2014 Subaru Forester: First drive review
Say goodbye to the mpg vs. AWD compromise.
The Forester started as a muscle-bound station wagon in 1997 and has evolved in prominence within the Subaru model line; it now accounts for 23 percent of U.S. sales. To keep the sales momentum going, Subaru's designers have made the most of the fourth-generation redesign of the Forester by enhancing fuel economy and body styling, as well as powertrain, safety and tech systems. The final result is a balanced vehicle that offers more comfort, versatility and rough-and-ready ruggedness than its predecessor and much of its competition.
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There are now two versions of the Forester: the naturally aspirated 2.5i and the turbocharged 2.0XT. Subaru has moved the turbo variant from an engine upgrade option to more of a standalone model by giving it a substantially different front fascia with aggressive gills at the outer bumper area and exclusive grillework.
The 2.5i is available in Base, Premium, Limited and loaded-for-bear Touring trims. The sporty 2.0XT is only offered in Premium and Touring.
The base Forester 2.5i has a 6-speed manual transmission. Some key standard features include Incline Start Assist, outside temperature display, security system with engine immobilizer, carpeted floormats, 4.3-inch multifunction display with readouts for outside temperature and fuel economy, and all the improvement and innovation of an all-new model.
Stepping up to the Premium trim adds an upgraded audio system, 17-inch alloy wheels, 10-way power driver's seat, rear-vision camera, upgraded 6.1-inch multifunction display, reclining rear seatback, dark-tint privacy rear glass and more.
With the 6-speed manual transmission, the 2.5i Premium comes standard with an All-Weather package, which includes heated front seats, heated exterior mirrors and a windshield wiper de-icer. With the continuously variable transmission, the 2.5i Premium comes standard with a panoramic power moonroof; the All-Weather package is an option.
The 2.5i Limited makes the CVT standard and also includes the All-Weather package, perforated leather-trimmed seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, fog lights, automatic climate control system, an upgraded instrument cluster with LCD display and a power rear gate.
The Touring is at the top of the food chain for both the 2.5i and 2.0XT versions. In addition to including all the Limited content, the Touring makes the touch-screen navigation system standard and also adds a high-end Harman Kardon 440-watt audio system with eight speakers, Aha smartphone integration, electroluminescent instrument cluster with LCD display, a one-touch folding rear seatback and more.
The tale of the tape shows the Forester has grown on the outside by 1.4 inches in length, an inch in wheelbase and 0.6 inch in width. But savvy engineering inside the Forester results in a much larger, more optimized and more refined interior than its outward measurements would suggest. The dash has been moved forward 4.7 inches to carve out more usable room in the cabin.
The A- and B-pillars and have been trimmed down and the vehicle's beltline lowered to improve outward visibility and create a more open feel. The front seatbacks have been clamshell contoured and the center console shortened by nearly four inches to open up more legroom for backseat passengers. As for cargo, the Forester sports a cavernous max cargo capacity of 74.7 cubic inches, up 9 percent from the previous model's 68.3 cubic inches. It's a capable gear transporter.
Under the hood
Before going under the hood, let's start there: The new Forester's bonnet is made of lightweight aluminum to enhance fuel economy. Other fuel-efficiency design elements include electric power steering that frees up power and burns less fuel, a body shape honed to provide 10.7 percent less drag and an improved, low-friction CVT gearbox. The result is an all-wheel-drive SUV with none of the fuel-efficiency compromises of other all- or 4-wheel-drive crossovers. The 2.5i with CVT delivers 24 mpg city, an impressive 32 mpg highway and a combined 27 mpg from its 2.5-liter 170-horsepwer boxer engine. Among all-wheel-drive nonhybrids in the Forester's segment, only the Mazda CX-5 compares.
Subaru has added a new level of traction for up-level versions, dubbed X-Mode. The system augments the Forester's symmetrical all-wheel drive to optimize control of the engine, transmission shifting and the distribution of power throughout the drivetrain along with controlling the brakes, vehicle dynamics control and other systems to improve performance on harsh, slippery surfaces and steep inclines.
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I have owned almost every type of vehicle made but my favorites have always been an '87 Blazer and the "love of my life" 'Jeep Wrangler. In 2007 my aging father was having quite a time getting into my high 4wheel drives so I decided that a Subaru Forester was the best bet (I live in an area where it snows and the all-wheel drive seemed the best way to go).
Let me tell you - this vehicle has turned out to be more than I could have ever hoped for. Not only for handling, gas mileage, and convenience for the occasional hauling, but it's a safe, FUN car to drive. My dad passed away 2 years ago and everyone that knows me has been waiting for me to trade the Subaru for a new Jeep. NO WAY.
I love the love that goes into a Subaru!!!!!!!