Car Reviews SUV of the Year

Subaru Forester: 2019 Motor Trend SUV of the Year Finalist

Function over fun

Function over fun

WE LIKE Smart packaging and functionality, capable AWD, supple ride

WE DON’T LIKE Gutless powertrain, insistent nannies

Subaru knows its audience: Sensible folks in inclement climes who like their boots muddy and their outerwear made from polar fleece.

Those folks usually have a placid driving demeanor, as if there were a market-fresh egg under the gas pedal. So it won’t bother them that the redesigned Forester is gutless or that it terrified us in passing maneuvers with what Christian Seabaugh described as “glacial” acceleration. It’s actually slower than the smaller, cheaper Crosstrek. The CVT almost saved it by “performing hero’s work,” according to Scott Evans.

Worse still, the engine’s lethargy made it so the Forester got stuck following a slushy-silt slope panic stop—regardless of the X-Mode all-wheel drive’s talents. We had to back up and take another run to surmount the gently sloped hill. That’s not encouraging when conjuring steep Vermont driveways after a snowstorm.

But the Forester wins in every other category. Despite its compact size, you can fit a basketball starting five in its roomy, leggy cabin. The wide-mouthed cargo area will swallow a chilly week’s allotment of chopped wood. And the interior is modernized, though still frumpy like your favorite flannel shirt.

For those of you still in therapy harboring memories of hectoring mothers, the Subaru is a rolling trigger warning, with constantly beeping nannies interrupting your drive for one unidentifiable reason or another. “Shut up already!” Frank Markus exclaimed.

Its shortcomings are a shame, because Subaru did an excellent job keeping road and wind noise out of the cabin and providing a relatively magic-carpet ride for its class.

“For how much you pay, it does almost everything else you could ask of it,” Zach Gale said. “It’s really a wonderful, well-rounded package.”

READ ABOUT 2019 SUV OF THE YEAR CONTENDERS:

READ ABOUT 2019 CAR OF THE YEAR CONTENDERS:

2019 Subaru Forester Touring
Base Price/As tested $35,470/$35,470
Power (SAE net) 182 hp @ 5,800 rpm
Torque (SAE net) 176 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm
Accel, 0-60 mph 9.6 sec
Quarter-mile 17.3 sec @ 82.3 mph
Braking, 60-0 mph 129 ft
Lateral Acceleration 0.79 g (avg)
MT Figure Eight 28.1 sec @ 0.60 g (avg)
EPA City/Hwy/Comb 26/33/29 mpg
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE/TRANSMISSION 2.5L DOHC 16-valve flat-4/ Cont variable auto
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,575 lb (58/42%)
WHEELBASE 105.1 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 182.1 x 71.5 x 67.5 in
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 130/102 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.67 lb/mile