Sporting an athletic 2.0-liter turbocharged flat 4 motor and Subaru’s proven symmetrical all-wheel drive, this versatile small SUV is comfortable both at soccer practice and in the mountains. In 2.0XT trim, the Forester is quick and capable, with responsive acceleration from its 250 horsepower boxer engine and CVT combo. Inside, our Marine Blue Pearl Touring-level tester boasted HD radio, touch-screen navigation, spacious leather seats and plenty of cargo room.
Long a favorite of dog park habitues, artists and young parents, the current generation Subaru Forester is more capacious, capable and fuel-efficient than ever before. Subaru loves its CVTs (continuously variable transmissions) lately, and, while some enthusiasts may cringe at the thought of these belt-driven gearboxes originally only used on hybrids and economy cars, the unit in the Forester XT feels crisp and responsive, with little of the eerie delay that plagued early CVTs. The turbo motor provides plenty of passing power on the highway and the well-damped struts give the Forester a decent ride for long trips.
Thanks in part to the CVT and downsized- engine, the latest Subaru Forester is more fuel efficient than earlier versions were. It’s EPA ratings of 23 city/ 28 highway MPG handily beat those of the old 2.5XT with its conventional automatic transmission. And, while we do wish the Forester 2.0XT were offered with a manual, we realize that probably only automotive journalists would buy one; thus a manual Forester XT would appeal to about the same number of people who’d buy a diesel Corvette station wagon. (GM, if you’re reading this, you’ve got a customer waiting.)
Though we didn’t have a chance to test the 2014 Forester in ice or snow, we can report that the symmetrical all-wheel drive gives the Forester secure on-road handling, despite a fair amount of body roll in tighter corners. Overall, the Forester 2.0XT is one of the more involving of today’s small SUVs. As a bonus, especially for the family market, the 2014 Subaru Forester is one of only a few compact SUVs to receive the Insurance Institute’s top safety pick+ award, meaning it scored well in all crash tests and provides some level of accident avoidance technology.