2014 Subaru Forester 2.5i Touring Verdict
For the past 365 days, I have been completely content with the vehicle at my disposal for one uncomplicated -- and very American -- reason: freedom. I have had the uncommon ability to do just about anything I wanted, for the Forester 2.5i Touring's multifaceted character easily coped with everything I and the MT staff demanded. My admiration for Subaru's smallest wagon began almost instantly. I had been given stewardship of a rolling Leatherman. In fact, you could say it came equipped like one. Everything I wanted, it had. Things such as dual automatic climate control, a panoramic roof, cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity, power windows and locks, alloy wheels, roof racks, four bottle holders, a rearview camera, power tailgate, and a massive center console with storage galore came standard on the Touring, the most opulent trim powered by the naturally aspirated, 2.5-liter four-cylinder boxer.
Harman/Kardon's eight-speaker, 440-watt audio system blew me away with its clear, robust sound, though the infotainment's digitized menus aren't simple and weren't always responsive. The optional Keyless Access & Start, EyeSight system, HID package ($2400) is a must for those, like me, who want extra-luminescent xenon lights (blame my pesky astigmatism). As I began to rack up miles, I took issue with EyeSight driver-assist system, the brand's first attempt at adaptive cruise control and crash avoidance. It uses two windshield-mounted cameras to scan the road ahead for obstructions and vehicles. It often flashed warnings and errors of malfunction or deactivation due to heavy fog or direct sunlight. Granted, in this vintage of Forester, EyeSight was in its first generation. It's now in its second in the 2015 Legacy—and it works amazingly well, I might add.
Even with the occasional bouts of unconsciousness, EyeSight's intuitive distance control did allow me to cruise unperturbed. It was responsible for preemptively pressurizing the brakes during a few close calls in stop-and-go traffic. It also warned me when the car ahead had proceeded from a stop and flashed alerts when I touched the outskirts of a painted lane.
Inside, friends admired the reclining bench seat's supple padding and were pleased with the generous 41.7 inches of rear legroom. The panoramic moonroof enhanced the sense of spaciousness when it was opened completely—about half of the roof is missing at that point. It got its most use when warm Santa Ana evening winds blew through. Such breezes were the impetus for the addition of optional side window deflectors ($100). I also added a Yakima bike carrier ($170) and a darkened sport grille ($430). A few colleagues poked fun at the Forester's "dorky" appearance, but I didn't care. The Forester became mine, personalized by factory-sourced add-ons I used every day.
Unfortunately, the cargo cover wasn't included as standard. Fed up with having my things unprotected from the sun's rays and peering eyes, I shelled out $170 for the accessory. It was a better concealer than my blanket and it could be easily taken out when folding the 60/40 seats. I hid any pricey goodies in the cubby storage under the cargo bay's floor, an excellent feature I often forgot was even there.
I have no kiddos. Furry four-legged critters aren't (yet) in my picture. One beautiful lady calls me hers. So usually just the two of us rode aboard the cushy, heated front leather seats, hauling shopping bags filled with groceries or her newly acquired designer goods, my gym duffel, her quad-fin fish surfboard, or the occasional disassembled bike. The capacious 31.5-cubic-foot cargo area (it grows to 68.5 cubic feet with rear seats folded) happily gobbled it all, and the gray leather-wrapped surfaces -- to my pleasant surprise -- remained mostly unblemished during its stay in our garage.
The Forester provided effortless ruggedness. Traversing nearby snow-covered mountain passes was like asking a fish to swim in water. The Forester did what came naturally. Its Active Torque Split all-wheel drive and X-Mode traction assist (which optimizes throttle, transmission, and braking responses to aid grip) maximized its hold on the trickiest of surfaces time and time again.
For all of its functionality and ruggedness, the Forester still delivered comfort, reliability, and efficiency. Trade shows and car launches had me trekking 500 miles to Las Vegas and back a handful of times. After each trip, I had a stronger admiration for the cabin's lack of noise and the chassis' dutiful absorption of the rough asphalt. The upright and elevated position of the driver's seat -- a Subaru staple -- was a great vantage point from which to navigate my 170-horsepower multi-tool.
Those trips, as well as my 240-mile traffic-clogged journeys to San Diego every weekend, were the perfect miles-per-gallon tests. Like clockwork, the onboard data display informed me of combined fuel consumption averages of 27, 28, 30 mpg, easily yielding tank ranges of over 400 miles.
I visited my local dealer three times during the year, each at scheduled 7500-mile intervals. At every stop, six quarts of 0W-20 synthetic oil and the associated filter were swapped, tire pressures checked, and multi-point inspections completed. The second service called for the rotation of the 225/60R17 Yokohama Geolander M+S all-seasons, while the last mandated that a new cabin air filter be installed. The best part? Subaru Care picks up the tab. Owners don't pay a cent. The maintenance program comes with each new vehicle and varies in length and scope depending on region. The sole exception to that generous Subaru rule were the Falken ZIEX ZE950 A/S tires we purchased ($100 each) at 24,000 miles. The new Japanese rubber provided an even quieter ride than the Yokohamas and paralleled them in comfort. They should also outlast the stock rubber, given their 600 UTQGS (versus 320) tread-wear rating.
As for the overall driving experience, I had but two gripes. The first was an annoyance with an overeager throttle. I learned very quickly to ease my toe-in to barely there levels. Still, every day I'd dart from stoplights as if I had my pink slip on the line.The second, and less significant, dealt with the lack of paddle shifters. I regularly wondered, if the more powerful 2.0-liter turbo had paddles, how difficult could it be to give a set to the 2.5-liter? It would add an entertaining aspect to the Lineartronic CVT's boring, yet highly capable, demeanor. Don't get me wrong; this CVT, matched with the potent and fuel-conscious boxer, is one of the best on the market. It's smooth and quiet. That's exactly what you want.
For a solid 12 months, our 2014 Sport Utility of the Year had me abandoning all worries of where to go and what to do. I simply went anywhere, and brought everything and everyone I needed along. It withstood the rambunctiousness of a staff that is particularly demanding of vehicles. To which I say: Awesome. The toughness it possessed and the freedom it permitted were special traits that my previous long-termers, a thirsty 2011 Nissan Juke and a front-wheel-drive 2013 Mazda CX-5, could never really offer.
Taking into account the Forester's significant degrees of comfort, style, fuel efficiency, and safety (it's an IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus), I would say it's worthy of our coveted SUOTY title. But, we already did that. Twice. In other words, the Forester did its job. And it did it extraordinarily well.
More on our long-term 2014 Subaru Forester 2.5i Touring:
|SERVICE LIFE||24,962 mi|
|OPTIONS||Option Package 30 ($2400: EyeSight driver-assist system, keyless access, HID headlights)|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$33,220|
|AVG ECON/CO2||25.6 mpg / 0.76 lb/mi|
|MAINTENANCE COST||$0 (3-oil change; 2-rotate tires, inspection; 1-engine-air filter)|
|3-YEAR RESIDUAL VALUE*||$17,721|
|RECALLS||Carpeted floor mats|
|*Automotive Lease Guide data|
|2014 Subaru Forester 2.5i Touring|
|DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD|
|ENGINE TYPE||Flat-4, aluminum block/heads|
|VALVETRAIN||DOHC, 4 valves/cyl|
|DISPLACEMENT||152.4 cu in/2498 cc|
|POWER (SAE NET)||170 hp @ 5800 rpm|
|TORQUE (SAE NET)||174 lb-ft @ 4100 rpm|
|WEIGHT TO POWER||20.3 lb/hp|
|TRANSMISSION||Cont. variable auto|
|SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR||Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar|
|BRAKES, F;R||11.6-in vented disc; 10.8-in disc, ABS|
|WHEELS||7.0 x 17-in, cast aluminum|
|TIRES||225/60R17 98H M+S Yokohama Geolandar G91|
|TRACK, F/R||60.9/61.1 in|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||180.9 x 70.7 x 66.4 in|
|GROUND CLEARANCE||8.7 in|
|APPRCH/DEPART ANGLE||23.0/25.0 deg|
|TURNING CIRCLE||34.8 ft|
|CURB WEIGHT||3444 lb|
|WEIGHT DIST., F/R||57/43%|
|TOWING CAPACITY||1500 lb|
|HEADROOM, F/R||40.0/37.5 in|
|LEGROOM, F/R||43.0/41.7 in|
|SHOULDER ROOM, F/R||57.0/56.5 in|
|CARGO VOLUME BEH F/R||68.5/31.5 cu ft|
|ACCELERATION TO MPH|
|PASSING, 45-65 MPH||4.5|
|QUARTER MILE||16.9 sec @ 83.9 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||120 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.78 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||28.6 sec @ 0.55 g (avg)|
|TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH||1700 rpm|
|AIRBAGS||Dual front, front side, f/r curtain, driver knee|
|BASIC WARRANTY||3 yrs/36,000 miles|
|POWERTRAIN WARRANTY||5 yrs/60,000 miles|
|ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE||3 yrs/36,000 miles|
|FUEL CAPACITY||15.9 gal|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON||24/32/27 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY||140/105 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.72 lb/mile|
|RECOMMENDED FUEL||Unleaded regular|