The people that live in the northwest, where we reside, are a practical lot that tend to be frugal and always prepared to face the elements, whether on a crowded Seattle freeway, on their way to Mount Hood for skiing or off to drive on the sand at Long Beach. One vehicle that fits all those needs exceptionally well is the Subaru Forester. It?s so popular in this area that if there were a state crossover SUV in Washington or Oregon, it would likely be the Subaru Forester.
I recently spent a couple of days driving the 2014 Subaru Forester in the desert around Tucson, Ariz. The drive route called for driving on-road, off-road and some time on a racetrack. Unfortunately, my driving partner, a man who will go unnamed, and I missed a major turn and ended up 60 miles from our destination, probably breaking a record for being ?LOST? on a press drive. We finally asked for directions and found our way, but it was too late to make it to the track, so we retreated, tail between our legs back to the resort. By the way, a fellow journalist, who didn?t get lost, told us we missed a lot of fun on the track. He said the XT Forester drove a lot more like a sport sedan on the track than an SUV.
What we did find out during the drive, was that the 2014 Subaru Forster is a large leap forward from what was already a pretty remarkable compact crossover, SUV, wagon, or whatever you want to call it.
Forster is a ground up re-design and from the brawny new body style to more spacious interior and upscale appointments. Nearly totally re-engineered, the new model is 150 percent stiffer than the previous model, and dimensionally larger by one inch or so in the wheelbase, length and width. This all translated to a roomier feeling interior.
Accented by new ?hawkeye? headlights, hexagonal shape mesh grille and sporty front bumper the Forester looks more like its ?Forester? namesake than the more preppie-inspired previous design. In the quest to save weight, engineers added an aluminum hood. The awkward looking big scoop on the hood of the previous turbocharged model has been eliminated, thankfully, replaced by under-hood ducting.
The new seats proved to be extremely comfortable especially during the longer than anticipated drive trying to find our way back to the resort. Had anyone been lost with us, they would have enjoyed the new reclining rear seatback and a rear seat fold-down center armrest on our Touring model. Cargo space in the new model is large at 34.4 cubic feet with the rear seat backs in place and up to 61.7 cubic feet when the rear seatbacks are folded.
The 170-hp, 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder Boxer? engine in the 2.5i model
of the 2014 Subaru Forester was re-engineered for the previous generation Forester, but the new 250-horsepower 2.0-liter direct-injection turbocharged BOXER? engine is new this year. The turbocharged DOHC four- cylinder engine has direct injection, electronic throttle control and an intercooler.
A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the 2.5i with an optional Lineartronic? CVT (continuously variable transmission). The CVT is standard on the turbocharged XT and includes an innovative manual shift mode, with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. The transmission offers six- or eight-speeds depending on which of the vehicle driving characteristics mode is selected.
Most Forester competitors have a front-wheel drive base model, but all Subaru Forester models have Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive. The manual transmission uses a continuous system, and the XT models have an active system that switches power to the tires with the best traction. It also has a new Hill Descent Control and X-Mode control feature that optimizes the drivetrain in slippery conditions.
The 2.0XT models have Subaru?s Intelligent Drive engine performance management system that allows the driver to tailor the vehicle?s driving characteristics by choosing from among three modes ? ?Intelligent,? ?Sport? and ?Sport Sharp? ? using a switch on the steering wheel.
The 2.5i accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in just over nine seconds and gets an EPA fuel economy rating of 24 mpg city and 32 mpg highway or 27 mpg combined. All 2.5i models are rated as Partial Zero Emissions Vehicles (PZEV). My choice would be the fast Turbo version, which makes the 0 to 60 mph run in only 6.2 seconds and has fuel economy of 23/28/25 mpg.
On sale this spring, the 2014 Forester 2.5i model will be available in base, Premium, Limited and the top-of-the-line Touring versions. The turbocharged Forester 2.0XT is offered in the Premium and Touring versions only
Pricing starts at $22,829, including destination charge, for the 2.5i version with manual transmission, the CTS adds an additional $1,000. The 2.5i Limited is $30,820. The XT Touring is priced at $28,820 and the Touring version is $33,820. Option packages include an All Weather package – $500, Navigation system — $1,100 and a Keyless access/start with EyeSight system and HID headlights for $2,400.
New this year, the Eyesight system integrates adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, and vehicle lane departure warning. It also has the ability to detect pedestrians in the vehicle?s path and can help avoid or in some cases even stop the vehicle to avoid a collision. This equipment is?seldom found on vehicles in this category.
As much as I liked the last generation Subaru Forester, the 2014 model is a major leap forward, in sophistication and driving enjoyment whether you know where you are going or not.