Review: 2014 Subaru Forester 2.5i

Last year, I had a chance to take a crack at the previous-generation Forester, finding it to be capable if uninspiring. Now I have an opportunity to review its successor, the all-new-for-2014 model in this absolutely lovely shade of gold – sorry, Burnished Bronze...yeah right.

Were it about the color alone, I'd fail this car right now. But since the new Forester looks exactly one billion times better in any other hue, I can allow myself to be just and impartial in my assessment.

Let's get what isn't good out of the way: the window switches and shifter are too low to reach comfortably and the shifter detents are vague, making it easy to accidentally overshoot R and get N instead. Oh, and the exterior profile is a bit awkward and the brakes could be stronger.

That was fast.

This car has a Continously-Variable Transmission – an automatic with a triangular pulley and a belt that runs along it, instead of gears. CVTs are most notorious for sucking out any driver involvement. This one doesn't.

It's also fairly quick and eager to accelerate, somewhat facilitated by its super-sensitive gas pedal – though the very audible engine note will please no one. There are ungodly amounts of cabin space and visibility, and not one single thing in or on this car feels cheap.

I should clarify: my tester is the absolute base model. Being full of soft cloth and quality soft-touch plastics, you can't tell it's the base model.

It's also good value for money. All CVT models get something called X-Mode: in place of a low-range transfer case, this mode activates Hill Descent Control together with a host of other technological bits to conquer difficult terrain. Plus, all Foresters have well-bolstered and supportive seats (the backseat is flat, though) and the car feels of a higher quality than the previous generation.

This new one also corners shockingly flatly – it's much better than many sedans I've tested, not to mention SUVs! Handling would be wonderful were it not for the slow steering ratio...

What about the competition? Well, this new Forester, the Mazda CX-5, and the new Nissan Rogue are the only ones in the class to do well on the small overlap crash test. However, the Rogue's CVT is of the completely notorious type while the former two offer a manual transmission and have nicer interiors.

The last Forester was quite good, but this one is even better. You can't go wrong by buying one.

Just...don't get it in gold.

-UroŇ° M.

2014 Subaru Forester 2.5i
[five-door compact SUV; all-wheel drive, front engine]


H4 16-valve, DOHC
w/ "low" mode

[power] 170 hp @ 5,800 rpm

[torque] 174 lb-ft @ 4,100 rpm

[0-100 km/h] 8.6 sec
[top speed] 185 km/h

[L / 100 km]


[curb weight] 1,538 kg

110.53 hp/t

60 L  fuel tank

MSRP as tested:  $27,295  before taxes and fees

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