By Bob Nagy
KBB Expert Rating: 7.5
Fully redesigned, the 2014 Subaru Forester enters its 4th generation the beneficiary of a comprehensive improvement program that makes this mainstay of the automaker's lineup an even more attractive choice in one of today's hottest segments. Available in several naturally aspirated (2.5i) and turbocharged (2.0XT ) trim grades, each with standard all-wheel drive (AWD), this compact 5-passenger SUV complements a new sense of style and refinement with numerous structural and chassis enhancements, more fuel-efficient powertrains, greater passenger/cargo space and significant new tech touches. Collectively, they help bolster the 2014 Forester's performance, safety and overall desirability in ways that should serve it well against key rivals like the Buick Encore, Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, Nissan Rogue and Toyota RAV4. That's why we named the Subaru Forester one of the 10 Best SUVs Under $25,000 for 2014.
Building on its well-established reputation for capability, reliability, practicality and longevity, the new Forester now delivers even more comfort and convenience while offering the added benefit of standard fuel-efficient all-wheel drive – and does it at an outstanding price point.
Buyers desiring a vehicle with more expressive styling, a pillow-soft ride, the flashiest telematics/infotainment system – or anyone needing a larger 3-row SUV with greater towing capacity – will still have to look beyond the new Forester to find their ideal travel mate.
Redesigned from the ground up, the 2014 Forester raises its practical and personable character to an even higher level, gaining a new sense of style, more space, additional refinement, better performance and improved fuel economy.
Driving Impressions Boasting a stronger, more rigid central structure, wider track dimensions, longer wheelbase and a retuned suspension to complement Subaru's signature Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, the 2014 Forester deports itself most impressively...and predictably on or off road. New, more efficient electrically-boosted power steering provides more positive feedback while the revamped chassis does an admirable job of keeping body roll in check under hard cornering. Tauter underpinnings on 2.0XT models add extra sportiness with minimal impact on ride compliance while the tri-mode SI-Drive feature on the turbo-spec CVT allows one to better exploit the 80-horsepower advantage this engine has over the one in its naturally aspirated 2.5i sibling – an edge that helps trim the 2.0XT's 0-60 mph times from 9.3 to 6.3 seconds. The X-Mode feature on upline Forester variants provides its own kind of multi-terrain confidence boost on slick paved roads or in the dirt at speeds up to 25 mph.
LINEARTRONIC CVT TRANSMISSION
Optional on 2.5i/2.5i Premium models and standard on all other Foresters, Subaru's Lineartronic continuously variable automatic (CVT) comes in two forms. While both contribute to significant fuel economy gains, the 2.0XT's uprated unit includes paddle shifters and Subaru's multi-mode (Intelligent/Sport/Sport Sharp) SI-Drive that can emulate both a 6-speed and 8-speed automatic.
X-MODE WITH HILL DESCENT CONTROL
Standard on 2.5i Limited and all higher-level Forester models, Subaru's new driver-selectable X-Mode integrates and optimizes operation of the throttle, transmission, AWD, Vehicle Dynamic Control, and Hill Descent Control systems to enhance the Forester's low-speed operational capabilities on inclines and when negotiating various low-friction surfaces.
Impressively expanded, well-finished and well-appointed, the Forester's restyled passenger cabin is quieter and more comfortable than ever with lots more soft-touch surfaces as well as redesigned seats that offer improved support and have been repositioned to afford better sightlines. Larger, wider-opening doors ease access/egress for people and legroom in the 60/40 rear bench has been increased by a huge 3.1 inches. When cargo takes precedence, the backs now fold even flatter to stretch stow space from 34.4 to 74.7 cubic feet – a 9-percent overall increase. The larger liftgate, which is power-activated on Limited/Touring models, simplifies the loading and unloading process.Exterior
Still unmistakably Subaru, the Gen IV remake endows the 2014 Forester with more contemporary character. The visual recasting is most evident in 2.0XT models that feature a bolder front fascia treatment and subtle rear roof spoiler, and wrap 225/55 all-season tires around 18-inch alloy wheels where the 2.5i contingent is shod with 225/60 rubber on either 17-inch styled-steel or alloy rims. Slightly longer, wider and taller than the 2013 Forester, this latest iteration also has a more planted appearance thanks to wider track dimensions and nearly an inch more wheelbase. All models also provide an impressive 8.7 inches of ground clearance.
Progressing through its model hierarchy richens the Forester's equipment mix, but even the 2.5i features a full array of power assists, air conditioning, cruise control, a multifunction steering wheel, Bluetooth, and variable wipers. The 2.5i Premium gains a rear-vision camera, an enhanced audio system and the All-Weather Package (manual only) or panoramic power moonroof (CVT only). Key gains on the 2.5i Limited model include the Lineartronic CVT, leather upholstery, reclining rear seatbacks, automatic climate control, and a power liftgate. Moving up to Touring brings electroluminescent gauges, a touch-screen navigation system, a 440-watt harman/kardon premium audio with SiriusXM Satellite Radio/Nav Traffic, dual-zone climate control, and more.
Modestly scaled, the roster of Forester extras is based on model/trim levels. The Lineartronic CVT is available on the 2.5i/2.5i Premium, while the 2.5i Premium with CVT also can be had with the All-Weather Package (standard on Foresters with the 6-speed manual transmission). Both the 2.5i Premium and Limited offer a touch-screen navigation system with 6.1-inch display, HD radio, Satellite Radio, NavTraffic, and more. Touring-level 2.5i/2.0XT models can be fitted with the Driver Assist Technology Package that adds the EyeSight System (Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Collision Braking, and Vehicle Lane Departure Warning), plus Keyless Access/Start and high-intensity-discharge headlights.
The 2014 Forester offers two 4-cylinder "boxer" engines. Naturally aspirated, the carryover, PZEV-clean 170-horsepower/2.5-liter can be backed by a new 6-speed manual transmission that replaces the current 5-speed or a new efficiency-boosting Lineartronic CVT automatic from the Impreza. Forester 2.0XT models get a new turbocharged, direct-injected engine derived from the flat-4 used in the Subaru BRZ. Here, it develops 250 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, way up from the 225/226 output figures in the 2.5-liter turbo used in the 2013 Forester. The sole transmission for the turbocharged engine is a new High-Torque Lineartronic CVT with multi-mode SI-Drive that can emulate six or eight virtual gear ratios. All versions of the 2014 Forester boast significant fuel-economy gains over 2013 models and have a 1,500-pound tow rating.
2.5-liter horizontally-opposed 4-cylinder
170 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm
174 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/29 mpg (manual), 24/32 mpg (automatic)
2.0-liter horizontally-opposed turbocharged 4-cylinder
250 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
258 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000-4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/28 mpg
On sale in March, the 2014 Subaru Forester has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just under $23,000 for an entry-level 2.5i variant with a top-line naturally-aspirated 2.5i Touring model opening just over $30,800. The turbocharged side of the family sees the Forester 2.0XT Premium starting around $28,900 and the range-topping 2.0XT Touring commencing closer to $33,900. Adding the EyeSight + Keyless Access & Start Package to either Forester Touring variant raises its sticker by $2,400. All of those figures reflect significant advantages compared to most of the Forester's primary segment competitors – in some cases, undercutting even comparably equipped front-drive versions of those rivals. While Kelley Blue Book has not yet issued residual value ratings for the 2014 Forester, this Subaru SUV has historically ranked at or near the top of its category and there's no reason to expect the new and improved version won't continue to carry on that tradition.
By BS (OH) on Sunday, November 17, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 4,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great price, smooth ride, fun to drive,"
Cons: "Front seats"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"* Fantastic value for an SUV, compared to CRV/RAV4 * Some folks expressed apprehensions over the CVT, but it's a very smooth driving experience. * Great exteriors, more SUV-like than its predecessors * Like the high-ride. Good view of the road & surroundings. Also easy for folks to get in and out of, especially folks who may have back issues and hence have problems getting in and out of smaller cars/sedans. * Big windows, good view of the road. This is in comparison to the CRV and RAV4 which seem very narrow in terms of their view of the road and surroundings. * Like the lamps on the mirrors and doors which illuminate your path when you get out of the car * Pretty huge moon-roof * Decent instrument panel and dials are easy to read * Might not have spent enough time with all the features on the instrumentation panel, but it's not that easy to deal with. * Have the all-weather package and like the warmed front seats and the mirror warmers * The seats are something which other owners would also have mentioned as needing some improvement. They are comfortable to a large extent, but could be better. * The AC/heater is also something which needs improvement. To have a decent temperature inside the car, it often needs to be at level 2. Folks in the back seat don't get enough air unless it's at level 2. * The back seats are quite comfortable, and have a lot of leg room. * The boot is quite spacious and can accommodate 3-4 huge suitcases (29") and 4 cabin luggage (20") * Like the rear view camera. Also: * Like the fact that there are a lot of cup holders * Like the storage area between the passenger and driver seats - good space for change, cables and creams."
13 people out of 13 found this review helpful
By Krishna (CA) on Monday, November 11, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "AWD, good MPG, traction,visibility & ride quality"
Cons: "Smaller back up camera"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I purchased this vehicle some 3 months back. i was considering between Mazda CX5, Honda CRV and Subaru forester. after lot of research, test driving and thinking i have zeroed in on 2014 Subaru forester premium 2.5i model because the forester has standard AWD ( in others we have to pay extra for AWD), moon roof (standard in premium trim), backup camera(standard in premium trim) and better MPG. Iam now very happy with my decision to go with Subaru. Here are my observations. -> ride quality & seating dynamics are good -> cabin noise on certain roads (cement/concrete) is some what louder. but in general it is low & comparable to other competitor models -> traction and pickup are nice -> my son & wife like the larger moon roof that goes until the rear seat row! -> Mileage is good on highways where braking is limited. (In certain long highway trips i achieved mpg of 34 as well!). But when i drove in shorter distances with long time intervals mileage drops to around 21 mpg or so. -> I wish the rear view mirror is slightly bigger as well as the backup camera screen. -> Lot of cargo space. this was able to accommodate about 6 baggage pieces when i picked up by friend's family recently from airport."
6 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Tony (TX) on Monday, October 28, 2013
I don't own this caroverall rating 5 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"I test drove a new 2014 Forester Premium Friday evening and liked the vehicle a lot....until I took it up to highway speed and the wind noise inside the vehicle was very bothersome. Haven't ever had a vehicle this noisy except for an old Dodge work van 35 years ago. Everything was closed up tight so I'm afraid this will be a deal breaker for me. Anyone else have this problem??"
12 people out of 18 found this review helpful
By Captain (NY) on Sunday, October 27, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 500overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great sunroof,good sound system,gas mileage."
Cons: "Noisy jittery ride on highway,oddly placed mirrors"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"The look of the vehicle is nice.Highway road noise is pronounced.The mirrors are oddly placed.They seem too close to the driver.I also had trouble adjusting the seat for a long ride.Very jittery nervous ride on concrete roads with a seam.Also the cabin is very cramped,not a lot of storage.the gas mileage was very good.We had traded in a Toyota Sienna for this vehicle.The Sienna had a much smoother quitter ride.We averaged about 19mpg in the Sienna and about 27 in the Forester.This car is for my wife,and although i regret the purchase it seems like a very safe capable vehicle.Do your homework.Take it for a long test drive on the highway.Interior quality seems cheap.Also the technology is a few years behind the competition."
10 people out of 13 found this review helpful
By Amanda (NH) on Thursday, October 24, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 11,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great gas mileage, rides nicely"
Cons: "Driver & passenger seats could be slightly bigger"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"After I fell in love with my parents 2010 Forester I decided to trade my Honda Civic in and get a Subaru. I had seen the commercials for the 2014 and liked the improvements that Subaru had made (better MPG, changes in the exterior/interior etc.). I test drove the car, loved it & purchased an automatic 2.5i Premium. I've owned my Forester for about 6 months now. It is an extremely comfortable ride, it’s very smooth on the road. The gas mileage is the best part. I drive 30 miles back and forth to work every day on back roads (speed limit ranges from 30-45) and my odometer averages 29 mpg. The car is very sleek looking. The interior is very roomy. This car is extremely practical & was exactly what I needed in a car. I’d recommend this car to anyone looking for a smaller SUV with great gas mileage. It was money well spent!"
11 people out of 12 found this review helpful
By Frankie (IL) on Wednesday, October 16, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 600overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "All wheel Drive, Smooth Ride"
Cons: "None so far"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Purchased the Base w/Automatic on 9/23/2013. Feel I got a good purchase price of $21,129. A lot of large windows which is great. CVT responds well and very smooth. The ride is nice and controlled. Pick up is good. But not happy with the MPG. Around town I am getting 21.4, I did expect to get more. I am a big guy and the seats and head room is fine. Fit and finish seems a little cheap, and I am not a big fan of the cloth pull handles on inside of doors. Blue Tooth works well, the sound system is OK, added the tweeter kit and it does make a difference. I truly hope this car will serve me well thru the rough Chicago Winters. I will write another review in the Spring"
7 people out of 7 found this review helpful