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STYLING | 8 out of 10
The shape of the 2014 Subaru Forester is familiar—and its size is essentially the same as the outgoing version—but much has changed in the details.
Overall, the look is a little less rugged, a little more contemporary. On the outside, it inherits some of the themes and design details seen in last year’s redesign of the Impreza lineup—including the crisp new grille design and smoothly sculpted side sheetmetal that flows into taillamps that are ‘pinched’—for appearance, and for aerodynamics. The Forester avoids the heavily creased sheetmetal that's becoming quite common among crossovers, instead showing up with modestly flared fenders and a soft beltline that develops just behind the front fenders and tucks nearly into the rear lamps. And in front, Subaru's winged grille and lamps stretch outward and farther back than they did before—a little higher, too.
On both models, the lower airdams are more finely detailed than they were previously, and a somewhat taller hoodline and a more chiseled look in front give it more of an SUV look. Turbo models get a more aggressive, technical-looking lower airdam. Some are going to mourn the loss of the aggressive hood scoop in XT turbo models, but engineers couldn’t ignore the advantages to moving it under the hood; the look is smoother and more sophisticated, too.
Inside, the instrument panel has been completely redesigned and pushed five inches forward and slightly downward—with the low-set dash updated to the same relatively simple layout that's been given to the Legacy, Outback, and Impreza. A center stack of controls flows from a new multi-information screen down to climate and audio controls and a center console with cupholders, storage, and an armrest. And throughout the interior, the materials have been upgraded, with a mix of matte and soft-touch materials accented with matte-metallics.
With a completely new look inside and out that borrows cues from the Impreza’s recent redesign, the 2014 Subaru Forester is sportier and more handsome throughout.