RedlineNorth recently had a chance to review the all new 2014 Subaru Forester. We used this opportunity to take it on a spin up to beautiful Awenda Provincial Park, near Penetanguishene, Ontario for a weekend camping trip. It also allowed us to put the Forester through its paces, both in town and on the highway.
Subaru’s mid-sized crossover is now on its fourth generation, and comes in two main configurations for the 2014 model year – a 2.5L, 4 cylinder boxer engine, or a 2.0L turbo charged version. Within each configuration there are multiple trim packages, with the base Forester 2.5i starting at $25,995. RedlineNorth test drove the 2.5i Touring Package model with a six speed manual transmission ($29,995).
With a MSRP of $29,995 the 2.5i Touring Package provides you with:
- 2.5L 4-cyclinder Subaru boxer engine
- 175 hp and 174 lb-ft torque
- Six speed manual transmission with Hill Holder system
- Subaru’s symmetrical full-time All-Wheel Drive system
- Power liftgate with memory function
- Large sunroof
- 17×7 aluminum alloy wheels
- Premium cloth upholstery
- 10-way power-adjustable driver seat
- Heated front seats
- CD/MP3 system
- Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity with voice activation and steering wheel-mounted controls
- Bluetooth streaming audio
- Rear-view camera
- Dual-zone climate control
- 36 month – 60,000 km New Vehicle Limited Warranty
The 2014 Subaru Forester has a more upright, boxy, and overall SUV type look compared to its crossover cousin, the Subaru Outback which can easily be mistaken for a large wagon. While the Forester styling is somewhat understated, to its credit it provides plenty of ground clearance, 8.7 inches to be exact. This is particularly nice to have when driving around the city, clearing speed bumps with ease. We also found the raised body made loading and unloading camping gear from the rear cargo space on our trip more convenient. Likewise, the raised profile of the Forester also translates into larger window space, giving the interior a very bright and airy feel. This is heightened by the extra large sunroof that comes standard in the Touring Package. The size and placement of the sunroof was one of our favourite features of the 2014 Forester and accentuated the open feeling of the whole interior cabin.
Driver seating in the 2014 model is solid and at no point did we feel cramped. The placement of the climate and steering wheel mounted controls make vehicle operation a seamless experience. It enables the driver to concentrate on driving, rather than fiddling with buttons. The one exception is the menu navigation on the 4.3 inch multi-function display. The system isn’t as straight forward as it could be at the outset, however, we did get use to it after a short period of time. The rear view camera images on the 4.3 inch display are small in size and it would be nice to have a larger monitor. However, at the end of the day the monitor is still large enough to determine if there are any obstacles in the way, which is what it’s designed to do.
We were pleasantly surprised with the interior build quality and overall design of the Forester. The retractable rear cargo cover is a nice addition to keep valuables out of sight and its solid construction gave us confidence it would last the life of the vehicle. Similarly, the rear cargo and floor mats are made of a higher quality material and stood up well to the loading and unloading of camping gear.
There is decent interior storage space, with plenty of cargo room in the rear. The powered rear cargo liftgate is a nice touch and came in handy on our trip. With one touch open and close it makes accessing the interior storage space very easy. We should also note the location of the rear latch connection for the child safety seat was positioned in a very convenient location and made the placement and removal of the seat a breeze. It’s one of those little things that all add up to a big overall impression.
The six speed manual transmission found in the Forester feels smooth and responsive. Effortless shifting between gears and the full time All-Wheel drive Subaru is known for, make the Forester a pleasure to drive. Fully loaded with a weekend’s worth of gear the 2.5L engine wasn’t as spirited entering the highway as we would have liked so we would recommend an upgrade to the 2.0 L turbo engine with its 250 hp and 258 lbs-ft of torque if more powerful full time performance is required. Nevertheless, the 2.5i is fun to drive and provides more than acceptable power and performance for the vast majority of daily driving.
Fuel efficiency in the 2.5L version of the 2014 Forester is rated at 9.5L/100 km City and 7.0L/100 km Highway. While climate, driving style, maintenance and a number of other factors can influence fuel efficiency, we are happy to see the efficiency during our test period fell within the stated range.
The 2014 Subaru Forester is a bit of a sleeper hit for us. We are pleasantly surprised with its interior cargo space and convenience options such as the powered liftgate and rear car seat latch placement. The full time All-Wheel Drive and smooth six speed manual transmission made for a very good driving experience. As a result, families considering a small SUV or minivan should take notice of the 2014 Forester and we think they will be happily surprised both in terms of day to day performance, but also in value for money.
Key competitors to the 2014 Forester are the Ford Escape, Toyota RAV4, Kia Sportage and Honda CR-V.