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 Caldwell on Tuesday, July 29, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 24,000overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Clumsy dull steering, very poor seating, too few compartments, miserable little backup screen, off -centered instrument cluster, rough ride. Good gas mileage. Should have bought the last of the 2013's."
22 people out of 43 found this review helpful
By Jim on Tuesday, July 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Smooth, fun, fast, quiet, and capable."
Cons: "No manual offered in turbo models. No hood scoop!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Overall, the 2014 Forester XT is a great car. I've always liked Subaru's cars, and decided to take a closer look at owning one when a major automotive magazine recently named the Forester the SUV of the Year. My previous car was an awesome 4WD Xterra Off Road, but it wasn't good on gas, and had well over 100k miles. The XT doesn't have a lot of torque at the low end like I was used to, but the mid-range power is really impressive. Another reviewer said it perfectly: "it feels like you're getting sucked into a vacuum" when accelerating. Opening the engine up on a straightaway is the point when you realize what you paid for when you opted for the XT's 250 horsepower, 2.0 liter, turbocharged engine. The base engine is adequate, but takes a lot of the fun out of driving. I simply couldn't accept the base engine after driving the turbo version, but others may find it suitable enough. My last car was a torquey 6-speed manual, so I was worried about the CVT, but it's actually really nice. The paddle shifters and different driving modes also let you customize your driving experience, but I honestly don't use them nearly as much as I thought I would. The default "intelligent" driving mode helps you sip gas a little better, and if you step on it, it'll launch you ahead no matter which mode you're in. It is by far the best CVT I've ever driven after being let down by several rental cars' sluggish and loud attempts. Handling is awesome for a small SUV; it corners really well and traction starts to slip in a very predictable manner. The only mild off-road test so far was passed with no problem. The mpg ratings are fair. I've gotten 26+ mpg's on multiple tanks with mostly mixed driving back and forth to work and the grocery store, and as little as 18 when I stayed on the turbo a lot. If I don't do 90 mph, I can get 30+ on highway for sustained periods. The inside is very quiet. Like, it makes me feel a lil' sleepy sometimes when I'm driving. The interior is nice, but not extravagant. Seats are ok overall; the rear seats recline, and the driver's seat is power-adjustable, but they lack sufficient lateral support when you take a corner at high speed. There's a small screen in the dash for conveying various forms of info, and when in reverse, it displays the backup cam's signal. For me, it's the right balance of features and simplicity. I added the factory-supplied Kicker speaker upgrades all around, then installed a Kicker under-seat powered subwoofer and small amplifier for the other speakers, but kept the factory radio. Everything is hidden away so it has the same stock look, so there are no wires, boxes, etc., but it sounds amazing, even at 70 mph with the windows and sunroof down. I also added some accessories: Aero bars, trailer hitch (for bike rack), cargo nets in the side/rear, moof roof wind reflector, tinted front windows to match the rear, fog lights, pet partition (expensive but solid design), and all-weather mats. Although I sometimes wish I still had a stick-shift, I'm very satisfied with the purchase. It has turned out to be the perfect car for me/us so far. My biggest complaint is that they got rid of the hood scoop, so it's safe to say there's not much to complain about."
16 people out of 21 found this review helpful
By Juanito on Sunday, July 20, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 150overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great price, fun to drive, easy to get in and out,"
Cons: "Cheap radio, No satelite radio option in mine"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have traded my 2012 Tdi jetta due to a glow plug issues, dealer was not able to find, even that his car was real good on gas, about 42 MPG city/Highway. I was not happy with reliability. I purchased a 2014 Outback for my wife and loved it, this was the main reason to look for a Forester. Test drove it and I was impressed how easy is to get in and out. I have a herniated disc and had surgery. So, it sits high, to my hip level. Also, you can see everything outside, very large cargo space and it is extremely easy to get things in and out. Gas wise, good for an SUV, good power, I have not test it yet in snow, but I am looking forward this winter when I go to Ontario. I do not have a lot of experience with SUVS but I really love the vehicle"
8 people out of 11 found this review helpful