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.
You'll Like This Car If...
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.
You May Not Like This Car If...
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 the Forester
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.
2014 Subaru Forester Details
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.
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.
Under the Hood
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.
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.
Pros: "Steady at speed and comfortable. Sitting upright."
Cons: "A little pricey but worth it."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This is the first Subaru we've owned. Had a number of mid-suv's but this 2014 tops 'em all. It is quite quiet on the road and the 4-cylinder with (my favorite item) the CVT is a combo that never seems strained at any speed. It feels safe turning corners, in the snow and ice and if you pay close attention you can feel the Forester making adjustments to complete the slide safely in the turn. With the backseats down, ample space to carry all we need to. We have another vehicle (2010 sedan - not a Subaru) with around 26K miles while our 2014 Forester has around 28k miles - - which indicates how much we drive it regardless where we're going.
Couple of 'lower notes': You have to get used to the electric steering. Not the road feel I like to have. The folks riding in the back seat complain about not sitting upright enough - some had sore backs on long trips (folks were over 55 of age). During VERY cold weather on the highway, cold air is lightly blowing on my left knee while I'm driving. Took me awhile to figure its was coming through the inside door handle. Maybe could use more insulation? Radio is so-so. Would get the upgrade next time.
Mileage: Reported combo is 28 mpg. Over all, that's pretty accurate. Uses more gas in the winter time but better in the summer. In summer,usually get around 33 mpg with a 15-ish tail wind bucking the same wind around 27 at Interstate speeds. In other words its mileage is very susceptible to wind speeds. In the winter, subtract about 4 mpg from each. But remember, it has full time four wheel drive. So, not a mileage problem in my estimation.
Will get another in the future and will replace our 2010 sedan with a Legacy ... soon."
Cons: "Hard to find ext. colors, light gray interior"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have had this vehicle for a little over 2 months and am considering buying another one - one that I will get to drive. I have put a little over 1000 miles on it and now must turn it over to a younger driver. It passes all the requirements and gives me a feeling of comfort that the younger driver will be safe.
The interior looks ok - light gray seats are a concern for soda spills - so I will 'scotchguard' and hope for the best.. Sound system is kind of ho hum - but I didn't get the radio upgrade (maybe next time - at least for me..). Visibility is great - sitting high enough but not truck like.
I am astounded with the gas mileage. I was concerned when I picked up at the dealer (127 miles on odometer) with an average 24 mpg on the indicator. I traded in an Impreza that averaged 35 mpg so I get more vehicle & better positioning.
Filling up at 450 miles I calculated mpg at 32 mpg. Feeling better I zeroed out the gages and took off. Second tank of gas lasted 490 miles and the mpg indicator said 36 mpg. I calculated 37.2 mpg. Very impressed with the efficiency.
Not crazy about the CVT transmission. It is what it is. It is tons better than the earlier CVT in the 2 year old Impreza. You can adjust and the only real objection will be when you first get in for the first time - or get in a hurry and zoom from the light unexpectedly.
I have cars that are 'zoom-zoom' fun, trucks that are 'built like a rock', and while I am happy with their execution of their intended purposes, the Forester is a star.
Not the quietest vehicle on the road - chip/seal surfaces come thru loud and clear. A little transmission 'hum' that you will notice on long drives (use the volume knob on the sound system and you won't notice it). Quieter than the 'zoom-zoom' car...
I feel safe, I get great mpg, great visibility. I hope it lasts 10 years. After the Impreza (not a car I would recommend), I am again a Subaru fan."
Pros: "Acceleration, handling, gas mileage, utility"
Cons: "Horrible interior AND exterior designs."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Great handling vehicle on mountainous roads, AWD ALL of the time (ref. Winter = great asset), superb acceleration, superior gas mileage, practical utility vehicle, interior AND exterior is in desperate need of a REAL Subaru Design Department (no joke here!). AND (sic), superb value for the money."