The redesigned 2009 Subaru Forester has earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Top Safety Pick award, earning the highest rating of ‘good’ in the Institute's front, side, and rear tests. The tough criteria of the tests of the IIHS safety rating has been designed with the intention carmakers will continue to improve safety of their vehicles, and it appears to be working. Last year there were just 13 vehicles that qualified for the award, while this year there have already been 37.

The Institute's frontal crashworthiness evaluations are based on results of 40 mph frontal offset crash tests. Each vehicle's overall evaluation is based on measurements of intrusion into the occupant compartment, injury measures recorded on a dummy in the driver seat, and analysis of slow-motion film to assess how well the restraint system controlled dummy movement during the test.

Side evaluations are based on performance in a crash test in which the side of a vehicle is struck by a barrier moving at 31 mph. The barrier represents the front end of a pickup or SUV. Ratings reflect injury measures recorded on two instrumented dummies, assessment of head protection countermeasures, and the vehicle's structural performance during the impact. Structural performance is based on measurements indicating the amount of B-pillar intrusion into the occupant compartment.

Rear crash protection is rated using a test that simulates a collision in which a stationary vehicle is struck in the rear at 20 mph.