The all-new 2019 Subaru Forester is here, and there’s a lot to like about the fifth generation of Subaru’s best-selling vehicle. It shows off an updated design, new engine, and new technologies without straying too far from its roots. Subaru loyalists will be pleased.
Power comes from a direct-injected, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque paired to a continuously variable automatic transmission. CVTs tend to be loud and whiny, especially under hard acceleration. It’s a common complaint, but the Forester gets points for having a quiet CVT. You won’t hear it driving around town or when getting up to highway speeds.
Gone is the option for the turbocharged engine of the outgoing model, but don’t worry. This new engine has more power and, according to Subaru, it’s faster. After only a short time at the wheel, the Forester proved this claim true. It’s quick off the line, and it effortlessly merges into highway traffic. If you need extra speed for passing, no problem. Hit the gas, and the Forester delivers plenty of power.
There’s also a new Sport trim with a seven-speed manual mode and steering wheel paddle shifters. It includes Subaru Intelligent Drive with a Sport Sharp mode that makes the Forester more responsive. This doesn’t turn the Forester into a performance vehicle, but it does offer sharper driving dynamics that make the Forester more fun.
All-wheel drive is standard along with torque vectoring to direct power to wheels that slip. All but the Base model include X-Mode with Normal, Snow-Dirt, and Deep Snow-Mud drive modes. Toggling through the modes adjusts the engine, all-wheel drive system, brakes, and transmission shifts to give the driver better control.
One thing that detracts from the ride is the auto stop-start system. It helps to make the Forester more fuel efficient, which is a good thing, but it’s unusually rough. While it’s not as much of an issue on the highway, it’s disconcerting in stop-and-go traffic or even just while going through the drive-thru line.
Adding to passenger comfort is a spacious interior with new front seats. They’re comfortable and supportive without being heavily bolstered, keeping you nicely in place even on twisty roads. This year’s Forester also has a longer wheelbase, which increases legroom for rear passengers.
Parents will appreciate rear doors that open wider, making it easier to secure squirming toddlers in their car seats. This also makes access smoother for adults, especially those with mobility challenges.
There’s ample room for cargo with 35.4 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 76.1 cubic feet behind the front seats. The rear seats split-fold 60/40 for extra cargo flexibility, and the Forester can tow up to 1,500 pounds of additional cargo.
Loading up that cargo is easy thanks to an available power liftgate with memory and height adjustment. If you’re on the short side or have a garage with a low roof, this lets you set the liftgate height to the perfect spot.
Anyone who has a power liftgate has experienced the frustration of waiting for it to close before locking the vehicle. Subaru added an available rear lock button that closes the liftgate and locks the doors all at once, so you can simply walk away.
On the tech front, the Forester includes segment-exclusive DriverFocus, which uses facial recognition to detect signs of distraction or tiredness. If there’s an issue, then the system sounds a chime and lights an icon in the instrument cluster to let you know it may be time for a break.
The Forester also includes latest version of the Subaru Starlink infotainment system, which comes with a standard 6.5-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. Options on top trims include an 8-inch touchscreen, navigation, and a nine-speaker Harman Kardon audio system.
The Forester lineup features five trim levels starting with the Base at a price of $24,295. The top Touring trim is priced from $34,295 keeping it affordable at any trim. The all-new 2019 Subaru Forester is now available at dealerships nationwide.