Before officially becoming Subaru, the Nakajima Aircraft Company was founded by Chikuhei Nakajima of Ota, Japan, in 1918 as the nation's manufacturer of aircraft until the events revolving around World War II forced it to shut down.
Already heavily damaged due to the bombardment of the United States military and its allies that took place on February 10, 1945, Nakajima Aircraft Company splintered into a series of smaller companies that each had to find their own way to stay in business.
Reborn as Fuji Heavy Industries in 1953, the company reinvented its manufacturing expertise from aircraft technology to automotive.
From Fuji to Subaru
The name change was the result of its chief executive officer at the time, Kenji Kita, wanting the newly formed Fuji Heavy Industries to become directly involved in the manufacturing of automobiles.
After a debate about what name the company should officially adopt as a new identity, it was finally settled on Subaru. According to Japanese culture, Subaru is the name for the star cluster, Pleiades.
The first car Subaru introduced was the Subaru 1500, which came out with limited production in 1965. When the car company known as Nissan got into the picture by acquiring slightly over twenty percent of the company's shares in 1968, a number of improvements and upgrades were made as the nation's government demanded increased competitiveness so that its businesses can keep up with the global market.
Along the way, the Subaru Forester would make its mark in the automotive market upon the introduction of its first model at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1995. The Forester has the same platform as Subaru's Impreza series, which first came out in 1992.
The design of the Subaru Forester is a compact crossover between a standard sport utility vehicle (SUV) and the Impreza sedan models. The first generation of the Subaru Forester models was first released to the market in February 1997.
Its availability was extended to the North American market in addition to the nation's own market. Subaru's sales pitch to win the appeal of the Subaru Forester was the power of an SUV with the easy maneuverability of a car.
Built like a tall car, the all-wheel drivetrain of the first generation Foresters featured a 2.5-liter DOHC EJ25D four-cylinder boxer engine from its Outback series.
This gave the Forester 165 horsepower at 5,600 RPM and a 162 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 RPM. The 1997 Subaru Forester replaced the Subaru Impreza Gravel Express in Japan.
Thanks to this generation of Forester models, the low center of gravity met with the road safety standards within the United States as passenger vehicles, so it was welcomed into the North American market.
The first generation of the Subaru Forester was in production from 1997 until 2002 and averaged between $23,000 USD to $25,000 USD. The price variances take into consideration technological upgrades, as well as transmission preferences between manual and automatic, and different features revolving around luxury levels and safety preferences.
In total, there are five generations of the Subaru Forester. Upon the introduction of each new generation, Subaru has kept this series as up-to-date as possible, as it strives to not only keep up with technological improvements but the demands of consumers who won't settle for anything less than an ideally performant vehicle.
Here are our picks for the top 10 Subaru Forester models of all-time:
10. 2022 Subaru Forester Premium (From Generation V)
The exterior upgrades from its previous models from the fifth generation of Subaru's Forester series are a plus, as they feature the 17-inch wheels, rear spoiler, and side-view mirrors.
Valued at $29,320 USD, Car and Driver believes this particular class within the series is the best value among the group as it has the best mix of values and features. The panoramic sunroof, power-adjustable driver's seat, reclining rear seats, speaker system, and onboard WI-FI hotspot are this model's interior highlights.
9. 2016 Subaru Forester (From Generation IV)
Considered as one of the best bargains buys on the SUV market, not just as a Subaru Forester but overall, this 2016 model has proven its reliability with its high-quality cabin. It was also the first lineup to feature what is now a standard touchscreen infotainment system.
8. 2019 Subaru Forester (From Generation V)
Worldwide, especially in the United States, the 2019 Subaru Forester model was the most amount of models sold compared to the rest of the entire Forester lineup. With over 200,000 of these compact-sized SUVs sold, it shows enough confidence has been poured into Subaru's ability to bring forth a quality vehicle that acts as a sedan and as an SUV at the same time.
This lineup featured three different variants of the Forester lineup that each shared the exact same FB25 DI engine. This non-turbo, direct injection flat box 4-cylinder, producing 182 horsepower at 5,800 RPM and 176 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 RPM.
While the 2019 series may not seem as "fun" with motorists who enjoy sportier rides, the ruling from the family-based buyers who were the prominent buyers of the 2019 Forester models responded more to the five-star rating this lineup received from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and a top safety pick designation by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
7. 2017 Subaru Forester (From Generation IV)
In Canada, the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) awarded the 2017 Subaru Forester as the Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year as it not only met some of the expectations laid out by discerning Canadian motorists but exceeded them.
6. 2004 2.5 XT (From Generation II)
In 2004, Car and Driver recognizes the 2004 Subaru Forester series as one of the 5 Best Trucks they have reviewed for the year.
5. 2005 (From Generation II)
Car and Driver recognize the 2005 Subaru Forester as among the 5 Best Trucks reviewed for the year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave this lineup a full, five-star rating in its crash and ever since it first reached consumers worldwide, had only one recall issue, which was in the suspension's control arm. As soon as Subaru was made aware of it, they responded quickly enough to ensure no serious accidents resulted.
4. 2006 (From Generation II)
The second generation of the 2006 Subaru Forester series was voted as one of the 5 Best Trucks, according to the reviews given by Car and Driver. When visiting the cars.com website, the consumer reviews gave this lineup an 88% approval rating.
3. 2008 (From Generation III)
The first lineup from the third generation of Subaru Forester models earned itself a Best Truck recognition from Car and Driver's 5 Best Trucks, a decision that is based on the critical analysis of each vehicle they come as part of their highly respected review program.
2. 2009 (From Generation III)
In 2009, Motor Trend Magazine awards the 2009 Subaru Forester as Sport/Utility of the Year. Also in 2009, Motor Week Drivers awards this lineup of the Forester as Best Small Utility, a decision that is made based on the number of consumer votes calculated from its Drivers Choice Awards.
1. 2014 (from Generation IV)
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the 2014 Subaru Forester earned its Top Safety Pick Award for its superior quality in its crashworthiness test. It also won Motor Trend Magazine's SUV of the Year Award in 2014.
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Written by Benjamin Smith
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