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2014 Subaru Forester 2.0XT Touring

Surefooted, safety oriented: this Forester is a no-brainer. But what does the Peanut Gallery think?
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The Car:

Price: $36,220 as tested (including destination charge)
Engine: 2.0-liter DOHC turbocharged horizontally opposed four-cylinder, 250 horsepower
Transmission: Continuously variable
Fuel economy: 23 mpg city/28 mpg highway
My favorite standard features: Panoramic moonroof, 6.1-inch touchscreen with navigation system
Options I can’t live without: Adaptive cruise control and pre-collision braking (both part of EyeSight driver assist package, $2,400)
You might also be considering: Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Kia Sportage
See more specs in our Car Guide.

What I Think:

Subaru makes a business out of catering to two very different clientele: the boy-racer types who lust after sporty BRZs and Impreza WRXs, and practical, active drivers who put a high premium on safety. The all-new 2014 Subaru Forester 2.0XT Touring services the latter population and does an admirable job of it. 2014 subaru forester 2 0xt touring The 2014 Forester immediately sets itself apart from the crowd with its outstanding safety ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The Forester was a Top Safety Pick Plus winner and was one of only thirteen small SUVs to receive an overall Good rating on the IIHS test. The Forester we tested was packed with extra safety features as well, including lane departure warning, pre-collision braking, and the Subaru EyeSight system, which uses cameras to monitor the road and recognize hazardous situations. Safe doesn’t have to mean boring, though. Our Forester’s 250-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged engine provided plenty of steam to get this small SUV off the line, and the continuously variable transmission means that the Forester can constantly alter its gear ratios to operate at the engine’s most efficient revolutions per minute at a variety of speeds. The 2.0XT Touring model gets an impressive 28 mpg on the highway despite its all-wheel-drive system. Standard all-wheel drive means the Forester will have characteristic Subaru surefootedness in bad weather, and the top-shelf models include features like hill descent control to give you an extra measure of confidence on tricky slopes. Our Forester came with attractive leather-trimmed upholstery, which gave the cabin an upscale feel. The premium Harman/Kardon infotainment system looked like an aftermarket afterthought but it sounded like a dream. Subaru went the extra mile to win over drivers with the power liftgate and one-touch folding rear seats. Just a touch of a button in the trunk will give you a nearly flat load floor in seconds. 2014 subaru forester 2 0xt touring

The Verdict:

Our 2.0XT is a no-brainer. The $36,000 price is a little hefty, but this crossover comes packed with the kind of safety and comfort features you'd expect in a luxury vehicle. Of course, you could always opt for a lower trim level, which still includes Subaru's confident all-wheel-drive system and enough airbags to keep anyone happy. But I think it would be a real shame to lose the turbo engine to a bout of frugality.

Peanut Gallery:

Molly: The first thing that struck me when I opened the Forester's doors was the floor mats. They are rubber with large lips that look like they could hold a couple liters of liquid. The interior was also predictably smart; everything felt like it was built to be driven well over the century mark on the odometer. I expected the driving experience to be the same feeling—prudent and slightly dull. I was proven wrong on a quick trip to Target. The 2.0-liter turbocharged engine was actually fun to drive and will make me think twice about this car.
Christina: I come from a Subaru-driving family. I love Subarus and I love the way this one drives. However, I didn’t feel comfortable behind the wheel at all. The steering wheel blocked the gauges. The color display over the touchscreen was distracting. The climate control knobs were confusing. And the ceiling? Despite the fact that I’m short, I felt my head was up too close to the headliner once I adjusted the driver’s seat so that I had a good view of the road. I'd hate to be a tall person driving this one.
Laura: I have known lots of people who drove Subarus, since we live in a wintry, and also a hippieish, climate here in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I haven’t considered owning one myself until now, because none of my friends’ cars were this good. This Subaru is utterly practical: I love the power liftgate, the stealth storage cubbies under the cargo floor, and the rubber mats everywhere that manage to look good while they make you start thinking about owning this Forester for ten years. The best part: while you’re driving around feeling smart and capable, like the kind of person who reads Consumer Reports for fun, notice how much fun you are having in this car.
Jean: I've recommended a Forester to three different people in the past month. That was before I knew it had—wait for it—a power liftgate! The Forester has been solid from Day One, ten years ago. It now feels a lot bigger and a lot more grown-up-looking inside (although the exterior still looks awkwardly adolescent). But it has a power liftgate!
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