The 2014 Subaru Forester is one of the most-decorated small SUVs in the industry, which means that Subaru had to be careful about tinkering with its successful crossover formula when updating the ‘ute. Although its appearance remains largely the same, the new Forester makes significant gains in terms of fuel efficiency and it also retains the turbo charm of the XT model – a version of the SUV that some fans had feared would be sacrificed to the EPA gods. The all-wheel drive Forester is a close competitor for the Honda CR-V and the Ford Escape, and it remains a key part of Subaru’s sky-high sales growth over the past several years.
The 2014 Subaru Forester looks a whole lot like the 2013 Subaru Forester, which is a calculated move by the company to keep loyal customers coming back for more of its boxy shape and tall greenhouse. A longer wheelbase and more aggressive angles up front – especially when considering the turbocharged XT model – do the Forester good, and it abandons some of the lumpy anonymity of the version that came before it. Inside, rear leg room is up and with the back row folded forward the Forester now offers almost 75 cubic feet of total cargo space, which puts it on more even footing with class leaders like the Toyota RAV4.
Subaru currently has a bee in its bonnet about fuel economy, and after years of lackluster performance in this category it is systematically improving each of its models through the implementation of new technology. The 2014 Subaru Forester is the latest vehicle from the automaker to receive its fresh continuously-variable automatic transmission, which has been matched with a familiar 2.5-liter, 170 horsepower four-cylinder engine. Also capable of generating 170 lb-ft of torque, the motor offers up to 32-mpg in highway driving, which is a solid improvement for the compact crossover. A six-speed manual is additionally offered with this unit.
The Forester 2.0XT benefits from the installation of a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder that is good for 250 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. A CVT is the only available gearbox with this model, although it features virtual ratios accessible for manual shifting, if desired. Both engines come standard with all-wheel drive, and the turbo Forester drops four miles per gallon compared to the less powerful edition of the crossover.
The 2014 Subaru Forester’s most important technological addition is its CVT, but there are a few other noteworthy upgrades that have been made to the SUV’s equipment list. The X-Mode that comes with its all-wheel drive system is intended to improve off-roading capability by providing better low-speed control over forward momentum, and the Forester also comes with a hill descent feature. The Eyesight suite of safety gear is additionally offered with the Subaru, which means that adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and pre-collision braking are now part of its passenger protection portfolio.
The Subaru Forester counts for a full 25 percent of the company’s sales, and there’s no reason to doubt that the 2014 model won’t continue that strong performance – unless the XV Crosstrek cannibalizes customers looking for something smaller than what the Forester has to offer. The enhanced fuel mileage and improved interior volume of the Forester, plus the availability of a high performance turbocharged model, however, should be enough to keep its smaller sibling at bay.