It's said beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But we wouldn't describe the Subaru Forester as particularly beautiful, or that offensive, for that matter. Indifference would be predominant sentiment in regard to styling. But we're fans of the overall packaging of the Forester, voting it SUV of the Year for 2009. That model's re-style toned down the traditional Subaru quirkiness for a more conventional, anonymous look, except for the intercooler scoop on the XT model.
The 2014 Forester has a more familiar visage, showing a resemblance to the first and second-generation models, but with an edgier look similar to the new XV Crosstrek. Overall dimensions are within an inch or so of its predecessor, but the biggest changes are in the drivetrain. The base engine carries over, but mated to a new Lineartronic CVT transmission or six-speed manual, and the XT's engine will be a turbocharged version of the new 2.0-liter direct-injected engine in the BRZ sports coupe. The only available transmission on the XT is a CVT with six or eight "speed" modes to simulate the ratio change of a conventional automatic.
We're generally not huge fans of CVTs, but the consolation prize is a major bump in power, even with 25 percent less displacement. The turbocharged 2.0-liter boxer pumps out a stout 250 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, reportedly good for a 0-60 time of around six seconds flat. If that's not enough icing on the cake for you, the added power and quicker acceleration also comes with better fuel economy.
So what's your take? Is the 2014 model an improvement over its predecessor, or a regression? You may not be a fan of CVTs, but more power, quicker acceleration and better fuel economy make a strong case for the 2014.