Subaru has launched its all-new, fifth-generation Forester for the 2019 model year at the 2018 North American International Auto Show. The new Forester might have a familiar appearance, but it’s new from the lug nuts up. The five-passenger wagon is slightly longer and boasts more interior volume, while new in-dash technology makes the ride more connected.
The 2019 Forester rides on the Subaru Global Platform, a unibody chassis designed to deliver a quiet, stable ride with on-road agility and modest off-road capability. Of course, the Forester comes standard with Subaru’s Symmetrical AWD system. The wheelbase has increased by 1.2 inches to 105.1 inches, affording an extra 1.4 inches of extra legroom to the rear passengers for an impressive total of 39.4 inches. The extra length also adds 1.4 cubic feet of cargo volume to the Forester, giving it a grand total of 76.1 cubic feet.
These changes form the foundation for the new Forester, on which Subaru has added more creature comforts and even a new trim level, the Sport.
If you are looking for a bigger Subaru, check out the 2019 Subaru Ascent.
The new Forester isn’t a massive departure from the outgoing model. Rather, the 2019 redesign is more of an evolution of the same vehicle. The 2019 Forester has a more angular and chiseled appearance thanks to a more upright grille, more aggressive fender flares, a strong character line under the side windows, and sharpened taillights. All trim come standard with new LED headlights, too.
Subaru worked to keep outward visibility as open as possible. The roof pillars are thin and strategically placed to give the driver and passengers a good view of the road and scenery. When it comes to traveling through really scenic areas, the Forester offers an impressive 8.7 inches of ground clearance. That’s basically identical to the 2018 Jeep Wrangler’s 8.8 inches of ground clearance.
Three wheel options are offered. The base Forester comes with 17-inch steel wheels while the Premium rides on 17-inch alloy wheels. The Sport, Limited and Touring all come with 18-inch wheels – all with their own design.
The new Forster’s interior takes inspiration from the new-for-2017 Subaru Impreza. A double-stacked center stack hosts Subaru’s StarLink infotainment system and the color driver information screen. Satin chrome accents brighten the black dash while the seats can be had in black, tan, or a saddle brown. Cloth comes standard but Leather is optional. Naturally, the upper trim levels come standard with more equipment and the upgraded leather seats.
Like most modern crossovers, the 2019 Forester has room for five people in a 2+3 configuration. The 60/40-split rear bench has a folding center armrest and easily accessible LATCH anchors for child seats. The seats then fold flat for hauling larger cargo.
The new Forester rolls into 2019 with all the modern conveniences expected by today’s car buyers. The base Forester gets a 6.5-inch infotainment touchscreen, while the upper trims gets an 8.0-inch screen with navigation. Both systems come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, along with SiriusXM radio, Bluetooth connectivity, and apps like Aha and Pandora. Versions with navigation get voice commands.
StarLink’s Connected Services system has been upgraded to include remote engine staring, a concierge service, anti-theft vehicle immobilizer, and over-the-air firmware updating. Parents will love the new geofencing feature that can be set up for younger drivers. It also includes speed and curfew alerts. (Maybe kids do have it rough these days.)
Subaru has made a name for itself in the safety department and its push continues for 2019. The new Forester comes standard with Subaru’s EyeSight Driver Assist Technology that includes Automatic Pre-Collision Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure and Sway Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Pre-Collision Throttle Management, and Lead Vehicle Start Alert. The 2019 Forester also now comes with individual tire pressure readouts in the driver information screen. For those who want more, extra-cost options include Reverse Automatic Braking and Blind Spot Detection with Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
Other safety features include High Beam Assist on the Sport, Limited and Touring trims. Minus the Sport trim, the headlights also respond to steering inputs so they turn into a curve for better nighttime visibility.
On the passive side, the Forester comes with a barrage of airbags, including for the driver’s knee and side pelvis/torso airbags for both from occupants. Side curtain airbags for both rows and frontal airbags are standard.
The familiar 2.5-liter Boxer four-cylinder engine returns for 2019, but it now comes with direct fuel injection, variable valve timing on the exhaust side, and a higher compression ratio. Power is up from 170 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque to 182 horses and 176 pound-feet.
The engine is mated to Subaru’s Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission. The CVT is said to provide better response and improved fuel economy. Subaru estimates the new Forester will get 33 mpg on the highway. Sport and Touring trims come with a manual mode with seven pre-programmed ratios that allow for simulated shifting using paddle shifters.
Subaru’s SI-Drive controls the engine and transmission with Intelligent, Sport, and Sort Sharp driving modes. Only the Sport trim gets the Sport Sharp mode.
The Symmetrical AWD system comes standard and now boasts Active Torque Vectoring for better grip on both dry and wet surfaces. All but the base model come with X-Mode with Hill Descent Control. X-Mode is basically an off-road mode that recalibrates the engine, transmission, and AWD system for better performance in slippery conditions like deep mud or snow.
Expect to see the new Forester in Subaru showrooms by the end of 2018. Subaru didn’t announce pricing at the New York Auto Show, but we expect things will remain mostly unchanged. For a reference, the outgoing 2018 Forester started at $22,795 and topped out around $36,000.