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Overall Review

After 9 months of rigorous testing and driving, it’s clear that the Subaru Forester 2016 is possibly one of the best vehicles on the road today. Our findings are consistent with the Consumer Reports repeated high ratings for the Subaru Forester. This page offers some design suggestions to help make one of the best cars a little better.

Design Improvement Suggestions

The following list of improvement suggestions for the 2016 Subaru Forester has been compiled since April 2016 from first hand ownership experience.

  1. Apple CarPlay. With the prevalence of Apple iPhone, the CarPlay standard is increasingly becoming available even in low-end entry-level vehicles. It would be nice to have this capability in Subaru vehicles.
  2. Apple iPhone – Controls. When an Apple iPhone is connected, it shows up initially as being an iPod on the display. The icon for USB tethered devices should read iPhone / iPod or simply USB Device.
  3. Arm Rest. The middle console arm rest moves forward which is helpful for a larger person who has the driver side seat pushed all the way back. However, a smaller person who will move the driver side seat forward, the center console armrest even when moved forward won’t reach their elbow.
  4. Dashboard Display Brightness. There are two displays on the dash of the vehicle. Depending on how bright the sun is and at what angle it’s at, these displays can be difficult to see. Something that won’t be intuitive to the driver is that when the headlights are left on, the display will be too dim to read during daylight hours. The headlights must be turned off for the dashboard display to be bright enough for daytime use. In countries like Canada, where cars have headlights on all the time, this would be a problem. The center console display is LCD and therefor relies on ambient light or the dash backlight to be seen.
  5. Dashboard Display Clock. There are two analog clock options for the upper display on the dashboard. More options, including a digital clock would be nice.
  6. Dashboard Vents. The dashboard vents offer limited control over air direction. For example, air can’t be directed upward, but only down part way and slightly left or right.
  7. Dashboard Surface. The surface of the dashboard is a soft rubbery material that is very helpful for holding smart phones, glasses, or other items. However, the surface also attracts dust and the soft textured rubber makes it difficult to clean.
  8. Door Lock Remote. The remote keyless entry for the car opens only the driver side door with a single push, but none of the other doors, so it requires two pushes of the remote unlock button to open all doors. It would be nice if this were programmable so that a single push of the unlock button would open all doors.
  9. Headlights. The headlights remain on even when the car is turned off as long as the key is in the ignition. This can lead to a depleted battery if a person leaves their keys in the car.
  10. Floor Mats. The floor mats are anchored with protruding plastic retainers. The placement of these is a few inches into the mat surface area which causes the retainers to get in the way of the driver’s shoes depending on how far back the driver side seat is.
  11. Heated Mirrors. The symbol indicating the heated mirror feature is only seen on the driver’s side mirror which suggests the passenger side mirror isn’t heated. If that’s the case, the passenger side mirror should also be heated for safety and better visibility. The heated mirrors should have a clearly marked button on the dash board. It seems they are activated using the rear defrost button. A separate button should be provided, or better markings on the defrost button could include a symbol for side mirrors.
  12. Parking Break. The emergency break does not securely hold the vehicle in place on a hill or stop the vehicle in an emergency. This may be a matter of proper adjustment. It should be noted that the emergency break handle has excellent placement where it is easily accessible to the driver, and easily applied and released. Some cars have a foot peddle emergency break which isn’t easy to control other than applying it once.
  13. Radio Volume Knob. The radio volume knob has metal ridges for texture. However, the ridges don’t go down the length of the knob. They are around the knob, so when trying to adjust the knob with dry fingers or while wearing gloves, it is more difficult to grip.
  14. Rear Camera – Disabled Functions. When in reverse, all functions on the dash touch panel system stop working. So, it is not possible to turn off the radio or control any other aspect of the settings through the touch screen, knobs, or side controls.
  15. Rear Camera -Visibility. The rear outside camera is exposed to rain, snow, and road dirt due to how and where it is installed. Other automobiles have their camera under an overhang that protects the camera lens from debris. Also, because it is mounted off-center of the hatch, the view is not symmetrical and the bumper is at an angle in the viewfinder.
  16. Seat Belt Warning. On some occasions, when an Apple iPhone is placed on the passenger seat, sometimes this will cause the passenger seat seatbelt indicator to activate. This is likely the result of RF sensitivity in the sensor.

If you have any comments or would like to contact the author, feel free to use the feedback form below.

Customer Service Reply

Consistent with the Subaru commitment to customer responsiveness, we received an immediate personal response from Subaru Customer Service expressing appreciation for the above suggestions.

On Dec 22, 2016, at 9:39 AM, Subaru of America, Inc. wrote:

Hello Greg:

Thank you for contacting Subaru of America, Inc. I am pleased to have read that you find the 2016 Forester to be one of the best vehicles on the road today.

We appreciate your recommendations on how you would like to see the Forester improved upon. I will pass on your feedback to Product Development for their review and consideration. Past input from our customers has been helpful in initiating changes to our products. The most valued opinion of any business is that of its customers.

Thank you again, Greg, for your feedback. If you need any future assistance or have any other product suggestions, please do let us know.


John J. Mergen
Subaru of America, Inc.
Customer/Retailer Services Department
1-800-SUBARU3 (1-800-782-2783)