Test Drive: 2014 Subaru Forester XT  car test drives subaru
Test Drive: 2014 Subaru Forester XT  car test drives subaru
2014 Subaru Forester XT. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Tom Sedens

The Forester is a critical piece of Subaru’s sales pie. It made up 23 percent of their sales last year. They’re hoping to continue seeing success with the all-new 2014 Forester, which is longer, wider and taller than the last model. Subaru makes no bones about it – they’re positioning it as an SUV these days. Does it have the chops to deliver on that positioning?

If you know your Subarus, you’ll find the Forester instantly recognizable. But the update is a nice one, and the XT adds a few aggressive touches – especially at the front end with its lower side intakes and in the wheel wells, which are filled with lovely 18-inch rims wearing 225/55-sized rubber.

Though freshened up, the lines remain clean, straight and business-like. As it’s coming toward you, the XT glares with cool LED accent lighting, and at night, the HID headlights look great and do a good job lighting the landscape ahead of you.

It’s tough to explain, but somehow, the new Forester has a more planted appearance when it’s on the road. That might have to do with the additional width.

Test Drive: 2014 Subaru Forester XT  car test drives subaru
Test Drive: 2014 Subaru Forester XT  car test drives subaru
2014 Subaru Forester XT. Click image to enlarge

It wouldn’t be a Subaru if it didn’t have a horizontally opposed boxer engine under the hood. The XT gets Subaru’s new 2.0L four-cylinder direct injection boxer with an intercooled twin-scroll turbocharger. It ramps up the power to 250 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and a juicy 258 lb-ft of torque that’s available to you from 2,000 all the way to 4,800 rpm.

CVT haters will be saddened to find just that – a CVT – as the only option for the XT. I’m here to tell you it ain’t bad at all, and I’m no fan of CVTs. The Lineartronic CVT has a manual mode in concert with the car’s SI-Drive, allowing you to shift with the “gear selector” or with paddles, accessing two different programs. One is called S mode, which makes the transmission feel like it has six speeds and the more aggressive S# (sharp) mode bumps things up to eight pre-programmed ratios. Essentially these modes simulate six- or eight-speed automatics. Of course, the power makes its way to all four corners through a symmetrical all-wheel drive system.

Fuel economy is rated at 8.9 L/100 km (26 mpg) in the city and 7.2 L/100 km (33 mpg) on the highway. I averaged 10.6 L/100 km (22 mpg) during my week with it. That was mostly slow city commuting, and when I had the space, I drove it hard. More about that later as well. The tank holds 60 L. By the way, you can run the XT harm-free on regular fuel with the loss of only a few horsepower.

The Forester’s interior got a makeover too. And it is gorgeous! Kidding. I was just seeing if you’re paying attention. The styling is pretty tame – there’s nothing exciting going on here but everything works well. The materials, however, have seen significant improvement. The dash is made of soft plastics and you’ll find touches like handsome stitched and perforated panels on the doors.

Test Drive: 2014 Subaru Forester XT  car test drives subaru Test Drive: 2014 Subaru Forester XT  car test drives subaru Test Drive: 2014 Subaru Forester XT  car test drives subaru
2014 Subaru Forester XT. Click image to enlarge

Once inside, you’ll likely find the cabin spacious – the headroom was great for my 5’10″ frame, even with the gargantuan sunroof overhead. The front thrones are a pair of heated leather seats, I found them very comfortable. They were firmer than I expected and were definitely lacking support and to top it off I found them a bit slippery. The driver’s side is power adjustable. At this price, I think the passenger seat should be power adjustable. C’mon, Subaru.

Overhead are probably the tallest, and possibly the narrowest, sun visors I’ve ever seen – they work perfectly fine but their dimensions will take you for a surprise the first time you fold them down.




About Tom Sedens

Tom Sedens is an Edmonton-based automobile journalist, husband, dad and driving enthusiast, as well as an accredited member of AJAC.