Despite moving to the all-new architecture, the 2019 Forester is more evolutionary than revolutionary, retaining a Subaru family look and signature engineering elements such as a horizontally opposed (Boxer) four-cylinder engine, continuously variable automatic transmission and standard symmetrical, full-time all-wheel drive.
Guiding principles behind the redesign were "comfort for loved ones" – all passengers, not just the driver – and a modern cubic theme for the styling.
A more rugged-looking and slightly larger body with standard LED headlamps sits on a 28-mm-longer wheelbase, which adds space to one of the segment's roomiest cabins. The tailgate opening is wider – up to 1,300 mm, more than enough to swallow four-foot-wide building materials. Wider side-door sills allow easier access to roof-mounted items.
Segment-exclusive safety aids include available DriverFocus, which adds facial-recognition software to detect driver fatigue or distraction, and works with the existing EyeSight suite of active-safety technologies – lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise etc. – to keep things safe. DriverFocus can also store the faces of up to five drivers and remember their settings for seats, mirror, climate and more.
The 2.5-litre Boxer engine gets auto stop/start, and direct fuel injection helps boost outputs to 182 horsepower (from 170) and 176 lb.-ft. of torque (from 174). For engaged drivers, the CVT transmission has an available seven-speed manual-shift mode, and standard SI-Drive features Intelligent, Sport and Sport# modes. But a manual gearbox is no longer offered, nor a high-output turbo engine option.
Ground clearance of 220 mm remains among the class leaders, while a newly available dual-mode X-Mode, with Snow/Dirt and Deep Snow/Mud settings, enables even greater capability in challenging conditions. Active torque vectoring, inherited from the WRX/STI sport sedans, enhances handling on paved roads.
Or, while you're just bumbling around the ' burbs, you can interface the world with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto through a 6.5– or 8.0-inch touchscreen.
The Forester is expected in showrooms in the early fall. Pricing isn't set yet but expect the base model – with AWD standard – to match the FWD entry models of key rivals such as the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.
The writer was a guest of the auto maker. Content was not subject to approval.
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