The History Of Subaru Forester

The Subaru Forester, is a tall, all-wheel drive Compact Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) manufactured since 1997 by Subaru — currently in its third generation and now marketed as a compact crossover. Originally introduced to the United States in 1998, the Forester shared its platform with the Impreza up to the third generation and now features a hybrid platform of the Japanese Impreza wagon and the rear platform of the U.S.-spec Impreza sedan.

According to the Subaru Forester article on Japanese Wikipedia, the name is coined to imply "a resident of the forest."

The Forester was introduced at the Tokyo Motor Show November 1995 as the "Sutoriga" concept and made available for sale February 1997 in Japan, and to the American market in 1998, using the Impreza platform but with the larger 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine from the Outback, making 165horsepower (123kW) at 5,600 rpm and 162lb·ft (220N·m) of torque at 4,000 rpm. In Japan, the Forester replaced the Subaru Impreza Gravel Express, known in the USA as the Subaru Outback Sport. Due to the Forester's low center of gravity, it meets the United States federal safety standards for Passenger Vehicles, and does not require a risk of rollover warning label on the driver's visor. Size and price wise it fits between the smaller Impreza, and the larger Legacy.

As with all Subaru models marketed in the United States and other international markets since the early 1990s, the Forester is equipped with an all-wheel drive drivetrain. Subaru advertising employed the slogan "SUV tough, Car Easy" to appeal to the SUV-oriented market; and to this end, the Forester from its inception had features associated with SUVs such as a large, boxy cargo area, higher h-point seating and more ground clearance while based on unibody rather than body-on-frame construction. In this sense, the Forester met the criteria of the term crossover before the term appeared. Notably, the third generation of the Forester is marketed by Subaru as a crossover.

The Forester, up until recently, was also sold in India as a Chevrolet alongside other Chevrolet models sold there. However since General Motors no longer holds an ownership stake in Subaru's parent company, Fuji Heavy Industries, sales in India of the Chevrolet-badged Forester have ended. The Forester is produced at the Gunma Yajima Factory in Japan.

The automatic transmission used on AWD equipped vehicles would normally send 90% of the engines torque to the front wheels and 10% to the rear wheels, using a computer controlled, continuously variable, multi-plate transfer clutch. When the front wheels began to experience a loss of grip, the transmission automatically sent available torque to the rear wheels, up to 50-50 split between the front and rear wheels until grip was reestablished at the front wheels, without notifying the driver or occupants that torque was being redirected. When accelerating or driving uphill, the vehicles weight shifts rearward, reducing front wheel traction, causing the transmission to automatically send torque to the rear wheels to compensate. When braking or driving downhill, the vehicle's weight shifts towards the front, reducing rear wheel traction. The transmission again compensates by sending torque to the front wheels for better steering control and braking performance. If the automatic is placed in Reverse or "1st" gear, the transmission divides the torque 50-50 to both front and rear wheels.

The trim levels were the basic model, followed by the "L" and the fully equipped "S" for the USA version.


The Forester had four main models available in Australia:

There was a change in body styling for all 2001/ 2002 models, and the 2001/ 2002 GT spec also had a change in engine management and power output was increased from 125kW (168hp) to 130kW (174hp).

  • GX - naturally-aspirated 2.0L flat-4, 92kW (123hp)

Engine Size 1994 cc (2.0)

Compression Ratio 9.7:1

Dual range gearbox - manual only

Acceleration 0-100 km/ h 10.7 secs

  • Limited - naturally-aspirated 2.0L flat-4, 92kW

Engine Size 1994 cc (2.0)

Compression Ratio 9.7:1

Dual range gearbox - manual only

Acceleration 0-100 km/ h 10.7 secs

  • Special Edition - naturally-aspirated 2.0L flat-4, 92kW (123hp)

Engine Size 1994 cc (2.0)

Compression Ratio 9.7:1

Dual range gearbox - manual only

Acceleration 0-100 km/ h 10.7 secs

  • GT 1998 to 2000 - turbocharged 2.0L flat-4, 125kW (168hp)
  • GT 2001 to 2002 - turbocharged 2.0L flat-4, 130kW (174hp)

Engine Size 1994 cc (2.0)

Turbo TF035

Compression Ratio 8.5:1

Acceleration 0-100 km/ h 8.4 secs

In 2003, a turbocharged Forester, the XT, was released alongside the naturally-aspirated X and XS in the United States as a 2004 model, however the same model had been available since the late 1990s elsewhere in the world. The XT model features a 2.5L turbocharged engine mated with the same Mitsubishi TD04 turbocharger used in the Subaru Impreza WRX. In fact, the engine in the 2004 to 2005 Forester XT is identical to the American market Subaru Impreza WRX STi except for using the smaller TD04 turbocharger from the WRX, a smaller intercooler, different exhaust system, and different engine management programming. Those seeking additional power for their Forester XT can replace the turbocharger and intercooler with used STI components which are readily available.

The 2003 Forester features weight-saving refinements such as an aluminum hood, perforated rails, and a hydro-formed front sub-frame.

In 2005, Subaru launched an STI variant of the Forester, the Forester STI for the Japanese Market. It shared the same engine as the 2005 Subaru Impreza WRX STI, but thanks to different tuning generated 320bhp (240kW).

2005 also the introduction of Subaru's AVCS system as standard on all engines used in the Forester.


MY03-04 Models has a 4 Star ANCAP safety rating MY05 Forester Model had a mid-life update, the update increased its ANCAP safety rating to 5 Stars.


In 2006, the turbocharged engine (powering the Forester XT) was awarded International Engine of the Year. This engine is also used in the Subaru Impreza WRX, as well as the re-badged Saab 9-2X.


For 2006, the Forester exterior received a styling update. Just two models are produced:

  • 2.5 X - naturally-aspirated 2.5L flat-4, 173hp (129kW)
  • 2.5 XT Limited - turbocharged 2.5L flat-4, 224hp (171kW)

In 2007, the Forester line was expanded to 5 models:

  • 2.5 X
  • 2.5 X L.L. Bean edition
  • Sports 2.5 X
  • 2.5 XT Limited
  • Sports 2.5 XT


The Forester had three main models available in Australia until July 2005:

  • X - naturally-aspirated 2.5 L flat-4, 112 kW (150 hp)
  • XS - naturally-aspirated 2.5 L flat-4, 112 kW (150 hp)
  • XT - turbocharged 2.5 L flat-4, 155 kW (208 hp)

The Forester has three main models available in Australia from August 2005:

  • X - naturally-aspirated 2.5L flat-4, 121kW (162hp)
  • XS - naturally-aspirated 2.5L flat-4, 121kW (162hp)
  • XT - turbocharged 2.5L flat-4, 169kW (226hp)

The difference between the X and the XS is the styling of the car through its accessories. Both the XS and the XT come with the option of having a "Luxury Pack" fitted - allowing for leather seats and a sunroof. Besides the difference in engine between the X or XS when compared to the XT, there are other minor styling differences like the addition of a Momo steering wheel as standard on the XT model. Both the XS and XT include curtain airbags, whereas the X does not.

The MY2009 Forester was unveiled in Japan on December 25, 2007.[citation needed] The North American version debuted at the 2008 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The third generation Forester was styled by Subaru Chief Designer Mamoru Ishii. The dimensions derive from engineers using the basic body structure of the Japanese-spec Impreza wagon with the rear platform of the U.S.-spec Impreza sedan. The Forester wheelbase has increased 3.5inches (89mm), with overall increases of 3.0inches (76mm) in length, 1.8inches (46mm) in width and 4.3inches (110mm) in height. Notably, the third generation Forester foregoes the frameless side windows used on Subarus since the early 1970s.

USA specifications

The Forester trim levels are the 2.5X and 2.5X L.L. Bean without a turbo, and the 2.5XT and 2.5XT Limited with a turbo. The interior colors are either black or light gray with three upholstery selections, including leather. Nine exterior colors are offered with four colors offered with a pearlescent appearance.

Starting July 2008, Subaru no longer offered a special edition L.L. Bean trim level on the Forester.

The USA 2.5X model has been certified PZEV emissions (Rated 175hp (130.5kW) instead 170hp (126.8kW)), and a badge has been attached to the rear of the vehicle on the bottom left hand side of the tailgate. All other USA models have been certified LEV2. The engine without the turbo runs on unleaded gasoline rated at 87 octane, and the turbo uses premium fuel rated at 91 octane.

Safety equipment includes front airbags with side curtain airbags and front passenger side airbags (for a total of six airbags) and brake assist that detects panic-braking situations and applys maximum braking force more quickly.

The manual transmission is equipped with Incline Start Assist which allows the car to remain stopped on an incline by only depressing the clutch pedal, instead of both the clutch and brake pedal.

The independent double wishbone rear suspension has been redesigned for better handling and a smoother ride over the previous generation. "Sportshift" has been included with the 4 speed computer controlled automatic transmission. The in-dash, touch-screen satellite navigation system is Bluetooth compatible, and has the premium stereo integrated. Subaru also offers the 6 speaker premium stereo, with surround sound enhancement, separate from the navigation system.

The new model adds 3.5inches (89mm) to the Forester's wheelbase, thereby improving interior space and cargo room (31cuft (0.88m3) expandable to 69cuft (2.0m3)). Ground clearance for the Forester is now 8.9inches (230mm).

Some of the standard equipment found on the 2.5X include Subaru's VDC (Vehicle Dynamics Control), 16 inch alloy wheels, and an auxiliary audio jack for MP3 players. Optional equipment include 17 inch alloy wheels, panoramic moonroof, heated front seats and heated side-view mirrors. The L.L. Bean edition adds automatic climate control, leather upholstery, an upgraded stereo with six speakers and a 6 disc in-dash CD changer over the four speaker stereo with single disc CD player, and an in-dash navigation system, as well as L.L. Bean signature floor mats and rear cargo tray.

The 2.5 XT comes with the premium stereo standard, as well as 17 inch alloy wheels, and the panoramic moonroof. The 2.5 XT Limited adds leather upholstery with heated front seats, in-dash navigation, a rear spoiler, and automatic climate control. For 2009, XT models come only with a 4-speed Automatic with Sport Shift.

Australian Specifications

There are five specifications with various trim and performance levels:

  • X: Base model, $30,490
  • XS: Lower luxury non-turbo model, $33,990
  • XS: Premium luxury non-turbo model, $37,490
  • XT: Lower luxury turbo model, $38,990
  • XT: Premium luxury turbo model, $44,990

Subaru chose to use an aluminum alloy boxer engine in the Forester, as well as their other products, to simplify the powertrain implementation of all-wheel drive, in order to reduce powertrain weight, and because of the natural smoothness of the engine design. According to Subaru, because the engine sits in-line, or longitudinal, with the transmission, instead of being offset, or transverse, as can be commonly found by other FWD and AWD vehicles, body roll is minimized. The weight of the engine and transmission are balanced instead of being offset, which can cause the weight of the engine and transmission to be unbalanced in the engine bay in other vehicles. The power delivery is also direct from the transmission to the front wheels, and to the rear wheels through a rear differential, which is limited slip on some models. The transfer case is integrated into the Subaru transmission. Other AWD vehicles were first engineered as either front or rear wheel drive, but were modified with an additional, external transfer case and asymmetrical drive shafts to power the additional wheels, which adds a degree of complexity.

The boxer engine also affords a low center of gravity, and a balanced chassis because the engine sits low in the engine bay and close to the ground, as opposed to other vehicles, allowing the vehicle to stay more stable than some vehicles in moderate to high speed manoeuvres. Other manufacturers attempt to counteract the offset weight by making their powertrains' weight evenly distributed, which overall can cause the powertrain to be heavier than the Subaru system.

The boxer design also provides near-perfect vibration mitigation due to the fact that the movement of each piston is exactly countered by the corresponding piston in the opposing cylinder bank, eliminating the need for an inefficient harmonic balancer attached to the front of the engine at the crankshaft. The only vibration caused by the boxer engine is secondary vibration caused by the cylinders being offset slightly on opposing banks. This vibration, however, is minimal and is all but eliminated when the engine is mounted in the engine bay. Torque steer is also reduced with this type of power train layout. This is achieved by having the front driveshafts being of equal weight and length, and extend from the transmission to the front wheels at almost perpendicular from the transmission.

The Forester will be available from October 2008 in Europe with Subaru's all-new diesel-powered horizontally-opposed engine, to be introduced at the 2008 Paris Motor Show in October.

  • Winner Australia's Best Recreational Four Wheel Drive in 2000
  • Winner Australia's Best Recreational Four Wheel Drive in 2001
  • Winner Australia's Best Recreational Four Wheel Drive in 2002
  • Car and Driver's Best Small SUV 2004
  • Car and Driver's Best Small SUV 2005
  • Car and Driver's Best Small SUV 2006
  • Winner of Motor Trend Magazine's Sport/ Utility of the Year Award in 2009

Winner of Wheels Gold star cars award for best compact SUV 2008 wheels/ site/ articleIDs/ 2A4C42B55927465ACA25747C000F333E

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