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2014 Best Cheap SUVs

Subaru Forester

Subaru is the only brand with two Cheap picks, and justifiably so. Its hallmark is seamless integration of all-wheel drive as standard equipment on every vehicle it builds — save the rear-drive BRZ sports car engineered with Toyota. The redesigned 2014 Forester is a sterling example of Subaru’s progress in providing lots of interior space within a sensibly sized exterior. To some eyes, this four-door wagon is a compact hatchback with a slightly elevated ride height. In reality, it’s a dauntingly capable compact crossover. Ground clearance, for example, is a 8.7 inches; in our Cheap group, only the Wrangler has more. And only the far larger Wrangler Unlimited beats Forester’s 74.7 cubic feet of cargo volume. Forester’s comfortable interior is substance before style: refreshingly sober, simple, and roomy. The lineup divides along engine type, 2.5i models with a capable 170 horsepower, 2.0XT editions with a turbocharged 250. Both are horizontally opposed four-cylinders and the 2.5i versions are available with a six-speed manual transmission (rated 24 mpg city/highway combined) or 27 mpg combined with the continuously variable automatic that’s standard with the 2.0XTs. Purists can delight in the manual-transmission 2.5i Premium model, not so minimalist with a power driver’s seat, 17 inch alloys, heated front seats and mirrors, Bluetooth, and a review camera all standard for just $24,320. The CVT version lists for $25,820 and adds a panoramic moonroof. With either, there’s a comfortable margin to add the $1,600 navigation-system option package. For $28,820, consider the 2.0XT Premium. It has the terrific turbo engine (25 mpg combined), steering-wheel shift paddles, sport suspension, 18 inch alloys, larger brakes, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Add navigation, and you’re at $29,920.

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]