The makings of something great

2014 Subaru Forester 2.0XT Limited Review

2014 Subaru Forester 2.0XT Limited Review
Oh, the potential
When I heard the brand new Forester XT would be lacking a hood scoop and the option of a manual transmission, I immediately pushed it aside as being a complete and utter waste. What good is the return of the sporty version of a much liked and revered model if its roots are completely ignored?

Well, after a week behind the wheel of the 2014 Subaru Forester 2.0XT I’ve come to appreciate the subtleties that make up this new crossover, from its SI-Drive selector to the ever-so-faint turbo spool that’s just audible enough to make you grin upon acceleration.


What is a Subaru Forester XT?
Well, first off, some might call the Subaru Forester the grandfather of all crossovers. Here’s one of the vehicles that started the movement in the late ‘90s when it emerged as a compact crossover wagon (oh that dirty word).

The Forester offers a pleasant in between for those looking for a practical go-anywhere family vehicle.

The Forester XT model first appeared in 2003 in North America and featured a turbocharged 2.5L engine.

Now in its fourth generation, the Subaru Forester has entered the realm of CVT transmissions and a brand new X-MODE all-wheel drive control system for hill decent control, as well as growing in height, length and girth.

2014 Subaru Forester 2.0XT logo
Here’s one of the vehicles that started the movement in the late ‘90s when it emerged as a compact crossover wagon. (Photo: Philippe Champoux)

2014 Subaru Forester 2.0XT Price and Specs
Across the board, there are nine Foresters for you to peruse. Sounds like a lot, but the differences in trim levels can be as simple as different wheels, or as extreme as a bigger engine and technology like Subaru’s EyeSight system.

The 2014 Subaru Forester lineup starts at $25,995 for the Forester 2.5i and goes up to $37,995 for the 2.0XT Limited Package with EyeSight. My test vehicle was the second most expensive in the XT lineup, with a Limited Package and no EyeSight for $32,495.

Six of the nine Subaru Foresters in the lineup feature a 2.5L horizontally opposed 4-cylinder engine good for 170 hp and 174 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed manual transmission is available in the lower models, and Subaru’s Lineatronic CVTs can be had across the lineup.

The 2014 Subaru Forester 2.0XT features a fabulous 2.0L BOXER twin-scroll turbocharged 4-pot that pushes out 250 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque.

As always, Subaru’s symmetrical, full-time AWD is also on board across all Forester models.

2014 Subaru Forester 2.0XT engine
The 2014 Subaru Forester 2.0XT features a fabulous 2.0L BOXER twin-scroll turbocharged 4-pot that pushes out 250 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. (Photo: Subaru)

Driving the 2014 Subaru Forester 2.0XT Limited
A friend of mine recently sold his ’03 Forester XT. Complete with a hood scoop and 5-speed manual transmission, his white Forester had some serious attitude -- just as I feel like our ’04 WRX has so much more personality than any “new” Rex. Performance oriented Subarus must have attitude.

The 2014 Subaru Forester 2.0XT Limited is quite quick off the line, with its CVT transmission that can blissfully “act” like it has gears (eight of them, in fact, with S# -- Sport sharp -- engaged). Steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters make for a sportier disposition, but there was still something missing.

The SI-Drive driver mode selection system makes for sharper throttle response, fake downshifts and a more aggressive drive, but it wasn’t enough. Also, the ventilated disc brakes front and back were less than stellar. I found the pedal spongy and unresponsive.

Here’s a car that, to me, is meant to be modified. Hear me out: The 2014 Subaru Forester 2.0XT can be purchased by your average Joe looking for a family vehicle that’s got some punch when asked, one that can take the fam on camping weekends in the woods while also taking everyone to school and work on Monday.

However, slap on an exhaust, remove the turbo silencer, upgrade the brake, do something about the steering (which is float-y and feels a bit dead in spots), tweak the suspension and bushings and you’ve got a proper Subaru. I came to realize that I’m OK with that.

Kudos to Subaru for releasing a Forester XT that’s as accessible to the masses as it is to the enthusiasts.

2014 Subaru Forester 2.0XT steering
Steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters make for a sportier disposition, but there was still something missing. The SI-Drive driver mode selection system makes more aggressive drive, a but it wasn’t enough. (Photo: Philippe Champoux)

Inside and Out of the 2014 Subaru Forester 2.0XT Limited

I absolutely love the new look of the Forester. They somehow kept the square look while simultaneously rounding out the edges and giving it a modern, sleek look. The LED headlights on the Limited Package, along with a bit of chrome trim, add to the flair of the XT.

Inside, it’s standard Subaru. I’ve gotten used to a bare-bones interior with my Impreza, so the Forester felt like home. It’s functional, easy to use, roomy and comfortable. What more could you ask for?

2014 Subaru Forester 2.0XT LED headlights
The LED headlights on the Limited Package, along with a bit of chrome trim, add to the flair of the XT. (Photo: Philippe Champoux)

Comparing the 2014 Subaru Forester 2.0XT Limited
When it comes to comparison, we actually just put the Forester up against the likes of the Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5 and Volkswagen’s Tiguan in our Compact Crossover Comparison. The results speak for themselves.

The BMW X1 and Audi Q5 are potential alternatives as well in the XT’s price range.


By Miranda Lightstone,

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