Starting to get disturbing signals about the new 2014 Forester

There is a little bit of bad news starting to filter through about the new Forester. Now that Subaru’s fourth generation Forester is in the country and ‘real’ test drivers are taking them for test drives there are some disturbing notes coming through.

Yes. The 2014 Forester is in the country. You can go and see a black XT model at City Subaru in Victoria Park if you are so inclined—and live in Perth, Western Australia.


First, on the upside, the two Australian reviews I have read have commented that the cabin noise in the new Forester really has been reduced, as claimed by Subaru in their press releases. This is a big issue for me because the cabin noise in my second generation MY2005 XT Forester at touring speeds is bad. Conducting a conversation with someone else in the car when travelling at 110 kph requires you to shout.

Interestingly the current model Forester rates better than the outgoing Toyota RAV4 model for cabin noise. I can only assume the cabin noise at speed in the outgoing RAV4 model was really bad. Sadly Subaru did not work on this problem in the third and current generation Forester so it is just as bad. But everyone seems to agree this has been addressed in the 2014 model.

Also, both reviews I have found were impressed with the performance of the fourth generation Forester. Even the non-turbo 2.5 got a good rap compared to the performance of the current model 2.5 (which is renowned for being very tardy). This is probably down to the CVT transmission more than anything. The CVT eliminates any loss introduced by the torque converter and also ensures the engine speed to gear ratio is always almost perfect.

The 2.0 litre twin-scroll turbo in the new 2014 Forester gets it from 0 to 100 in just over six seconds, making it easily the quickest SUV in its class.

But sadly, it seems, based on the two Aussie reviews I have come across so far, this new fourth generation Forester has the same rolly-polly over-soft suspension that the current Forester is afflicted with. To use the words of the reviewer at Autoblog, he found that the new Forester had very little of the second generation’s “tweaker personality” and that the ride and handling were much like the soft pillow-like feeling of the current model Forester.

It was even mentioned that anyone who had gone back and bought a second generation Forester after test driving the current model are probably not going to like this latest model.

That’s me. That is exactly what I did. When I ‘upgraded’ from my previous MY2005 because it was getting too many kilometres on it I ended up buying another MY2005 (with less kilometres on it). When I test drove the current model XT I hated the rolly-polly road feel, or, should I say, almost total lack of road feel.

Sob. This is rather depressing. I have really been looking forward to this new model. Unlike a lot of the people on the various Subaru forums who are putting a lot of hate on the CVT transmission I am a fan of CVTs. Also Subaru’s CVT has won a number of awards. I was not even worried about the turbo engine dropping down from the current 2.5 litre to the smaller 2.0 litre—which seems to have upset a lot of Subaru Forester buyers on the forums. But for me the rolly-polly suspension, if it is as bad as the current model, would be a deal breaker.

Interesting Update >>>

As I trawl for more information about the new fourth generation Forester I came across some interesting information on the Edmunds site (here). They took the Forester for a test drive and loved it saying that of all the SUVs the new Forester is the car to buy. But that was not the interesting bit.

They say that the new twin-scroll 2.0 litre turbo is optimised for 93 octane and not 95 like the current model XT.

But even this is not the really interesting part.

The really interesting part is that they say that while 93 octane is required for optimum performance the new engine will run perfectly on anything down to 87 octane although with this octane rating there will be a 10 percent performance loss.

Assuming this is true then that means this engine should run mighty fine on 91 octane—which is the octane rating of regular unleaded in Australia. Premium unleaded is 95 octane here and is 11 to 12 cents a litre more expensive (about 52 cents extra an imperial gallon). Assuming the performance loss is linear then running on 91 octane should only result in about a 3 percent performance loss. For an engine putting out 250 hp  that would reduce it to around 242 hp which is still better than my current MY2005 XT.

I think Edmunds are in the US. What I have to hope for now is that the Foresters coming to Australia are tuned the same way and can also run without issues on 91 octane.

Small Correction >>>

I am told the 2014 Forester at City Subaru is not black. It is a dark purple colour that looks black in bright sunlight.

I wonder if Subaru is using some paint provided by Toyota? I recall a Toyota Prado that colour—purple that looked black in sunlight. In the Toyota colour chart the colour was a kind of cool purple but then when you see the Prado in the car yard it is black.