2014 Subaru Forester 2.0XT Long-Term Update 4
Over the holidays, I drove up to a little town east of Sacramento in the Sierra Nevada foothills to visit some family and discovered the joys of driving a sporty SUV. I had a decent amount of gear with me for the extended stay, so I was hesitant at first to toss the Forester around the twisty foothill roads, lest my possessions go flying about the cabin. I still managed to have some fun, thanks to Subaru’s Sport Sharp mode, which programs the CVT to behave like an eight-speed transmission. This made for a particularly spirited drive, as I wound my way through the twists and turns. Having eight “gears” to shift through (using the sleek steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters) gives the boxer engine a bit more punch, keeping the revs up for better use of the turbo’s sweet spot at and above 3,000 rpm.
After enjoying the “Sport” of this little SUV, I put its “Utility” to the test. Traveling from paved roads to dirt was where the Forester first proved its utilitarian nature. The 8.7 inches of ground clearance allowed me to drive over a few rocks, bumps, and humps in the road and through a few dips and dry creek beds. Although the Forester hardly batted an eye at this “soft-roading,” I did notice a few creaks and groans coming from the rear of the vehicle. It’s the most obvious sign of age in this Subaru so far. Through it all, though, the Subie’s independent suspension kept the ride comfortable.
I had already loaded a few bags and items into the back for my trip, but it barely made a dent in the overall 74.7 cubic feet of cargo space. Because I was helping family clear some small trees and brush from their property, there was an opportunity to take some beautiful manzanita home with me. At first glance, the 6-foot-tall “branch” with a spread of smaller branches that reached 4 feet looked like it was not going to fit without breaking a few pieces off. But I managed to fit the small tree into the Forester with the back seats folded down and the tree trunk sitting nicely on the armrest up front. This, of course, meant that the drive home was not nearly as fun through the twisties as it had been on the way up, but it was a small price to pay to take home a little piece of nature.
For more on our long-term 2014 Subaru Forester 2.0XT: