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Subaru Forester Gas Mileage

The all-wheel-drive (AWD) Subaru Forester, first brought to America in 2002, is a popular compact crossover SUV in the Snowbelt. The Subaru Forester’s gas mileage figures are good for an AWD model, with highway ratings for the naturally-aspirated editions in the high twenty mile per gallon (MPG) range. While the Forester is boxiest of the Subarus, and is classified as a SUV, it is hardly truck-like.

The 2008 Subaru Forester is available with two engine choices, based on model. The Forester 2.5 X, Sports 2.5 X and 2.5 X L.L. Bean Edition (shown above) are fitted with a naturally-aspirated 2.5 liter four-cylinder boxer engine, rated at 173 horsepower. The Forester 2.5 XT, Sports 2.5 XT, and 2.5 XT Limited are equipped with an inter-cooled, turbocharged version of the 2.5 liter boxer engine, rated at 224 horsepower.



Subaru Forester Gas Mileage – 1998-2011

Year Manf. Model Engine Disp. Fuel Trans. City Hwy
2011 Subaru Forester AWD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter R (S4) Auto 21 27
2011 Subaru Forester AWD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter P (S4) Auto 19 24
2011 Subaru Forester AWD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter R (M5) Manual 21 27
2010 Subaru Forester AWD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter P (S4) Auto 19 24
2010 Subaru Forester AWD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter R (S4) Auto 20 26
2010 Subaru Forester AWD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter R (M5) Manual 20 27
2009 Subaru Forester AWD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter R (S4) Auto 20 26
2009 Subaru Forester AWD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter R (M5) Manual 20 27
2009 Subaru Forester AWD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter P (S4) Auto 19 24
2008 Subaru Forester AWD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter R (M5) Manual 20 27
2008 Subaru Forester AWD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter P (M5) Manual 19 24
2008 Subaru Forester AWD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter R (L4) Auto 20 26
2008 Subaru Forester AWD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter P (L4) Auto 18 23
2007 Subaru Forester AWD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter R (M5) Manual 22 29
2007 Subaru Forester AWD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter P (M5) Manual 20 27
2007 Subaru Forester AWD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter R (L4) Auto 23 28
2007 Subaru Forester AWD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter P (L4) Auto 21 26
2006 Subaru Forester AWD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter R (M5) Manual 22 29
2006 Subaru Forester AWD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter P (M5) Manual 20 26
2006 Subaru Forester AWD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter R (L4) Auto 23 28
2006 Subaru Forester AWD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter P (L4) Auto 21 26
2005 Subaru Forester AWD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter P (M5) Manual 19 24
2005 Subaru Forester AWD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter R (M5) Manual 23 30
2005 Subaru Forester AWD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter R (L4) Auto 22 28
2005 Subaru Forester AWD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter P (L4) Auto 20 23
2004 Subaru Forester AWD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter P (L4) Auto 19 23
2004 Subaru Forester AWD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter R (L4) Auto 22 27
2004 Subaru Forester AWD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter P (M5) Manual 18 23
2004 Subaru Forester AWD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter R (M5) Manual 21 28
2003 Subaru Forester AWD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter R (L4) Auto 21 27
2003 Subaru Forester AWD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter R (M5) Manual 21 27
2002 Subaru Forester AWD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter R (L4) Auto 22 27
2002 Subaru Forester AWD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter R (M5) Manual 21 27
2001 Subaru Forester AWD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter R (M5) Manual 21 28
2001 Subaru Forester AWD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter R (L4) Auto 22 27
2000 Subaru Forester AWD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter R (L4) Auto 22 27
2000 Subaru Forester AWD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter R (M5) Manual 21 28
1999 Subaru Forester AWD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter R (L4) Auto 21 26
1999 Subaru Forester AWD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter R (M5) Manual 21 27
1998 Subaru Forester AWD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter R (M5) Manual 21 27
1998 Subaru Forester AWD 4 cylinder 2.5 liter R (L4) Auto 21 26

Note: the EPA tweaked their testing procedure, starting with the 2008 model year, with the end result being that the 2008 MPG estimates are now lower than previous years. As always, YMMV.

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29 comments ↓

#1 Steve Abell on 12.14.07 at 2:10 pm

I have about 1500 miles on a new ’08 2.5X auto trans. My gas mileage is way below the rating, esp on the highway (I’m getting 21-22 mpg, same as around town). The local Subaru service guy tells me that in cold weather (I live in Iowa) the extra drag of the AWD cuts into mileage, and I shouldn’t expect to see good highway mileage until summer. Does this make sense? I got better highway mileage on my old 3.5L V6 Intrepid.

#2 mpg-o-editor on 12.14.07 at 3:37 pm

Your service guy might not be far off the mark, Steve … but I’m wondering why your getting the same mileage in town that you are on the highway.

The highway rating for the Forester 2.5X is 26 miles per gallon. A 20% hit, considering winter temps, AWD usage, and the break-in period isn’t all that outrageous.

Winter presents a bit of a catch 22 … engines run most efficiently once they’ve warmed up to operating temperature … but that warm-up time cuts into the gas mileage.

I’m a big fan of synthetic oil … it costs significantly more than conventional oil, but it offers a much greater level of protection and allows an engine to operate at peak efficiency.

#3 Steve Abell on 12.14.07 at 6:09 pm

OK, thanx. Maybe my expectations were a bit optimistic, and I really haven’t driven the car all that much. I was so careful to follow the instructions for break-in. I was thinnking maybe the computer that controls the engine operation might need some attention. My son bought a Ford truck, and got terrible highway mileage until he took it into the Ford shop and they “reprogrammed” (whatever that really means) the engine computer. Whatever they did, his mileage got significantly better. Any chance that’s what’s going on with my Forester? All the other aspects of the vehicle have been great – I really like it. Just hope the highway mileage improves with time. Thanks again. I may give the synthetic oil a shot.

#4 kukla on 01.08.08 at 4:33 pm

let me know if that reprogramming works – i have the same problem (avg 15-17 mpg) on 2003 Forester XS A.T.) 98% city driving (so. calif) – only 31K miles on the car. could that be it? stop and go….

#5 martin on 01.10.08 at 3:57 pm

For reference, my 2001 Subaru Forester Manual has averaged 24.5MPG todate(7+years). This is town, highway & mountain average in Oregon.
As you know, expect poorer mileage with fuel containing alcohol. Any alcohol gives you 30% less mpg than gasoline.

#6 KMJ on 01.25.08 at 8:12 pm

Well, I just upgraded & downgraded at the same time…got a little cushier 2003xs w/sr for my 2005 forester x (the 2003 had 14000 less miles on it, 34000). In the 2005x manual I was getting consistently 29/30/mpg now, I am getting 25mpg. needless to say I am disappointed that a change in cushiness brought on a change in gas mileage to such a degree. I am really a gas watcher. Yes, it’s cold, but I am disappointed despite the superb ride I get. :(

#7 Steve on 02.01.08 at 3:55 pm

Martin, I agree with your mileage number on alcohol. Here are some more numbers, so see if you agree:

The ethanol/gas mixture I usually buy here in Iowa is 10% ethanol (known as E10). So for every ten gallon fill-up, I’m really getting nine gallons of gas plus one gallon of ethanol. The ethanol only gives me 70% of the gas mileage of regular unleaded, so ten gallons of E10 is worth (theoretically, in terms of gas mileage) 9.7 gallons of straight gasoline. In other words, I should be able to travel the same distance on either 10 gallons of E10 or 9.7 gallons of straight gas. On a gas mileage basis, E10 is giving me 0.3/9.7 = 3.1% less gas mileage. Then, all else being equal, if I get 20 mpg on straight gas, I should get 19.4 mpg if I burn E10.

The cost situation is a little brighter. Today, here in Iowa, E10 is selling for $2.86 per gallon, regular gas is ten cents higher, at $2.96 per gallon. I would pay $28.60 for the ten gallons of E10 and $28.71 for the 9.7 gallons of straight gas. So E10 is a slightly better deal in terms of gas cost per mile than straight gas, even though the mpg is lower.

I think the mileage on my Forester is getting a little better, although with cold starts twice a day going to and from work, it’s a little hard to tell. I’ll have to check on my next major road trip. I really like the car, and enjoy driving it. The AWD has been surefooted on slippery roads as long as I don’t get too overconfident and careless.

One more thing, my local Subaru service guy says there’s no way for him to re-program anything. When I asked him about my son’s experience with his truck, he gave me a funny look. So I guess I’ll just enjoy driving the Forester and stop worrying about mileage.

Happy trails…..

#8 Todd Beery on 02.05.08 at 5:12 pm

After a lot of research I have found that the foresters o2 sensors need to be monitored from time to time. There are 2 one before the catalytic converter & one after. If these go bad gas mileage drops considerably. There is also a 2 in 1 chip that sells on ebay that has good reviews. It will increase mileage about 8mpg & is simple to install. It makes sure that the gas air mix is perfect, hence more efficient burning & better mpg. Just do a search for the 2 in 1 chip for the forester.

#9 Steve on 02.08.08 at 3:40 pm

Todd, I found the Dynamic Tuning 2-in-1 chip on eBay, just as you suggested. Please don’t be offended by this next question: are these guys on the up-and-up?

I’m old enough to have learned the hard way that when something sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t. If I understand the benefits of the chip presented in the eBay ad, I can get 30-40% better gas mileage both around town and on the highway, and more horsepower, from a $16 (incl shipping & handling) investment. Forgive me, but that sounds too good to be true. One other thing troubles me: shouldn’t a chip like this be selected based on the engine in the car, rather than the car model? Foresters come in a couple of engine selections, but the chip works in a 4 and a 6 cylinder equally well? That just doesn’t sound right to me.

I very much appreciate you taking the time to post the suggestion. Help me a little to understand that this chip is really going to work and not do some unintended damage. I’m not hesitant to order one, the investment is small. My real concern is that it might screw up my Forester’s computer system, or make the car hard to start, or greatly increase emissions, or something else. In the FAQ on the Dynamic Tuning site there’s a claim that the Subaru warranty will not be voided by installing the chip. True? It just seems that there must be some downside to doing this. Can I impose on you to help me get more comfortable with this before i install a chip? Thanks.
Steve

#10 Steve on 02.08.08 at 3:50 pm

Oops, I think I misspoke. All ’08 Foresters come with a flat 4 Boxer engine, don’t they? Some are turbo, some not, but maybe that’s not issue. Apologies to the Forester faithful out there.
Steve

#11 kukla on 03.26.08 at 11:15 am

does anyone have directions as to how to remove headliner and panels from 2003 forester so as to service the moonroof. either the window is off track or something is jammed. thanks. kukla.

#12 rebecca on 05.05.08 at 12:53 am

I am looking into buying a forester (probably not new) what is your perception on the best years and models for reliablilty and gas mileage?

#13 Ann on 07.13.08 at 5:09 pm

I have a 2002 forester which I am trading in. What is you opinion on purchasing a 2008 used Forester vs a new 2008 Outback. I loved my forester but am wondering the difference with gas mileage between the two. I do like sitting up high in forester ? Buying a car is no easy thing to do.

#14 b-man on 01.08.09 at 6:23 pm

I’m a technician at Subaru, DO NOT BUY a ’2-in-1′ chip. I highly doubt that it will do anything and will cause ecm problems. I know this because I have taken many back out and replaced the ecm. There is a recalibration that needs to be done to some of the Foresters that will improve gas mileage. peace.

#15 Carla on 01.19.09 at 4:22 pm

I have a 98 Outback Sport, which I’m planning to sell. It got terrific mileage (don’t have exact numbers). I’m considering the Outback wagon, but I’m disturbed by all the emails I’m reading about the poor mileage.
Is there another Subaru model that does do better?
Thanks.

#16 Steve on 01.21.09 at 5:52 pm

to b-man:
I did buy, but did not install, one of those stupid (or maybe I’m the stupid one) “2-in-1″ chips, mostly out of curiosity just to see what it was. I keep it on my desk to remind me what not to do the next time I see something that sounds too good to be true.

I got terrific mileage last summer, better than the ratings, but now in another winter the mileage around town is back down to

#17 Steve on 01.21.09 at 5:56 pm

Part of my message was cut off, I think. My mileage did get worse now that winter is here, but I’m of the opinion that it’s normal for my car. And i still really like driving it. b-man, how would I know if my Forester would benefit from the re-calibration you speak of? My Subaru guy still tells me he can’t re-program or reset anything that would help mileage.

#18 stacey on 02.22.09 at 4:50 pm

i have a 03 subaru forester. every 4-6 wks or so my check enginge light goes on. i take it in to be serviced (not by a subaru mechanic) and they say that nothing is wrong with my car and that the computer says “cylinder misfire.” the gas mileage is terible, well below average, but if it’s not my o2 sensor then what gives?!?! can someone help me out?

#19 jas on 08.03.09 at 11:54 am

Stacey,
Same with my 03′ forester is doing the same thing I went to get a tune up, Soon the check light will BLINK which is not a great sign… We are getting a tune up first… The computer said the same thing to ours, and also cause the Cadilac converter, which could do all those things…

#20 MArk on 11.06.09 at 4:48 pm

I have a 05 Forrester XS with manual tranny –
Yes I love it, too.

But, I don’t like my current milage either. (23.409 average MPG.)

I have seen as high as 31 MPG in the 68K miles I have driven it.

I brought it to the dealer just 3 weeks ago becasue
I couldn’t tolerate it any longer. (I was getting repeated check engine lights since the car was new.)

Finally, when I took it to a different dealer because of a Cat Efficiency problem and the misfire, (P303 and P304)I was told I had a bad coil pack and the dealer replaced the cat (under warranty, yeah) to fix the efficiency code (P0420).
I am happy to say tha my car is now running stronger than I have ever felt but, my mileage has dropped to less than 25 for the first time since I have owned it.

Any clues?

#21 Ryan B on 12.29.10 at 12:06 am

I’ve noticed that my 2007 forester is now getting only about 220 miles per tank. When I first got the car I was getting 300 to 350 miles per tank. I’ve gotten all four new tires hoping it would help and it hasn’t. Is there anything I can check to possibly improve mileage. I know it is the winter but that should not cause such a drastic drop in mileage.

#22 mpg-o-editor on 12.29.10 at 10:02 am

@Ryan – Has anything changed over time? Have you added roof racks? Are you carrying around more stuff? Has your daily driving routine changed (more stop-and-go, less highway)? Change in gas stations?

Wintertime can cause a drop in mileage for a number of reasons. Do you warm the car up in the morning? If so, how long does it sit idling?

#23 Ryan B on 12.29.10 at 10:56 pm

No, nothing has really changed. I keep my car in the garage so it stays warm. I also have not added anything to the vehicle. It just seems my mileage/per gallon has just kept going down since I bought the car and has now remained steady at 200-250 miles per tank. which is not very good.

#24 mpg-o-editor on 12.30.10 at 8:28 am

@Ryan – That’s a big drop from spec. There may be a number of contributing factors, but reading through comments here and elsewhere, it appears that the Oxygen Sensors may be suspect. If you know someone with an OBDII tool, they can quickly check to see if your Forester’s computer is generating any error codes.

Winter gas can cause a drop in fuel efficiency, as can higher levels of Ethanol.

Check your tire pressures (free!) and consider switching to a (more expensive) synthetic oil at your next oil change interval.

Does your Forester have an instant fuel economy display? If it does, use it. If not, consider adding an aftermarket unit. (The ScanGauge is a tad expensive, but it includes an OBDII error code reader.)

#25 lynn on 08.21.11 at 12:46 am

Have 254,000.00 miles on my 2002 Subaru Forester,get 25-27 mpg combined city&hwy and ALL parts are original except the rear wheel bearings that were changed under warranty at 90,000.00 . It’s still going strong but I have always been easy on it. I think I’ve been very lucky to have gotten this car.

#26 Lisa on 09.15.11 at 10:33 pm

HELP!!!
Mom just bought new subaru forester 2011. I was driving it from Boise when the check engine light came on. ( It also had a problem getting into gear from under 35 MPH, and when it did it went into gear with a thunk and a jerk.) Went to the Boise Subaru he checked it out and said it was a coil pact problem ( so said their computer. He gave me the print out.) He said It was ok to drive home unless it started blinking. On the way home it started blinking I pulled over and got a tow into Twin Falls. Twin has said they have never heard of the problem. We told them check with Boise’s computer. They said they aren’t connected with Boise’s system. We then described the problem and the problem powering up to get into gear and they said it might be the coil pact. Now they say they won’t replace the part since they can’t duplicate the problem and they are going to drive it here in hopes that might happen. ( I’m worried they will ignore the light and really destroy the car since,so far, they have tried to blame this problem on not tightening the gas cap or me flooding the engine–on the interstate?!?) Is the coil pact a regular problem with the Forester? Is it something I can just buy and have a dealer put in? Is there something more going on here than anyone is seeing (or telling me). This NEW (under 1800 miles) vehicle has left me stranded twice on the side of the interstate in two days time. Why won’t they just take Boise’s diagnosis and fix the part–it’s under warrenty. Can I make them do this? Advice please.

#27 lisa from florida on 01.15.12 at 12:56 pm

hi
i have a subaru impreza that i bought for 6500 it had 60,000 miles on it when i got it and was a 1993 model, i have over 240,000 miles, and havne’t had to do anything but brakes, and keep the oil changed and usual maintenance on the car. it gets great gas mileage, usually over 25 around town..
i don’t like the seats, they are hard, and it sits a little low to the ground for me, but it has great pep still and beats most other vehicles at red lights on take off
i have been looking at other subarus..
and probably will get another one.. soon and let my husband use this one around town.

#28 daniel storey on 02.02.12 at 7:56 pm

my 2011 subaru forester was promise to get 10% better than my 2009 forester but my mpg is only 24.9 vs 29.4 on my 2009. wish i had my 2009 subaru back, very disappointed with the 2011 subaru

#29 Russ Arcand on 03.06.12 at 2:45 am

I just had problems with my Forester. Started driving 60 miles one way to work and was getting 18mpg. already knew what it was but put code reader on it to be sure. O2 sensor. Tough to get at but seen the difference first trip. Tip. Keep your rpm’s under 3000 ans you’ll gain a bit. It’s a 2000 by the way. Upkeep is mandatory. Synthetic helps.

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