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Redesigned Subaru Forester: An Impressive Compact SUV

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The Subaru Forester possesses two qualities that other competitors in the compact crossover sport utility vehicle category can't match: It can handle some mild off-roading situations and still manages to possess the driving acumen of a car.

That makes the Forester an enviable choice in a class with some heavy hitters like the Mazda CX-5, Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape, Honda CR-V and Hyundai Santa Fe Sport.

The Forester employs full-time all-wheel drive and offers a little extra ground clearance, two characteristics that are much more prevalent in larger SUVs. That is a real selling point to someone who's looking to downside to a compact, but is concerned about giving up the versatility and rugged quality of a larger SUV.

There are other reasons to take note of the Forester this year. A major redesign gives the Forester a reason to really brag about being new and improved.

The redesign changes include:

  • Slightly larger exterior and roomier interior. The all-new platform adds 3.7 inches of rear legroom.
  • Fuel economy now ranks near the top among small and midsize crossovers, due to updated engines and transmissions.
  • Debuts the continuously variable transmission (CVT).
  • New optional 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder.
  • More contemporary cabin with higher-quality materials.

Many car buyers will applaud the addition of the CVT, which Subaru says is the primary force behind the increased gas mileage. The CVT comes standard on all of Forester's six trim levels with the exception of the 2.51.

The 2014 Subaru Forester still comes with two choices of engines. However, the alternative to the standard engine is better. The optional turbocharged model can really deliver performance. That's not surprising since the 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder produces 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque.

The new turbo engine is more potent than the Forester XT's previous 2.5-liter turbo. The 2014 turbo model travels 0-60 mph 6.3 seconds, which is extremely quick for a pint-sized SUV. Of course, the price will be higher and the gas mileage not as good with a purchase of the turbo model.

The standard Forester comes with a 2.5-liter, "boxer" four-cylinder that churns out 170 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque. It goes 0-60 mph in 9.0 seconds, but gets 22-32 mpg and has a very reasonable starting price tag of $21,995.

2014 Subaru Forester

  • Performance: 2.5-liter, four-cylinder, 170 horsepower; 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder, 250 horsepower
  • Mileage estimate: 22-32 mpg; 23-28 mpg
  • Estimated price: $21,995 to $32,995
  • Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain: 5 years/60,000 miles; roadside assistance: 3 years/36,00; corrosion: 5years/unlimited

The Forester provides composed and stable handling, two qualities that don't come with every compact SUV. It also offers quite a bit of comfort inside a more modernized-looking cabin that now features far less hard surfaces. The trunk space is 6 cubic feet and expands to a whopping 74.7 cubic feet when the rear seats fold down.

It's best to shop around when considering a compact crossover SUV. There's lot of quality vehicles, and that includes the new Forester. A good offering from Subaru got even better with this year's significant redesign.


Weidel on Wheels author Jeffrey Weidel is an award-winning writer from the Sacramento region who has reviewed automobiles for more than two decades. He can be reached at skiweidel@gmail.com
Follow him on Twitter at @jeffweidel.