2008 Subaru Forester

Change year or car

Change year or car

$21,195

starting MSRP

2008 Subaru Forester

Key specs

Base trim shown

Overview

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

5 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 2008 Subaru Forester trim comparison will help you decide.

Notable features

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

2008 Subaru Forester review: Our expert's take

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

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.2
  • Interior design 4.1
  • Performance 4.6
  • Value for the money 4.6
  • Exterior styling 4.3
  • Reliability 4.8

Most recent consumer reviews

3.9

I'm surprised at the ride

I had low expectations the previous one was no power but sure footed. This one has lots more power and the same sure footed feeling in all weather. I've been converted to a Subaru fan. Not for myself but for my kids.

4.9

still running after 190,000

We got the 2008 LL Bean Forester because we heard the Forester was a safe car and with a little 5 year old I wanted to be sure we would be safe. I had no idea how much I would love this car. I was not planning on the LL Bean but when I test drove the regular Forester and then the LL Bean it was obvious that I had to get the LL Bean. As soon as I sat in the seats, I knew I want that car. The seats on the LL Bean Forester was like a big comfy easy chair. The only issue I have is I wish the center armrest extended forward more. I'm short so I sit up close to the wheel and my elbow can't reach the center armrest. However, I still love the LL Bean even more than my 20017 Forester but since my son who is now 16 needed a safe car to drive, I gave him the LL Bean.

4.7

It's a Subaru with a lot of life still in it!!

This car has served my needs for the past 5 years and 9 months. Never a break down or tow during ownership from 54,000 - 127,000 miles. The Forester is still built in Japan! An issue with the motor using oil was settled with the previous owner at 36,000 miles with a short block replacement. This new motor still uses no oil to the point of ever needing to add additional between oil changes. I've driven back and forth over the passes on I-70 in Colorado. Driven through snow and extreme weather with substantial success. Hey, It's a Subaru. It's still the best All Wheel Drive system out there.

See all 35 consumer reviews

Warranty

New car and Certified Pre-Owned programs by Subaru
Certified Pre-Owned program benefits
Maximum age/mileage
5 years/80,000 miles
Basic warranty terms
Coverage available for purchase
Powertrain
7 years/100,000
Dealer certification required
152-point inspection
Roadside assistance
Yes
View all cpo program details

Compare the competitors

2010

Suzuki Grand Vitara

$19,099

starting MSRP

2005

Honda CR-V

$20,195

starting MSRP

2004

Toyota Matrix

$14,670

starting MSRP