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Almighty All-wheeler

Popular Subaru Forester keeps improving while keeping price in line.
By Tom Crosby

Subaru launched its fourth-generation Forester crossover for 2014. While Base, Premium, Limited, and Touring versions are offered, each with transmission and engine choices, every Forester uses all-wheel drive all the time. This refined Subaru feature produces driver confidence off-road and during inclement weather. We test-drove the top-of-the-line Touring edition with a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated BOXER® engine.


For 2014, Subaru’s popular Forester crossover added more rear leg room and cargo space Subaru photo

The five-passenger Forester is Subaru’s best-selling vehicle. For 2014, drivers get improved miles per gallon, nearly four inches additional rear seat leg room, boosted cargo space to 74.8 inches, and a longer and wider platform. The wheelbase increased nearly one inch, and the 17-inch wheels sit below highly arched fenders. They contribute to an aggressive profile that includes a sharply raked windshield, rooftop rails, a level beltline aiding visibility, and a V-shaped front end that slices air resistance to improve aerodynamics.

The Lineatronic CVT (continuously variable transmission) responds well to acceleration/deceleration requests. The retuned front-strut/double-wishbone independent suspension systems smooth out road imperfections, while the new electric power steering eases steering wheel spin when making a tight turn.

Hill Descent Control is now standard on Touring and Limited models, which use a new X-mode feature to better control tire spin on slippery surfaces and steep inclines. Other new safety features include anti-whiplash front seats, a driver’s knee airbag, brake override (when the driver isn’t braking hard enough), and an impact-sensing fuel system cutoff. Subaru typically scores high marks in crash safety tests.

Our test-drive added $2,400 in options, which included keyless access and start, HID headlights, and Subaru’s EyeSight system. EyeSight makes any driver safer with adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, and lane departure chime warning. Its several features also include an alert when the vehicle in front of you takes off and you don’t follow. A stereo camera system also illuminates the now standard rearview on the dashboard’s 6.1-inch screen when backing up.

Inside, comfort is strong, with ample space, leather seats, and three information screens–dashboard gauges and center upper and lower screens. The navigation system works well, but is a beehive of touch-screen icons, including menu, map range, directions, time, altitude, and current position. It’s potential for driver distraction mitigates its richness of choices. Voice-activation helps offsets some touch-screen options.

Likes: Price, space, visibility, handling, safety, versatility
Dislikes: Screen display
Bottom line: Forester keeps improving without huge price increases

Tom Crosby is vice president of communications for AAA Carolinas. He is based in Charlotte, N.C.

May/Jun 2013 Issue

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