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2014 Subaru Forester XT: Six-Month Road Test

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We may sound like a broken CD here, but the 2014 Subaru Forester is one of the most versatile, safest vehicles you can buy--which is why we named it The Car Connection's Best Car To Buy 2014.

It's a perfect example of the "utility" part of "sport-utility vehicle," even though, yes, we know it's more a crossover wagon. The Forester's a go-to tool for lots of jobs and joys: it's a capable all-weather commuter; a great family wagon; and a ready companion for outdoorsy types.

On top of all that, it's a vehicle so well-engineered to survive accidents, it's been cited specifically by the agencies that crash-test cars for a living.

It should be obvious, then, why we've decided to spend the next half-year digging deeply into the Forester's portfolio. And as luck would have it, we seem to have timed its arrival in Atlanta at the perfect moment, when that digging involves the sleety stuff you see in the photos above.

What we've got

Our Forester XT showed up with some warm-up miles on its odometer--3,694 miles, to be exact. It's also a bit more lavishly equipped than we'd settle for--at $28,820 including destination charge of $825, the base Forester 2.0XT Premium is a great value. Our top-line Forester 2.0XT Touring has leather, navigation, and a power tailgate, all upgrades from the Premium model.

It also has a few options that lift its price from its $32,995 sticker price and $825 destination charge. A $2,400 option package bundles pushbutton start and EyeSight, the Subaru system that alerts drivers to impending obstacles detected by a pair of forward-facing cameras. A $92 rear bumper cover and a $147 splash guard kit make our Forester a little more gear-friendly. The final tally: $36,459.

On the road

If anything, our 30 Days of the Audi Allroad taught us that today's crossovers have plenty of all-weather traction. The Forester barely slipped a wheel circling an Atlanta ghost town, on a bed of sleet and ice. But it hasn't been walled in by winter: we've already run it to Florida's beaches once, where it did an excellent impression of a small moving trailer.

Even better, it did a great turn as an economy wagon. So far, the Forester's turned in more than 25 mpg in our measured tests. The EPA rates it at 23/28 mpg, or--right on the mark--25 mpg. Our observed economy is roughly 2 mpg behind the Forester's trip computer, but then again, most fuel-economy gauges are probably wrong.

Our Six-Month Road Test will take us from east coast to west coast, across deserts and mountains, and on regular Costco and Craigslist duty. We'll dive more into its CVT and its Sport Sharp mode, and lets its all-wheel drive help us pick a path around the country.

While we're at it, we'll wedge in some gas-mileage runs, car-seat tests and other tasks to figure out if we've missed something in naming the Forester our Best Car To Buy.

Follow along with us below--and connect with us there, too, if you have a task or a question in mind for our six-month test.

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Follow our Subaru Forester Six-Month Road Test, and follow The Car Connection on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

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© 2014 The Car Connection. All Rights Reserved. The Car Connection is published by High Gear Media. Stock photography by izmo, Inc. Send us feedback.