It was a new 2014 Subaru Forester XT that was delivered for a week-long test drive. The Venetian Red Pearl exterior color was so attractive that the overall styling was almost lost during the first 'look-over.' The model was neither the base entry nor the highest-end, but squarely in the middle of the offerings, designated as 'Premium.'
I have always liked Subaru vehicles. One of the best cars I owned was back in the 70's. That little Subaru pulled heavy trailers cross-country. It carried my family and our belongings for weekend and week-long camping trips into the back country. It could do almost anything and go almost anywhere. Jump ahead about 30 years and not much has changed except the Subaru vehicles are better.
Subaru first offer a turbocharged Forester XT model to the US during the 2004 model year. It was joining in what would become a highly competitive market segment of small cross-overs and SUV's. That XT was thought of more as a means to make a large-scale shopping trip to the mall. Now, with this 2014 Forester, the turbocharged four-cylinder has as much power as the V6 engines from previous years.
The test model Forester XT was powered by a 2.0-liter, turbocharged, direct-injection, four-cylinder, boxer engine. It produces 250 horsepower and 258 lb-feet of torque. Subaru vehicles are all equipped as All-Wheel-Drive, so the driving allows you to 'grip' the road. It is rather peppy, whether you are driving down the highway or just around town.
The transmission is a CVT, which has supporters and non-supporters. This appears to be a good choice for the Forester and it certainly helps improve the mileage. It was shown on the spec-sheet as SI-DRIVE and X-MODE. Simply stated, that is the abbreviation for Subaru's Intelligent Drive system that includes three modes: Intelligent, Sport, and Sport Sharp. Most drivers will probably not be aware of all that the transmission is capable of doing and will simply be satisfied with what it does and how it acts on a day-to-day basis.
The 2.0-liter engine is turbocharged and that appears mostly due to many drivers wanting a little bit more power. Generally, if you push the pedal to the metal, the Forester will 'feel' like it has a V6 engine under the hood. But that capability is for those who think they need or want it. Most customers are probably more interested in the off-road ability. It is having an advantage of getting to where you are going, not the severe rock-climbing type, but being able to carry your passengers and all your cargo, and even towing a small trailer to your destination.
The interior is well arranged and the materials are noticeably improved over previous year models. There is not as much hard plastic as before. There is a lot of room inside. The rear seat space is okay, but probably not for six-footers to take a cross-country trip. The seat-backs are reclining. The front seats are acceptable, but again, for long trips, it would be more comfortable if some extra bolstering and padding were added. The rear seat-backs can be folded flat with a 60-40 split. The official cargo space is just inches below the class leading vehicle, but there is still almost 70 cubic feet of hauling space. The moon-roof takes away some of this measured space but it is not an option. The moon-roof, which many folks like, is matched with the CVT for some strange reason.
For daily commuting, mall visiting, grocery shopping, child hauling, or camping in the back woods, this 2014 Subaru Forester XT offers it all. It does not set any records and make you say, 'Wow, this is the best thing since sliced bread.' It does, however, offer a terrific combination of an all-around car, plenty of power, on-road use, off-road capability, towing, a lot of cargo room, and holds the road in almost type weather or conditions. What more can you ask?
The Forester is a great package that is neither too large or too small. Like the Three Bears children's story, it is 'just right.' The off-road capabilities probably exceeds the needs or most Subaru drivers, but it is nice to know it can take you almost anywhere. The test model was listed as EPA rating of 25 mpg average. For the week, I actually achieved 27.5 mpg overall. The MSRP was shown as $27,995. With a destination charge of $825 added, the bottom sticker price came to $28,820.
Plenty of power, a lot of room, a good ride-handling mix, off-road capable, and reliable transportation all add up to a complete package that impresses. The new 2014 Subaru Forester 2.0-liter turbocharged XT deserves a first and second look. It is a solid choice for those wanting a versatile, utilitarian vehicle that can haul your family, your animals, or your sporting goods, and get them there safely, comfortably, and dependably.