I spent some time wondering how best to describe the new Forester, and I finally realized that it’s like dating and marriage. Be patient, the analogy will make sense in a moment.
We all remember the hot girl/guy in high school or college, the one that everyone ogled and dreamed about. Yet too often these gods turned out to be more trouble than they were worth. Meanwhile, your best friend married the guy/girl who wasn’t all that flashy, and yet they’ve been happily married - and loving life - for years and years.
That’s the Forester. It’s not the sexiest crossover/SUV in the market, but it might just be the best buy for the money. Motor Trend seemed to think so, too; they named it their 2014 SUV of the year.
I found out why during the week I drove the 2.5i Touring edition, one of six different trim sizes available. The Forester is a champ in so many different areas.
Start with the interior. The designers at Subaru have upgraded the materials, making the ride comfortable and eye-appealing. No, it’s not a Mercedes or Lexus, but you’re also paying about half the money. Believe me, the interior is quite nice.
The controls are laid out well, and intuitive enough that you grasp everything right away. Visibility is very good, as is storage up front. In the back seat your adult passengers will be pleasantly surprised at the space. Subaru added almost four inches of leg room, and made sure that the rear seating provides its own nice view.
This SUV always had a good storage capacity in the back, but that’s been bumped up, too. With the rear seats folded you’ll find nearly 75 cubic feet in which to store your bike, snowboard, or camping gear. The power liftgate makes it convenient too.
The Forester is powered by a boxer engine that provides plenty of get-up-and-go, thanks to its continuously variable transmission (CVT). In Colorado we’re crazy about our All-Wheel-Drive vehicles, one of the reasons all of the Subaru models do so well here. The Forester’s AWD handles extremely well, and with a higher ground clearance than most competitors, you can even brave the off-road with confidence. Or, more likely, you’ll appreciate the clearance when your driveway is covered with snow.
But perhaps Subaru’s greatest claim to fame is its commitment to safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has awarded Subaru its highest honor, for a variety of reasons. One of the most interesting is an option known as EyeSight.
It’s hard to condense all of EyeSight’s accomplishments into two paragraphs, but I’ll try.
Imagine two cameras mounted near the rear-view mirror. They carefully monitor the traffic ahead of you, and EyeSight can not only alert you to someone stopping quickly or swerving into your lane, it can actually apply the brakes. The car might know before you do that danger is ahead.
Besides pre-collision braking and throttle management, it also includes adaptive cruise control. That allows you to maneuver through the constantly-changing speeds of nearby cars without you having to constantly hit the brake/resume. And a lane departure warning lets you know if you’re drifting. You'll find a video at the end of this link that explains all of it.
On top of it all, the Forester offers increased fuel economy (thanks to the CVT). The 2.5i Touring version that I drove has a combined rating of 27 mpg. And this SUV won’t bust your bank account, either. With base models starting in the low 20s, my upgraded 2.5i rolled in just over $33k.
For an award-winning, reliable, and extremely safe vehicle that’s even fun to drive, I call it a remarkable bargain. If you’re in the market for a crossover or SUV that performs very well in Colorado, the Forester would be a great place to start looking.
Reviewed by Dom
Vehicle provided by manufacturer