Subaru's prodigious growth in recent years has been linked to its ability to carefully evolve and develop its existing lineup (Impreza) while also buttressing it with relevant product introductions to fill niches before served by the brand (BRZ, XV Crosstrek). By leaving no vehicle behind, Subaru's range of offerings has remained strong despite not having the financial firepower of some of its Japanese competitors.
The 2014 Subaru Forester represents the latest fruit of this iterative strategy, a version of the venerable compact SUV that continues to meet the expectations of return buyers while also expanding its appeal to tug at the purse-strings of a more mainstream crossover shopper. This balancing act promises to introduce the Subaru Forester to an even wider group of potential customers.
Let's take a look at 10 things you need to know about the 2014 Subaru Forester.
01. The 2014 Subaru Forester Has Been Re-Styled
The 2013 Subaru Forester is considered to be the brand's 'SUV,' while the Outback and the XV Crosstrek are regarded more as 'crossovers.' This explains why the Subaru Forester's styling has continued along an upright tack, giving the small vehicle a more boxy shape than its lineup-mates. For 2014, the right angles have been mitigated by a more streamlined front fascia, as well as pronounced fender swells, and a bit more personality in the bumpers (especially for the go-fast XT trim). Inside, drivers are greeted by the same great visibility provided by the Forester's generous greenhouse, and although the passenger compartment remains simple in design, interior materials have been improved over past models.
02. The 2014 Subaru Forester Rides On A New Platform
One of the most immediately noticeable aspects of the 2014 Subaru Forester's new platform is its slight increase in size. Sitting inside the Subaru Forester shows exactly where its 1.4 inches of additional length and one inch of wheelbase extension have gone, as passenger room is now more generous for those seated in the SUV's second row. New door openings, more cargo space, and a taller seating position for the front two buckets are also included with the Forester's new platform. From a driving perspective, the Forester feels tighter, rides quieter, and provides more confident handling when compared against the 2012 edition of the vehicle.
03. The 2014 Subaru Forester Features Two New Drivetrains
The base 2014 Subaru Forester features a 2.5-liter, boxer four-cylinder engine that generates 170 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque. This unit is identical to that which graced the entry-level version of the 2012 Subaru Forester, but it comes standard with a new six-speed manual transmission. Even more important is the replacement of last year's four-speed automatic transmission with a fresh continuously-variable automatic for the 2.5-liter mill. The Forester XT trim debuts a more powerful, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that can be relied on to replace 250 horses and 258 lb-ft of torque, matched to a hardier continuously-variable automatic gearbox.
04. The 2014 Subaru Forester Provides Improved Fuel Mileage
Even though the entry-level engine for the 2014 Subaru Forester remains the same, the changes that have been made to its transmission choices translate into major gains in the fuel mileage department. The base Forester checks in with a rating of 24-mpg city and 32-mpg highway when equipped with the CVT, representing a boost of three and five miles per gallon for each respective measure. Even the robust Forester XT leverages its CVT in order to jump to 23-mpg in stop and go driving and 28-mpg during highway cruising - not that far off from the standard Forester. Helping to make these figures more impressive is the fact that the Subaru Forester comes standard with all-wheel drive. In fact, the Subaru is the most efficient all-wheel drive vehicle available in North America.
05. The 2014 Subaru Forester Comes In A Number Of Different Trim Levels
The 2014 Subaru Forester starts out in 2.5i trim, which includes steering-wheel mounted audio controls, tilt steering, air conditioning, 17-inch rims, a CD player, a 60/40 split folding rear seat, and cloth upholstery. The 2.5i Premium introduces a rearview camera, an upgraded stereo system with HD radio, a power driver's seat, and a color multi-function display on the dash that keeps track of fuel mileage, trip status, and other types of vehicle information. The 2.5i Limited provides a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a power liftgate, automatic climate control, heated front seats with leather upholstery, fog lights, and heated side mirrors, while the 2.5i Touring loads up with one-touch folding rear seats, a navigation system, and dual automatic climate control. The Forester XT can be had exclusively in Premium and Touring editions, with a few tweaks such as larger 18-inch rims and distinctive exterior styling thrown in.
06. The 2014 Subaru Forester XT Offers High Performance Fun
The 2014 Subaru Forester XT is more than just aggressive bodywork and a turbocharged engine. In addition to its 250 horsepower, the Subaru Forester XT now comes with a two available performance modes for its continuously-variable automatic transmission: Sport and Sport Sharp. Sport divides the gearbox into six 'virtual' ratios that can be accessed via steering wheel-mounted shift paddles, while Sport Sharp ups that number to eight. The transformation of the XT's driving experience when Sport Sharp is selected - even with the transmission left in automatic mode - is dramatic, with acceleration surging smoothly as the turbocharger builds boost. The XT also gains a revised suspension system that helps it hold the road with greater authority, as well as a reinforced chassis.
07. The 2014 Subaru Forester Delivers Excellent Compact Practicality
The 2014 Subaru Forester lives up to its SUV marketing by providing the kind of practicality that family shoppers are looking for in a small mid-size vehicle. Cargo space with the rear seat folded forward (easy enough to do even without the one-touch system found on higher models) checks in at 74.7 cubic feet, which is quite close to several full-size crossovers that cost significantly more, and which represents a six cubic foot improvement over the 2012 edition of the Forester. The vehicle's ample seating is complemented by a number of storage nooks and crannies scattered throughout the passenger compartment, as well as the availability of a roof rack.
08. The 2014 Subaru Forester Can Venture Off-Road
The 2014 Subaru Forester certainly isn’t intended for taking abuse out on a harsh, rock-strewn trail, but what it does have to offer is far more off-roading capability than the vast majority of compact crossovers and SUVs in its class. The Subaru Forester delivers 8.7 inches of ground clearance, which puts it in a league with several more purpose-built all-terrain vehicles, and it also features a new X-Mode feature for its CVT transmission and all-wheel drive system. X-Mode, which is accessed via a simple button push on the center console, can act as a crawl control feature when descending a steep hill, as well as by parceling out power to the wheels with the most traction in uphill or flat situations.
09. The 2014 Subaru Forester Provides Top-Notch Safety
Safety has become one of Subaru's trademarks, and the 2014 Subaru Forester is no exception. Every Subaru Forester is equipped with electronic stability control and traction control, in addition to its all-wheel drive system, in order to keep it surefooted in all weather. The SUV also features dual forward airbags, seat-mounted side impact airbags for front passengers, side curtain airbags that deploy on either side of the vehicle's passenger compartment, and a reinforced safety structure that has seen the Forester awarded Top Safety Pick status yet again by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The vehicle can additionally be ordered with the Eyesight system, which makes use of a pair of stereoscopic cameras to provide lane departure warning and collision avoidance assistance.
10. The 2014 Subaru Forester Is Affordably Priced
The 2014 Subaru Forester asks SUV shoppers to make an interesting choice when shopping for a people mover. The Subaru Forester's starting MSRP is $21,995, which is identical to the asking price of the Subaru XV Crosstrek (which is based on the Subaru Impreza platform). This strategy allows buyers to select either a crossover or an SUV for the same amount of money. Moving up through various trim levels offered with the Forester sees the XT performance model starting at $27,995, which is also quite affordable - especially when considering that there are no other SUVs in its class that bundle the same type of driving experience, off-road capability, and acceleration within the same package.