Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Sorry, there are no cars that match your search

You are here

Subaru Forester 2008 review

EXPERT RATING
7.5

Subaru has sold more than 105,000 Foresters since 1997, and they’d really like to keep that pace going.

Available in X, XS and XT variants – each with a number of transmission options, the new Forester provides potential buyers with plenty of options

Drivetrains

Forester X and XS units are powered by a four cylinder 2.5 litre SOHC, horizontally opposed boxer engine producing 126kW at 6000rpm and 229Nm of torque at 4400rpm. The top of the range XT is a 2.5 litre DOHC boxer and puts out 169kW at 5200rpm and 320Nm at 2800rpm.

Transmissions comes in the form of manual (X, XS, XT), premium manual (XS, XT), Sportshift auto (X, XS, XT) and premium SPORTSHIFT auto (XS, XT).

Fuel consumption for the X and XS manual is at 9.3 litres/100kms and 9.6 litres/100kms for the auto, growing to 10.5 litres for all XT variants, with CO2 emissions ranging from 220-248g/km across the line-up.

Exterior

The new Forester is longer, wider and higher than its predecessor and has a sportier, more aerodynamic stance due to its shorter rear overhangs and a more dressed look with the chrome highlights.

The base model X gets 16” steel wheels, a chrome grille and roof rails, while the XS adds 16 inch alloys, self-levelling rear suspension and a sunroof, with the XT offering xenon headlamps and 17 inch alloy wheels.

Interior

The sporty theme has also been maintained on the inside with a sweeping cockpit featuring three-dimensional instruments accented blue highlights and metallic surrounds.

The cargo area and the cabin are and there are also more storage areas, cargo and luggage hooks and cup holders.

Rear legroom is improved by 109mm to 965mm and front legroom by 29mm, to 1095mm.

Cruise control, power steering, windows and mirrors, a multi-function dash display and 60/40 split/fold rear seats are standard across the range. The XS adds a wood grain dash, leather trim and a multi-stack CD player. Satellite navigation and MP3/Bluetooth compatibility are available in the XT only.

Safety

With a five star ANCAP crashworthiness rating to its name, the Forester is no slouch when it comes to safety. Also on the list is a comprehensive safety package, ABS, hill-start assist, active headrests, ring-shaped reinforcements around the cabin and constant all-wheel drive.

Pricing

The pricetags start at $30,490 for the Forester X manual and top out at $46,990 for the XT Premium Sportshift auto.

Driving

It’s hard to deny the Forester’s ability, but we took a while to warm to the XS manual we tested. However, that was less about the performance than about the looks.

Its no secret Subaru have gone south in the style department – yes Impreza, we’re talking about you. So you would have thought the Suby designers, armed with pages of negative feedback, might have made some big changes with the new Forester. But they didn’t.

Unlike the Impreza there are no glaringly obvious changes but in a way that’s we were hoping for. The Forester is just plain… plain.

In a glass-half-full kind of way, they didn’t have much to work with. It’s not as boxy as past Foresters and appears – and is – roomier inside. And this is probably where the negatives dry up and the positive aspects begin.

If you can block out the unsightly swirl in the dash design, the cabin is a rather nice place to be. The seats are comfortable and supportive and the multi-function steering wheel enables the dash to be relatively clutter-free but for a six-stacker, MP3 compatible stereo system and simple air con dials.

In fact it feels more like a family saloon car than a big boofy SUV, and it drives like one too.

On the go, the new Forester is up there with the smoothest and easiest drives we’ve had – across the board.

Changing gears is silky and light and the 2.5 litre engine is surprisingly capable. 110km/h on the freeway was a breeze and there was only minimal tyre noise through the floor into the cabin.

The Forester was nimble and light in the city, and with large viewing areas out the side and rear windows, it felt as simple to park as any car half its size.

Noting the vehicle in our garage, a friend tried to pressure us into helping him move house, and – knowing it would be a good test of the car’s capabilities – we eventually capitulated. We weren’t looking forward to a weekend of lugging boxes, but the split fold rear seats allowed us to complete the job and escape in much less time than we’d set aside. And even with a substantial amount fo freight crammed into the 1660 cargo area, the Forester was far from sluggish.

When you add in the effort Subaru put into making their cars safe – this one has a five –star ANCAP rating – we could understand why it keeps winning awards for being such a practical, affordable, capable and exciting family car. If only it looked the part.

Verdict: 7.7/10

Pricing guides

$9,000
Based on 164 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$3,998
Highest Price
$16,963

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
X 2.5L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $5,000 – 12,990 2008 Subaru Forester 2008 X Pricing and Specs
XS 2.5L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $7,998 – 13,990 2008 Subaru Forester 2008 XS Pricing and Specs
XS Luxury 2.5L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $8,995 – 12,990 2008 Subaru Forester 2008 XS Luxury Pricing and Specs
XS Premium 2.5L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $6,495 – 11,990 2008 Subaru Forester 2008 XS Premium Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.5