2014 Subaru Forester: Second Take

Forester1

In my review of the 2014 Subaru Forester I found it a utilitarian and affordable compact crossover that improved on the past model, especially in terms of road noise.

Read the full review of the 2014 Subaru Forester

Recently a black XT model arrived in our fleet for two weeks of testing by the rest of the Cars.com staff. While most agreed with the review overall there was one area that had everyone singing the Forester's praises, and one other that had more than one detractor.

Foresterside

The Forester received raves from every editor over its ... visibility.

I know, that's not necessarily the most enthralling characteristic about a car, but we've noticed many crossovers that go for a certain styling just aren't easy to see out of.

"The thing that struck me most about the Forester is its great all-around visibility at a time when views out of most new cars are restricted in one way or another," editor Mike Hanley confessed.

Executive Editor Joe Wiesenfelder added, "We've been giving them credit for visibility in this and the Impreza since their redesigns, but you really feel it out in the road — especially in a higher-riding vehicle like this one. So easy to see everything, front and rear, I never had a moment's hesitation."

Forestersafety

Editor Kelsey Mays echoed Wiesenfelder's comments while Senior Editor Jennifer Newman found the visibility the biggest plus of the Forester along with the roomier backseat that turned out to be quite good for child-safety seats.

Mays also liked the plentiful cargo room, which with the rear seats folded flat is at the top of the class with 74.7 cubic feet of space. "With the larger chunk of the 60/40-split seat down, I fit a bike alongside a passenger," he said.

Unfortunately not was all rosy when it came to the continuously variable automatic transmission in the turbocharged XT model.

"The CVT keeps you from having much fun in the turbo. Ours had Subaru's SI-Drive, and 'Intelligent' mode feels anything but. Lazy gas-pedal response, and when it finally kicks up revs, the turbo blats out more noise than power — even in Sport or Sport Sharp modes," Mays reported.

Foresterseats

Wiesenfelder echoed those thoughts, "It's nice to have the power, which helps mask the typical CVT shortcomings, but sporty intentions and CVTs still feel like a weird and not very successful combination."

Newman also weighed in about a sluggish pedal response that took her too much time to get used to.

And while Hanley was the only one to actually put it to email, there is still no denying how much the entire staff loathes Subaru's navigation system — which we've documented in our long-term BRZ coupe.

Related
2014 Subaru Forester Review
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Comments 

skyrunr

Isn't there a sport mode or "gear" selection to keep the RPM up?! Does disabling skid and traction control help if there's a magic button? Subaru can't build a loaded/luxury model to save their life or they might actually get some market share. It also needs a third row if only for pets and trips across town. Other than the chrome it is pretty sharp. No standard fog lights in the XT model either? pass after pass after pass

Very nice, the black one looks great. I agree though, it is lacking in a third row of seats to make a it a properly versatile family car.

SubieOwner

Rav4 offered a 3rd row...less than 5% bought it, and they axed it.

Subaru has never gotten the Navi system right, but that shouldn't detract - it's optional equipment, so don't opt for it. You still get a backup camera and the Harmon/Kardon system without the touchscreen Navi. Save the cash and enjoy.

As for the lazy pedal response, welcome to turbo lag...the CVT will highlight it, but look at the fuel savings - a fair trade-off.

Still, constructive criticism is always good - assuming Subaru reads it.

Jenk

You don't get the premium H/K audio system without the nav touchscreen. They also didn't carry over the nice little 4.3" LCD from the Crosstrek/Outgoing Forester. You either get the incredibly outdated head unit or the nav touchscreen combo. I opted for a 2.5i Touring because I wanted the upgraded sound system (only available in the Touring models) and I detest the non-Nav head unit.

Turbo lag is present in the XT model, but it's far from intrusive. You stomp on it, give it a very short second to charge up, and off you go. I feel that the CVT excels in the XT - It's incredibly smooth and very responsive once the turbo spools up. Intelligent mode was actually my preferred setting because you get power when you need it but the fuel economy is quite nice as well. I averaged nearly 30 MPG during very light urban driving and a short stint on the interstate.

Retiringbmwaudi

I agree with subieowner and Jenki; economy and utility trump the add on functions that are still lacking in Subaru designs. I am coming from three BMW X5s and Audi Avant and Q5. I love these machines, but now as I am close to retiring, I am looking for lower post warrantee maintenance and fuel costs. There some interesting options today, but a test drive in a Crosstrek and a 2014 Forester Xt has reminded me of why I have missed my old 1600 Subie wagon.

kurt w.

How many miles did your XT have on it? My '14 XT was far more sluggish before it completed the 1000 mile break-in Subaru recommends. Granted, intelligent mode has softer response than Sport or Sport Sharp, but this mode's to save fuel.

Also, every enthusiast criticizes Subaru for not offering a manual with the XT. They offered them up to '09 model year and discontinued them because manuals did not sell!

Surprising there were no comments on the XT ride. It seems firm but on our rough Oregon roads soaks up bumps well.

We found the noise level far lower in the turbo than the base. The base struggles loudly while the turbo was present and smooth, kind of like a V6 with good mileage.

It is interesting to compare the 6 faux shifts vs 8 on on Sport and Sport Sharp. The first 8 shift will slap you back in your seat. Faux REAL turbo shift with good mileage. We like it.
We ordered one.

John

No one needs built in navigation anymore. It's called Google Nav/voice. Provided you have an android phone (recommend HTC) with car dock you'll be set.

Cooper

If you don't get the turbo model, the cvt has a "low range" but no simulated gears with paddle shifters, so mountain driving is going to put more wear on brakes with no driver-controlled downshifts. Add to that the much reduced tow rating of 1500#, and I had to take this car off the list or ones I'm considering.

Bernie Kubik

Have a 2014 Premium Forester and I'm happy with everything accept this one thing; the brightness of tach & speedometer in the night. Is this a problem in my vehicle or are others experiencing the same problem?

Paul

I got the premium. Couldn't have made a better choice. I test drove almost all vehicles, makes and models. Went to get a Camry...had a few extra minutes, so checked it out next door for a third time.....much better value. Overall, comparable to much expensive small SUVs. I am getting 35 mpg on highway.... Sometimes 40+.
I don't like the key system, sound system, lack of compass in the mirror, which some base cars have....

Jeannie

IF YOU LIVE ON HILLS in WINTER-DO NOT BUY THIS CAR.
We did and are now trading it in. The car has ONLY 2 gears. Drive and LOW. You cannot downshift into 2nd or 3rd gear and we live in the mountains and hilly country and in the winter, the car would be dangerous, as we can't downshift if we want to go slower.

We can only go from DRIVE to Low-which is like FIRST. Very dangerous car in winter in hills. If you live in Florida or flat places, it would be fine.

Joe

Re: "very dangerous car in winter in hills". Doesn't XMode address that?

Jeannie

there is NO x mode at all, just DRIVE-D
and L which is LOW... that's it. Some people I talked with at Subaru were shocked that made a car like this for New England and I really believe there will be big problems on the ice here in winter.

mike c

I bought the 2014 Subaru forester 2.5I premium. I only test drove it on dry road. After getting it, it snow and rained a few weeks later. This car does not handle well on ice at all. It feels like I'm floating and the car can loose traction at any time. Anyone have a fix for this? I plan on pulling a snow machine with it. In every other aspect the car drives great.

Auld man

94 Legacy GT std 2.2 w/ manual by far the best handling AWD I've had. Automatics esp. subies are weird. Wife's 02 Forester manual is just ok, but 2013 Impreza very disappointing. CVT gargles gravel, the new baby 2L. was even worse w/ manual test driven. Can downshift w/ paddles, even if in D mode, but I believe the AWD mods have gone very deep into braking/ electronics versus viscous fluids, mostly for lowering resistance to gain incremental mpg (which the new Impreza still lacks!) The downward spiral continues like a whirlpool.

Paul

Just got a 2014 Forester/Premium and noticed the when you turn the rear wiper on (only in intermittent) it makes a clicking noise in the steering wheel (the relay) each time it starts the swipe and when it comes back.Anyone else experiencing this? Subaru auto shop says all Foresters do this but it doesn't sound right to me.

ron

2014 xt ltd

I am in canada and maybe the equipment is different so I have 8 speeds in sport sharp and it is either paddle shifters of computer controlled in the other 2 modes it is 6 speed if manual
or cvt if auto

seems to hall ass in sharp mode and fuel eco is not great at 11 liters per 100 km avg

also the heating sucks can not dial down below 18.5 c which is too hot

asked dealer if it was adjustable
and they had no clue what i was asking

also back up camera is always dirty from run off from rear window

bought because CR recommended but should have bought a Journey 10 k less
and better equiped

ron

sorry one more comment
I got the 8 spk HK audio system w/o NAVI
and it sounds ok much better than previous subies

Ben

@mike c,

Change your tyres. The stock Yokohamas they fit to new Foresters in Australia are woeful on wet roads.

James

I have some friends who are auto enthusiast and one who even reviews cars for a living. All hate CVT's with a passion. It’s pretty funny that even the mention of these 3 letters drives their face to a scowl. However I know many regular drivers like me that really love CVT's.....well as long as they are quiet like the Forester. Some of the Mitsubishi CVT’s were really noisy. I’m getting to the point where I just ignore professional reviews like this when they address their CVT gripes. I think a lot of people see this as a family member to the BRZ or WRX. I’ve never looked at it like this. I just see it as a comfortable car for regular commuters that are over stick shifts (owned many) like myself that like fuel economy with a little bit of mustard. It’s not a car for geeking out on curvy road joy rides. It’s a car that can quickly get around a slow ass car in a short passing lane on a steep grade and then go back to being a cruiser. I drive up to 40,000 miles during the winter and all I want is something with exceptional AWD, good fuel economy, passing power and a good stereo/nav unit. Suby nails it with the Forester XT on all parts except for their stereos which is a constant source of frustration. I had a 2012 CVT Impreza for 40,000 miles and had a Crosstrek for 24,000 miles (Both CVT). I live in the mountains. I also go on a 1 month road trip every winter to CO, Utah, Washington and many other mountainous states. CVT is outstanding here. I love how if you take your foot off the gas on a hill the car doesn't speed up. It just stays where you left it. It's summer now but yesterday I went up/down a 2,000 foot elevation change grade on a test drive with the Forester XT and didn't have to step on the brake the whole way down. My old traditional automatics would always speed up. What was even better I stayed right at the speed limit without cruise control. I’ve done this same grade in ice and snow with my Crosstrek and never even needed my paddle shifters to down shift. I haven’t really needed paddle shifters except in very sketchy conditions like a million dollar highway winter run. I'm now hoping to trade up to the XT Forester Premium because I love the combo of power, fuel economy, CVT and its mountain hwy handling. It’s got what the Crosstrek and Impreza didn’t have in terms of pick up. Looking forward to getting to know hill assist and X-Mode too.

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