2014 Subaru Forester

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Date Posted: March 8, 2013
By Zack Spencer

Subaru has been on a strong sales trajectory. Their all wheel drive system is coveted by many buyers and this new Subaru Forester solidifies their success.

The Scoop

British Columbia is blessed with some of the most picturesque scenery found anywhere in the world and one of the must-see destinations is the west coast of Vancouver Island. Subaru chose a spectacular drive route for the launch of the all-new Forester, from Nanaimo B.C. through the mountain passes of Vancouver Island to the stunning beaches of Ucluelet, Long Beach and Tofino. These are just the kinds of roads buyers of the Forester picture themselves driving when they look at the glossy photos of this new go-anywhere, anytime crossover. And the 2014 Forester doesn't just look the part, it is up to the task of climbing mountain roads, light off-roading and doing it all with comfort, practicality and now more standard features and refined drivetrain.

The Skin

To look at the new Forester you could be forgiven for thinking that much of the previous model is carried over. Not true, this 2014 has less than 5% of the parts from the 2013 model, yet the smallest changes can make a world of difference. For example, the windshield has been moved forward allowing the front doors to be over 12cm wider than the last product. This allows more window space, a less intrusive side mirror and easier entry into the cabin. The rocker panels are now integrated into the doorframes, keeping the dirt kicked up from the road on the door. When the door is open, the bottom of the opening remains clean. The rear doors are larger too and open to almost 90 degrees. New for 2014 is an available power lift gate (stating on the $31,295 Touring model), which can be operated from the key fob, the door handle of inside the cabin. The rear cargo area is rather square, which is optimal for loading larger items into the storage space and the load height is low.

The Cockpit

The Forester has always had a practical side, maybe too practical in the past. The previous model was utilitarian to the point of being bland. This new 2014 model isn't flashy but is much more pleasant to look at, touch and interact with. The dash has been moved forward and covered in soft-touch materials and the seating position has been raised by 30mm for a commanding view down the road. Since this new Forester is slightly wider, longer and taller it does afford a more spacious cabin; this along with the large doors and big windows makes it a good family choice. Standard features include heated seats on all models, Bluetooth, air conditioning and music streaming. On all but the base model, a backup camera is integrated into the high, centre mounted screen, which doubles as a multi-level information display. One area that is disappointing is the radio. The readout is small and I found the settings rather confusing. Time with the unit will resolve many of the problems but a large touch-screen would have finished the cabin off nicely. If you want navigation, this is only available on the top model.

The Ride

The compact crossover segment is growing dramatically and Subaru has balanced the wants of potential buyers nicely. For buyers who need light off-road or winter driving duties, all models come with the new X-Drive all wheel drive setting for low speed traction. This system uses sensors and splits the torque to individual wheels allowing the Forester to perform well in very slippery conditions. For buyers who are looking for efficiency, the continually variable transmission (CVT) produces impressive fuel numbers when combined with the base 170hp 2.5L engine. Buyers who want a bit more power will be attracted to the all-new direct injection 2.0L turbocharged engine with 250hp and a slick new high-torque CVT. This transmission can mimic either 6 or 8 gears when the Sport or Sport Sharp settings are chosen. With this engine a run to 60mph takes only 6.2 seconds and the virtual gear ratios will hold when cornering, plus the up and downshifts are very quick. To be honest this is the best application of a CVT to date and the average driver would never know it is a one gear, chain driven transmission.

Verdict

It might sound like I'm gushing about this new Forester, well I am. I was very impressed with every aspect of this new product. The body is more rigid, sound insulation has been improved, the handling is first rate and Subaru has invested in the small things that make this new Forester one of the best compact crossovers on the road today. Having a chance to drive through the Coastal BC Mountains in the 2.5i model, but especially the turbo model, utilizing the paddle shifter and virtual gear ratios, I was very impressed. The 2.5i models start at $25,995 and run to $35,795 depending on features like leather seats, power tailgate, moon roof and navigation. The turbo XT models start at $32,495 and top out at $37,995. The Forester is priced competitively with the competition but the standard AWD system, size, ride and practicality of this new 2014 model make it a winner.

The Good, The Bad

Good:

The turbo can run on regular or premium fuel.

Bad:

The radio unit could be improved.

The Lowdown

Power: 2.5L with 170hp or turbo 2.0L with 250hp

Backup: 3-year/60,000km

Fill-up: 8.3L/6.2L/100km (city/highway)

Sticker price: $32,495-$37,995

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