No manual, no 2.0-liter turbo
SHOW FLOOR UPDATE: Wonder why the WRX-powered Forester XT was dropped from the all-new 2019 Subaru Forester? Well, you’re to blame. According to Subaru, only 5 percent of Forester shoppers opted for the more powerful, sportier Forester XT, with the other 95 percent supposedly finding the Subie’s 170-hp, 174-lb-ft 2.5-liter flat-four more than adequate.
There was a brief glimmer of hope for a more powerful Forester during the crossover’s reveal when newly-minted Subaru of America CEO (and former MT Person of the Year) Tom Doll said that a presumably more powerful plug-in hybrid (PHEV) would be joining the Subaru lineup by the end of 2018, but a source at Subaru tells us that the plug-in isn’t planned for the Forester. Our guess is the new 2019 Ascent three-row crossover is the lucky PHEV recipient. As for the 2019 Forester, it’ll probably be quicker than the old model, thanks to a new gasoline direct-injection 2.5-liter flat-four that makes 182 hp and 176 lb-ft of torque and paired with a retuned CVT. -Christian Seabaugh
The fourth-generation Forester won our SUV of the Year award when it arrived for the 2014 model year. But since then, the small crossover has started to feel a little older than competitors when it comes to technology and interior accoutrements. In a bid to take the top spot once again, the 2019 Subaru Forester receives thoughtful new features and rides on a new platform.
We recently tested a Forester with a 2.0-liter turbo-four engine making 250 hp, and we were impressed with its exceptional acceleration. The speedy crossover hit 60 mph in just 6.8 seconds from a standstill. Sadly, Subaru drops this engine for the 2019 model year. The only remaining power source in the lineup is a 2.5-liter boxer-four that features direct fuel injection, higher compression, and an active valve control system on the exhaust side to delivers 182 hp and 176 lb-ft of torque, up 12 hp and 2 lb-ft from the old version. Say goodbye to the six-speed manual, because Subaru is only offering a CVT on this Forester.
Subaru says to expect quicker acceleration from the new engine, so it’ll likely improve from a 2.5-liter model we tested hitting 60 mph in 8.7 seconds. Although official EPA numbers haven’t been released, Subaru estimates it will achieve up to 33 mpg (7.1 L/100km) on the highway. If that number holds up, the crossover will perform slightly better than the 2018 Forester with a 2.5-liter and a CVT, rated 32 mpg (7.3 L/100km) on the highway.
The 2019 Subaru Forester sits on the new Subaru Global Platform. We’ll have to test it for ourselves, but Subaru promises the new platform will improve the Forester’s ride comfort, quietness, and agility. The crossover looks about the same size as before, but its wheelbase has increased 1.2 inches. Subaru promises slightly more legroom on the new model, as well as gains in headroom, shoulder room, hip room, and cargo room. Subaru has also increased the width of the rear gate opening by 5.3 inches.
Inside the cabin, the Forester receives new front seats, a new electronic parking brake, and newly standard automatic climate control. Heated front seats are available, and now they feature three-stage control (instead of the previous model’s two settings). Touring models add heated rear seats. Other new available features include Wi-Fi and Concierge services and remote engine start with the MySubaru smartphone app. Oh yeah, and all 2019 Foresters have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard equipment.
All Foresters come standard with EyeSight, which includes automatic pre-collision braking, lane departure and sway warning, adaptive cruise control, and other features. lane keep assist, and a feature that alerts the driver when the vehicle ahead has moved up in traffic after a stop. Subaru is also offering DriverFocus, an available feature that uses facial recognition software to tell if a driver is tired or distracted.
Five trim levels are available on the new Forester including base, Premium, Limited, Touring, and Sport. On the new Sport trim, look for a special grille with gloss black finished accents on the frame, black-finished 18-inch wheels and rear roof spoiler as well as and orange accents on the black underguards and roof rail mounts. Inside, gray upholstery mixes with orange stitching. Mid- to higher trim models receive standard modes for both Snow/Dirt and Deep Snow/Mud. The Forester also has “Intelligent” and “Sport” driving modes, but the Sport trim replaces the latter with “Sport Sharp.” Both Sport and Touring variants have a CVT with a seven-speed manual mode controlled by paddle shifters.
The 2019 Forester’s exterior features active grille shutters inside the grille to improve aerodynamics. Subaru also says the new model’s wider rear door openings will make it easier to put in a child seat. New colors for 2019 include Jasper Green Metallic, Horizon Blue Pearl, and Crimson Red Pearl.
The 2019 Subaru Forester goes on sale later this year.