2014 Subaru Forester is a fuel efficient SUV.. really

2014 Subaru Forester (Aaron)

Normally, the terms sport utility vehicle (SUV) and fuel efficiency are not compatible. In the all-new 2014 Subaru Forester, however, they are definitely one in the same. This capable offroad offering from Subaru still manages 32 mpg on the highway, but keeps that signature Subaru "get out and do things" feel.

The manufacturer says

Now achieving up to 32 highway MPG with standard Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, the 2014 Forester enables you to go up to 500 miles on a tank of fuel. And with available X-MODE featuring Hill Descent Control that helps navigate through the steep, the bad and the slippery, the all-new Forester is as capable as it is efficient. An open invitation to go far and get more done.

Specs:

  • Manufacturer: Subaru
  • Year, Model: 2014 Forester
  • Class, Type: Mid-sized SUV
  • Propulsion system: Gasoline Boxer i4
  • Base Price: $21,995
  • MSRP as tested: $33,220
  • Availability: Now

Overview

Subaru completely overhauled the Forester for the 2014 model year. Most of the improvements are in areas where the family-sized crossover SUV was losing ground to the competition: ergonomics and fuel efficiency. The result is a Subaru Forester that retains all of those things that keep Subaru's core customer base coming back, but that adds more mass market appeal to improve its sales among everyday SUV buyers.

This has paid off as the 2014 Forester and the newly-introduced Subaru BRZ sports car have lead the way into a banner year for the company. Subaru is gaining market share quickly and sales are growing faster than they ever have before for the company. Obviously, they're on to something.

The 2014 Subaru Forester is a great family offering. It uses the tried-and-true 2.5i inline-four boxer-style engine that Subaru is famous for, but now couples it to a capable and smooth continuously variable transmission (CVT). This improves fuel economy to a happy 32 miles per gallon on the highway. City mileage is 22 mpg.

Normally, an SUV must give up everything that makes it a sport utility in order to get MPG numbers like that. In the competition, 32 mpg highway might be seen in a two-wheel drive or underpowered version. With Subaru, however, the engine output is still more than adequate and the all-wheel drive powertrain the company has perfected over the years is still there.

In fact, Subaru added goodies to the mix for those who like leaving the pavement once in a while. Active Torque Split AWD improves torque spread, sending power to the tires with the best grip automatically. Hill descent (an option) and improved handling all add to the Forester's offroad capability.

On the road, the Forester is still a comfortable drive and it seats five well. Extras on the highway, like the optional Eye Sight system, are nice touches. Where the new 2014 Forester really shines, though, is in the improvements to everyday use that most don't notice until they've had a car for a while.

The Forester's doors are taller and have shorter sills, making it easier to get in and out of the SUV. The cargo area is flatter with less intrusion, making shoving things into it far easier. Controls are well-laid out and the interior space has been improved thanks to a thinner center console and a shorter center tunnel. Leg, hip, and shoulder room have all been extended in all seats, giving a more spacious feel.

What we like

Great economy for its class. Few can boast this kind of fuel economy while still retaining their offroad capability and four-wheel or all-wheel drive.

Very ergonomic for everyday use. As your daily driver, the 2014 Subaru Forester offers far higher usefulness and better ergonomics than it did before and outclasses much of the competition as well.

What we don't

Styling is dated and looks a little out of place, being boxier than some of the more popular options on the road.

Less plush than some of the competition, though this is actually a part of the Subaru appeal to the automaker's hardcore fans.

Conclusions

One of the best mid-sized SUVs on the market today, the 2014 Subaru Forester over-delivers on several fronts and will please many with its combination of capability, utility, and fuel economy. Subaru did a fantastic job on this improved offering.

Test Period Length and Limitations
The Forester was driven for a week as a manufacturer's loan. Driving was on a combination of highway, interstate, and surface streets, as well as in light offroad situations. A total of more than 360 miles were driven in the vehicle.

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