Five-Point Inspection: 2014 Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium Manual

Craig Cole
by Craig Cole

It’s unwise to purchase a home without having a qualified expert give it a thorough going over, why should new cars be any different? Top-to-bottom, front-to-back, inside-and-out, the 2014 Subaru Forester is on the receiving end of AutoGuide’s weekly Five-Point Inspection.

This versatile crossover SUV is fresh off the sheet-metal presses. It was revealed at the Los Angeles Auto Show late last year and it’s now available at Subie dealerships across the country. The vehicle provided for evaluation was a 2.5i Premium model equipped with a novel shift-it-yourself six-speed transmission; this type of gearbox is unheard of in the Forester’s class… or just about any other vehicle segment for that matter.

Compared to last year’s model the 2014 version is built on a new platform with a wheelbase that’s nearly one inch greater. Additionally, the body is slightly longer and a whisker wider. But enough numbers, here’s what really matters.

The Forester has so much front-seat headroom famously lanky U.S. President Abraham Lincoln could wear his signature stovepipe hat and still have room to don a horned Viking helmet on top. There’s more noggin-room than the bottom of a skyscraper’s elevator shaft. Likewise the back-bench has ample skull space, and as an added bonus there’s plenty of legroom, too. Ingress and egress to the rear seats are surprisingly easy thanks to wide door openings.

When it comes to cargo room the Forester impresses as well. It offers nearly 75 cubic feet of space with the back chairs folded flat. That’s a bit more than the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V or Chevrolet Equinox can muster. Overall this vehicle impresses with the amount of interior room it offers relative to its compact exterior dimensions.

Modern vehicle interiors often look like someone blew up a wing of the Consumer Electronics Show; technology is scattered everywhere and much of it doesn’t work. Automakers keep adding more and more features; it’s practically gotten to the point where drivers need a master’s degree in computer science to work some navigation systems. Thankfully this is not an issue with the Forester 2.5i Premium. Bring an atlas if you need directions because there’s no touch-screen distraction to quarrel with.

This Subaru’s interior is like organic peanut butter, wholesome and basic but oh-so delicious. It’s a breath of fresh air in a market dominated by fashion-over-function cockpits and technology overload. The radio, for instance, is kindergarten simple and the secondary controls are logically laid out. It doesn’t get any easier than this and that’s a tremendous asset. A headliner-mounted grab handle for the driver is a welcome touch as is the squishy-soft and attractively grained dashboard.

Subaru is synonymous with two things: all-wheel drive and boxer engines. Like Newton’s laws of motion these truths can never be broken (shut up about the BRZ; you’re ruining my analogy!). Following Fuji Heavy Industries’ tried-and-true formula the 2014 Forester is hauled around by a horizontally opposed four-cylinder powerplant and features a system that sends power to all four corners.

SEE ALSO: 2014 Subaru Forester Full Review

The company’s famous Symmetrical all-wheel-drive technology splits torque evenly between the front and rear axles. On models equipped with a manual transmission it features a viscous coupling and a locking center differential. This hardware can shuffle power from wheels that slip to ones that grip, quickly and without the driver ever noticing. Toss in nearly 9 inches of ground clearance and the Forester should be quite capable off road.

At 2.5-liters this crossover’s engine puts out a respectable 170 horsepower, the same as a 1995 Ford Contour V6. Torque is a little more at 174 lb-ft. Add it all up and there’s enough thrust for borderline-brisk acceleration, though the big boxer’s off-kilter thrum probably makes the vehicle seem faster than it really is.

A six-speed manual transmission adds to the driving enjoyment. Ripping through the gears is a lost art these days and the Forester is happy to humor members of the old guard with slick gear changes and smoothly rev-matched down shifts. If three pedals are 50 percent too many a continuously variable transmission (CVT) is a $1,500 option on the 2.5i Premium model. The CVT is standard on higher-trim Foresters and exclusively offered on models with the up level 2.0-liter turbo engine.

The 2014 Subaru Forester starts at a very reasonable $21,995 (excluding $825 for destination and delivery charges). That gets you all-wheel drive, a manual transmission and a useful multifunction screen that displays things like fuel economy, ambient temperature and more. The Premium model provided to AutoGuide for testing stickered at a slightly more expensive $24,320 (again excluding shipping and handling). The extra outlay gets drivers heated front seats, body-color side mirrors and a six-speaker audio system among other upgrades.

A couple other numbers potential buyers will certainly be interested in are fuel economy. With a manual gearbox and the 2.5-liter engine the Forester should return 22 miles per gallon in city driving and up to 29 on the highway.

Need to know more? Get complete details and specifications on the 2014 Subaru Forester in our New Car Shopping section here. Plus, check out the rest of the Subaru lineup here.

GALLERY: 2014 Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium Manual

Discuss this story at

Craig Cole
Craig Cole

Born and raised in metro Detroit, Craig was steeped in mechanics from childhood. He feels as much at home with a wrench or welding gun in his hand as he does behind the wheel or in front of a camera. Putting his Bachelor's Degree in Journalism to good use, he's always pumping out videos, reviews, and features for When the workday is over, he can be found out driving his fully restored 1936 Ford V8 sedan. Craig has covered the automotive industry full time for more than 10 years and is a member of the Automotive Press Association (APA) and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA).

More by Craig Cole

Join the conversation