Our 2014 Subaru Forester 2.0XT long-term test car is now back in Atlanta, and we've had a chance to sort through our notes and think about the experience of living with it in the hills of upstate New York for a month.
Like any car, we found some things we loved and some things we didn't. We remain impressed with the overall Forester package of space, capability, and sensible, no-nonsense transportation.
Still, there are things we loved--and a few things we hope Subaru changes before the next full redesign of the Forester, which likely won't occur until the 2019 model year.
FIVE THINGS WE LIKED
(1) Visibility: The Forester has some of the best visibility from the inside out of any car we've tested. As beltlines rise, roof pillars get thicker, and crash structures get beefier--all in the same of safety testing--Subaru has clung stubbornly to the belief that thin pillars, large glass area, and easy all-around visibility is itself a safety feature. The windshield pillars are commendably slim, the lower window line pretty much parallels the ground, and even the tough over-the-shoulder three-quarter view gives you lots of glass and a good view of what's behind you. And the bottom of the rear hatch window dips down for extra ground visibility too. Well done, Subaru.
(2) Sensible upright styling: There's something very appealing about a car that looks like what it is: a wagon-like utility vehicle. Our Forester reminded us of the old Ford Escape, especially the 2008-2012 model: upright, square-cut, and compact. Remember the old square Volvo wagons? Something like that. No frills, no "body sculpting," no swoopy lines, just a two-box utility vehicle. One of our colleagues said the Forester reminded him of a scale model of a Chevy Tahoe--and in that context, it's kind of a compliment.
2014 Subaru Forester 4-door Auto 2.5i Premium PZEV Mirror
2014 Subaru Forester 4-door Auto 2.5i Premium PZEV MirrorEnlarge Photo
(3) Nice big door mirrors: Almost every carmaker is whittling away at its door mirrors to reduce aerodynamic drag, often leading to odd triangular shapes that don't cover part of the area you want to see. Not Subaru, though: Its door mirrors are big and rectangular, and they give you all the rearward vision you need.