Roadshow Video Reviews
2014 Subaru ForesterSubaru took its Forester line, gave it a new transmission and some new tech, but kept the same reliable engine.
Now, for the most part, Subaru buyers are not just Subaru buyers. They tend to be fans. So, what will the fan base think of this new Forester? The 2014 has more all-around, more high-tech, and less towing capacity. Let's drive this 2.5i Limited and check the tech. Now, obviously, the Forester is not dramatically bigger, but it's grown a little bit in most dimensions. The weight has stayed pretty low, though. They used a lot of what they call high-strength steel which gives you a lot more strength without a lot more bulk. You're also gonna spot one easily by the new face. Much boxier, much more aggressive if you will, and no longer to the headlights flow into the grill. It's an easy way to spot one or just look inside. If it's got a CVT transmission, it's gotta be a 2014. That's all new. Now, the first thing I notice getting into the Subaru is, "What the hell are those?" Big ole lobes hanging down here from the headliner, this is what they call their EyeSight camera system. There's a camera here. There's one here. And what's interesting-- I've never seen this before-- they're actually looking through midair and then through the windshield. Normally, these kind of things are bonded to the glass as we've seen before, but these cameras power several features and they're optional, by the way. They power the lane departure sensing. They power forward collision avoidance, letting you know when you're closing too fast and they also, I believe, are powering some of the adaptive cruise control. Now, the next screen we get to is this guy down here in the eyebrow. This is sort of a helper screen 'cause the big boy is down here and this is standard on this trim of car, but let's go back to that helper. You've got several modes there including one about the drive line as you see, some of the historical MPG stuff, current MPG on this kind of rotating motif, and then some places to handle vehicle settings. It's basically sort of a fancy trip odometer taking several different directions. What I'm not crazy about is they use the little screen for the backup camera and that's a safety thing. Why wouldn't you make that bigger and route that video to the big screen? Okay, onto the main screen now. That's a wonky little interface, but if you hit this little button, you get some of your audio choices, AM and FM with HD by the way. Satellite radio is optional, but it's in there, Aha streaming support, though not on my phone. My Aha app is running. My phone is paired that keeps telling me it's not running and not paired, so I can't show you much about it. I'll take their word. Here's how our iPod looks. Hooked up to the USB here in the console. It's a pretty good reader. It's relatively responsive, not the best, not the worst, but my biggest gripe is that the album art is ridiculously small. Just don't bother and instead bump that over and give me more room for meta tag data, that's way more useful. My bigger gripe gets when you come to navigation, and while the basics work all right here, I find it's under-processored. It has a lot of issues getting to things quickly. If you wanna enter a destination, it's still by bucket, the way cars used to do it, so you gotta go address then street then city. You can't just blurt the whole thing out. Now, the next tech on our tour comes down here in the console around the shifter. This is a big headline on this car. For the first time now, the Subaru Forester moves from a 4-speed automatic to a CVT. That's gonna save Subaru some money first of because they no longer have to make fender badges that say, "Forester [unk] in addition." That 4-speed was crazy antiquated. Now, you've got a CVT which is a very modern gearbox. Notice it has no shiftable gait, just a low range, and no paddles. This is a fairly pedestrian transmission. We'll see how it does on the road in a moment. And right ahead of the transmission related to it is a big ole bad that screams out X-Mode. It doesn't turn you into a super hero, instead it engages kind of an all-encompassing get-me-out-of-trouble mode. If you press this button, you see something changed up here on the screen, and now, the computer is taking control of the details of accelerator, of independent wheel braking, of how the transmission holds a low gear, of how the all-wheel drive clutch is biasing power. It basically says, "Let me handle the off-road mode and I will crawl out of whatever you're in." Now, because we're in the 2.5i Touring, which is kind of mid-high level, we have a lot of niceties in this guy. Did you notice this big panoramic roof? This guy is standard. There's no optional cost on that and it's one of the biggest ones in the business. You've got a power liftgate also included. And that rear camera I showed you, small as it is, is also thrown in. Now, the reason that our Subaru is called a 2.5i is because that's a 2.5i. 2.5-liter fuel-injected, dual overhead cam, horizontally opposed 4-cylinder. Subaru's got their whole DNA tied up in this engine and all-wheel drive. What's interesting about these Boxer motors is they're real flat and they sit real low, does wonders for center of gravity. I mean, basically, the metal part of this engine stops way down there. So, all the way just kind of here on down. The numbers: 170 horse, 174-foot pounds of torque. It's a fairly torquey mix of those two. 0-60 for this 3400-pound vehicle happens in 9 seconds. Nothing [unk] about there, but the MPG is 24/32, is a nice set of numbers for economy on something this relatively boxy, though, as I mentioned, fairly light. Now, the first thing I noticed about the Subaru is not a good thing. I know there's a good motor in there. I've driven this one before, but this transmission is getting in the way. The power response is almost no response at all. It's loopy and spooly and elastic and I hate that. Given the fact that there's no shiftable gait either, no sport mode, no paddles, you are stuck with this kind of disconnected driving behavior. It's not good. Now, as I mentioned, all Subarus, except the BRZ, come with symmetric all-wheel drive. It's known for being very balanced, fore/aft and left/right in terms of the weight and the array of the equipment. It's also known for being very tough and basic. You don't get any weird intrusion of it, feeling like an all-wheel drive vehicle. There's no weird gear wind. As I showed you, there's no sort of convoluted sort of mode switches. You just have that simple X-Mode button and even that's only when you get in trouble. Okay, now, the driver assistance tech that comes out of these two EyeSight cameras. First of all, the lane departure stuff is really spot-on. It just hits it just right. Right as your tires start to kiss the painted line, it comes on and it beeps and gives you indicator here on the dash. The forward collision warning, I find this too touchy though. I'm really not close to any car or closing on it that fast and it starts to beep its red light. That's a little annoying. Now, what is interesting on this car that I don't think I've seen on any other vehicle is it has a "Hey stupid, wake-up function." If you're at a red light and the traffic ahead of you starts to move and you don't after about two car lengths, it beeps and says, "Car ahead of you has moved," telling you to stop looking [unk] and start driving again in traffic. Okay, let's price the new '14 Forester in this 2.5i Limited trim. This is mid-high in the range, and remember, all-wheel drive is thrown in, $30,800. On top of that, 2400 bucks will take you a CNET style, that's for the EyeSight package, adds in those two cameras that help power adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, and they also roll in high-intensity discharge headlights. And it's a pretty good value. And it's a nice basket of stuff, though, note, you cannot get blind spot tech on this car. All in, about $33,200 for what has been a pretty modest revision on the outside but a big change in a lot of the guts.