Urban road decay. A term I just made up, or so I think. But it is a problem facing downtown Toronto. Streets like Dufferin and certain parts of Lake Shore Road are akin to test tracks for the worst road conditions in the country. If you attempt them in a sports car, you may need to visit the dentist due to your teeth smacking into each other in such jarring ways. At the very least, you’ll have to visit a mechanic for suspension failure.
Due to situations like that, the sheer volume of SUVs that are driven around Toronto has visually increased over the years. Sport Utility Vehicles are now used as urban transport. Seemingly though, the level of luxury and class just increases without a worry for the utility part of the equation.
The 2014 Subaru Forester XT doesn’t worry about luxury, fine leathers and materials, wood appointed trims, or cross-cut aluminum shifters. It’s barebones enough to be referred to as utilitarian, yet not simple enough to be plebian. It’s an awesome combination of sorts.
The redesigned Subaru Forester is powered by a turbocharged 2.0L 250-hp boxer engine, and that’s one fantastic engine. I can’t complain a single bit about the adequacy of the torque curve and availability of power. Don’t forget that it’s the same 2.0L that powers Subaru’s new “icon car”, the BRZ. The Forester is smooth, sufficient and fuel-efficient, unless you sit in Sport, or Sport Sharp mode. Boost is increased in both cases and turns the Forester into a SUV that will make you think that you’re sitting in the WRX of SUVs, a feeling further solidified by having dual exhausts in the rear.
The seating position in the Forester is tall enough to give the vertically-challenged that elevation they seem to like, while not towering over other vehicles. I liken it to station wagons and hatches; this reminded me of a slightly taller version of the Impreza Limited I drove last summer. The driving position is great; everything’s where you would expect it to be. Naturally though, the monochromatic display between the gauges is a bit outdated, and is shared with the rest of the Subaru lineup.
The CVT transmission is the only thing holding the Forester XT back from being one of my favourite crossovers this year. It’s not awful like the one in some other vehicles (Suzuki SX4 Crossover), but it’s not that great. If it were given a traditional automatic box like the one in the Outback, the Forester would excel.
Featuring an as-tested price of $36,502, this Forester just makes me recall the Land Rover LR2 with its starting price in the neighborhood of $37,000.
Both SUVs embody the term SUV without breaking the bank like a Mercedes G-Class. Nothing shakes or clunks on rougher terrains. The Land Rover just felt that much more secure, tight and agile.
Naturally you can purchase a fully loaded Forester for the same price as a base Land Rover, but you’ll get a proper automatic transmission, nicer interior and a bit more character. This is the problem with optioned out vehicles. The Forester starts in the mid-20s, which would put it in line with a Ford Escape, Kia Sportage and crossovers of the like, and the Forester would be among the best in class. But at $37,000 it now enters the next phase of the market, and it just falls short by just feeling cheaper. One question that I ask is; has the rest of the industry forgotten about the “utility” in the term “sport utility vehicle”?
2013 Subaru Forester XT Gallery