Subaru’s small SUV gets a redesign for the 2014 model year. The all-new fourth generation Forester will debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show in early December, giving the Birkenstock crowd something to look forward to.
Subaru loyalists will immediately notice the new exterior styling, which gives the 2014 Forester a family resemblance to the Impreza, Outback, and Legacy, all of which have been redesigned since the last new Forester debuted in 2009. The new look borrows heavily from the Impreza, which actually gives this SUV a boxier, more utilitarian look than the previous version.
Speaking of boxes, Subaru’s trademark boxer engine is still under the hood. The base engine, a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 170 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque, is unchanged. The 2.5 should have enough power to keep of with traffic and, as with the 2013 Forester, it will probably make up the majority of sales.
Looking for a little more power? The 2014 Forester will also be offered with a 2.0-liter boxer, with direct injection and turbocharging. This engine produces 250 hp and 258 lb-ft, up from the 2013 Forester Turbo’s 224 hp and 226 lb-ft.
The turbocharged engine is more powerful than the Ford Escape’s (240 hp), or the Honda CRV’s (185 hp) and Hyundai Tucson’s (165 hp) non-turbo four-cylinders, but it can’t match the Toyota RAV4’s 269 hp V6.
Some extra turbocharged horsepower is nice, but the most significant powertrain upgrades come in the form of transmissions. The ancient four-speed automatic has been replaced with Subaru’s Lineartronic continuously variable transmission (CVT). Subaru says the new Forester will have better fuel economy, and the CVT will probably be the biggest contributor to that.
Base 2.5-liter Foresters get the same CVT Subaru offers in its other models, but the Forester Turbo will be offered with a bells and whistles version. It will have six-speed or eight-speed manual shift modes, and Hill Descent Control.
Thankfully, Subaru decided not to scrap the Forester’s manual transmission. It gets an upgrade from five speeds to six speeds, but it’s only available with the less powerful 2.5-liter engine.
As with all Subarus (except the BRZ sports car), all-wheel drive is standard on the 2014 Forester. While it isn’t really an off-road vehicle, the new Forester also has a useful 8.7 inches of ground clearance (down from the previous model’s 8.9) for negotiating the occasional dirt road.
The Forester also gets bigger for 2014, but only slightly. The wheelbase is extended by 0.9 inches, to 103.9 inches. Overall length, width, and height are 180.9 inches, 70.7 inches, and 68.2 inches, respectively. Those figures are all within an inch or two of the 2013 model’s dimensions, keeping the 2014 Forester firmly within the compact crossover/SUV segment.
Dimensions aside, Subaru is promising a roomier interior and more cargo space, along with obligatory tech features like smartphone integration, navigation, backup camera, and a premium harmon/kardon sound system. We’ll have to wait until the Forester’s L.A. debut to see if they match the competition’s.