2014 Subaru Forester XT
  • 2014 Subaru Forester XT
  • 2014 Subaru Forester XT front 3/4 view
  • 2014 Subaru Forester XT
  • 2014 Subaru Forester XT rear 3/4 view
  • 2014 Subaru Forester XT
  • 2014 Subaru Forester XT front 3/4 view
  • 2014 Subaru Forester XT
  • 2014 Subaru Forester XT rear 3/4 view
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  • 2014 Subaru Forester XT
  • 2014 Subaru Forester XT front view
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  • 2014 Subaru Forester XT
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  • 2014 Subaru Forester XT
  • 2014 Subaru Forester XT engine detail
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  • 2014 Subaru Forester XT engine detail
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  • 2014 Subaru Forester XT interior
  • 2014 Subaru Forester XT
  • 2014 Subaru Forester XT interior
  • 2014 Subaru Forester XT
  • 2014 Subaru Forester XT interior
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  • 2014 Subaru Forester XT front seats
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  • 2014 Subaru Forester XT steering wheel controls
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  • 2014 Subaru Forester XT rear cargo mat
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  • 2014 Subaru Forester XT rear seat fold lever

Vital Stats

Engine:
Turbo 2.0L Boxer-4
Power:
250 HP / 258 LB-FT
Transmission:
CVT
0-60 Time:
6.2 Seconds (est.)
Drivetrain:
All-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
3,622 LBS
Seating:
2+3
Cargo:
31.5 / 68.5 CU-FT
MPG:
23 City / 28 HWY
Base Price:
$27,995
As Tested Price:
$36,220
Power Doesn't Come Cheap



When Subaru first offered a turbocharged Forester XT model to US customers for the 2004 model year, the shoe-shaped second-gen model fell into a ready-made competitive set of small, V6-powered crossovers and SUVs. The XT might have been more of a raucous shopping-trip companion than, say, a Ford Escape V6, but the basics of the cars offered a clear differentiation from the naturally aspirated, four-cylinder models found just a bit downmarket. Here in 2013, the V6 breed of crossover in this size class is all but extinct, and turbocharged four-cylinders with the power to compete with the XT are not thick on the ground.

In many ways, the comparative analysis gets most interesting when you start looking around for CUVs to match up with the all-boxes-ticked Forester XT Touring that we had as a tester for a recent week. The top of the line Touring trim means that the Forester comes with features like 10-way power seats, leather, navigation, a Harmon Kardon sound system with HD radio, Bluetooth and more. In fact, our Forester also had the only option package available on the XT Touring; one that included keyless access, HID headlights and Subaru's EyeSight system (adaptive cruise, lane departure warning and pre-collision braking).

And, of course, because of the XT trim, we knew that we were getting one of the most powerful crossovers in this segment, too. Subaru's turbocharged, direct-injection 2.0-liter boxer four-cylinder lay under the hood, ready to pump out some 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque at the flex of an ankle. Combined with a light-for-the class curb weight of around 3,600 pounds and Subaru's grippy all-wheel-drive system, the XT feels pretty quick in town and on the freeway.

Add all of that up, and you've got a strong-performing, content-laden crossover, all for the sum of just $36,220 as tested...
2014 Subaru Forester XT side view2014 Subaru Forester XT front view2014 Subaru Forester XT rear view

The price really threw you there, didn't it?

The price really threw you there, didn't it? We'll admit that our default mental pricing of a Forester still hovers somewhere in the mid-$20k range – the XT's sticker threw us for a loop, too. What Subaru hopes is that this top-end XT can offer more excitement than the most tricked-out of its mainstream competition, along with nearly as many features as the middle-luxury models that hover just above it.

In terms of the performance part, we're nearly onboard. Our second run-in with the XT proved out Zach Bowman's thoughts in his First Drive feature this past January. The boxer turbo has been smoothed out in terms of power delivery and makes good use of its very broad torque curve to provide a kind of effortless, drama-free pull from most any speed. The continuously variable transmission is neither droning nor artificial in most scenarios.

2014 Subaru Forester XT grille2014 Subaru Forester XT headlight2014 Subaru Forester XT wheel2014 Subaru Forester XT taillight

The CVT really does a pretty good job of impersonating a dual-clutch transmission.

Our biggest complaint with the powertrain is that it lacks the verve of previous generations of turbo'd Foresters, though that's mostly the case in the "Intelligent" (could also be called "Normal") mode of the three-mode driving program selection. Sport and Sport Sharp are the other two options, with Sport Sharp proving the best overall for those who need a blast of adrenaline.

Thusly sharped, the XT's throttle pedal goes from rubbery to responsive, and initial acceleration is dramatically improved right off the bat. Here also, the slight turbo lag evident in the 2.0-liter engine is less noticeable, and the action via the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters is a lot quicker. Sharp mode allows the transmission to offer eight fake gears instead of six, and the CVT really does a pretty good job of impersonating a dual-clutch transmission.

2014 Subaru Forester XT engine

Fair warning: neither Sport nor Sport Sharp modes are available when the Forester has a cold engine.

We'll say that Sport is a better all-around driving mode than Intelligent in our experience, too – the latter really causing a lot of the XT's power to be dulled. Fair warning: neither Sport nor Sport Sharp modes are available when the Forester has a cold engine. The car must reach peak operating temperatures (noted when the blue water temp light switches off) before Intelligent mode can be overridden. In our experience, this happened after the first five or ten minutes of driving, on average, in a rather chilly climate.

The XT has a "sport-tuned" suspension that lesser Foresters don't get, but don't be fooled into thinking that this transforms the vehicle into an XL WRX. While grip from the AWD system is good, the skinnier tires, added ride height and softer springs all mean that the CUV will not corner with the same fierceness as its rally-forged brand mate. The XT generally defaults to safely understeering when pushed into a corner, though we will say that it pulls much harder coming out than do any of its prime competitors.

As we listed before, the feature set of the XT Touring is fairly impressive, but we're not convinced that the litany of gizmos quite brings it up to the near-luxury level. While the fun-to-drive factor of the turbocharged Forester is higher than far-costlier crossovers like the Volvo XC60, Acura RDX and maybe even the Audi Q5, the interior design and material quality of the cabin still falls short.

2014 Subaru Forester XT interior2014 Subaru Forester XT front seats2014 Subaru Forester XT rear seats2014 Subaru Forester XT rear cargo area

We found it impressive that a layman could mistake a Subaru cabin... for that of the always-vaunted Audi interior.

Actually, we never would have even thought to go down this path, had it not been for one of our passengers during our loan period. A female friend of ours, not particularly well-versed in the world of autos, hopped in the backseat for a ride to dinner. Not knowing what she was riding in, the woman asked/guessed, "Is this a new Audi?" Without reading too much into an unschooled, snap judgment, we found it impressive that a layman could mistake a Subaru cabin, even for a moment, for that of the always-vaunted Audi interior.

And, when you look around, it does feel as though Subaru has raised its game to the level of say, Volkswagen's last generation of cars. We don't mean that as a thinly veiled insult, either. Our test car had reasonable leather (a little too free of natural grain and shiny to feel premium), nice contrast stitching and a subdued suite of black and silver plastics; none of it unlike what you'd expect from a Jetta or a Passat. The noise, vibration and harness quotient is pretty low, too – arguably as quiet as a mainstreamer like the Ford Escape, though less tomb-like than a proper lux crossover like the new RDX. Subaru's audio and navigation interfaces continue to need help, however. In short, the new cabin is nice, but it doesn't differentiate itself in the luxury arena the way the XT engine does in terms of performance.

Even in its basic formulation, the 2014 Forester is usefully sized, with great room in the rear seating and cargo areas especially. It has looks and a driving style that are unlike most of the CUVs in its class, and it should really appeal to the legion of Forester lovers around the world.

2014 Subaru Forester XT rear 3/4 view

With the XT's 2.0T engine added to that equation, we think that a lot of drivers who value exciting vehicles will find just enough to love in the high-po Forester to make it interesting, too. Now that the CVT is less of a penalty box, and despite our longing for a manual transmission with this engine, there's a lot of fun to be had behind the wheel. And, as only the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T, Kia Sportage SX and Ford Escape 2.0T can really match the XT in terms of power output, price and utility, the options are pretty narrow.

Were it our money on the line, we'd probably still save a few grand by opting for the XT without all the niceties of the Touring trim and the technology package. That combination leaves one with a comfortable, well-driving machine that leaves the wallet intact, and the soul unsullied by industry-standard CUV dullness. It may not have a natural home, or a straight-on segment, but the Forester XT wouldn't really be a Subaru if it didn't have just a touch of weird, would it?


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 124 Comments
      bonehead
      • 1 Year Ago
      I liked these better when they were different from the pack. When they were smaller, lower and pretty much a wagon with an SUV roofline. Now its just another crossover SUV. Its just another Rav-4/CRV-esque car. Yeah its a good CUV but its no longer what made it different and desirable IMO. I could forgive this if Subaru didnt also can the WRX wagon, and the legacy GT wagon.
      Advocatus Diaboli
      • 1 Year Ago
      THis car is actually on hell of a value if you go for the XT Premium at $28,000. All that stuff in the Touring can be filed under "more unnecessary electrical gadgetry that looks cool in the show room, is only mildly useful in real life, will be outdated in three years, will break when the warrantee runs out, and requires high price computers and techs to fix".
        paqza
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Advocatus Diaboli
        For 36,000, you could probably get the new A3 quattro...
      Rudo81
      • 1 Year Ago
      Very tempted to replace my 09 forester XT with this maybe next year. Possibly a 2015 model. Pretty much an upgrade in every aspect over my 09.
      Agent55
      • 1 Year Ago
      Remember when Subaru made a tall WRX called the Forester 2.5 XT with a manual? Yeah, those days are long gone.
        wrxfrk16
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Agent55
        I think that might have been a victim or timing, and the WRX. I had an 09\' XT, which was very nice even with the antiquated 4-speed slusher, but if I remember correctly they\'d dropped the stick with that redesign. I liked the one\'s that came before, but that redesign really did the Forester justice in my opinion, and made it more appealing to own. I think with the one\'s that were stick, that body style was a bit...friendly, to really attract many takers. It was a bit old Forester to come off as a big and tall WRX. And really, the pricing of the XT Premium and the WRX 5-door Premium at the time was almost identical. So really, other than being too tall for it, there wasn\'t much reason not to go for the extra forty horse and the sharper handling of the WRX.
      cpmanx
      • 1 Year Ago
      It's always misleading comparing a fully loaded vehicle with the base price of another. For the sticker price of this Subaru, you could step into an X3 or a Q5. But how many people actually leave the dealership with a base-price BMW or Audi? Realistically you are still talking about a $5,000-$10,000 gap. What I really want to know is, how good is the $25,000 version of the Forester--the one I might actually buy?
        Steve
        • 1 Year Ago
        @cpmanx
        The base is pretty good but a bit anemic with only 170hp, better torque than CRV and RAV4 helps. The base CVT is noisier, apparently due to the chain style which differs in the XT. Quite a bit more body roll with the base suspension and worse understeer but without a lot of power it's not so noticeable.
      dohc73
      • 1 Year Ago
      I hate this new design trend of flat-faced wheel designs that have a machined-look finish and black accents. The new Civic has them, Volvo has them and now this Subaru has them. They don't look OEM, they look after-market. It's all about how the wheel balances out the look of the whole car and this fugly thing need all the darned help it could beg for.
      collabplan
      • 1 Year Ago
      I have never understood the pricing on Subarus. To me, they seem wildly overpriced. So much so that I am surprised they sell well...or modestly well...or whatever their sales figures are. After realizing what a rip off they are, I know view Subaru owners as suckers. Can't help it.
        jf.bouchard
        • 1 Year Ago
        @collabplan
        You could compare Subaru cars to older Mercedes-Benz cars. I'm not talking about the luxury aspect. I mean how Mercedes cars used to be known for their mix of solidity, reliability and comfort. Just a bulletproof investment for people who aren't so much into the latest fads but want reliable transportation, with a touch of individuality. (for the people who will read my comment the wrong way: no, I am not saying a Subaru is as luxurious or high-quality as a Mercedes)
        Lightning
        • 1 Year Ago
        @collabplan
        Keep in mind that $37k MSRP is for a fully-loaded XT Touring model that comes with borderline luxury features. The XT Touring MSRP is under $34,000 delivered and the XT Premium is under $29,000 delivered. Try spec'ing a new Escape for the price of the new Forester with similar features and you'll be sorely disappointed.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Lightning
          [blocked]
          collabplan
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Lightning
          Wrong, Lightening. An Audi A3 or A4 can be had for less than this Subaru and in wagon format. It is Audi, not Subaru, that has the world-leading AWD system. Perhaps you've heard of it. Quattro. They are better looking, better driving, better engineered vehicles. My comment isn't ignorant, it is my opinion...one based on a fairly strong knowledge of the subject. I stand by my comment....they are overpriced and highly unattractive.
          Lightning
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Lightning
          Not to mention it has a class-leading AWD system, substantial ground clearance, a rear-view window that you can actually see out of, and maximum cargo capacity near the top of the class. I guess it's easier to make an ignorant comment on the internet than it is to actually do research.
        Justin
        • 1 Year Ago
        @collabplan
        They're great cars. Built tough. Incredibly utilitarian. People pay money for them because they're worth it.
      Wetstuff
      • 1 Year Ago
      Youse mus be joking?! $36k for this little rough rider? Betcha I could buy a 2yr old, $50k+ SUV.. with a longer warrantee. I bet the typical buyer takes 70mos. for this little crapper. Jim
        icemilkcoffee
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Wetstuff
        I coulda bought a used blah blah blah. Dont you guys get tired of repeating the same crap on every article? You want a used car go buy a used car.
        jtav2002
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Wetstuff
        Fully loaded vehicles tend to command fully loaded prices. You can easily equip an Escape into the 30's. You can make the "well I coulda bought a used......" argument on basically any vehicle on the market. Why is everyone so developmentally challenged on this site?
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
        godwhomismike
        • 1 Year Ago
        I'm a republican, and I have owned a Forester XT before, and my next vehicle will be the Forester XT again.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @godwhomismike
          [blocked]
          ravenosa
          • 1 Year Ago
          @godwhomismike
          Yeah, WJK, everybody knows how much "Liberals" love rally cars and inefficient SUVs. Back to FauxNews for you, WJK. You may have missed your latest marching orders while commenting...
        jf.bouchard
        • 1 Year Ago
        Why does everyone keep saying that? As a Canadian Subaru customer I have never understood why Americans say this. Care to explain what you mean?
          foxtrot685
          • 1 Year Ago
          @jf.bouchard
          Where did this come from? In the late 90\'s, Subaru endorsed the LPGA and part of the deal was to make the lesbian tennis activist Martina Navratilova a spokeswoman for the Subaru brand in NA. The LGBT community, particularly lesbians, responded very positively as this was one of the first times that an out homosexual was featured in a prime time commercial and a spokeswoman for a product, and in turn they supported the brand by buying the vehicles. Then, Subaru did an Ad campaign that featured the slogan \"It\'s NOT a choice; it\'s the way we\'re built!\" I dont need to explain how that went over with the LGBT community... Then later, Subaru also did an ad campaign with another prime time commercial that had a car with the vanity plate \"XENA LVR.\" Again... do I have to explain? Lets not forget the time the CEO of Subaru NA went on the record saying that Subarus were ideal \"For women who don\'t have a man around the house who fixes cars.\" He was refering to Subaru reliability, but the LGBT community saw something else.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @jf.bouchard
          [blocked]
          • 1 Year Ago
          @jf.bouchard
          [blocked]
        torqued
        • 1 Year Ago
        Man WJK, you're really sticking to your lesbian stance. I'm not sure i see the point though. What is it about heterosexuality and a conservative approach to government conflicts with well-built AWD vehicles?
          • 1 Year Ago
          @torqued
          [blocked]
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
        Lightning
        • 1 Year Ago
        Moving from the 4-speed A/T and the old body to the new one with the CVT (with a small weight gain for body sound-deadening, etc) the 2.5L N/A Forester A/T goes from 21/27 to 24/32. That's an incredible leap compared to much of the competition. The CVT in the 2.5L is responsive and sprightly. In the turbo it brings smooth, powerful fun. With regard to the competition: Rav4 AWD went from 21/27 to 22/29 with the redesign and a 6-speed A/T CR-V AWD nets 22/30 CX-5 2.5L AWD gets 24/30 Escape 1.6T AWD gets 22/30 (On premium) Escape 2.0T AWD gets 21/28 (On premium) Forester 2.0T gets 23/28 (On premium) The new Forester is also one of the few CUVs that actually have outward rear visibility, which is a godsend in this class. It's far from perfect (Navigation unit and other interior appointments need improvement) but it's not valid to claim that the new Forester is anything other than a major accomplishment for Subaru. I was not a Subaru fan until they mainstream'd things up a bit this generation, but I really appreciate what they've done with the new Impreza platform. To instantly dismiss a vehicle because it has a CVT is what many automotive journalists do and it's in ignorance to most vehicles demographics. There's more to driving than manual transmission control, which is a tough sell to "enthusiasts" of course. The Forester XT is an absolute delight to drive. Paddle shifters and two sport modes are there for those who want some semblance of transmission control. It won't replace a manual tranny for sure, but it's something to have fun with and adds another dimension of driver control.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Lightning
          [blocked]
          TRAILbrake
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Lightning
          FTA: "Sharp mode allows the transmission to offer eight fake gears instead of six, and the CVT really does a pretty good job of impersonating a dual-clutch transmission." It's a simulated stepped-gear but you still get the personality of a geared transmission. My father's CrossTrek also has a CVT with simulated gears in manual mode and it does a convincing enough job -- most people won't even know the difference between a torque-converted auto' versus the CVT. I've driven manual transmissions since I got my license and there's some decent fun to be had behind Subaru's paddle-shifted CVT in manual "sport" mode. Dismissing it entirely without any first-hand experience is wildly ignorant. Don't be THAT guy..
        foxtrot685
        • 1 Year Ago
        So dont buy one? Seems like a real simple solution?
        godwhomismike
        • 1 Year Ago
        This is an ignorant statement.
          foxtrot685
          • 1 Year Ago
          @godwhomismike
          Don\'t argue with him. He knows every Nissan Service Tech in the continental US and can write a book on their unreliability...
          • 1 Year Ago
          @godwhomismike
          [blocked]
          • 1 Year Ago
          @godwhomismike
          [blocked]
      mary.keana
      • 1 Year Ago
      LOL, for that much dough, I'm getting the much more luxurious Acura RDX. Smooth V6, great mileage... Subaru is smoking crack at that price.
      action3500
      • 1 Year Ago
      Comparably equipped X1 is $40k or less.
        Lightning
        • 1 Year Ago
        @action3500
        With a much tighter interior and far less cargo room.
          jf.bouchard
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Lightning
          And the reliability and maintenance costs that BMW cars are known for.
        icemilkcoffee
        • 1 Year Ago
        @action3500
        With AWD, leather, Nav, HK stereo, HID head lights, the X1 will exceed $40k for sure. And that\'s with the so-so regular seat. The Sports seat will cost you more. Any color aside from black or white will cost you more also. And then you don\'t get the eye sight camera and adaptive cruise on the X1 because it is based on the older E platform.
        Chris Bangle
        • 1 Year Ago
        @action3500
        Comparably equipped X1 is $45k for a much smaller vehicle the weighs more before options and has less power.
        EvolvedAsOne
        • 1 Year Ago
        @action3500
        Actually it's closer to 44k.
        mary.keana
        • 1 Year Ago
        @action3500
        I would imagine a comparably equipped X1 to be over 50K. The X1 start life as a stripper.
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