First Drive: 2014 Subaru Forester subaru first drives
2014 Subaru Forester. Click image to enlarge

Originally published March 11, 2013

Review and photos by Jonathan Yarkony

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2014 Subaru Forester

Ucluelet, BC – What better place to introduce the 2014 Subaru Forester than on Vancouver Island, home to untold acres of pristine deciduous rainforest? While the Forester would be equally at ease in a mall parking lot, there is no question that it is capable of reaching those remote cabins in the woods, or a rocky beach with your whitewater kayak secured to your roof rack. But Subaru also has a bit of a (mature, in-denial) wild child in the Subaru Forester XT, and Highway 4 from Nanaimo to the west side of Vancouver Island proved to be an able companion on the winding, scenic route.

The event started with our arrival at Nanaimo airport, at which point we were immediately handed the key to one such Forester XT, with the route guidance set up to deliver us to a resort in Ucluelet on the side facing the Pacific (that’s the west side, right?). After being stifled at red light after red light, buried between canyons of trucks loaded with fresh cut logs (okay, so maybe those forests on Vancouver Island aren’t so pristine everywhere anymore), and numbed by the ease of use of the Forester itself, I could have taken a nap if I’d had a co-driver willing to take over. In fact, one journalist did manage to take a nap in the Forester during one portion of the drive, speaking well of its quiet interior and smooth ride.

First Drive: 2014 Subaru Forester subaru first drives First Drive: 2014 Subaru Forester subaru first drives First Drive: 2014 Subaru Forester subaru first drives
2014 Subaru Forester. Click image to enlarge

After clearing Nanaimo however, the road did start to improve, and before reaching the midway point of that trip (Port Alberni), I had a chance to stop and take in some of the majestic old growth Douglas Firs at Cathedral Grove, part of MacMillan Provincial Park, some as old as 800 years. What does that have to do with the Forester? Umm… it’s a forest? Anyhow, tourist and coffee breaks completed, I darted back onto the road and once outside of Port Albernie, the road was now entirely free of traffic lights, traffic and beginning to be blessed with curves.

The newly redefined XT has exclusive suspension tuning, CVT programming, and styling in addition to the turbocharged 2.0L boxer-four, whereas the previous generation 2.5XT was just a straight engine upgrade and hood scoop. The hood scoop, alas, is no more. The new XT drops half a litre in displacement (from 2.5 to 2.0), but gains 26 hp and 32 lb-ft, largely courtesy of Subaru-developed direct injection (not to be confused with the Toyota-derived D4S system in use on the BRZ). Power totals amount to 250 hp at 5,600 rpm and 258 lb-ft of torque from 2,000–4,800 rpm, and out on the road it is very civil for a small-displacement turbo under normal use, but with the potential to make it scream if you wind it up, an interesting dual character for a family-friendly crossover.

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