Fun with Forester: 2014 Subaru Forester Arms You with Fuel Economy Facts

Sections: Fuel Economy, Powertrain, Telematics

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2014 Subaru Forester XT Photo Shoot 051

The “MPG Scope,” as I came to call it, was a very cool way to see your current MPG laid against your overall average fuel efficiency in the 2014 Subaru Forester. (Lyndon Johnson photo.)

If you like to geek out on information about what’s going on with your car’s powertrain and fuel economy– and I do– the 2014 Subaru Forester is sure to please.

The color LCD infotainment display in our Subaru Forester XT featured no less than three modes centered around providing fuel economy information to the driver in different formats. Beyond that, you could see estimated fuel economy on a number of other modes as a simple MPG number along the top border of the screen.

The first screen I came across and the one I liked best was what I called the “MPG Scope.” This mode showed what looked like a digital approximation of the old-time vacuum gauges you may be familiar with if you’ve driven old BMWs or some other cars from the immediate post-Malaise automotive era of the 1980s. My average MPG was the hash mark at the center of the gauge, and a red needle would swing to one side or the other of that point to illustrate how close I was to that average given my current driving characteristics. If, say, I was coasting down a hill, the red needle would swing wide to the right to illustrate that I was doing much better than 24 MPG at that very moment. If I turned around and drove back up that hill, the needle would swing wide left to show I was getting much worse mileage than the average number in the center. Pretty cool.

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This option would display the Subaru Forester’s MPG history over the last 30 minutes of driving. Of course, you had to be driving to get the bar graph to populate, Taking pictures of infotainment screens while driving is a sure-fire way to crash a test car, so I, err…didn’t. (Lyndon Johnson photo.)

Another option would display my fuel economy’s late history as a bar graph, with the current average MPG plotted across all the bars as a line. Like our Toyota Prius V and just about every Lexus we’ve tested, this mode was useful to see how your MPG was trending. If you had to sit at a lot of traffic lights or pull a long hill, you’d see the bars consistently below the average line for that period of time, for example, and you’d therefore know your average MPG line was creeping its way down the graph. Basically, it displayed the same information as the MPG Scope, with more of a bent toward historical performace over the last half hour of driving.

Finally, there was a distance to empty display option that crammed in your running MPG and a real-time MPG display in the form of a bar that grew as you got higher MPG and shrunk as you did worse. This screen had a gas pump icon that would turn orange when the car was low on fuel– something I found out when the car beeped to let me know I was low on fuel and flipped automatically to this display mode to capture my attention.

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Subaru packed a lot of information into this display mode: You’ve got your current outside temperature, the current time, an estimate of how many miles you can drive on the fuel remaining in the tank, your current average MPG, your real-time MPG, and an icon (top left) that illuminates orange to signify low fuel level. (Lyndon Johnson photo.)

As for that fuel economy: You can see in all the photos above how the Forester did. Given my heavy-footed driving as I tried to cram in as many miles as possible in our test week, I think 24 MPG is downright respectable. The Forester is tall, boxy, and in our tester’s case had a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that wasn’t shy about carving up curvy roads at speeds the constabulary might frown upon.

Disclosure: Subaru provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of gas.

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