The Subaru Forester is a weekend warrior, but it's always been a little left of center. Is that about to change with the new, 2014 Subaru Forester? Will it still appeal to the caribiner crowd?
The Forester's all about utility, and in this redesign, Subaru's tried to play up interior space and flexibility. There's more room in front, because the dash has been trimmed down--it's five inches slimmer than before. The dash also looks better this time around, with nicer matte-finish and soft-touch materials.
On the road, the Forester has a more efficient take on the mid-size crossover--with less power but also less weight than utes like the Ford Edge or Toyota Venza. For power, there's a base 170 horsepower 2.5-liter flat four mated to a continuously variable transmission. A six-speed manual transmission is available. We're more in sync with the optional turbo flat four. It makes 250 horsepower, but doesn't come with the manual--it's CVT-only.
All Foresters come with standard all-wheel drive, and it's a system that responds quickly to changes in traction.
Better gas mileage comes with the 2014 model year, too. The base version gets up to 32 mpg on the highway, and turbo versions get an EPA combined rating of 25 mpg.
The Forester doesn't have any crash-test ratings in its corner just yet, but it has a reputation as one of the best-rated compact crossovers behind it. New safety features include adaptive cruise control, and EyeSight, which uses stereo cameras to detect road hazards and alert the driver. Visibility is also a step ahead of the competition.
The Forester has a base price of just over $21,000. Every version comes with a a 4.3-inch LCD display and trip computer. Bluetooth and audio streaming are standard, as are steering-wheel audio controls. Premium and Touring models starting at about $23,000 and $27,000 respectively, and both feature a six-speak audio system with HD Radio and an available navigation system. Our Touring model priced at just over $33,000 has a 6.1-inch touch-screen navigation system, along with dual-zone climate control, a panoramic moon roof, and 10-way power driver's seat.
Those LCD screens are sore points with us, given the state of the art. The base system has a limited number of characters for the screen, and the touchscreen unit in the higher trim models has a confusing menu system. Even simple tasks like tuning or seeking radio stations can be a chore.
So what's the bottom line with the 2014 Subaru Forester? It's more comfortable and more efficient--and maybe a little fancy for diehard Subie fans. It's definitely moved into the mainstream.