Slightly larger than before, the Forester also has new side cladding — the Sport model is shown — as well as active grille shutters to keep air out of the engine compartment at highway speeds. All-wheel-drive is of course standard. Photo:Subaru

2019 Subaru Forester

A further evolution of Subaru’s value quotient

Based on sales statistics, the love affair that North American buyers have with all things Subaru continues to intensify, and nowhere is it more obvious than with the Forester tall wagon.

As one of Subaru’s top-selling models, the Forester earns kudos for its tough-when-it-needs-to-be attitude, passenger comfort and straight-up reliability. On good roads and bad, the standard all-wheel-drive system operates virtually unnoticed. But when called upon, which is a regular thing in Canada, a generous 22 centimetres of ground clearance — and mountain-goat-like capabilities — combine to make the Forester a capable travel companion.

For the 2019 model year, Subaru added more refinement to the Forester, starting with a new platform that’s also the basis for every other company model except the BRZ sporty coupe.

The slightly enlarged structure is lighter and more rigid, and the retuned suspension is claimed to reduce noise and vibration. The distance between the front and rear wheels has been increased by about 2.5 centimetres, resulting in added legroom for rear-seat passengers.

The Forester’s sheetmetal makeover incorporates new front-end styling with standard LED lighting and active grille shutters that close up at higher speeds to improve aerodynamics and fuel economy. New side cladding protects the rocker panels from unpaved surface debris.

Buyers will also appreciate the slightly increased cargo room with the 60:40 rear seat folded. The rear doors are wider to facilitate entry and exit while a 13.5-centimetre increase in liftgate width means bigger cargo can be loaded.

Passenger-compartment changes extend to the redesigned front seats that are reshaped to reduce driver and passenger fatigue, especially on long trips. The revised dashboard and control panel has the available 20-centimetre touchscreen positioned in a more prominent spot, and a standard electronic parking brake has replaced the pull handle.

The Forester’s drivetrain possibilities are now down to just one with the elimination of the optional turbocharged 2.5-litre four-cylinder powerplant. The remaining non-turbo 2.5 has been reworked to deliver 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque, up from the previous 170/174 ratings.

With the deletion of the six-speed manual gearbox, the sole transmission is a continuously variable unit (CVT) with Intelligent (which is standard) and Sport modes. On upper trim levels, the CVT’s paddle shifters control seven simulated gears. According to Subaru, a lack of demand meant dropping the stick shift and the turbo engine.

The mostly new 2.5/CVT combo achieves 9.2 l/100 km in the city, 7.2 on the highway and 8.2 combined, which represents a slight improvement from the previous model.

Added to the Forester’s AWD is torque vectoring, which applies light braking to the inside front wheel when turning. This helps reduce understeer, a tendency for a vehicle to continue in straight line even when the driver is turning the steering wheel.

The Forester comes in six models with a base price starting at $30,250, including destination charges. However Subaru’s Eyesight dynamic-safety grouping that includes adaptive cruise control, emergency braking and lane-keeping assist is only available on upper trims.

The top-level Premier adds DriverFocus, which identifies possible distracted-driving indicators and then emits visual and audio alerts. Reverse Automatic Braking, which keeps the Forester from hitting objects when backing up, is also part of the Premier’s content.

Subaru has also added a Sport model that comes with contrasting orange accents, blacked-out grille and wheels, rear roof spoiler, roof rails and orange interior trim. Mechanically, the Sport’s “Sport Sharp” driver-select mode improves throttle response. It comes with a few other amenities and adds about $7,000 to the base price, while a loaded Premier tops out at $41,800.

Whatever the final cost, the newest Forester delivers more refinement and economy of operation, while maintaining a go-anywhere competency that frequently places it on most buyers’ consideration lists.

What you should know: 2019 Subaru Forester

Type: Four-door, all-wheel-drive compact utility vehicle

Engine (h.p.): 2.5-litre DOHC H-4 (182)

Transmission: Continuously variable (CVT)

Market position: Among the range of vehicles in the category, the Forester is consistently popular. It has a reputation for solid construction, a comfortable interior and an effective all-wheel-drive system.

Points: Conservative styling is a modest improvement over previous versions. • More passenger and cargo room is always appreciated. • Too bad about the loss of the turbocharged engine and manual transmission, but understandable given the lack of popularity. • Optional Sport package is out of character, but might entice younger buyers.

Active safety: Blind-spot warning with cross-traffic backup alert (opt.); active cruise control (opt.); emergency braking (opt.); drowsy-driver alert (opt.)

L/100 km (city/hwy) 9.2/7.2; Base price (incl. destination) $30,250

BY COMPARISON

Toyota RAV4 AWD

Base price: $32,400

Tougher-looking 2019 model is available with a hybrid powertrain.

GMC Terrain AWD

Base price: $34,900

Chevy-Equinox-based wagon available with a turbocharged 252-h.p. I-4.

Hyundai Santa Fe AWD

Base price: $30,900

Renewed 2019 model looks beefier than before. Both four-cylinder engines return.

-written by Malcom Gunn, Managing Partner at Wheelbase Media.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

The distance between the front and rear wheels has increased by about 2.5 centimetres, which means more rear-seat legroom. The rear doors are also wider. Photo:Subaru

The new Sport model is readily identifiable by its contrasting orange accents. More generally, the front seats have been redesigned to reduce fatigue and an electronic parking brake replaces the pull handle. Photo:Subaru

The Forester drops the optional turbocharged four-cylinder, which means the only engine offered is a 182-horsepower 2.5-litre four-cylinder. The six-speed manual transmission has been replaced by a continuously variable unit. Photo: Subaru

Just Posted

QUIZ: Do you know the truth?

In what has been described as a post-truth era, how much do you know about truth and lies?

Tech mogul looks to grow Vernon’s presence in Okanagan wine industry

The founder of online dating site Plenty of Fish is developing 900 acres in the city hillsides

EDITORIAL: Managing wildfires

Wildfires have the potential to cause significant damage within our province

Car show a hit at Vernon retirement resort

GALLERY: No drooling over the classic cruisers parked at Parkwood Retirement Resort

GALLERY: Vernon painter captures beauty of Davison Orchards in new series

In a new painting, card series, artist Patricia Lawton was inspired by resident dog, Harlow

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

NHL playoffs: Canucks to meet St. Louis Blues in Round 1

Vancouver takes on defending champs beginning Wednesday

Local state of emergency declared near Okanagan home

Slope failure cited as City of Penticton issues notice at home in 600 block of Heather Road

Simon Cowell breaks his back falling from electric bike

Incident happened at his home in California

Therapeutic art for sale at Okanagan show

17th annual Awakening the Spirit Art Show and Sale presented by Vernon Canadian Mental Health Assoc.

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

Fentanyl-laced powder being sold as cocaine in Kamloops

Interior Health has released a warning about very strong fentanyl in Kamloops

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

North Okanagan ranch needs support to stay afloat

Founded in 1867, a fundraiser has been launched for the Historic O’Keefe Ranch

Most Read