Subaru Forester Reliability by Year – From 1998 to Present

Subaru first introduced the Forester in 1997. It is a mid-size crossover SUV equipped with a boxer engine and combined all-wheel drive. Subaru foresters are popular among customers for their all-year-round and winter traction performance.

When it comes to reliable SUV mode, you can rely on a few years of Subaru Foresters. Many professionals highly appreciated the performance of the Subaru Forester.

Let’s dive into learning more about Subaru forester reliability by year.

Subaru’s History with Dependability

The manufacturer Subaru has a reputation for manufacturing safe and reliable vehicles. Subaru has received Kelley Blue Book’s Most Trusted Brand title for 5 years. Also, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), Subaru became number#1 in the Owner Satisfaction category for 2 consecutive years.

Subaru is the winner of the Lowest Ownership Cost – Popular Brand Award by IntelliChoice.

Another impressive stat is 97% of Subaru vehicles are still on the road and running efficiently, which has been sold 10 years back.

Are these stats not enough? In 2019, 180,000+ Subaru Foresters were sold. This is a record selling of a vehicle model.

All this information tells that Subaru Forester is a commonly seen, dependable vehicle model on the road.

Subaru Forester Reliability by Year

how reliable are subaru foresters

First-generation Forester (1998-2002)

The first-generation Forester first hit the market in 1998. Subaru Forester is a taller vehicle with AWD (all-wheel drive) SUV. With 7.5 ground clearance and a roomy interior, the Forester became so attractive in the world of SUVs and cars. The Forester is a crossbreed of on-road capability and sporty handling. For this reason, anyone can get in and out easily from it, and loading cargo is also effortless.

The 1998 model consists of a 2.5L H4 dual overhead camshaft (DOHC) engine. In the 1999 model, this engine was replaced with a 2.5L H4 single overhead camshaft (SOHC) engine. Also, the all-wheel-drive comes with a standard mechanism with a 40/60 split for power within the rear and front wheel, respectively. The good news is; the all-wheel-drive adjusts the power automatically according to the requirement.

The rear wheel gets more power from the AWD system when you drive the vehicle up-hill. On the other hand, the front wheel receives more power from the AWD system when going down-hill.

The first generation showed some problems as well. As per NHTSA, Forester received an average of 1 withdrawal/model year and 100+ complaints. Some of the common problems are failings of the rear wheel bearings, the vehicle not shifting into drive, etc. These issues can easily be solved by talking to a skilled mechanic.

Second-generation Forester (2003-2008)

The second-generation foresters come with relatively similar features to their previous generation. It was engineered with a 2.5L H4 engine, standard all-wheel drive. However, many improvements are also made in the latest generation. The size was much bigger than its ancestors. Cargo space was also increased. Moreover, the 2nd generation’s weight was 100 pounds less than the 1st generation. The hydro-framed sub-frame, perforated rails, and the aluminum hood became possible.

The 2nd generation was much safer than the 1st generation in terms of safety. The manufacturer considered the earlier flaws and tried to minimize them. It also received an average of 1 withdrawal/model year and more than 100 complaints. A few complications of the 2nd generation Subaru Forester include rusty sub-frame, fuel smell inside the cabin, and not deployed airbags. You will love to know that these problems are effectively resolved in the model years of 2005 – 2008.

Third-generation Forester (2009-2013)

With a less boxy and rounded design, the Subaru Forester 2rd generation launched in the market in 2009. Here Subaru Forester gets changed from a wagon to a small SUV. The noticeable change is 3” longer, 4.3” taller, 1.8’ wider, and 3.5” larger wheelbase. Although the interior became much more spacious, the cargo space was reduced. The all-wheel-drive remained standard. Also, a driver can choose between a 4-speed automatic and a 5-speed manual. The manufacturer used a 170 HP 2.5L H4 engine in the 3rd generation, Subaru Forester.

The 3rd generation will surely satisfy you when the discussion comes about safety. For each model year, it gained an IIHS top safety pick. However, the generation received more complaints than its earlier models. According to the NHTSA, it received 130+ complaints. Owner’s complaints mostly about leaky valve seals, faulty weld on the driver’s seat, etc. But, airbags are the significant complaints of 3rd generation models. Takata recalled the airbags 9 times.

Fourth-generation Forester (2014-2018)

Massive changes happened in the 4th Generation of Subaru Forester and were released for the model year of 2014. As expected, this generation also comes with a few upgrades. The wheel-based gets 1” longer and 0.6” wider. Accordingly, the cargo room and rear-seat room also increased in this generation. In order to provide driving assistance, the Subaru Forth Generation Forester featured the EyeSight Driver Assist System.

Another worth-mentioning feature is the X-mode. This feature helped drivers in driving inclement weather.

The 2014 – 2017 model years of the 4th generation received the IIHS award of the prestigious Top Safety Pick. These model years received the title because of the Subaru Eyesight and specific headlights. It also showed a few common complications: faulty ignition, not deployed passenger airbags, high oil consumption, etc.

Fifth-generation Forester (2019-Present)

The 5th generation of Subaru Forester launched in the market with the 2019 model year. Similar to its earlier models, the wheelbase, cargo space, and cabin increase. It features Android Auto Standard/Apple CarPlay and EyeSight. Also, the engine 2.5L H4 is paired to a CVT.

From 2019 – 2021 model year, it gained IIHS top safety pick. However, it has a few black spots too. These model years don’t come with curve-adaptive headlights. The most common complication is an inferior windshield.

Also Read: How Long Do Subaru Foresters Last – Accurate Resource & Tips

Are some Subaru Foresters more reliable than others?

Based on the consumer report findings, some model years of Subaru Foresters are more reliable than others.

For example, the 2018 Subaru Forester receives a perfect 5-star rating in terms of reliability. Several other models also received 4-star reviews, which means most Subaru Forester models are highly reliable.

But, like everything, nothing is 100% perfect, and Subaru Forester is also no exception.

From 1998 to newer versions, has recorded roughly 700 complaints about different Subaru Forester model years.

2016 and 2018 receive the best reliability rating of 4-star and 5-star. On the other hand, the 2015 model year received more than 150 complaints and was rated the worst Subaru Forester Model Year according to

The highest complaint from the Subaru owner is the high oil consumption.

Is the Subaru forester expensive to maintain?

The maintenance of the Subaru Forester is $617 (Annual). Remember, the annual cost can vary based on your shop, mileage, location, and vehicle age.

But the models whose warranty period is expired may cost you more to maintain or repair.

What are the problems of the Subaru Forester?

Most Subaru Forester model years have an approximately perfect reliable score. But they come with a few issues also. Common Subaru Forester complications include

  • Engine issues
  • Problems in the transmissions
  • High usage of oil

Subaru Forester Reliability Issues

The truth is, Subaru Forester’s reliability doesn’t have many issues because almost all models have good reliability ratings. Based on consumer reports and J.D. Power, Subaru Forester is an incredibly reliable SUV.

The 2016 and 2018 model has the highest rating point among all model years.

But almost every model comes with the same complaints, which are: airbags and tires system.

Moreover, the manufacturer recalled the 2016 model due to the faulty airbag system. Furthermore, the engine cooling system and lights also reported a few concerns.

So, if you plan to buy a Subaru Forester model, we recommend checking the maintenance report. Also, make sure that the complications have been maintained perfectly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are used Subaru foresters reliable?

You can buy a used Subaru Forester. But before you make a buying decision, look at the maintenance report and ensure every problem is resolved.

Should I Buy the Subaru Forester?

Yes, buy the Subaru Forester because many model years of Subaru Forester have proven safety ratings.
The best Subaru Model years are 2016, 2018, and 2019. Remember, 2018 has the highest reliability score of 5-star.

Do Subaru foresters hold their value?

Yes, undoubtedly, Subaru Foresters hold their value. Every model comes with different and significant improvements to give the owner the best possible riding on the road.

At what mileage do Subaru head gaskets fail?

Subaru uses the best automobile engines in their vehicles. But the 2009 and 2010 models showed a gasket failing problem. Generally, at the 100,000 mark, Subaru gaskets fail. If you find a gasket problem in your vehicle, repair it immediately without fail before more problems occur.

What Subaru forester years to avoid?

Avoid buying 2009 and 2010 models of Subaru Foresters. These 2 models have high maintenance and repair costs. Moreover, the blown gasket is another complaint of these 2 models.

What Are the Best Years for The Subaru Forester?

2016, 2018, and 2019 are the best years for Subaru Forester. Among them, 2018 got a 5-star reliability rating. While 2016 and 2019 received 4 and 4.5-star reliability scores, respectively.

Last Words

Subaru is a leading manufacturer in the vehicle industry and manufactured several Subaru Forester reliability by year. They have been making the most durable and reliable vehicles over the last many years.

Another good thing about Subaru is they immediately take action regarding the problems shared by the vehicle owners. This characteristic makes them exceptional from other vehicle manufacturers. 

More importantly, every model year comes at an affordable price tag. You will not regret buying any of the year models.

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