Overview

Overview

The five-passenger 2014 Subaru Forester compact crossover SUV is completely redesigned inside and out. While the exterior styling may not seem drastically different, all else is significantly changed. Standard all-wheel drive remains its trump card, setting it apart from the competition and claiming customer loyalists in the bargain.

What Experts Think

The redesigned 2014 Subaru Forester compact crossover has a slew of competitors vying for consumer attention. Most of the motoring press that reviewed the new model acknowledges this fact, along with giving kudos to Subaru for its more evolutionary changes to make life with the Forester much more accommodating. It isn't radically changed from a styling standpoint, say the auto critics, but it has changed most everything else.

In a review in Cars.com, David Thomas notes that while the Forester "may look only slightly different on the outside, but inside, underneath the hood and just about everywhere else, it's a significantly improved SUV."

Long a favorite among Consumer Reports readers, the editors of the publication are quite positive in their overview of the compact crossover. In fact, the new Forester topped the Honda CR-V, the Toyota RAV4 and other competitors in testing. Consumer Reports says the secret is "a back-to-basics design with large windows and big doors that brought the easiest view out in the class." Other pluses include an "excellent" driving position as well as "unusually" spacious rear seating. But the ride was deemed just "OK," and engine noise was pronounced at all times.

Over at Edmunds, editors were upfront in acknowledging that a lot of the Forester's enduring appeal with consumers is that it has most of the attributes of an SUV that people really want and use, such as all-wheel drive, more ground clearance, and the utility of a hatchback - without being a bit brute of a full-size SUV. No, it's not a Jeep or a Range Rover, but "the re-engineered Forester is serious enough about its off-road ability without letting it get in the way of mostly being a car."

Consumer Guide observes that there are all kinds of new tech in the all-new Forester. For example, the Aha infotainment system works with Apple or Android-enabled devices, and the active all-wheel-drive in CVT-equipped models "processes more inputs than before for better control on slick surfaces or during highway lane changes."

"It wears somewhat bolder skin wrapped around a roomier cabin and boasts both improved performance and higher fuel economy." (AOL Autos)

CNET finds that the 2014 Subaru Forester "makes some interesting stabs at advanced technology, but its true value still lies in its all-wheel-drive system, fuel economy, and practical interior space."

What Owners Say

Most owners of Subaru models, and the 2014 Subaru Forester is no exception, are eager to let others know what they think of the automaker's products. Indeed, a review of owner comments on sites such as Cars.com, Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds, and Yahoo Autos proves the point.

Owner likes include the Forester's roominess, excellent visibility (especially with the panoramic sunroof), quiet ride and responsiveness, tight turning radius, mileage as advertised, and the well-engineered and well-built quality of the compact crossover.

Negatives cited by owners include rattling in the sunroof and no tilt function, seats that aren't exactly uncomfortable but not good either.

Generally speaking, it is fair to say that most owners - at least those who care to comment on review sites -- love their new 2014 Subaru Forester. One last point highlighted by many is the incredible value for the price.

Model/Trim Lineup

For 2014, the fourth-generation Subaru Forester compact crossover is available in six trim levels: 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited, 2.5i Touring, 2.0XT Premium and 2.0XT Touring. The first four are standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, while the XT models feature a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder.

What's in the base 2.5i? Standard equipment includes 17-inch steel wheels, cruise control, full power accessories, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver's seat, a four-speaker sound system with a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity. Satellite radio is available as an option.

Next up in the 2.5i Premium, the standard equipment list switches out 17-inch steel wheels for alloys, adds roof rails, rear privacy glass, a rearview camera, a panoramic sunroof, an eight-way power driver's seat with power lumbar adjustment, a multifunction display, a fold-down rear armrest, six speaker sound system and HD radio capability.

Options in the 2.5i Premium include touchscreen navigation system with 6.1-inch display incorporating voice controls and an All-Weather package that has heated side mirrors and heated front seats.

The 2.5i Limited has the All-Weather package and everything that the 2.5i Premium does, plus automatic headlights, automatic climate control, leather upholstery, reclining rear seat backs, a cargo area tray, an LCD display in the instrument cluster, and chrome trim on the exterior. The navigation system is optional.

Moving up to the 2.5i Touring means the navigation system is included as standard. In addition, the 2.5i Touring gets upgraded gauges, an eight-speaker sound system, dual-zone automatic climate control, auto-close and memory functions for the power liftgate, and a one-touch control for folding down the rear seatback.

Buyers opting for the 2.0XT Premium get everything in the 2.5i Touring plus the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine and CVT, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, 18-inch alloy wheels, and a rear roof spoiler.

The top-of-the-line 2.0XT Touring standard equipment list is again much like the 2.5i Premium. Optional here is the Driver Assist Technology package which includes keyless ignition/entry, xenon headlamps, adaptive cruise control, and the Subaru Eyesight system that integrates the functions of adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and pre-collision braking.

Performance

One of the standout features of the 2014 Subaru Forester (as with all vehicles in the Subaru lineup) is the standard all-wheel drive.

Power for the 2014 Subaru Forester comes from a pair of four-cylinder "Boxer" engines. There is the naturally aspirated carryover 175-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that can be paired with a new six-speed manual transmission (replacing the five-speed manual in the 2013 model), or the new Lineartronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) automatic that's also in the Impreza sedan.

EPA-estimated fuel economy with the 2.5-liter four is 22 mpg city/29 mpg highway/24 (manual) and 24/32/27 mpg (automatic).

In Forester 2.0XT models, the powerplant is a new turbocharged direct-injected engine derived from the flat-four used in the Subaru BRZ. In the Forester, this engine delivers 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. As many reviewers note, this is a significant boost from the 225/226 output in the 2013 Forester's 2.5-liter turbo. A single transmission, a new High-Torque Lineartronic CVT with multi-mode with S1 drive is all that is available with the new turbocharged engine. Fuel economy in the turbo engine is estimated at 23/28/25 mpg.

Maximum tow rating is 1,500 pounds.

Some auto testers found a high level of noise during hard acceleration, attributing most of that to the CVT.

Interior

One area that automotive reviewers consistently found fault with in previous generation Forester models was the quality of the glossy plastics and hard dashboard. That has all changed with the redesigned 2014 Forester, even though there are still a few plastic pieces.

The dashboard has a simple design. Gauges are laid out in a traditional fashion, with large knobs and buttons for the standard stereo and climate controls. Dashboard material is softer to the touch as well, contributing to the more welcoming cabin.

In all but the base model Forester, a backup camera is standard - especially helpful for families and in backing up when parking or navigating a tight turn.

Cloth seats are standard and are both firm and wide across the seat back and seat bottom. As for roominess, due to the fact that Subaru increased the interior dimensions fractionally, this added more front seat travel. The result is plentiful room for rear-seat passengers, even long-legged ones.

Cargo room is 34.4 cubic feet, hardly in the area of the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 with their respective 37.2 and 38.4 cubic feet, but still mid-range for the pack. With the rear seats folded, however, the Forester is best-in-class for cargo capacity, boasting 74.7 cubic feet of maximum storage capacity. Also impressive is the larger liftgate, power-activated on Limited and Touring models, which makes loading and unloading a much simpler process.

The automaker says that the Forester is one of the quietest vehicles it has ever made, and in the view of most of the motoring press, this appears to be the case. Even as tall as the Forester is, its aerodynamics contribute to significantly less wind noise than its predecessor. Its tall stature also helps with another important attribute in an SUV, clear visibility.

Safety & Reliability

Safety is a paramount consideration in any family vehicle, a point noted by many in the automotive press. This certainly includes all-wheel drive crossover SUVs that may or may not go off-pavement. The 2014 Subaru Forester has seven airbags standard, including front seat-mounted side-impact airbags and a driver's knee airbag. With the 2014 redesign, the automaker has also moved the top tether mounts for child-safety seats from the roof of the cabin to the rear seatbacks. This allows for easier access and improves visibility rearward.

Other standard safety features include antilock disc brakes, traction control and stability control. New for 2014 are anti-whiplash front seats, brake override that cuts engine power if the driver simultaneously applies the brake pedal and the accelerator past a certain threshold and an impact-sensing fuel cutoff that automatically activates in a crash where airbags are deployed.

In crash testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the 2014 Subaru Forester earned the highest possible rating of "Good" in frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests. By acing the small overlap front test, the Forester earned the IIHS Top Safety Pick designation.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not yet crash tested the 2014 Subaru Forester.

As for reliability, it's really too soon to tell. The 2014 Subaru Forester only went on sale in March 2013.

 

Trim Style Engine Drive Train MSRP
SUV - AWD
2.5i 2.5i Manual 4 Cylinder AWD 21995
2.5i 2.5i Automatic 4 Cylinder AWD 22995
2.5i Premium 2.5i Premium Manual 4 Cylinder AWD 23495
2.5i Premium 2.5i Premium Automatic 4 Cylinder AWD 24995
2.5i Limited 2.5i Limited 4 Cylinder AWD 27995
2.0XT Premium 2.0XT Premium 4 Cylinder AWD 27995
2.5i Touring 2.5i Touring 4 Cylinder AWD 29995
2.0XT Touring 2.0XT Touring 4 Cylinder AWD 32995

Comparison of 2014 Subaru Forester with Similar Cars

2014 Subaru Forester MSRP Invoice
2014 Subaru Forester $21,995 $20,811
Similar Cars to Consider MSRP Invoice Compare
2014 Ford Escape $23,100 $21,772 2014 Subaru Forester VS 2014 Ford Escape
2014 Nissan Rogue $22,790 $21,413 2014 Subaru Forester VS 2014 Nissan Rogue
2014 Jeep Cherokee $22,995 $22,636 2014 Subaru Forester VS 2014 Jeep Cherokee
2014 Hyundai Tucson $21,450 $20,633 2014 Subaru Forester VS 2014 Hyundai Tucson
2014 Jeep Wrangler $22,395 $21,838 2014 Subaru Forester VS 2014 Jeep Wrangler

Car Rankings

Interested to see how the 2014 Subaru Forester ranks against similar cars in terms of key attributes? Here are the 2014 Subaru Forester rankings for MPG, horsepower, torque, leg room, head room, shoulder room, hip room and so forth.

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