Auto Review: There’s growth in the Forester

By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Thu., Dec. 12, 2013
- Contributed Photo

The technology revolution that has been propelling all things that can benefit from the use of a microchip has often been expressed quietly in the automobile universe. What I mean by this is much of the magic that the new electronics provide are in systems that alter the car’s performance only when required to intervene, such as Stability Control, Land Departure Control, Adaptive Cruise Control and many others. True, there are also more obvious examples of conventional computer technology, such as the implementation of touch screens into many aspects of the car’s control interfaces (like audio and navigation systems), but many electronic integrations are more subtle.

I mention these things because the new 2014 Subaru Forester not only features more room, additional ground clearance and greater fuel economy than before, it is also loaded with some of the latest electronic aides that help not only with safety but negotiating rough terrain as well.

We tested the 2014 Forester 2.5i Touring, which comes with a 2.5-liter Flat Four engine with 170 horsepower and was mated to a Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). This, in turn, transfers power to (as Subaru outlines): “Active Torque Split AWD with electronically managed continuously variable transfer clutch that actively manages the power split based on acceleration, deceleration and available traction.” This is a very refined powertrain that delivers good response, smooth manners and respectable fuel economy. This compact SUV’s utility is further enhanced thanks to X-Mode; a bit of computer-assistant magic I eluded to earlier. Again, I defer to Subaru’s explanation: “With a push of a button X-Mode takes control of the engine, transmission, AWD, brakes, and other components to safely navigate through bad roads, slippery surfaces and even the steepest hills for maximum confidence.” This program is most useful in situations when traction is compromised and you’re either ascending or descending a very steep trail. Along with nearly 9 inches of ground clearance, the Forester is quite capable on roads that are less than ideal and (as recent snow showed) when the going is slick.  While there’s some body lean in cornering, the overall handling is sound, despite the vehicle’s high profile.

The interior of the Forester Touring boasts contemporary instrumentation and displays including a Navigation System, but most intriguing of all is the option package that included Subaru’s EyeSight Driver Assist System (mounted just above the rearview mirror). This device includes two cameras, which look down the road, enabling the vehicle to “see” well enough for the Adaptive Cruise Control, Land Departure and Lane Sway warnings and Pre-collision Braking to work. The interior room is generous and the driving position is quite high for great visibility, and a back-up camera is part of the trim group, as is a power rear liftgate that you can adjust the opening height to suit your garage. The Forester has always been versatile; now it’s more family-friendly than ever.

The 2014 Subaru Forester 2.5 Touring is EPA rated 24 MPG city/32 highway and has a base price of $29,999. With options, our sticker came to $33,220.

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