Multi Activity Vehicles

  • 2009 Honda CR-V SUV

    $21,245–$28,945 Base MSRP

    $19,778–$26,919 Invoice

    20/26 MPG City/Hwy

    Overall Quality 5.0

    Overall Performance and Design 3.0

    Overall Dependability 4.0

  • 2009 Chrysler PT Cruiser SUV

    $18,000–$24,510 Base MSRP

    $16,950–$22,939 Invoice

    18/24 MPG City/Hwy

    Overall Quality 5.0

  • 2009 Mitsubishi Outlander SUV

    $20,580–$25,980 Base MSRP

    $19,610–$24,492 Invoice

    17/23 MPG City/Hwy

    Overall Quality 4.0

    Overall Performance and Design 3.0

    Overall Dependability 3.0

Next Steps

Related Articles