The completely redesigned 2014 Subaru Forester looks meaner than ever and well prepared to tackle the worst conditions. It also offers one of the roomiest interiors in its class.
When it goes on sale this spring, the 2014 Subaru Forester will come standard with a 170-horsepower, 2.5L four-cylinder boxer engine. For more performance, there's the XT variant with a 2.0L turbocharged flat-4 rated at 250 horsepower. Pricing will start at $25,995 and $32,495, respectively.
The new Forester boosts safety by adding a driver's knee airbag and innovative systems such as anti-whiplash front seats, Brake Override, and an impact-sensing fuel system cutoff. Meanwhile, fuel consumption (2.5i models) will drop to an estimated 6.2L/100km on the highway.
The old four-speed autobox has been replaced with the automaker's Lineartronic CVT for optimum efficiency. If you're looking for a sportier driving experience, consider the new 6-speed manual transmission (entry-level 2.5i and Touring Package models only).
While the latter would have been greatly appreciated with the turbo engine, it's nice to know that Subaru paired the 2.0XT with a high-torque version of the CVT featuring 6-speed and 8-speed manual shift modes via steering-wheel paddle shifters.
Symmetrical all-wheel drive and more
Subaru's symmetrical all-wheel drive system is a benchmark in the auto industry. With the 2014 Forester, it adds a brand new X-Mode and Hill Descent Control on CVT-equipped models. Working in conjunction with the engine and brakes, these AWD features provide extra control in slippery driving situations.
While 2.0XT models stand out with more power, bigger brakes, and sportier attributes, including a more aggressively styled front fascia and 18'' wheels, the rest of the lineup has a lot to offer as well. All but the base 2.5i model come with a standard rear-view camera and multifunction colour display.
Among the numerous options are a power liftgate, touchscreen navigation, and an eight-speaker, 440-watt harman/kardon audio system. It's all there for you to choose; just set your budget first!
In addition to more passenger room, the 2014 Subaru Forester has a maximum cargo capacity of 2,115 litres with the 60/40-split rear seatbacks lowered -- impressive for a compact CUV. Overall comfort, material selection, and an available panoramic sunroof should make long trips even more enjoyable.
The 2013 Toyota RAV4 is one of the latest entrants in the hotly contested compact crossover segment. If I blur the lines slightly, and blend compact and midsize CUVs, they accounted for 6 out 20 of the bestselling vehicles in Canada for 2012. These things are big business.