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Subaru Forester: All-New and Adventure Ready

By Arv Voss, August 31st, 2019

The fifth-generation Forester is without question the most capable and roomiest to date, delivering improvements and enhancements in virtually every respect.

Manufacturer photo: The all-new fifth generation 2019 Subaru Forester offers the most space, capability and features in its 22-year history
Manufacturer photo: The all-new fifth generation 2019 Subaru Forester offers the most space, capability and features in its 22-year history

-- OVERVIEW

Virtually every part -- except for a few random nuts and bolts -- is all new for the venerable Forester. The 2019 Subaru Forester is a four-door SUV available in five levels of trim: the base Forester; Premium Forester; the new Sport trim level Forester, featuring unique styling cues inside and out; and the upscale Limited and Touring models.

The Forester is a versatile five-passenger SUV that bows with groundbreaking new safety technologies such as DriverFocus, which helps reduce distracted driving by identifying signs of driver fatigue and distraction. This segment-exclusive system is standard on Touring trim Foresters. Subaru's EyeSight Driver Assist Technology is now available as standard fare on all trim levels.

-- BOXER ENGINE UPDATE

Manufacturer photo: The all-new fifth generation 2019 Subaru Forester offers the most space, capability and features in its 22-year history

The source of propulsion for the new Subaru Forester is an enhanced 2.5-liter horizontally opposed (BOXER) flat four-cylinder engine with electronic throttle control that now features direct injection. The horsepower rating is 182 at 5,800 rpm; torque is rated at 176 lb.-ft. at 4,400 rpm.

Motive force reaches all four wheels of Subaru's Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive via a Lineartronic continuously variable transmission with a manual shift mode and steering wheel paddle shift control switches for driver selectability that simulates seven speeds. This is now the only powertrain available -- a turbocharged version engine is no longer available, nor is a manual gearbox.

-- SIMILAR STYLING

The 2019 Forester displays a rugged style showcasing Subaru's new design language while retaining a strong family resemblance to the rest of the brand's lineup. The exterior's shoulder lines follow around the pillars emphasizing height and strength along with prominent wheel arches. All Forester models feature lower body side cladding, which helps protect against mud, rocks, and other road debris. Roof rails are standard on all but the base model.

Changes in packaging yield an additional 1.4 inches of cargo space and rear seat legroom, and the maximum width of the rear gate opening has been increased by 5.3 inches over the previous model.

Manufacturer photo: The all-new fifth generation 2019 Subaru Forester offers the most space, capability and features in its 22-year history

-- COMFORT AND CONVENIENCE

The Touring trim is the most luxurious Forester yet, with standard exclusive features. A worthwhile plus feature for top-of-the-line Touring models is the segment-exclusive DriverFocus distraction mitigation system that is able to identify signs of driver fatigue or distraction by delivering an alert in the form of an appropriate audio voice warning, as well as automatically adjusting many driver settings at start-up.

The front seats are both comfortable and supportive, and outward visibility is excellent. A panoramic moonroof is another desirable feature. Textured materials used for the cargo area floor, sides, and rear gate interior trim resist dirt. The cabin is the roomiest and quietest ever.

A standard driver-selectable SI-DRIVE is a powertrain performance management system that allows the driver to tailor the vehicle's throttle characteristics by selecting either an "Intelligent" or "Sport" mode, adding more flexibility for driving conditions.

Forester provides 8.7 inches of ground clearance -- more than most competitors, while maintaining an easy step-in height. For difficult driving conditions like snow or mud, Forester Premium, Sport, Limited, and Touring models come standard with driver-selectable X-Mode with Hill Descent Control. X-Mode optimizes control of the engine, transmission shift pattern, Active AWD front/rear clutch force, brakes, and the Vehicle Dynamics Control system, which enhances wheel control on slick surfaces and steep inclines. Also new for 2019, Sport, Limited, and Touring models come standard with a dual-mode version of X-Mode that offers Snow/Dirt and Deep Snow/Mud modes for even greater capability. Active Torque Vectoring is also standard on all Foresters.

Manufacturer photo: The all-new fifth generation 2019 Subaru Forester offers the most space, capability and features in its 22-year history

-- TOURING MODEL TESTED

My tester was a Touring model with a base price of $34,295, which came to $35,270 after adding the destination and delivery charge.

-- PERFORMANCE

Driving the Forester Touring truly epitomizes Subaru's tradition of providing an optimal blend of SUV capability with car-like ride comfort and sporty, capable handling characteristics. Admittedly, the old turbo engine delivered more brisk performance, but the enhanced 2.5-liter direct-injected four-banger delivers a substantial amount of power that will serve the majority of buyers well for its intended purpose.

-- OUR FINAL TAKE

The 2019 Forester is a go-anywhere in any kind of weather vehicle that guarantees safe, comfortable, transport for personal adventures along with the improved EPA fuel economy rating of 26 mpg city and 33 mpg highway for travel that won't break the bank.

Adding to the Forester's appeal and answering the call to adventure is a host of accessories geared to enhancing lifestyle activities. One of the coolest accessories is a $1,300 tent with a platform that attaches to the Forester for real on-site camping convenience.

Specifications

Base price $34,295 (as tested: $35,270)
Curb weight 3,588 lbs.
Displacement 2.5-liter
Engine type 16-valve Boxer 4-cyl. w/DI
Epa mileage rating 26 mpg city, 33 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 16.6 gal.
Horsepower (net) 182 at 5800 rpm
Overall length 182.1 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 176 at 4400 rpm
Transmission CVT with manual mode
Vehicle type 5-passenger AWD midsize SUV
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