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Redesigned 2014 Subaru Forester features major improvements

Although the Subaru Forester looks nearly the same, considerable changes have taken place to bolster the reputation of this popular compact crossover sport utility vehicle.

Don't detect any physical changes in the 2014 Forester? You're probably not alone. Frankly, they aren't significant despite the extensive redesign. However, there's a lot that's new overall.

What's New with the 2014 Forester?

  • Gas mileage was previously 21-27 mph - now  23-32 mph range.
  • Six-speed manual is added, replacing last year's five-speed manual, giving the Forester improved acceleration and fuel economy.
  • Continuously variable transmission (CVT) has been installed instead of the previous four-speed automatic.
  • Better performance. The Forester has added a 2.0-liter turbocharged, horizontally opposed four-cylinder, hiking horsepower to 250 and torque to 258 pound-feet.
  • Interior changes include drastically different cabin that's more contemporary, featuring higher-quality materials and a large LCD center-stack display.
  • Forester's new platform increases rear-seat legroom and makes the cargo area even more spacious than previous models.

The auto industry makes me chuckle each spring when new models hit the streets so early. Although May has just arrived, Subaru has been selling the 2014 Forester since March! The lyric from rapper Nelly is probably at the root of these early arrivals - "Must be the Money!"

Speaking of money, the Forester has jumped in price a bit - around $700 for the base model. Offered in six trims, the new Forester starts at $21,995 and runs just under $30,000 for the 2.0XT Touring model.

The Forester debuted back in the late 1990s when it was introduced as a wagon. It was oversized and just looked odd. Now in its fourth generation, the 2014 Forester is clearly in the mix among some strong competition, including the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento and Toyota RAV4.

When I think of manufacturers that produce dependable vehicles but with very little panache, Subaru and Volvo quickly come to mind. They both make automobiles with plenty of enviable qualities, yet will leave some car shoppers looking elsewhere simply because of their appearance.

The latest edition of the Subaru Forester certainly fits that characterization. Even with different headlights, a taller grille and a slightly rounded roof, the Forester is not the most eye-appealing crossover SUV on the road.

But some of the changes are definitely advantageous, including the new body, which is wider by 0.6 inch and longer by 1.4 inches.

The five-seat Forester has added 3.7 inches of rear legroom, so anyone in the backseat is resting much more comfortably. Cargo space has increased as well, adding more than 6 cubic feet. Fold down the back seat and the already sizable area increases to a best-in-class 74.7 cubic feet.

Like all Subaru models, the Forester comes standard with all-wheel drive. The addition of several more inches of ground clearance (it's now 8.7 inches) continues to give Forester owners the opportunity to go off-road if they like.

In terms of performance, the Forester's new turbocharged four-cylinder model provides even better power in passing situations and climbing hills. The 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine produces 170 horsepower and is unchanged. But the new transmission does improve gas mileage.

The Forester continues to provide a smooth ride and the steering is responsive. And Subaru says this is the quietest Forester that's ever been produced.

Improvements are indeed significant with the 2014 Forester, making an already good compact SUV even better. And the off-road capability continues to give the Forester an edge over the competition.

2014 Subaru Forester

  • Performance: 2.5-liter, four-cylinder, 170 horsepower or 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder, 250 horsepower
  • Mileage estimate range: 23-32 mpg
  • Price: $21,995 to $29,995
  • Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain 5 years/60,000 miles; roadside assistance 3 years/36,000; corrosion 5 years/unlimited

Weidel on Wheels author Jeffrey Weidel is an award-winning writer from the Sacramento region who has reviewed automobiles for more than two decades. He can be reached at
Follow him on Twitter at @jeffweidel.

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