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2008 Subaru Forester

$3,842 — $11,522 USED
Sport Utility
5 Seats
21-23 MPG
(Combined)
Key specs of the base trim
 — 
Compare 5 trims

Overview

Is this the car for you?

The Good

  • Maneuverability
  • Performance of 2.5 XT
  • Driving ease
  • Quietness while cruising
  • Fuel economy of regular engine

The Bad

  • Some turbo lag with turbocharged engine
  • Minimal offroad capability
  • No low-range gearing
  • Ride comfort over harsh surfaces
  • No side curtain airbags
2008 Subaru Forester exterior side view

What to Know

about the 2008 Subaru Forester
  • Available L.L.Bean Edition
  • Standard AWD
  • More powerful turbocharged engine in 2.5 XT Limited
  • Manual or automatic
  • Carlike structure

Our Take

from the Cars.com expert editorial team

Vehicle Overview
The Subaru Forester is a compact sport utility vehicle that competes with the likes of the Toyota RAV4 and Saturn Vue, even though it looks more like a tall wagon than a traditional SUV. All-wheel drive is standard, and trim levels include the base 2.5 X, Sports 2.5 X, upscale 2.5 X L.L.Bean Edition, Sports 2.5 XT and 2.5 XT Limited. Turbo models with an automatic transmission have a tweaked all-wheel-drive system for 2008, and they also gain an electronic stability system. Changes for other models are largely cosmetic.

A 173-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder powers all but the 2.5 XT, which gets a 224-hp turbocharged four-cylinder. There is an optional four-speed automatic transmission.

Ground clearance is 8.1 inches (7.9 inches for 2.5 XT models).


Exterior
The Forester features flared front fenders and blister-type rear quarter panels. For 2008, all Sports models get a new front bumper, black-painted headlight and taillight surrounds and silver-painted roof rails. The Sports 2.5 XT adds a body-colored roof spoiler and new 17-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels.

Interior
Sport bucket seats in the front and a 60/40-split folding rear seat can accommodate up to five occupants. Subaru emphasizes the Forester's high seating position. For 2008, an audio system with seven upgraded speakers and a subwoofer is standard on Sports and L.L.Bean models. L.L.Bean models also get a standard auto-dimming rearview mirror, rear cargo area carpeting and a standard cargo accessory tray...
Vehicle Overview
The Subaru Forester is a compact sport utility vehicle that competes with the likes of the Toyota RAV4 and Saturn Vue, even though it looks more like a tall wagon than a traditional SUV. All-wheel drive is standard, and trim levels include the base 2.5 X, Sports 2.5 X, upscale 2.5 X L.L.Bean Edition, Sports 2.5 XT and 2.5 XT Limited. Turbo models with an automatic transmission have a tweaked all-wheel-drive system for 2008, and they also gain an electronic stability system. Changes for other models are largely cosmetic.

A 173-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder powers all but the 2.5 XT, which gets a 224-hp turbocharged four-cylinder. There is an optional four-speed automatic transmission.

Ground clearance is 8.1 inches (7.9 inches for 2.5 XT models).


Exterior
The Forester features flared front fenders and blister-type rear quarter panels. For 2008, all Sports models get a new front bumper, black-painted headlight and taillight surrounds and silver-painted roof rails. The Sports 2.5 XT adds a body-colored roof spoiler and new 17-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels.

Interior
Sport bucket seats in the front and a 60/40-split folding rear seat can accommodate up to five occupants. Subaru emphasizes the Forester's high seating position. For 2008, an audio system with seven upgraded speakers and a subwoofer is standard on Sports and L.L.Bean models. L.L.Bean models also get a standard auto-dimming rearview mirror, rear cargo area carpeting and a standard cargo accessory tray.

Standard features on the 2.5 X include power windows and door locks, keyless entry and a CD audio system. A Premium Package adds automatic climate control, a panoramic moonroof, heated seats and a power driver's seat, among other items. Sports models add to that aluminum alloy pedal covers and anthracite black cloth upholstery, among other features. The Sports 2.5 XT adds a different gauge setup. The L.L.Bean edition has embossed leather seats, a wood and leather-wrapped steering wheel with a matching shifter handle, and L.L.Bean-embroidered floormats.


Under the Hood
Subaru's Impreza series uses the same 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder as the Forester. The regular engine develops 173 hp. A turbocharged version that yields 224 hp goes into 2.5 XT models. A five-speed manual gearbox is standard on all models except the 2.5 X L.L.Bean Edition, which gets a four-speed automatic transmission. The automatic transmission is optional for other models. A Hill Holder clutch on manual-shift models makes it easier to start the car on inclines.

For 2008, turbocharged models get Subaru's Variable Torque Distribution that uses a electronically controlled hydraulic transfer case to control power distribution between the front and rear wheels. Turbo models also get an electronic stability system.


Safety
Dual-stage front airbags, side-impact airbags, front active head restraints and antilock brakes are standard. The ABS system has electronic brake-force distribution for better front and rear proportioning. Side curtain airbags are not available.

Driving Impressions
The frisky Forester XT is sensible and satisfying, especially with the turbocharged engine and the manual gearbox. There's a bit of turbo lag after pushing the gas pedal. Foresters ride pleasantly enough over smooth surfaces, but bumps and ruts can produce somewhat harsh reactions.

Space is ample in the front and adequate in back, with abundant headroom and toe room, though knee space is less bountiful. The front seat bottoms are short but nicely supportive. The gauges and controls are ordinary but sensible.

The easy-to-drive Forester maneuvers nimbly, handles with a light touch and yields a friendly, comfortable feel. Some driveline noise occurs during acceleration.


Consumer Reviews

What drivers are saying

4.4
27 reviews — Read All reviews
Exterior Styling
(4.3)
Performance
(4.6)
Interior Design
(4.0)
Comfort
(4.1)
Reliability
(4.8)
Value For The Money
(4.5)

Read reviews that mention:

(5.0)

I love my Forester!

by Eileenmcq Forester Lover from Denver, CO on July 7, 2018

The older Foresters are a perfect size. I can enter and exit easily. I can see all around. And, unlike the Honda Civic I just unloaded, I always know where the front end and back end are. I am a happy... Read full review

(5.0)

Most valuable car in the owned

by Comp driver from Germantown Md on June 12, 2018

The Subaru is always Dependable handles well that great gas mileage it was a pleasure to drive everyone that rode in the car love ride and you in the car when it's options the big sunroof and ... Read full review

Safety

Recalls and crash tests

Recalls

The 2008 Subaru Forester currently has 1 recall


Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2008 Subaru Forester 2.5X

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
acceptable
Structure/safety cage
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
acceptable
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
acceptable
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
acceptable
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Forester received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker

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