2014 Subaru Forester XT Six-Month Road Test, Catskill Mountains, New YorkEnlarge Photo
The Harman/Kardon audio system has a 440-Watt amplifier, and AM/FM/CD/satellite radio plus a navigation system with a 6.1-inch color touchscreen display in the center of the dash.
Here in the mountains, both radio and satellite radio are frequently interrupted by the rocky ledges through which roads pass. Doesn't matter how good your stereo is if it cuts in and out regularly during your daily errands.
In fact, the only option fitted almost universally here--and it's hard to find any recent Subaru without it--is the all-weather package that bundles heated front seats, de-icers for the windshield wipers, and heated side mirrors.
Responding to demand from wintry areas, Subaru has lately made its cold-weather package available as an option across a much wider range of trim levels on all its cars.
Statistically, few buyers order the very bottom-line Forester 2.5i model, but one level up, the Forester 2.5i Premium includes amenities like a one-touch up/down driver's window.
As of this year, the reversing camera is standard on all models of Forester, even the most basic 2.5i.
Leaking mulch bag
We're using the Subaru for our usual tasks: hauling gardening supplies, including that inevitably slightly leaky bag of mulch, taking recyclables and trash to what used to be "the dump" and is now the Joint Resource Recovery Facility, and delivering some used 50-year-old body panels for an arcane car to a friend 80 miles away.
And while we like the extra light of the sunroof, and appreciate the satellite radio once we're out of the narrow passes, and find the leather seats mostly supportive and comfortable--for our uses, we suspect a 2.5i Premium or perhaps Limited would work just fine.
It's less powerful, but more fuel-efficient. We'd pay the extra money to add the CVT, and of course the all-weather package. There's not a lot else we'd need.
Beyond that, it'd be what most of the Foresters around here are: a practical, hard-working, all-wheel-drive utility vehicle that's just a little sturdier and more capable than the rest.
Leather seats are nice, but basic cloth would do just as well. We like to think of ourselves as unpretentious up here, and we like our Subarus the same way.