2014 Subaru Forester
by John Davis
Just about everyone knows someone who owns a Subaru Forester. Since it first arrived in the Americas in 1998, it has been a top choice among small utilities for both the press and public alike. So, when an all-new, fourth generation Forester was announced, everyone knew it would carry a lot of weight on its shoulders. It not only had to appeal to the Forester faithful, but also draw new buyers to the brand by offering what is expected in a compact CUV, but without too much Subaru quirkiness.
Still, looking inside the new Forester it is clear that it is indeed a contemporary Subaru. Even though the design is clean and most controls work well, the brand’s parts bin approach to interior design has seriously blurred the lines between Forester, Impreza, and Crosstrek.
One Forester trademark is more than ample room and the newest member does not disappoint. There is a substantial boost in space up front and even more so in the rear seat with legroom that now beats the benchmark Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V. Maximum cargo room tops the best rivals as well. It is indeed a very comfortable place to be for short and long trips.
The base Forester engine remains a 170-horsepower 2.5-liter. It’s no powerhouse but it is more than adequate. But, for 2014, Forester adds a 2.0-liter turbocharged flat-four option. With 250 horsepower, it definitely punches things up when pulling away from a stop. It attaches to a CVT automatic transmission that, while hardly a sporty gearbox, does deliver good-for-a-crossover fuel economy with a combined city/highway government fuel economy rating of 25 mpg.
All weather capability is a Subaru hallmark and the standard all-wheel-drive system works well in both wet and winter driving. It continues to be one of the best systems on the market. But for 2014, Subaru introduces a new X-Mode all-wheel-drive system available in all 2.0XT models that makes this Forester even more capable off road.
True to its heritage the Forester displays an overall fun to drive nature that is itself a class benchmark. The one flaw is steering that now feels anesthetized. On the up side, even in sharp corners body roll is held in nicely in check.
In a very crowded market the 2014 Subaru Forester continues to stand out. Perhaps not as much as it once did, yet still just enough to maintain a special status among numerous compact crossover clones. But then, after all, being a bit different is what Subaru is all about.
For our exclusive road test of the 2014 Subaru Forester, be sure to catch MotorWeek episode #3233 which begins airing on April 20, 2013. For a complete listing of the public television stations that broadcast MotorWeek go to "Find Your Station" tab on motorweek.org. MotorWeek is also seen on Tuesday evenings on the Velocity cable channel.