Model Details

2003 Subaru Forester Consumer Reviews

4.1
Average based on 19 reviews
Comfort
Performance
Exterior Styling
Interior Design
Value for the Money
Reliability
1-10 of 19 reviews

frustrating car

by from new hampshire on June 21, 2009

Piston slap, failed catalytic converter, failed radio, original brakes problem, starting problems, all very frustrating. All this and only 65K miles with regular servicing.
Piston slap, failed catalytic converter, failed radio, original brakes problem, starting problems, all very frustrating. All this and only 65K miles with regular servicing.
Comfort
Performance
Handling
Exterior Styling
Interior Design
Features
Value for the Money
Reliability

Purchased a used car

Uses car for Just getting around

Does not recommend this car

9 out of 9 people found this review helpful. Did you?

some good, some bad

by from Chicago, IL on November 3, 2012

I bought my 2003 Subaru Forester new almost ten years ago. It now has 103,000 miles and I have always had preventative maintenance performed. Some things about the car I like very much, others not. Wi...
I bought my 2003 Subaru Forester new almost ten years ago. It now has 103,000 miles and I have always had preventative maintenance performed. Some things about the car I like very much, others not. With it's all wheel drive it's a great car in slippery/snowy conditions. However, the AWD really seems to affect the gas mileage. The Boxer 4 cylinder engine and automatic transmission get about 22 mpg combined city/highway and about 26 mpg on the highway. I would hope for better gas mileage with a 4 cylinder engine but I guess that's at the expense of the safer AWD performance. The flat 2.5 liter 4 cylinder engine is peppy for a 4 cyl. engine but is barely adequate for the size of this vehicle. The flat 6 cyl. engine was not an option for this car. I have had more mechanical problems with this car than I would expect based on Subaru's reputation. I had to have both head gaskets replaced around 70,000 miles. That was expensive. I understand this is a common expensive problem with Subarus of this era. A rear wheel bearing went bad around 40,000 miles. The heated driver seat no longer heats up. Rear seat room is poor, especially for feet. I understand they improved the rear seat room on the latest model Forester. The car handles and brakes very well with all wheel disc brakes. Visibility is great from the inside. Heating and air conditioning work well. There have been no rust issues even though driven in the salty winters of the Midwest. These Foresters seem to hold good value money-wise. I would not hesitate to purchase a used one if I had it thoroughly checked out by an independent mechanic especially having the head gaskets inspected.
Comfort
Performance
Exterior Styling
Interior Design
Value for the Money
Reliability

Purchased a used car

Uses car for Transporting family

Does not recommend this car

5 out of 5 people found this review helpful. Did you?

A fantastic automobile

by from Minneapolis on April 2, 2008

I've put nearly 100,000 miles on this car, and the only thing I've replaced are the tires, brake pads, and a small (cheap fix) gasket. I'm 6'6", and I get plenty of head room, though the seat isn't ma...
I've put nearly 100,000 miles on this car, and the only thing I've replaced are the tires, brake pads, and a small (cheap fix) gasket. I'm 6'6", and I get plenty of head room, though the seat isn't made for tall folk (nor are many others though). The AWD has torn though anything Mother Nature has thrown at it with ease. It hauls just about anything I've ever thought to put into it just fine. Quite simply, its one of the best cars I've ever driven.
Comfort
Performance
Handling
Exterior Styling
Interior Design
Features
Value for the Money
Reliability

Purchased a used car

Does recommend this car

5 out of 5 people found this review helpful. Did you?

"Still" InExpensive and Built to Stay That Way

by from Columbia, South Carolina on September 14, 2008

I purchased my vehicle new in August of 2002 when the new styling was released. I have driven it daily since then and have never had a vehicle as trouble free as this one, ever. I am preparing to take...
I purchased my vehicle new in August of 2002 when the new styling was released. I have driven it daily since then and have never had a vehicle as trouble free as this one, ever. I am preparing to take it in for its 105,000 scheduled timing belt change out and recognized that I had not had but two repairs, one I feel I may have contributed to. In over 100,000 miles, I have never had to charnge out a starter, change out an alternator, etc. Things you generally anticipate you will have to at some point, however, not yet for me. If you have the need and the opportunity, you would be well served to at least consider one. Being able to ignore my repairman is worth its weight in gold.
Comfort
Performance
Handling
Exterior Styling
Interior Design
Features
Value for the Money
Reliability

Purchased a used car

Does recommend this car

4 out of 4 people found this review helpful. Did you?

Satisfied Subaru owner

by from Fort Worth, Texas on December 14, 2010

I've had my Forester 4 years, awesome SUV. All wheel drive is great, always have traction and can go off road. Never had any issue with mine, driven about 26000 miles with 46000 total. It will pull a ...
I've had my Forester 4 years, awesome SUV. All wheel drive is great, always have traction and can go off road. Never had any issue with mine, driven about 26000 miles with 46000 total. It will pull a trailer, excellent for moving stuff inside as well. The Forester is the newer designed SUV by Subaru, Outbacks are slightly bigger and weight more. I got into watching off road rally racing, Subaru rules this area by far.
Comfort
Performance
Exterior Styling
Interior Design
Value for the Money
Reliability

Purchased a used car

Uses car for Just getting around

Does recommend this car

4 out of 4 people found this review helpful. Did you?

Current Subaru Owner

by from Maitland, Florida on June 29, 2006

We currently own a 99 Forester and have been very satisified with it. It has been very reliable and maintenance costs have been low. This 03 model has an much larger feel than our 99 and the interio...
We currently own a 99 Forester and have been very satisified with it. It has been very reliable and maintenance costs have been low. This 03 model has an much larger feel than our 99 and the interior is much nicer (maybe more modern is a better way of saying it). The alloy wheels on this one make the car look much sportier. We love the size because we spend most of our time in the city and its great to be able to park and still open your doors. We are trying to decide whether to purchase a newer one to have the additional warranty coverage, but my wife says why spend the extra money since we never used the warranty on our current Forester.
Comfort
Performance
Handling
Exterior Styling
Interior Design
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Value for the Money
Reliability

Purchased a used car

Does recommend this car

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful. Did you?

Great for fun and commute!

by from California on June 16, 2013

I love my 2003 Forester. Has 208,000 miles on it. Did the engine work, usual maintenance, and just bought another....they go forever! 24mpg commuting/26 road trips.
I love my 2003 Forester. Has 208,000 miles on it. Did the engine work, usual maintenance, and just bought another....they go forever! 24mpg commuting/26 road trips.
Comfort
Performance
Exterior Styling
Interior Design
Value for the Money
Reliability

Purchased a used car

Uses car for Commuting

Does recommend this car

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful. Did you?

2003 Forester

by from Budd Lake,NJ on August 30, 2011

151K and still going strong. Just put $1000 in needed repairs. Will go past 200k with no problem. Great car for a new driver, safe and gives 24 mpg avg,
151K and still going strong. Just put $1000 in needed repairs. Will go past 200k with no problem. Great car for a new driver, safe and gives 24 mpg avg,
Comfort
Performance
Exterior Styling
Interior Design
Value for the Money
Reliability

Purchased a used car

Uses car for Commuting

Does recommend this car

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful. Did you?

A good, sturdy dog car

by from Annapolis, MD on January 18, 2013

We purchased a used 2003 Subaru Forester with 164k miles from a private buyer through cars.com. It is a sturdy vehicle and, so far, dependable. Nice room for 2 70-lb. dogs, with the back seats folded ...
We purchased a used 2003 Subaru Forester with 164k miles from a private buyer through cars.com. It is a sturdy vehicle and, so far, dependable. Nice room for 2 70-lb. dogs, with the back seats folded down. And maybe even one more dog. Drives mostly like a car, versus a full-blown SUV. And, it's 4WD, which will make it my work car during bad weather. I'll bet it was really "stylin'" when it was new! (This particular car has all the bells and whistles.)
Comfort
Performance
Exterior Styling
Interior Design
Value for the Money
Reliability

Purchased a used car

Uses car for Transporting family

Does recommend this car

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful. Did you?

Great Bang for the Buck Small SUV

by from Chicago, IL on May 10, 2006

We love our Forester, which we bought barely used in 2003 with 2500 miles on it. The car now has 33,000 trouble-free miles on the clock. We most appreciate the Forester's utility and features. The box...
We love our Forester, which we bought barely used in 2003 with 2500 miles on it. The car now has 33,000 trouble-free miles on the clock. We most appreciate the Forester's utility and features. The boxy rear end swallows up an amazing amount of cargo, especially with the back seats folded down. And for a vehicle in this price range, there are a lot of amenities, including heated seats, heated mirrors and wipers, 6-CD changer with cassette and power windows/locks and alarm. Gas mileage is great -- routinely 30 MPG on highway trips, and 24 or so in the city. Only a couple of complaints: The LED lights that indicate the climate control settings are hard to see in bright sunlight. And the climate control system is a little wonky -- if you set it to a fixed temperature, like 70 degrees in the winter, the AC will kick on whenever the cabin temp exceeds that. It would be better if the system were a little smoother in transition, rather than blasting cold air, only to have the heat kick back on a couple minutes later.
Comfort
Performance
Handling
Exterior Styling
Interior Design
Features
Value for the Money
Reliability

Purchased a used car

Does recommend this car

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful. Did you?