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While the Subaru Forester does not have as much of a road presence as its Subaru Outback stablemate, it is still a relatively popular compact crossover option for many drivers. It offers a nice synthesis of the strengths of the compact crossover SUV and the unique Subaru technology.
With standard all-wheel drive, two engine choices and a variety of good options available, the Forester makes for a very compelling choice for drivers who value safety, utility and value. The current generation of the Forester came out in 2014, and has mostly remained unchanged aside from small changes in terms of equipment.
Similar to some of Subaru’s other models, the Forester lineup is divided based on both engines and equipment, with four trim levels for the standard four-cylinder engine and two more for the high performance turbocharged engine. Those cover a relatively condensed range of features: even the base Foresters are nicely outfitted, while the higher models don’t quite reach the near-luxury levels of some other compact crossovers.
Compare the 2018 Forester 2.5i vs 2.5i Premium Trims. What is the difference?
The base Subaru Forester offers a fairly decent selection of equipment for its price point. All of the basics are included as standard features, including manual climate control, power locks and windows, a rearview camera and a 6.2-inch infotainment screen with USB ports, auxiliary input, and four speakers.
All-wheel drive is also standard, like on many Subarus and, in a departure from the compact crossover convention, the Forester 2.5i is also available with a manual transmission. The other option is a continuously variable transmission. Beyond that, the base Forester does not offer any additional optional features.
The 2.5i Premium adds a few useful pieces of gear to the base model, as well as offering drivers a choice of several optional packages. The driver’s seat is power-adjustable on this model, and the rear seat gets a manual recline functionality. The Premium also comes with a panoramic power moonroof and alloy wheels, and is available in both manual transmission and CVT versions.
There are four available optional packages for the 2.5i Premium Forester.
The All-Weather Package adds heated front seats, heated side mirrors and a windshield de-icer. It is included in all manual transmission models as standard equipment, while being an optional feature for the CVT-equipped ones. However, only the automatic transmission models can add the other three package options.
The EyeSight package adds Subaru’s safety technology suite, including forward collision warning with automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and lane keep assist, as well as blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alerts. It also includes the all-weather package and fog lights.
The next package includes both of the earlier ones, as well as a power liftgate. The last package - the Black Edition - incorporates all of the other packages together with a unique interior and exterior appearance updates.
While the base model of the Forester offers a fairly solid set of basic features, the 2.5i Premium brings in some excellent value through its optional packages. Aside from the power seat, the Premium on its own doesn’t add many must-haves to the spec sheet, so buyers will almost always want to add at least one of the available optional packages.
Compare the 2018 Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium vs 2.0XT Premium Trim Levels. What is the difference?
The 2.0XT Premium is the version of the 2.5i Premium Forester equipped with the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine instead of the regular 2.5-liter naturally aspirated one. That improves the horsepower from 170 to 250, and the 2.0XT Premium also gets a number of other features that make for a better driving experience. It has a special sport-tuned suspension, larger wheels, a spoiler, and the X-Mode torque distribution system. It also comes with a special grille design, leather covered steering wheel and gear shifter, and the All-Weather Package from the 2.5i Premium. The 2.0XT Premium is not available with any other optional packages, and is only built with the automatic transmission.The stronger engine does put quite a bit of pep into the 2.0XT Premium, though it falls short of true performance vehicle status. It can be a fun option for drivers who want their Forester to go a little faster and look the part, though that comes with a rather high price tag and a little less flexibility when it comes to features compared to the regular Premium.
Compare the Forester 2.5i Premium vs 2.5i Limited Trims. What is the difference?
The 2.5i Limited includes some of the optional features of the 2.5i Premium with a leather interior. The CVT is standard on this model, with no manual option available. It comes with all of the features from the all-weather package, as well as the powered liftgate and blind spot monitors. The 2.5i Limited offers is available as a regular model, or with one of two packages. The first bundles the larger 7.0-inch touchscreen with a navigation system and Harman/Kardon audio. The second combines the above with the EyeSight active safety system.Aside from the leather, the 2.5i Limited is almost the same as a 2.5i Premium model with some optional packages, so if you are not interested in the leather interior, you can safely skip this model. The other issue for the Limited model is that when it is equipped with EyeSight active safety, it ends up being roughly the same price as the 2.5i Touring, which includes all of those features and more as standard equipment. That makes the base 2.5i Limited a good choice solely for fans of leather upholstery who are not looking for additional features. If leather doesn’t matter to you, you can easily go with the 2.5i Premium instead, while if EyeSight does, then the Touring is the better choice.
Compare the Forester 2.5i Limited vs 2.5i Touring Trim Levels. What is the difference?
The top Forester trim level, the Touring contains a number of useful features, though it is not as luxurious as the top trims of some competing vehicles. It includes all of the standard and optional features from the 2.5i Limited trim level, as well as smart steering-linked LED headlights, 18-inch wheels, heated steering wheel, driver’s seat memory, dual-zone climate control, and rear seats with one-touch folding. Because it includes all of the optional Forester features, it does not have any optional packages to choose from.The 2.5i Touring includes all of the same equipment that a fully-loaded 2.5i Limited model does, plus some additional extras, while costing roughly the same. That makes it a clearly better choice if you are interested in having both leather upholstery and the EyeSight active safety equipment in your Forester. If you are okay with giving either a pass however, the lower models may offer better value.
Compare the 2018 Forester 2.5i Touring vs 2.0XT Touring Trim Levels. What is the difference?
The Subaru Forester 2.0XT is exactly identical to the 2.5i Touring model, with the exception of the 2.0XT engine that it shares with the 2.0XT Premium. It is essentially the turbocharged version of the Forester with all of the available optional equipment. Like both the 2.5i Touring and the 2.0XT Premium, this model is also CVT-only and has no available optional packages.Like the 2.5i Touring model, the 2.0XT is definitely worth spending the money on if it has the equipment that you like. This is especially true since the 2.0XT Premium model has a relatively limited list of features to choose from. Just be aware that the 2.0XT Touring starts north of $36,000, which can be a hefty amount relative to the other Forester models.
Which Trim Level to Choose?
Unlike many other compact crossovers, the Subaru Forester has only a few major differences between each trim level, making it easy to fine-tune exactly what you are looking for. Both the base and the Touring trim levels offer a fairly good value for buyers, the former because of its good standard equipment and the latter because of the good price relative to the equipment that the model includes.
The 2.5i Premium and the 2.5i Limited models can both be good choices, but you should make sure that the features you are looking for are not available in a different trim level at a lower price. Finally, both of the XT models can be a decent investment for drivers looking for a little extra power, but can get expensive quickly if you want the optional features.
• Why buy a 2018 Subaru Forester? w/ pros vs cons