Discover Used Subaru Forester Years To Avoid and Subaru Forester Best Years to Purchase!

Patrick Oziegbe
Published On:

In the used compact crossover SUV market, the Subaru Forester has some of the best years model in terms of safety, reliability, good fuel economy, and overall practicality.

Now you’re ready to shop for a used model, it’s very important to be aware of which years to avoid and Subaru Forester best years to land best benefits from your investment that guarantee a enjoyable and hassle-free driving experience.

Our editors discovered the worst years including the 1st generation 1998 to 2001 models were plagued with engine problems and other common issues.

Even there were many reports of the 2010 Forester having engine failures and head gasket problems and the first-generation (1998 to 2002) experienced issues such as coolant leak, check engine light on, blown head gasket, automatic transmission failed!

Additionally, problems have been been report in the 4th generation between 2014 to 2018 models including, unintended acceleration, brake light swift defect, excessive oil consumption, defective bluetooth connectivity, leaky head gaskets.

Worst Years and Models to Avoid

Photo Credit: NetCarShow

Let’s now discuss in detail the worst years for the Subaru Forester and the reasons why they’re not the most reliable or best options for you!

The 2014 Forester model is potentially one of the worst years to consider. This specific model has been reported to suffer from engine failure, excessive oil consumption, suspension breakdowns, and gearbox problems.

One thing is sure, it will drill a hole into your pockets couple with endless frustrations and disappointments.

Another set of years to avoid are the models with the first generation 1998 to 2002 which faced 100s of customers complaints and a recall.

The NHTSA released a stats showing buyers and drivers reported problems about 2009, 2015, 2017, and 2018 as very troublesome model years.

To recap, here is a summary of the worst Subaru Forester years and models to avoid:

  • 2014: Engine failure, excessive oil consumption, suspension breakdowns, and gearbox problems,
  • 1998-2002: One recall and over 100 complaints on average per model year,
  • 2009, 2015, 2017, 2018: Based on NHTSA statistics, user-reported problems, and auto industry reviews,
  • 2006-2010, 2012, 2013: Identified by Consumer Reports as having poor reliability.

Common Problems and Issues

Let’s share in greater some of the common problems such as Engine, Head gasket failure etc:

  • Engine Issues

The 2010 Forester suffer from head gaskets, engine failure, loud cold starts, and blown turbo engines. The 2011 model also experienced engine failure, leaky engines with flammable oil odors, and unexpected acceleration. Another issue with Forester engines is high oil consumption.

  • Head Gasket Problems

The head gasket problems often caused oil leaks and, when not addressed promptly, can lead to higher repair costs.

Some models also develop cracks in the oxygen sensors, triggering the check engine light and affecting fuel economy. Knock sensors are another concern, as they can impact the vehicle’s performance and engine when faulty.

  • Transmission Problems

Some owners complain having transmission problems such as difficulties in shifting into drive and rear-wheel bearings failing.

These problems can significantly affect the driving experience and require repair or replacement to ensure the vehicle’s reliability.

  • Electrical System Issues

Electrical system issues are another common problem like car’s oxygen sensors, resulting in a triggered check engine light.

  • High Oil Consumption

High oil consumption is a prevalent issue in some Subaru Forester models that can lead to engine failure if not closely monitored.

Models from 1999 to 2014 are known to have excessive oil consumption problems, affecting the vehicle’s overall fuel economy and potentially causing engine damage due to insufficient lubrication.

Best & Most Reliable Subaru Forester Years

©Photo Credit: Deposit Photos

According to our in house research, there are different opinions on the most reliable years of the Subaru Forester.

The older 2003-2005 model years are very reliable as well 2011-2013 model years while the recent ones of 2016, 2018, 2019, 2021, and 2022 are much more reliable.


These model years come with solid construction, solid finishing, good handling, and average good design. Most drivers report they are easy to maintain and repair with attendant low cost.


With proven high fuel economy a spacious interior and overall positive reliable, they assured owners of comfortable ride and all-wheel drive capabilities, which make them a good choice for drivers in areas with inclement weather.

2016, 2018, 2019, 2021, and 2022:

These more recent model years are design to be much better then previous years and they are exactly that. They trump older models in areas of reliability, safety ratings and advanced features like EyeSight driver assist technology.

In addition to above, they are best choice if comfortable ride, quiet cabin, and spacious cargo area are what you desire!

Comparing Subaru Models and Competitors

Subaru Models Comparison

The third-generation Forester (2011-2013) is recognized as a best buy, while the 2006-2010 Foresters have the worst reliability and 2019-2022 models were made with better values, higher performances and latest features.

Comparing the Forester to other Subaru models, the Outback is a larger alternative, while the Impreza is more compact, and the Crosstrek offers a similar SUV experience on a smaller scale. Read facts about Subaru Outback worst or best models!

  • Best Years: 2011-2013 (Forester)
  • Worst Years: 2006-2010 (Forester)
  • Models to Avoid: 2013 Crosstrek and Impreza

Honda CR-V vs. Subaru Forester

When comparing the Honda CR-V to the Subaru Forester, consider these aspects:

  • Reliability: Subaru Forester has had some reliability issues in specific years, while the Honda CR-V generally receives high reliability ratings.
  • All-Wheel Drive: The Subaru Forester comes standard with AWD, while the Honda CR-V offers it as an option. Discover Honda CR-V years to avoid and best ones!
  • Handling: Both vehicles offer solid handling and comfortable rides, but the Subaru Forester is known for its off-road capabilities.

Toyota RAV4 vs. Subaru Forester

Comparing the Toyota RAV4 with the Subaru Forester:

  • Reliability: The Toyota RAV4 is known for its long-term reliability, while Subaru Forester has mixed reliability ratings.
  • Interior Space: The Subaru Forester and the Toyota RAV4 have comparable interior space, but the Forester edges out when considering rear-seats and cargo area.

In conclusion, when choosing the best Subaru Forester model or comparing it with competitors like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, make sure to consider factors such as reliability, performance, and AWD capabilities.

Reliability and Owner Satisfaction

According to NHTSA, Forester received around 300 complaints per model year which include faulty ignitions, excessive oil consumption, passenger seat airbags not deploying, frail windshields, and defective lower control arms.

Despite these setbacks, the Subaru brand as a whole enjoys a strong reputation for its reliable vehicles, garnering praise from reputable organizations like Consumer Reports and Kelley Blue Book.

Additionally, the vehicles typically perform well in terms of safety, often receiving high marks from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

And owner satisfaction? Most owners appreciate the manual transmission offered on some models, providing an engaging driving experience and even more people love the latest models as they have high improvements of reliability issues.

Maintaining a Subaru Forester

Proper maintenance of a Subaru Forester is essential in ensuring its longevity and reliability. Regularly checking essential components and following the recommended service intervals can significantly influence the vehicle’s performance on the road today.

You must consider the car’s history and previous owners before you make payment as badly maintained Forester can lead to various issues, even if the model year is generally a great choice.

Obtaining service records and conducting a thorough pre-purchase inspection can help in understanding the vehicle’s previous maintenance practices.

The battery life is another aspect to consider in maintaining a Forester, as it influences the vehicle’s overall functionality. Regularly testing and replacing the battery when needed can prevent unexpected breakdowns and ensure hassle-free driving experience.

In summary, executing proper maintenance for a Subaru Forester includes:

  • Adhering to the manufacturer’s recommended service intervals
  • Investigating the vehicle’s history and evaluating previous owners’ maintenance attempts
  • Keeping track and taking care of the battery life
  • Ensuring the AWD system remains in optimal condition

Safety Features and Ratings

The Subaru Forester has a strong reputation for its safety features and ratings and has consistently received high marks from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in crash tests and has been recognized for its advanced driver-assistance technologies.

One of the key safety features in the Subaru Forester is the EyeSight Driver Assist Technology suite. This system includes:

  • Pre-collision braking
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Lane departure and sway warning
  • Lane keep assist
  • Automatic emergency steering

These features are designed to help reduce the risk of an accident and make the Forester an ideal choice for first-time car buyers or families looking for added peace of mind on the road.

In addition to the EyeSight suite, the Forester also comes equipped with standard safety features such as:

  • Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC)
  • Traction control system
  • Anti-lock braking system (ABS)
  • Brake assist
  • Rearview camera

The updates, starting from 2019 comes with massive improvements to safety features, making newer model years a good option for those in search of the latest advancements in vehicle safety.

Another aspect that contributes to the Subaru Forester’s safety is its adequate engine power. This allows drivers to maintain control in various driving conditions, further enhancing the vehicle’s overall safety.

Technology and Connectivity

In terms of technology and connectivity, the Subaru Forester has made significant improvements over the years.

For example, the 2016, 2018, and 2019 models are considered to be among the best Forester years, with fewer reported issues and a much more satisfactory customer experience in terms of technology features.

In these recent models, Bluetooth connectivity and voice recognition systems function more effectively and provide a seamless user experience.

Overview of Subaru Forester

Compact SUV

The Subaru Forester, a well-known compact sports utility vehicle (SUV) that has been in production since the late 1990s, is highly regarded for its reliability, safety features, and all-wheel drive capabilities.

The Forester has been a favorite among Subaru enthusiasts for many years, offering the perfect balance of SUV ruggedness and compact car efficiency.

Trim Levels

Subaru offers a variety of trim levels for the Forester that cater to different budgets and preferences. Some of the notable trim levels include:

  • Base: This is the most basic trim and comes with standard features like all-wheel drive, a touchscreen infotainment system, and the EyeSight driver assistance suite.
  • Premium: Adding to the features of the Base trim, the Premium trim includes a panoramic sunroof, an upgraded audio system, and a power-adjustable driver’s seat.
  • Sport: With a unique exterior design, the Sport trim level stands out from the others. It comes with additional features like LED fog lights, paddle shifters, and unique interior accents.
  • Limited: This higher-end trim includes luxury features like leather upholstery, an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, and dual-zone automatic climate control.
  • Touring: The top-of-the-line Touring trim level comes with all the bells and whistles, including a navigation system, a power liftgate, and heated rear seats.

Forester Models

Over the years, the Forester model lineup has undergone several updates and generations. The first generation Forester (1998-2002) was highly acclaimed for its excellent handling and safety features.

With the progression of each generation, the Forester has continued to improve in terms of performance, fuel efficiency, and technological advancements.

Today, the current generation of Forester models (since 2019) proudly stands among its competitors in the compact SUV market.


International Scout

The SUV Revolution: 15 Vehicles That Sparked the Sport Utility Trend

Imagine a world without the familiar sight of SUVs on every corner – hard to picture, isn’t it? Today, these versatile giants rule the roads, offering the perfect blend of style, space, and comfort that
SUV driving safety

The 20 Safest States For SUV Drivers, In America (Hawaii Tops the List)

Safety is a top priority for many drivers, especially those with families. Buckle up for some surprising news that’ll have SUV drivers breathing a sigh of relief – especially if you’re cruising in Hawaii and
kia telluride years to avoid

Discover The Worst Kia Telluride Years to Avoid and Best Used Telluride

Are you ready to take on the open road in a used Kia Telluride? Before you hit the gas pedal, make sure you know which model years to avoid. While the Telluride is a top-notch three-row


Sign up now to get the email newsletter and exclusive deals weekly.