In case you are a Subaru fan and searching for a enjoyable automotive to drive and sensible, the Subaru Forester is the automotive for you. With extra floor clearance than a Legacy and the rallying DNA of the WRX STI, the Forester makes the proper automobile that sits between the 2 worlds.

Just like the Legacy, AWD was a regular function on the Subaru forester. The ability was cut up 60/40 in Foresters with an automated transmission. Nevertheless, if the transmission detects a slip in both axle, energy is cut up 50/50 to forestall lack of traction. The AWD system in Foresters with a handbook transmission ensures that energy is cut up 50/50 between the entrance and rear axles.

Some think about the Forester a wagon, however it’s not although Subaru classifies the primary two generations as wagons. The Forester is extra like a small crossover SUV, and when it was launched within the States, it competed in opposition to bigger SUVs such because the Jeep Cherokee.

With its boxy and rugged appears to be like, the Forester stood out amongst different crossovers and was perceived to be an off-road-oriented automotive. It wasn’t till the S Turbo spec was launched that individuals accepted the Forester as a extra road-going automotive. The Forester was a extra dependable and cheap choice that was extra succesful than most crossovers being supplied at manufacturing. Its largest competitors was the Rav4, however it was too small and had a decrease energy output.

The primary and second-gen Foresters have plastic physique cladding, unpainted within the base spec fashions. This is among the issues that was hated at first however embraced later as the price of changing the physique claddings was low. Some would swap the painted physique claddings with unpainted ones, particularly if the Forester was used off-road.

Grey Subaru ForesterGrey Subaru Forester

Subaru made extra turbocharged and STI spec Foresters than Legacies which makes the Forester a favorite amongst wagon fanatics. In 2008 (third-gen Forester), Subaru discontinued the frameless home windows on the Forester similar to they did with the fourth-generation legacy in 2009. Mainly, any Subaru produced from 2008 didn’t carry any design similarities which were there in earlier generations.

The final EJ engines on the Forester had been used within the third technology, however not too many as Subaru primarily used the FA and FB engines. The introduction of CVT additionally made patrons shy off from shopping for Foresters, however there’s a 5-speed handbook choice. The 6-speed handbook choice is just accessible in Foresters with the two.5-litre EJ25 turbodiesel or the STi spec.

First and second-gen Fozzys (Forester nickname) are low cost, dependable, and enjoyable to drive. Non-STi spec Fozzys will price you round $4,000, whereas STI variations begin at $7,000. Foresters are low cost than Legacies and Imprezas and nonetheless provide one of the best traits from each worlds.

Professionals and Cons


Reasonably priced

Suppose you have got 5,000 bucks hidden someplace, and also you’re searching for a 2000s JDM crossover/wagon, no matter you determine to name it. In that case, the Subaru Forester is the proper match. With costs beginning at round $5,000, there’s no higher automotive you will get. Even for larger specs such because the Forester STi or XT, it’s nonetheless price it, contemplating Subaru doesn’t make the Forester in addition to they used to. The Forester is among the many few AWD JDM automobiles you will get.


Banter is thrown at EJ engines for head gasket failures, however they’re a few of the most dependable engines. Base spec Foresters have the EJ20, which averages round 27mpg. For the turbocharge EJ20 and EJ25 engines, gas consumption shall be round 23-25mpg.

Reliability isn’t all the time about gas consumption. If a automotive has excessive upkeep prices, it has a excessive possession price deeming it unreliable. The Subaru Forester has a reliability score of three.8/5.0, positioning it amongst automobiles which have common possession prices. Which isn’t unhealthy for a 20-year-old automotive.

Could be pushed on any street floor

Foresters are in all places, on race tracks, highways, and even wild. The Forester is rugged in look, however it could additionally deal with any terrain you throw at it although it lacks driver aids similar to locking diffs or a four-wheel-drive system.

The entry-level Forester is the proper automotive if you wish to modify it for Overlanding or off-roading. STI and S-turbo specs have a decrease journey peak, and preserving them on the street is most acceptable. STI elements are available, and if you wish to flip your entry-level Forester into an STi, you are able to do it.


The Subaru forester makes the proper every day driver. It has sufficient cabin house to suit 5 folks and sufficient trunk house to suit baggage for the entire squad when happening a ski expedition. It got here customary with roof rails, and if they’re nonetheless on, you possibly can mount a roof rack for additional storage.

Enjoyable to drive

Since all foresters are AWD, you possibly can drive them on any floor, together with ice or mud, with out worrying about getting caught. Drifting with an AWD automotive is difficult to grasp for a newbie however tons of enjoyable to do once you discover ways to do it.

Blue Subaru ForesterBlue Subaru Forester

The EJ engine rumble is orgasmic to hearken to when cruising the freeway, particularly you probably have a straight piped EJ20 turbo or EJ25 turbo. The urge to speed up, downshift and hearken to the turbo flutter and the pops and bangs from the exhaust is each Fozzy fanboy’s dream.

Nice dealing with

An AWD system that ensures traction on all 4 wheels is essential when driving on snow, mud, and even the street floor. Pre-2000 fashions have rear drum brakes, however you possibly can swap to disc brakes customary on each Forester after 2000. ABS was additionally made customary after 2000, after which the Forester was awarded a 5-star security score by the NHTSA.

No matter its raised journey peak, the Forester has a low middle of gravity, enabling journey stability. That is contributed by Subaru’s engine and transmission placement, the place they place the engine according to the transmission. This additionally reduces engine motion, which prevents the middle of gravity from swaying when cornering or braking.

Components are simply accessible and cheap

Many aftermarket producers nonetheless make the engine, transmission, suspension, and physique elements for the Subaru Forester. Most of that are simple to search out and low cost, similar to the preliminary price of shopping for a forester. In case you are shopping for a Forester as a mission automotive, you should buy one that’s operating however with minor points. This protects you some money to purchase aftermarket or OEM elements to show your Fozzy into the last word sleeper.


Base trim Foresters don’t have airbags

That is most likely the largest pink flag in a Forester. Some base trim pre-2000 Fozzys didn’t have airbags, however it was later a regular function on all trims. When shopping for a Forester made earlier than 2000, make sure you examine if it has an airbag. Some homeowners had OEM or aftermarket airbags put in.

If the automotive doesn’t have an airbag, discount for the worth, then set up an airbag afterward. For a automotive that you simply wish to drive lengthy miles with or discover trails with, security is paramount, and an airbag is among the most simple security options it is best to have put in.

Low most towing restrict

The Forester was not made to compete with greater SUVs, however it certain did put out combat within the early years of manufacturing. Nevertheless, the towing capability is one space the place the Forester is extremely deprived in comparison with bigger SUVs.

The primary and second-gen Foresters have a most towing capability of round 2500 kilos which is twice as much less because the SUVs it was competing in opposition to. The unavailability of a tow hitch in some fashions additionally meant that you simply needed to get one put in to haul your small trailer.

Poor high quality inside

The inside of a Subaru Forester isn’t actually that good. For instance, the first-generation Forester has an inside and luxury score of three.4, which is under common. When most automobiles had energy home windows and doorways, Subaru was nonetheless putting in mechanical door locks and home windows on the first-generation Forester. That is one motive some will select a Legacy wagon over a Forester.

Legacies are typically extra comfy using or driving than Forester, primarily due to the inside. The plastic sprint, door panels, and middle console rattle after use and abuse and, at occasions, even crack. The material on the seats is just too low cost and tears very simply. Few Fozzys got here with leather-based seats and a steering wheel, so for those who plan to make use of yours steadily, that is among the many first upgrades it is best to work on.

Frequent Points

Oil and Coolant leaks

Oil and coolant leaks are frequent in EJ engines. Oil leaking from the entrance of the engine signifies alternator belt tensioner failure. Changing the belt tensioner with an OEM one or a advisable aftermarket one solves this.

The camshaft rubber seals put on out with use and abuse. It is suggested to switch the camshaft rubber seals when changing the timing belt since you need to take away the timing belt to get to the camshaft seals. Nevertheless, if an excessive amount of oil is leaking by means of the camshaft seals, change them.

EJ engines use single-layer head gaskets that put on out faster than multi-layer head gaskets. When the pinnacle gaskets put on out, it leads to oil and coolant leaks, ultimately resulting in the engine overheating.

Excessive Oil Consumption

EJ engines are recognized to have a barely larger oil consumption, particularly these made within the early 90s and 2000s. However suppose you discover that the engine is consuming extra oil than standard. In that case, it is advisable to get your engine checked earlier than an engine rebuild turns into the one means out.

The engine is perhaps leaking oil, and also you already know tips on how to repair that. Another excuse why the engine is consuming an excessive amount of oil is perhaps due to worn piston rings, which permit oil to get into the combustion chamber. If the gaskets and seals take a look at, you’ll must assess the situation of the piston rings.

Excessive oil consumption generally is a results of the end-user. Some drivers will assume that an EJ engine has a excessive oil consumption and put in additional than the required quantity. This floods the engine with oil, and stress build-up will power the oil into the combustion chamber; thus, the engine will burn extra oil.

Clutch Failure

This primarily happens in Foresters with a handbook transmission. Because the transmission wears out, the clutch pedal turns into spongy, and you need to double shift when shifting by means of gears. The clutch can even produce an odor, particularly when going uphill or underneath a heavy load. Relying in your driving habits, it is best to change the clutch on a Forester after each 40,000-50,000 miles.

Damaged and Failing Inside Electricals and Parts

Foresters have a poor-quality inside that wears out with previous age, particularly if the automotive was saved wrongly or saved for a very long time with none upkeep.

The seats, dashboard, and different plastic inside trims will fade, crack, and also you’ll remorse not upgrading the inside once you had the possibility to. If the inside is authentic, it may not put on out rapidly, however it’ll take some excessive care.

The ability window switches generally fail or get caught, and even the radio doesn’t work. It takes some slapping on the sprint to get the radio working. Nonetheless, you’ll must get higher window switches and rewire each electrical element within the cabin to forestall future troubles.

Engine Piston Slap

That is brought on by broken or worn-out pistons that knock on the cylinders’ partitions. Or the cylinder partitions are worn out from harm by the beforehand broken pistons that had been eliminated. Changing worn-out pistons is the one means you possibly can completely keep away from this.

If the pistons are usually not too broken, you need to use thicker oil as you anticipate substitute pistons to ship in or avoid wasting money to purchase new pistons. Opting to maintain the broken pistons signifies that you need to scale back driving your Fozzy and drive at low speeds when fully needed.

Tough Suspension

The coil springs on entry-level foresters are usually not that nice for a automotive that may be pushed on all street surfaces. Coil springs are inclined to crack rust and lose stress because the automotive is pushed and ages, leading to a bumpy and noisy journey.

It is suggested that you simply change all 4 coil springs, as changing one or two will result in an uneven journey peak. The facet with the brand new coils will seem raised than the facet with the previous springs. Even when the previous ones are in good situation, they’ll put on out faster than the brand new ones.

Cracked Windshield and Home windows

The windshield and window glass high quality was not that nice on the manufacturing time. If the automotive nonetheless has the unique windshield and home windows, you’ll must be additional cautious or danger cracking. Most assume that as a result of the Subaru forester has frameless home windows, they are going to break whatever the glass high quality. Frameless home windows don’t have an effect on window energy and the security of the driving force and passengers inside.

Common Costs

The Forester is among the many most cost-effective JDM wagons you should buy. Some could classify it as a small crossover SUV, however no matter you determine to name it, it’s one of many few automobiles with worth for cash. You may simply decide one in pristine situation for slightly below $5,000, whereas STIs go for figures above $7,000. Should you’re wanting to avoid wasting money, discover one listed with minor points, and you’ve got a number of bargaining factors that can get the vendor to decrease the worth. 

Comparable Options

Fashions and specs

1997-2002 Subaru Legacy (SF)

Black Subaru ForesterBlack Subaru Forester

After discontinued Legacy Outback, the Forester was unveiled in Japan, and manufacturing began in 1997. It shared the identical platform with the AWD Legacy and had related engine choices. The Legacy outback was nonetheless in manufacturing within the USA, and the Forester was launched after manufacturing began in Japan. 

The bottom-spec mannequin in Japan had the naturally aspirated 2.0-liter EJ20, whereas the naturally aspirated EJ25 was utilized in base spec Foresters in different markets. 

You get the first-gen Forester with both a 4-speed automated transmission or a 5-speed handbook. The 6-speed handbook was not accessible till the second-gen Forester STI.

Forester L

That is the bottom Spec Forester for the US market. It has the two.5-liter EJ25, which had an influence output of round 150 horsepower when new. The Japan base spec mannequin was mainly referred to as the Forester with the two.0 EJ20, which made 136 horsepower on the time of manufacturing. 

The one distinction between the US and US base spec forester is engine displacement. Each fashions had ABS, cruise management, energy locks, fog lights, bolstered seats, and customary. 

After 2000, a roof rack, energy home windows, energy doorways, three-point seatbelts, and airbags had been customary for each markets. 

Forester S

The Forester S was launched in 2000 with the turbocharged EJ20, and it’s sportier than the L trim. It options rear disc brakes, an LSD, and a lowered sporty suspension. It was additionally extra comfy and driver-friendly because it had heated entrance seats, windshield, and rear-view mirror. Because of this you don’t have to face within the snow scraping ice in your home windows, and also you don’t must wipe the rear-view mirror when driving in snow. 

Subaru additionally upgraded and changed the steelies with new alloy wheels that matched the titanium paint. The premium bundle gave the Forester a brand new Crimson Pearl paint, energy moonroof, side-impact airbags, and gold accent wheels. 

2002-2008 Subaru Legacy (SG)

Grey Subaru ForesterGrey Subaru Forester

The second-gen Forester has smoother physique traces and has a much less rugged look than the first-gen Forester. Subaru discontinued the Legacy platform used within the first technology Forester because the second-gen has the Impreza’s AWD platform. 

All trims of the second-gen Forester had an elective luxurious trim which added a sunroof, leather-based seats, leather-wrapped shift knob, and steering wheel. The Weekender trim additionally added roof rails, fog lights, and alloy wheels on the bottom spec Forester X and XS trims. 

The Forester was unavailable in China till 2004. A Chinese language producer, Yema, made a look-alike that shared nothing aside from appears to be like with the Forester. Subaru exported and offered the Forester in China between 2004 and 2007. 

Foresters offered in China had the identical specs as Japanese spec Foresters, however the trims had been badged otherwise. The bottom trim with the EJ20 is the Forester 2.0X, and the two.5X has the naturally aspirated EJ25. All trims both have a 4-speed automated transmission or a 5-speed handbook transmission. On the similar time, the STI spec solely got here with a 6-speed handbook transmission. 

Forester X

In all markets, the Forester X changed the L Spec forester, the bottom trim within the first technology. No adjustments had been made to the engine choices. The Japanese spec Forester X got here with the naturally aspirated EJ20, whereas the EJ25 was customary in all different markets. 

The EJ20 made round 140 horsepower, and the EJ25 made 156 horsepower at manufacturing. ABS, air-con, energy home windows and doorways, cruise management, and rear disc brakes had been customary within the second-gen base mannequin. 

Forester XS

The forester XS was the sportier model of the X trim and had the identical EJ20 and EJ25 engines within the Forester X with no change in energy output. Auto Levelling suspension was first put in on the Forester XS, enabling automobile stability by stopping a change in journey peak whatever the load. 

Different extra options embrace; 16-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, local weather management, a 6-CD changer, and all customary options within the Forester X. 

Forester XT

The XT badge was used internationally and on Foresters with the two.5-liter turbocharged EJ25. In case you are on a price range and might’t get an STI, why not get an XT? The XT had an influence output of 230 horsepower at manufacturing, and you will get one with both an automated or handbook transmission. 

It has all options accessible on the XS however with 17-inch alloy wheels, HID (Excessive-Depth Discharge) headlights, a MOMO steering wheel, and a 7-speaker stereo. 

Forester Cross Sports activities 

Grey Subaru ForesterGrey Subaru Forester

This trim was derived from the Forester XT however didn’t have the EJ25 turbo. As a substitute, the Forester Cross Sports activities has the two.0-litre EJ20, making 230 horsepower when new, and solely has a 4-speed automated transmission. Suppose you need a Forester that mixed consolation and reliability however nonetheless makes an honest quantity of energy. In that case, the Forester Cross Sports activities is the spec to go for. 

Forester STi

Blue Subaru ForesterBlue Subaru Forester

In 2004 Subaru launched the SG STi, the sportiest model of the second-gen Forester. The STi spec Forester was solely made for Japan and shared a number of Impreza WRX STi options. It obtained a facelifted entrance finish with a brand new bumper and headlights. STi badging was embedded onto the grill and the fog mild covers. 

The STi has a lighter aluminum hood with an enormous useful hood scoop. You get a wing, completely different headlights from the usual SG Forester and STi badging underneath the Forester badge on the rear finish. 

You get a turbocharged EJ25 which made near 300 horsepower when new and has a great deal of tuning potential. Because of the increment in energy, Subaru needed to rework the suspension. It included sports activities springs, repositioned struts, extra outsized anti-roll bars, and cross-members. The Forester STi additionally obtained greater 18-inch wheels and Brembo brake callipers for that additional grip and stopping energy. 

The STi bucket seats within the Forester STi are additionally from the Impreza WRX STi. Different inside upgrades embrace a leather-based steering wheel. All different options are similar to within the Forester XT. 


What Subaru forester years to keep away from

1998-2000. That is primarily due to questions of safety, as airbags weren’t customary on the first-generation Forester. The inside high quality was additionally not that nice and may cost you a number of hundred bucks to rejuvenate.

Is a Forester STi higher than a Forester XT?

Sure. The STI has a robust and higher engine than the EJ25 used within the Forester XT. Suppose you wish to flip your Forester XT or every other SG forester into an STi. In that case, physique panels and badges are available, and there’s an opportunity you would possibly get some OEM ones.

Is the Subaru Forester price shopping for?

es. In case you are searching for an indication to purchase an SF or SG forester, that is it. Foresters make dependable every day drivers, that are enjoyable to drive and faster than most trendy automobiles. The Forester STi and XT trims are even quicker and look higher than Foresters produced after 2008.

How lengthy will a Subaru Forester Final?

A Subaru forester will final you round 250,000 miles earlier than it is advisable to begin changing main parts. Fortunately Subaru dealerships nonetheless service and promote substitute firsts for Foresters in order for you OEM elements substitute in your Fozzy.

Can I tune a Subaru Forester engine?

Sure. However you have to be conscious that EJ engines can solely put out a most of round 300 horsepower with inventory internals. In case your engine is in good situation, it will likely be simple to tune with a number of improve elements. If it has points, change no matter is damaged or defective earlier than you begin doing mods. With a lightweight tune and a few weight shedding, you would possibly really stand an opportunity in opposition to inventory Skylines and Supras.

Is the Subaru Forester appropriate for a newbie?

Sure. Most learners may have a low price range when shopping for a automotive, and the Forester sits among the many few automobiles which can be enjoyable to drive, and you will get on a price range. Additionally, In case you are searching for the proper every day driver sleeper wagon, the Forester is simply glorious.

import a Subaru Forester

Learn our final information, How to Import a Car from Japan.

  • Sources
    • Wikipedia.org/wiki/Subaru_Forester
    • samarins.com/evaluations/forester
    • cashcarsbuyer.com/Subaru-forester
    • scoobyenthusiast.com/Subaru
    • motorbiscuit.com/Subaru
    • Featured picture by Ace Imports

Christopher joined jdmbuysell.com in 2018 as an automotive Journalist and now has oversees all communications with patrons & sellers.

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