Road Trip: 2014 Subaru Forester 2.5i Limited Camping Trip travel car test drives subaru
Road Trip: 2014 Subaru Forester 2.5i Limited Camping Trip travel car test drives subaru
2014 Subaru Forester 2.5i Limited. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Brendan McAleer

My 10-month-old daughter has eyes of the most deep and piercing blue, same as her mother, and she turns them up at me with a questioning look after I whack her on the head.

“Gah?” she queries – a catch-all babyism ranging in meaning from “Hello!” to, as here, “What the heck, Dad?”

“Sorry kid,” I say, “Mosquitoes.” Then I head over to belabour my wife about her legs where the little buggers are lined up like Corsairs aboard a WWII aircraft carrier.

Ah, camping life in the Canadian wilderness.

Still, what better test for Subaru’s fourth-generation Forester than loading it up with a small apartment’s worth of outdoors gear and then dragooning it into being a tie-down for our tarp? Oh, did I not mention that it’s currently raining? I live in BC – we tend not to notice.

Here deep in the skeeter-infested woods of the Pacific Northwest, my Limited-trim tester looks rather good. An entirely new design for 2014, the Forester comes in various specifications, this being the highest equipment level available with the base 170 hp 2.5L flat-four engine (more about this later).

Base models of this year’s Fozzie start at $25,995 + freight, and with Bluetooth and heated seats standard, it’s already a good buy – and one of only two ways to get yourself a six-speed manual (there’s also a stick on offer in the Touring). Moving up to the Convenience package nets you a power seat, foglights, 17-inch alloys and a back-up camera for a little over $3K, and also opens up the option of the PZEV model. This squeaky-clean machine is basically just a California-spec ride with a fancier catalytic converter that produces fewer emissions than your ordinary Forester, which is already fairly eco-friendly.

Road Trip: 2014 Subaru Forester 2.5i Limited Camping Trip travel car test drives subaru Road Trip: 2014 Subaru Forester 2.5i Limited Camping Trip travel car test drives subaru
2014 Subaru Forester 2.5i Limited. Click image to enlarge

The touring package is a thousand more than that for a big moonroof and a power liftgate, and then comes this top-of-the-line Limited with leather interior, HID headlights and a Harmon/Kardon sound system. Subaru’s Eyesight safety-system net and satellite navigation can be added on to a limited, but were not equipped on my test vehicle.

First, the good news. While the turbocharged XT model has ditched the iconic hood scoop for a pair of side-mounted gills that make it look like a groupie with dimples, the blocky, bluff prow of the regular Forester is really quite handsome. From the side and rear things are a bit more anonymous, but a closer inspection shows a typical Subaru attitude to form following function. This year’s Fozzie is up in size around about 10 percent, but it still has plenty of greenhouse space all around.

Hopping up into the interior – seat height is raised over last year’s machine – both driver and passenger are treated to an airy cabin with decent sightlines. Thank goodness: the bane of the small crossover segment is a near-universal designer obsession with curvy sheet metal at the rear, compromising rearward visibility for the sake of a shapelier profile.

The Forester is, as it has been since the beginning, kind of a shoebox. I like shoeboxes. You can fit things in them.




About Brendan McAleer

Brendan McAleer is a Vancouver-based automotive writer, a member of AJAC and a ginger.