Bottom line: The 2014 Subaru Forester belongs on the list of anyone shopping for a compact, all-wheel-drive family wagon — even if you are forced to shop for it in the sport-utility or crossover-utility category. This is a wagon, and it’s the best of the lot.

Ride, acceleration and handling: It gets top marks in all three. The Forester’s new rear suspension is a welcome improvement — a softer, more comfortable ride with excellent handling.

Head-turning quotient: A tad larger and rounder than its predecessor. But it looks like what it is — a wagon.

Body/layout: It is a compact, front-engine, all-wheel-drive utility wagon with four side doors and a rear hatch. Initially available in two trim levels, Base and Premium.

Technical changes: The 2014 model comes with a new six-speed manual transmission or a continuously variable automatic transmission (no fixed gears) that also can be operated manually via steering wheel paddles. My model came with the continuously variable transmission, one of the best of its type I’ve ever driven.

Engines/transmissions: Available are a 2.5-liter flat-four-cylinder gasoline engine (170 horsepower, 174 pound-feet of torque) and a turbocharged, 2-liter, gasoline-direct-injection, flat-four-cylinder engine.

Technical highlights: Standard equipment includes onboard navigation with a 6.1-inch touch-screen, high-definition radio, MP3/WMA capability and smartphone integration. A separate, smaller screen integrated into the instrument panel is available with back-up camera.

Capacities: Seats five people. Cargo capacity is 34.4 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 61.7 cubic feet with those seats folded. Estimated fuel capacity is 16.9 gallons. Regular grade is okay. Use premium grade for “best performance” in the turbocharged 2-liter model.

Mileage: In the turbocharged 2-liter model, I got 27 miles per gallon on the highway (one passenger and no cargo).

Safety: Four-wheel ventilated disc brakes, four-wheel antilock brake protection, emergency braking assistance, electronic brake-force distribution, electronic stability and traction control, and side and head air bags.

Pricing: The manufacturer’s suggested retail price of the 2014 Subaru Forester 2.0XT Premium with continuously variable transmission is $27,995. Estimated dealer’s invoice price on that model is $26,000. Price as tested is $28,820, including an $825 transportation charge. Estimated dealer’s price as tested is $26,825. This will be a high-demand vehicle. Dealers probably will price accordingly, meaning no discounts in the early going.