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Preview by Mike Schlee and photos by Mike Schlee and courtesy of Subaru Canada

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2014 Subaru Forester

Since the introduction of the Forester in 1997, Subaru has sold 2,040,000 of these compact crossovers worldwide, with the USA alone accounting for 900,000+ Forester sales.  So when it came time to debut the redesigned Forester for the 2014 model year, using the L.A. Auto Show seemed a fitting venue.

Subaru has been on a bit of a sales streak over the past several years; sales are up 90 percent in the USA since 2008 and Subaru Canada is on pace for an all-time sales record in 2012.  To continue this momentum, Subaru is on a mission to keep their inventory fresh.  Since the beginning of 2012, an onslaught of new models have been unveiled by Subaru: the 2012 Impreza in January, the 2013 BRZ in February, the XV Crosstrek in July and now the 2014 Forester in November, not to mention major revisions to the Outback and Legacy this past fall.  And they aren’t done yet; expect a new hybrid in the fall of 2013 and an all-new WRX and STI in 2014.

2014 Subaru Forester. Click image to enlarge

Subaru has a goal of 850,000 annual sales in North America and to achieve this they will need to rely heavily on sales from their bread-and-butter vehicle, the Forester.  The Forester has always been a strong seller for Subaru, and has successfully carved out a niche fan base during its lifetime.  Many people immediately identify the Forester as a hip, active, and youthful hatchback; so, it should come as no surprise Subaru relied heavily on social media, web-based lifestyles, and outdoor activities during the official 2014 Forester introduction.

The 2014 Forester has grown marginally in size and now features a 23 mm longer wheelbase.  Overall length and width have increased by 35.5 mm and 15 mm respectively.  Powering naturally aspirated Foresters will be the carryover 2.5L flat-four engine that produces 170 hp and 174 lb-ft of torque.  But, turbocharged Forester XT models gain an all-new heart: gone is the 224-hp 2.5L turbocharged flat-four engine of old replaced by the new-to-the-North-American-market 2.0L direct-injection turbocharged flat-four engine that produces a robust 250 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque.  This engine is essentially the Subaru BRZ’s 2.0L motor with a twin-scroll turbocharger attached, which has BRZ fans around the world drooling in anticipation.

Gone as well are Subaru’s archaic transmission choices.  The 5-speed manual in base 2.5i models has been replaced by a 6-speed manual unit and the much lamented four-speed automatic has been replaced by two continuously variable transmissions (CVT). Non-turbocharged 2.5L Foresters will receive the basic Lineartronic CVT while XT Turbo Foresters will receive a high-torque version of this CVT.  The XT will also receive SI-Drive, which offers three selectable settings, ‘Normal’, ‘Sport’ and ‘Sport Sharp’, for transmission and throttle settings.  In Normal mode, throttle responses are smooth and adapt for commuting in traffic. Sport mode will provide quicker throttle responses and the ability to select a 6-speed manual mode for the CVT using the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. In Sport Sharp mode, SI-Drive modifies the engine’s electronic throttle mapping to deliver even quicker throttle response and the option to control an 8-speed simulated manual mode for the CVT.

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