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2012 Subaru Forester

$8,000 — $17,516 USED
Sport Utility
5 Seats
21-24 MPG
(Combined)
Key specs of the base trim
 — 
Compare 6 trims

Overview

Is this the car for you?

The Good

  • No-nonsense cargo area
  • Low base price
  • Rear visibility
  • Turning circle
  • Comfortable seats

The Bad

  • Inconsistent dashboard materials
  • Turbo requires premium fuel
  • Slow-to-react automatic
  • No telescoping steering wheel in non-turbo models
  • Sizable backseat floor hump
2012 Subaru Forester exterior side view

What to Know

about the 2012 Subaru Forester
  • Regular or turbocharged four-cylinder
  • Standard AWD
  • High ground clearance
  • Manual or automatic
  • New navigation system available
  • New standard height-adjustable front passenger seat

Our Take

from the Cars.com expert editorial team

Vehicle Overview

The Subaru Forester, a successful small SUV/wagon, competes against other car-based compact SUVs including the Ford Escape and Honda CR-V. It seats five people and has standard all-wheel drive.

New for 2012
For 2012, all Foresters have a standard height-adjustable front passenger seat. A new navigation radio is also optional. It features a 6.1-inch touch-screen, a CD stereo with HD Radio, voice controls, Bluetooth streaming audio and hands-free phone connectivity, iPod compatibility and song tagging.

Exterior
The Forester's ground clearance is 8.9 inches. Fog lights are optional, and turbo versions are distinguished by a hood scoop that funnels air into the intercooler just under the hood. Exterior features include:

  • Standard roof rails
  • Available high-intensity-discharge headlights
  • Available chrome exhaust tips
  • 16-inch wheels standard; 17-inch wheels available
  • Available rear spoiler

Interior
The door openings are large, and the rear window is larger than on the previous-generation Forester. A center armrest is standard for the backseat. Interior features include:

  • Standard MP3 jack
  • Standard sliding armrest
  • Standard 60/40-split folding rear seats
  • Standard tilt steering column (telescoping available)

Under the Hood
Foresters are powered by a choice of naturally aspirated or turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engines and either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.

The transmissions come with different all-wheel-drive systems. The automa...

Vehicle Overview

The Subaru Forester, a successful small SUV/wagon, competes against other car-based compact SUVs including the Ford Escape and Honda CR-V. It seats five people and has standard all-wheel drive.

New for 2012
For 2012, all Foresters have a standard height-adjustable front passenger seat. A new navigation radio is also optional. It features a 6.1-inch touch-screen, a CD stereo with HD Radio, voice controls, Bluetooth streaming audio and hands-free phone connectivity, iPod compatibility and song tagging.

Exterior
The Forester's ground clearance is 8.9 inches. Fog lights are optional, and turbo versions are distinguished by a hood scoop that funnels air into the intercooler just under the hood. Exterior features include:

  • Standard roof rails
  • Available high-intensity-discharge headlights
  • Available chrome exhaust tips
  • 16-inch wheels standard; 17-inch wheels available
  • Available rear spoiler

Interior
The door openings are large, and the rear window is larger than on the previous-generation Forester. A center armrest is standard for the backseat. Interior features include:

  • Standard MP3 jack
  • Standard sliding armrest
  • Standard 60/40-split folding rear seats
  • Standard tilt steering column (telescoping available)

Under the Hood
Foresters are powered by a choice of naturally aspirated or turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder engines and either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission.

The transmissions come with different all-wheel-drive systems. The automatic comes with Variable Torque Management, which Subaru says shifts power to the front and rear axles by monitoring throttle position, battery voltage, generator rpm, wheel speed, brake status, lateral g-force and automatic transmission fluid temperature. The manual Forester has a simple viscous coupling that's reactive rather than proactive. Mechanical features include:

  • 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 174 pounds-feet of torque
  • 224-hp, turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 226 pounds-feet of torque
  • Hill start assist for manual-transmission models

Safety
A rollover sensor can deploy the side curtain airbags to protect occupants and prevent their ejection. Safety features include:

  • Side-impact airbags for front occupants
  • Side curtain airbags that protect front and backseat occupants against head injury
  • Active head restraints for the front seats
  • Antilock brakes
  • Electronic stability system with traction control

 

Consumer Reviews

What drivers are saying

4.2
57 reviews — Read All reviews
Exterior Styling
(4.2)
Performance
(4.1)
Interior Design
(4.0)
Comfort
(4.3)
Reliability
(4.5)
Value For The Money
(4.3)

Read reviews that mention:

(5.0)

Won't buy anything other than a Subaru

by ShawnLM from Syracuse on October 20, 2018

The Forester is the best made, best snow car I've ever owned. It is quiet, comfortable and, best of all, reliable. It truly is the "Mercedes of Japanese cars". Until the quality drops, I won't own ... Read full review

(5.0)

Love it!

by KH from Burke, VA on July 18, 2018

I love Subarus they are great cars and so far I've had two of them. AWD, good gas mileage and good styling. They can get rid of the CVT transmissions or improve them but other than that great cars! Read full review

Safety

Recalls and crash tests

Recalls

The 2012 Subaru Forester currently has 7 recalls


Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2012 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
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
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
good
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.

Warranty

New car and certified pre-owned programs by Subaru

New Car Program Benefits

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 60,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    36 months / 36,000 miles

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

Latest 2012 Forester Stories

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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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