The new Subaru Forester seems to be hitting a nerve with Japanese buyers: Subaru says that it has received 8149 pre-orders for the redesigned crossover since orders began on November 13.
The Forester is all-new for 2014, with a larger body revised engines: it keeps the old 2.5-liter naturally aspirated H-4 engine as standard, but adds a 2.0-liter turbocharged H-4 as an option). When we first drove the Forester (in prototype form) we found it to handle and steer admirably, and found the continuously variable transmission to be pretty good on both the base 2.5-liter naturally aspirated and 2.0-liter turbo models (although we'd still prefer the six-speed manual available on the naturally aspirated model). As for the Forester's party piece--the Subaru EyeSight camera-based active safety system--we found that to be an unobtrusive way of making sure you don't stray from your lane or rear-end traffic in front.
It seems like our thoughts fairly closely match those of Japanese Subaru fans: today's report from Subaru says that 36 percent of buyers went for the 2014 Forester 2.0-liter turbocharged model with EyeSight (the top trim), while 33 percent of buyers opted for the mid-grade naturally aspirated model (Japanese markets get a 2.0-liter engine rather than our 2.5-liter one) with EyeSight. All told, Japanese Forester buyers snatched up EyeSight-equipped models over those not equipped with the feature by a measure of almost 9 to 1. Not surprisingly, the most requested/ordered exterior color was white.
When contacted today, Subaru USA said that it's too early to estimate the EyeSight take rate on the 2014 Forester for the U.S. market, especially considering that the car isn't yet available for pre-order here (the U.S.-market car debuted at the LA Auto Show last month). Don't expect nearly 90 percent of U.S.-market Foresters to come with EyeSight, either: Subaru USA's strategy with the system (which is in its third generation in Japan but debuted in the U.S. this year) is to package it on only the top trim levels of each car. Seeing as the EyeSight system has an eight-percent take rate on Outback and nine percent on the Legacy, it's safe to assume that Forester buyers will follow suit and purchase the option box between five and ten percent of the time.