The variety of utility vehicles has exploded in recent years and appears certain to grow exponentially for foreseeable future.
Manufacturers are moving quickly to cash in on the consumer interest in vehicles that might not have a lot of charm or sex appeal but are practical for life in a world that has become much more complex.
One of the automakers that has deftly capitalized on the trend, of course, is Subaru. Subaru sells interesting passenger cars and has built a strong reputation for building safe vehicles. But it is the strength of utility vehicle line that has helped the brand record, as of the end of August, 81 consecutive months of year-over-year sales increases.
Part of the foundation of Subaru’s success has been the popularity of the Forester, which for 2019 has been completely revised. The 2019 Forester is a more sophisticated vehicle than its predecessors of the same name with a more comfortable interior, more technology, better steering and better driving dynamics.
(Subaru ascending toward another sales record. Click Here for the story.)
The Forester has built an impressive fan base during the years with its versatility, and that versatility has been emphasized throughout the 2019 Forester. For example, the rear hatch that is part of the new Forester’s exterior package is larger than that of competitive vehicles such as the Ford Escape, RAV4 and Honda CR-V. The extra-large opening, which fits neatly into the exterior design, makes it easier to get packages or gear in and out of the Forester, making it easier to use on errands and various kinds of outings.
Subaru also has refined the exterior design of the 2019 Forester by paying attention to the details such as the LED head lamps tucked into the vehicle’s front fascia. Although the Forester is taller than the Subaru Outback, another wagon-style crossover in the “family,” the 2019 Forester still has a recognizable family resemblance to the other SUVs in the Subaru line-up.
However, those differences, such as the broad wheel arches and extra height, underscore the Forester’s all-wheel-drive capability, which is again part of the vehicle’s versatility. The driver and passenger doors are wider and swing out further to make ingress and egress easier and the design also enhances the visibility from the driver seat.
The interior is nicely laid out and furnished with soft touch material that helps make the cabin more comfortable even on a longer drive. In addition, the interior of the cabin is quieter, which reduces stress.
The 2019 Foresters are powered by an updated version of Subaru’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder Boxer engine, which is now equipped with direct fuel injection. The new engine produces 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque versus the 170 hp and 174 lb-ft put out by the previous models of the Forester.
(Click Here for our first driving impressions of the new Subaru Ascent.)
The 2019 Forester comes standard with a Lineartronic CVT and the revised powertrain delivers an estimated 33 miles per gallon highway fuel economy. In Sport and Touring variants, the CVT features a manual mode that simulates a seven-speed manual transmission, using steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters.
The electric power steering in the Forester also has been upgraded and I found the new steering set-up very responsive during the test drivers in the rolling hills of Western North Carolina. In addition, the steering was effective on a rugged rural track and on a dirt road through winding above a stream in forested hills.
The Forester also had ample power on the open road with good acceleration. The drive never called for anything approaching top speed but the engine and transmission was smooth and quiet and the CVT moved through the various gears very smoothly and efficiently. The brakes were also performed nicely.
Subaru is proud of the Forester’s overall safety record. It expects a five-star crash rating again for the new Forester and a four-star rating in rollover crash tests, which is the best available for any utility vehicle.
The 2019 Forester is equipped with what Subaru calls “DriverFocus,” a monitoring system that uses facial recognition software to identify signs of driver fatigue or driver distraction. DriverFocus works with Subaru’s EyeSight Driver Assist Technology to reduce the chance of an accident. For added convenience, DriverFocus can recognize up to five drivers and remember their presets for seat position, climate, multifunction display and more.
The 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 new Forester also has an all-new frame that is made with high-strength steel that makes it better able to withstand a crash.
(To see more about Crosstrek becoming Subaru’s first plug-in hybrid model, Click Here.)
Prices for the Forester start at $25,270, including the $975 destination, making the Forester quite affordable. In addition, it does lots of things well, including traveling off road in rugged terrain. The combination makes the 2019 Forester a solid choice for anyone putting a substance ahead of style.