With redesigned '14 Forester, Subaru counts on a sales jump
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Subaru expects sales of its Forester crossover to increase by about a third this year to at least 100,000 units with the arrival of a redesigned, slightly larger version in March.
The 2014 Forester will conquest more buyers because highway fuel economy of the base 2.5i model has improved by 5 mpg to 32 mpg, U.S. marketing boss Dean Evans said at a press preview here.
"The No. 1 consideration in this segment is fuel economy," he said.
The Forester, which has accounted for about 23 percent of Subaru's U.S. sales, competes in the compact crossover segment against the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV4. Subaru sold 76,347 Foresters last year, about the same as a year earlier. In 2012, Honda sold 281,652 CR-Vs and Toyota sold 171,877 RAV4s.
At a base price of $22,820, the 2014 Forester with standard all-wheel drive is priced $730 higher than the outgoing model. That is lower than the front-wheel-drive base versions of the CR-V ($23,625), and RAV4 ($24,145). All prices include shipping.
Subaru says it also has improved the Forester's drivability.
"What customers want in an SUV is Subaru bones, cheaper, better, more reliable with a low center of gravity, off-road capability and turbo performance," Subaru spokesman Michael McHale said.
At 180.9 inches, the 2014 Forester is 1.4 inches longer than the current model. The wheelbase is 0.9 inch longer at 103.9 inches and is 1.3 inches taller at 68.2 inches. Subaru improved rear legroom by 3.7 inches by scalloping the seatbacks and lowering the center tunnel. The front door openings were given a 5.3-inch wider opening.
New options include a power rear liftgate and X-Mode, which adjusts the suspension for slippery and wet road surfaces.
The 2.5i model carries over Subaru's 170-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder boxer engine, but the five-speed manual and four-speed automatic have been replaced by either a six-speed manual or a continuously variable transmission. The 2.0XT model has a new 250-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged boxer engine. Subaru expects the XT will only be 5 percent of the total sales mix, said Todd Hill, car line manager.
Subaru's EyeSight safety technology with active cruise, which debuted on the larger Outback crossover last year, is optional on the Forester. It uses stereo cameras mounted over the rearview mirror and an audible warning if the vehicle leaves its lane, sways, or approaches the car in front too quickly.
Length: 180.9 in.
Width: 70.7 in.
Height: 68.2 inches
Base engine: 2.5-liter 4-cylinder boxer; 170 hp, 174 lbs.-ft. of torque
Base price: $22,820, including shipping
On sale: March
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