The 2019 Forester doesn’t radically shake up Subaru’s SUV formula, but it doesn’t have to. Now in its fifth generation, the Forester continues to offer exactly what its buyers want: Lots of interior space, lots of standard safety equipment and rugged charm.
Visually, it’s still very much a Forester, with an upright, two-box design, and typically Subaru contemporary-but-offbeat styling. You know, kinda ugly, but totally charming at the same time. The 2019 Forester is built on the Japanese automaker’s Subaru Global Platform architecture, resulting in an SUV that’s slightly larger than before. The increased length, width and height all allow for more passenger and cargo volume. Wins all around, for sure.
Every 2019 Forester will be powered by Subaru’s new, direct-injected, 2.5-liter boxer engine, with 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque — gains of 12 hp and 2 lb-ft over the 2018 model. This engine is mated to a continuously variable transmission across all trim levels. Sport and Touring models get a manual mode with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, not that they’ll drastically alter the behavior of the CVT or anything. All-wheel drive is standard on all Forester models — it’s a Subaru, after all.
Sadly, Subaru will no longer offer a turbocharged Forester XT. The Sport model is merely about appearance and a longer list of standard equipment. Sure, this Forester gets a Sport Sharp setting in the SI-Drive modes, but all chassis and drivetrain components are the same as other Forester models. You’ll be able to spot the Forester Sport by its unique grille, dark 18-inch wheels and rear roof spoiler. A step up from the Forester Premium trim, the Sport also gets LED foglights, high-beam assist, push-button start, heated seats and more.
Subaru’s excellent EyeSight suite of driver-safety tech is standard across the 2019 Forester lineup, which includes adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane-keeping assist and more. New for this year, top-end Forester Touring models get Subaru’s DriverFocus tech, which uses facial recognition software to monitor driver distraction and fatigue. DriverFocus can remember up to five different drivers, memorizing their presets for seating position, climate preferences, infotainment settings and more.
Speaking of infotainment, the base Forester comes with a 6.5-inch multimedia system, while higher-end trims get 8-inch Multimedia Plus and Multimedia Navigation systems. Subaru’s Starlink interface features standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, for folks who’d rather use those. That’s all packaged inside an updated cabin that’s designed for function first, and Subaru says its 2019 model is the roomiest and quietest Forester yet.
Look for the 2019 Forester to hit Subaru dealers later this year, following its introduction at the New York Auto Show this week.