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 SwedishChef on Sunday, March 16, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 14,400overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Incredible value"
Cons: "A few minor design gripes"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"This car has just been unbeatable. I'd buy another in a heartbeat. Rock-solid reliability. Tows WAY more than the stated 2,400lbs, easy to drive, gobs of power, refined enough for most. The cons - interior materials & design, like all Subarus, could be better - kind of ugly, but ugly is my thing - seat heaters in very inconvenient location beneath center armrest - turbo lag! - manual mode is so slow it's pretty much a novelty - body panels dent VERY easily - what!? No projector headlamps? - wish the windshield sprayer nozzles were heated. They freeze - wish steering when was heated - seats are nice, but not the best for very long trips - no automatic headlamp setting (but they DO turn off with the car, so I just leave them on)"
14 people out of 22 found this review helpful
By ted on Friday, February 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 14,370overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "every thing works the way it should"
Cons: "we didn't think we wanted all the neat options"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"We like this car, we want to buy the exact same thing only with all the nice stuff that we didn't get in the 2013"
9 people out of 12 found this review helpful
By De on Sunday, February 09, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,800overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Best car in the snow, comfort, safety."
Cons: "could be a little higher off the ground"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This is the first Subaru I have owned. Had a Saturn Vue for 10 years, and loved it! Did a lot of research, before deciding on the Forester, but I have not been sorry for 1 moment! I absolutely love this car! It fits all of my needs and more. The real test was the winter weather in NH, and this car drives on snow, through snow like there is nothing there! I can't believe how safe and secure I feel in this car! Subaru will probably be my go to vehicles for ever, because this car has proven itself to me."
22 people out of 24 found this review helpful
By theadman95 on Thursday, February 06, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 700overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Pros: "roomy, great views, nice radio, CVT transmission"
Cons: "Jarring ride, difficult to relax and enjoy driving"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"I've driven a 2006 Forester until now which I loved, but unfortunately hit a deer (great crash test results, however!) This one has some pros: roomy, great views, love the CVT, peppy, nice radio, but: This car has the worst ride of any vehicle I've ever driven. I don't know how they passed this new suspension. If you have back problems or kidney problems, this is not your vehicle. You will feel every tiny bump in the road. Other reviewers have called the ride 'skittish', 'unsettled', 'jittery', 'tiresome and annoying'. I agree with all of those. It is a very hard ride, very jarring - constantly bumping and jostling, while at the same time rocking side to side. It's a shame because I can't really enjoy the vehicle's many good properties because I am non-stop gritting my teeth with annoyance about the ride. Subaru really dropped the ball on this one. If I had driven it for a while other than a round the block test drive, I would have made a different choice. I've aired down the tires and that doesn't help much."
19 people out of 29 found this review helpful
By High Torque on Wednesday, January 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Handling, acceleration, sound system, visibility"
Cons: "No analog temp gauge, no glove box light"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I own the 2.0 XT Touring. I have about 1500 miles on it. I really enjoy this car. I had a Mazda CX5 for about two years. However, I needed a vehicle with more spirit and boy does the 2.0XTer have it. This puppy has such a responsive engine. It easily out performs our Honda Pilot. My wife at 5’1” had severe accessibility issues with the CX5. That issue was solved with the 2.0XTer. Also, the Forester has much better visibility then the Mazda. The handling is really good with the car always feeling well planted to the road. The 2.0XTer has a sports suspension which adds to its handling capabilities. I drove the Forester 2.5 Limited and the 2.0XTer had noticeably better handling characteristics. The Harman Kardon sound system is outstanding (way better than the Bose in the CX5). I do love the tunes. It has a great roomy back seat that the kids really enjoy. This car exhibits refinement and that becomes evident as I drive it more. Finally, I saw the poor crash results of the mini compacts (i.e. Honda Fit) I am glad I have the Forester with its outstanding safety ratings."
27 people out of 29 found this review helpful
By raddoc on Wednesday, January 15, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,500overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Cheap for features"
Cons: "Cheap features- not in a good way."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Picked up 2014 Forester XT in November and found Q 3 1012 map card in nav unit which could not guide me out of dealer's lot to my house. Spoke w/customer service and got one helpful rep who said dealer would update the card. When I took the card to the dealer another CS rep said that I'd have to pay $150 for the update to Q1 2013 and then ask Subaru for reimbursement. This is totally unacceptable since the unit was delivered out of date maps to begin with. Save your money and avoid Subarus with nav at any cost. The nav is nowhere as functional as the free app Waze and will never be current the way they sell the vehicles. Total ripoff."
30 people out of 41 found this review helpful