What is it? Subaru has updated its popular Forester with a subtle, but complete redesign. The new model is 1.4-inches longer, and a little over ½-inch wider, with a 0.9-inch longer wheelbase. Subaru claims a 3-inch increase in rear legroom, in addition to more cargo space.
The base four-cylinder engine carries over, but power is up from 224-hp to 250-hp in turbocharged XT versions. Base models offer a new six-speed manual transmission, but it won’t be available in nicely featured Premium trims.
Subaru has heard the complaints about outdated electronics integration and offers Aha radio with a built-in navigation system.
What is new or notable: The most notable changes in the new model are the addition of the continuously variable transmission, which Subaru claims will boost its little all-wheel-drive SUV to an EPA-rated 24 mpg city/32 highway, and 27 mpg overall. If true, it would be best in class. The turbo version gets a new high-torque CVT that can simulate manual shifts via steering-wheel paddles. The 2014 Forester also incorporates a power liftgate, Subaru’s EyeSight driver aid system, and a backup camera on all but base models.
CR’s take: The current Forester is one of our top-scoring small SUVs, and the Forester’s little brother Impreza is our Top Pick among small cars. Needless to say, we have high expectations for this redesign. While Subaru’s CVT has had a terrific impact on fuel economy across its lineup, we’ve also found it magnifies obnoxious engine noise. We’ll buy a new Forester soon to see how it stacks up.
When will it be available? January 2013.