We just picked up a 2015 Premium CVT Forester, as a companion to our 2015 2.5i Outback Limited. I thought a quick comparison on a few points might be interesting to some Members.
Seat comfort: Outback wins, the cushions are bigger and have better lateral support. Shouldn't be a surprise.
Fuel economy: Forester seems to be winning in town (over 24pmg), don't know about the highway yet. Outback will do over 30mpg at a steady 65mph on dry roads, we'll see what we get from the Forester.
Performance and transmission: Forester weighs about 300 pounds less than the Outback, which is immediately reflected in acceleration. The Outback's CVT is programmed to feel like a six-speed, with slight pauses between fixed ratio changes on acceleration as it pretends to be a gearbox. Forester is a vanilla CVT, there is no simulation of fixed ratios, it just holds an RPM level while the car catches up. Forester transmission has zero driver control other than PRND and Low, fairly primitive. Less expensive, too.
Handling, braking: Around town, I prefer the Forester by a small margin: visibility seems a little better, and with less weight the car is a little more nimble, really a pleasure to drive. Forester wheelbase is about 5 inches shorter than Outback, an advantage in handling, but it's a little more choppy on rough surfaces and expansion joints. Forester and Outback both have 4-wheel disc brakes, and they are up to the task. Both cars can be hustled around on a back road, but I prefer the Forester in this case, just because it's a bit lighter.
Electronics: The Outback Limited has both Nav and EyeSight®. In the future I will always get EyeSight®, but Subaru's Nav and user interface are simply not competitive. Couple of cases in point: trying to select a song through the panel interface by an artist from the iPod always (repeat ALWAYS) plays the first song on the iPod. It does not work. On the Nav system, there are local towns which simply do not appear in the system, and so far I can't make the online update work. I do believe that Subaru user interface software testing is either done by the developers (a huge no-no in software land) or by Mrs. McReady's second-grade class. End of rant.
I debated getting EyeSight® on the Forester, but decided against because the Forester version does not have rear cross traffic alert. We have all that on the Outback, and it's just wonderful stuff.
So, the Forester software isn't in the same league with the Outback, but it still manages to disappoint, since you can't download the address book (contacts list) from the iPhone. Dumb.
On a positive note, there is a good flat space on the Forester dash to mount an adhesive disc, as the base for a good aftermarket GPS. In our case, a nice Garmin sits there, and it's way better than any Nav that Subaru ever thought of producing, at a cost of nearly $270.
Summary: I'm very happy with the Forester, it's a good garage-mate for the Outback. The Outback will be the road trip car, the Forester will be my preference around town.
1. I don't do much stop and go city driving ... my "around town" driving is mostly on major streets, and the majority of that is two lane roads without stop lights, or urban freeways, and will get over 30 mpg in general (computer indicated, which is about 5% optimistic).
2. On the highway, it's fine up to about 65, but drops off dramatically above that, presumably because of a high drag coefficient. That's to be expected with an SUV. My other cars get quite a bit better mileage at freeway cruising speeds (and above
), and they all weigh about the same.
3. Like you, I think the Forester handles pretty well. It begins to get a bit unstable at highway speeds, particularly in wind, so again like you, I like it much better for around town driving.
4. Never have used an iPod so I can't address whether it works or not.
5. I love EyeSight, and the nav is functional but a person would be better off most likely using their smart phone or a Garmin-type portable nav unit. The next generation EyeSight for the Forester should be much better.
6. I'm not so sure the brakes on the Forester are up to the task (can't say about the Outback). They are mushy and need more pressure to stop the car. And in a rapid stop situation, they really fall short of my other two cars. I can only imagine how they'd be with a load in the back. They should have come upgraded from the factory.
7. I've not had any trouble downloading contact lists from my iPhone to the head unit. I just go through the touchscreen procedure and it works perfectly. I've noticed one quirk though ... to get the person's name to show up for an incoming call, it has to have the "1" in front of the area code. Merely having the area code plus phone number only shows the caller's phone number. I have the head unit with nav and H/K speakers, which may perform differently than the other radios.
8. I bought my '15 just over a year ago, and the maps that came with it were well over 2 years old. I pointed it out to Subaru of America and they provided an updated SD disc when the newer maps were available. They were still dated over a year ago (first quarter of 2014 as I recall), but it's the best they have. I had to pay for the disc, but got reimbursed promptly by Subaru ... something over $200 with shipping. It's probably the last update I'll do, given the cost. That's another reason for having a portable Garmin ... most have free lifetime map and traffic updates.
Overall, I really like the Forester. I like the all-wheel drive. I'd prefer the CVT that comes in the Outback, or even the one in the XT, but the vanilla one does the job. It's a neat little car with lots of room and great visibility. And it looks pretty good too. One thing I really like are the HID headlights in the Touring trim ... they are great. And it uses about half the gasoline that my Mazda pickup did, and is peppier even though the Forester has a 2.5 NA 4-banger, while the truck had a V-6.