Should You Take the 2014 Subaru Forester Off Road?

The 2014 Subaru Forester is more than ready for some light off-road adventures.
Written by Amber Reed
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Subaru Forester
is a solid all-around small SUV, and Subaru has taken care to ensure that it’s still as comfortable getting its tires in the dirt as it is on a weekday grocery store run. 
With incredible versatility, a top-notch safety record, and enduring value, it’s no wonder that  Subaru Forester has remained a top seller for years. With standard all-wheel-drive, a roomy interior, and great fuel economy, the Forester is ready for adventure and is capable of some casual off-road excursions. 
Hit the road with
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and master comparison shopper
as we break down the off-road chops of the 2014 Forester. We’ll see how it measures up when it comes to some key areas, and also touch on a few other comparable vehicles from around the same time. 
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Can the 2014 Subaru Forester go off-road?

Yes, it can! The Forester is marketed as a versatile family vehicle that’s ready for outdoor adventures, and it certainly lives up to the image. While it’s not capable of extreme off-roading, it’s definitely suited to some casual journeys off the beaten path. 
The 2014 Forester was around $24,795 when it was new, and today a used one will cost between $15,000 and $20,000. Foresters are fairly sought after on the used market and retain their value well. 
Read on for the specifics behind the 2014 Forester’s off-road abilities:

Ground clearance

Ground clearance is the distance between the lowest part of a car’s chassis and the ground, and it’s a vital figure in the world of off-roading. Having enough ground clearance means the difference between being able to drive over obstacles or getting stuck on them. 
A good off-road vehicle will have a ground clearance of between 8.8 and 10.8 inches. The 2014 Subaru Forester comes in at a respectable 8.7 inches for all trim levels, which means that it’s got enough ground clearance for some light trails, but not enough to tackle something that’s extremely uneven or rocky. 


Horsepower gets a lot of attention when people talk about engines, but in the world of off-roading, it’s all about the torque. A good off-road vehicle will have a good dose of low-end torque, which means a lot of power at a lower rpm
This is one area where you will want to pay attention to the trim level The 2014 Forester came in six different trims: 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5 Limited, 2.5i Touring, 2.0 XT Premium, and 2.0 XT Touring. The four lower trim levels have a 2.5-liter engine that produces 174 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm, which is fine, but not spectacular. 
If you are looking for the best version to take off road, then you want a 2.0 XT Premium or 2.0 XT Touring trim level. The 2.0-liter turbocharged engine here will generate a healthy 258 lb-ft of torque at 2,000 rpm, which is far better suited for off-road driving, 


The 2014 Forester likely came with a set of
all-terrain tires
when it was new, and these are a good fit for a vehicle that will see a mix of pavement and off-road driving. They don’t last as long as regular all-season tires, but their aggressive tread pattern provides better traction when the going gets rough. If you spend more time off the pavement than on, it might be worth considering some actual off-road rated tires.


All-wheel drive is critical for off-roading, and symmetrical all-wheel drive is standard on all trim levels of the 2014 Subaru Forester. The two XT trim levels and the 2.5i Limited also feature X Mode, which adjusts the stability control, gearing, and throttle response to maximize performance in rough terrain or slippery conditions. 
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A car’s approach and departure angles are critical indicators of a vehicle’s off-roading ability. Here’s what that means:
  • Approach angle: the maximum angle at which a vehicle can climb without interference 
  • Departure angle: the maximum angle at which a vehicle can descend without interference
The 2014 Forester is ready to hit the trail with approach and departure angles of 23.5 and 25.4 degrees, respectively. This means that it should be able to handle modest hills, but nothing too intense. 

Off-road rating: Rough and ready

We’ve rated the 2014 Subaru Forester Off Road using
super-technical DIRT rating system, broken down in the table below: 
Don’t Try It
Vehicles better suited to highway conditions
In a Pinch
Vehicles that can handle off-road conditions in certain circumstances
Rough and Ready
Vehicles designed for casual off-roading
Trail Boss
True off-road vehicles capable of tackling a range of terrain
The plucky and capable 2014 Forester gets an R for Rough and Ready. It’s built for the casual outdoor adventurer and suited for unpaved roads and milder trials, but won’t be quite up to the more hardcore side of the off-road spectrum. But for most weekend warriors, that should be about perfect. 

The best alternatives to the 2014 Subaru Forester

Maybe you can’t find a Forester. Or maybe you want something that’s like a Forester without being one. The good news is, you’ve got options! 
Here are some alternatives to the 2014 Subaru Forester that should be good for casual off-road driving as well. 
Used price range
2011 Honda CR-V
$10,000 to $19,000
The CR-V’s part-time four-wheel-drive isn’t as capable as the Forester, but it’s decent.
2011 Toyota RAV4
$10,000 to $17,000
Available four-wheel-drive and plenty of room make this a good choice for an adventurous family.
2013 Subaru Tribeca
$15,000 to $19,000
Seating for seven and all-wheel drive make the Tribeca practical, but its tech platform leaves some things to be desired.
MORE:Cheap off-road trucks
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How to find affordable car insurance for off-road vehicles

Having an off-road vehicle can mean the potential for more fun, but it can also mean paying a bit more for your car insurance. Vehicles that are used for off-road driving tend to be more prone to being damaged (and need more repairs), and insurers will generally charge more to cover them.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t get the off-road vehicle you want. It just means that you should shop with
automotive super app
Jerry to get the best deal possible on your
car insurance
“After signing up with
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