Thanks to its high ground clearance, turbocharged engines and standard all-wheel drive, the Forester has long been popular with buyers who live in snowy areas or the beaten path. Now Subaru loyalists who enjoy the previous model, as well as all consumers who are looking for a small crossover SUV, will find more love with the redesigned 2019 Subaru Forester.
The Forester has grown since last year, giving its spacious cabin an even greater sense of space. Subaru also redesigned the dashboard, brought a new touchscreen infotainment interface and finally, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration.
Safety has long been a Subaru focus, and it’s increasingly being consolidated for 2019. The EyeSight system – which includes forward collision warning and line departure warning is standard on every trim, and features such as automatic reverse braking and blind-spot monitoring are available in most versions. There is also a Driver Focus system on the Touring trim, a head-tracking feature that sounds a warning if it senses the driver is not paying attention to the road. It also uses face recognition software to store memory settings for up to five drivers.
Still, there are several other popular models to consider, such as the sporty Mazda CX-5, the spacious Honda CR-V and the redesigned Toyota RAV4. But given its wide range availability of advanced safety and technological features, sophisticated all-wheel-drive systems and spacious interior, the 2019 Subaru Forester should be an ideal option for anyone who wants a small crossover SUV.
The 2019 Subaru Forester has been completely redesigned.
Trim levels and features
The 2019 Subaru Forester is a five-passenger compact crossover SUV available in five trim levels: base, Premium, Sport, Limited and Touring.
Standard equipment for the base Subaru Forester trim includes 17-inch steel wheels, automatic LED headlights, automatic brake hold, a rearview camera, push-button start, a driver information display, automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, selectable drive modes, a height-adjustable driver seat and 60/40-split rear seats. On the tech side, you’ll get a 6.5-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, Bluetooth, and a four-speaker audio system with Subaru’s Starlink app suite, a CD player, and satellite radio.
Also standard is the Subaru’s EyeSight safety system, which bundles pre-collision warning with automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist and lane departure warning. The only optional features on the base Forester are alloy wheels and roof rails.
The Forester Premium adds alloy wheels, hill descent control, rear spoiler, roof rails, a panoramic sunroof, tinted windows, cargo cover, color driver information display, selectable traction modes (X-Mode), power-adjustable driver’s seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel, rear air vents, a Wi-Fi hotspot and six-speaker audio system.
The Premium optional All-Weather package adds a windshield wiper de-icer, heated mirrors and heated front seats. You can order it by itself along with a blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert system, and keyless entry, or with those features plus a power liftgate.
The 2019 Subaru Forester Sport trim include the All-Weather package plus orange interior and exterior accents, 18-inch black-painted wheels, LED foglights, automatic high-beam control, keyless entry, steering wheel-mounted shift paddles with seven simulated gears, an upgraded driver information display, an additional traction setting for the X-Mode system and an additional driving mode.
The Sport optional package brings the blind-spot monitor with automatic reverse braking and an 8-inch touchscreen. It can be ordered by itself or with the power liftgate and a nine-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system.
The Forester Limited lost the Sport’s LED foglights, orange trim and paddle shifters, but keeps the rest of its features. Furthermore, it adds blind-spot monitoring, foglights, self-leveling and adaptive headlights, power liftgate, leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped shifter, dual-zone automatic climate control, and an 8-inch touchscreen. An optional package pairs automatic reverse braking with a navigation system and Harman Kardon audio system.
The top-trim Forester Touring model includes all optional features plus LED foglights, driver-seat memory settings, a heated steering wheel with wheel-mounted shift paddles, heated rear seats with remote-folding levers, an eight-way power passenger seat, and the driver focus system.
Under the hood, the 2019 Subaru Forester is powered by a 2.5-liter flat-four engine that produces 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque. It is a little more powerful than the previous year, but it doesn’t feel much robust in the real world. This boxer powertrain is paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). In Sport and Touring models, the CVT features a manual mode that simulates a 7-speed automatic transmission via shift paddles.
Fortunately, the 2019 Subaru Forester ability to cross muddy terrain remains intact. With standard all-wheel drive and 8.7-inches of ground clearance, this Subie is more capable than other small crossovers if you want off-road activities. All except the base model come with the driver-selectable X-Mode system, which maintains the engine, stability control, brakes, and other parameters to maximize traction on wet surfaces. The X-Mode is equipped with a hill descent feature that allows the Forester to crawl down hills without the driver pressing the brakes. The Sport, Limited and Touring trim come with an additional X-Mode setting for increased vehicle stability.
With the application of light to moderate throttles, the 2019 Subaru Forester can feel quite swift. But runs out of steam when you ask for more. Getting into a freeway or overtaking at a higher speed will need planning. Unfortunately, the optional 2.0-liter turbocharged engine is no longer available. At track testing, the 2019 Subaru Forester accelerates from 0 to 60 in 9.6 seconds, which is one of the slowest cars in its class. Fuel economy is improving slightly to 29 mpg combined (26 city/33 highway), making it one of the most fuel-efficient small crossovers.
Like the exterior, the 2019 Subaru Forester interior is evolution. The design of the steering wheel, instrument panel, center stack and seats will be immediately familiar to the owners of the latest models. The most significant change is the central touchscreen, both 6.5-inch and 8-inch screens are larger than the previous generation. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are now standard in every Forester model.
Look more closely, and you will find many small changes make the cabin feel a little more functional and stylish. Textured soft-touch plastic covers the dashboard and contrast stitching for classy effects. The orange air vent and surrounding console and stitching distinguish the Sport version from the others, while the additional faux leather trim on the Touring model makes the cabin look much more luxurious.
The 2019 Subaru Forester front seats are well-shaped and offer a better adjustment range than before. In the previous generation, some found seats very high, but drivers of all sizes would have no problems with the new seats. The wide pedal box and generous headroom ensure that even tall passengers have plenty of room to lie down. The front headrest even features a tilt feature that can be adjusted for further comfort.
At the back, this is more a mixed bag. The rear seat is quite flat, and the seatback cannot be adjusted from its single upright position. There is plenty of legroom in the back, but a high seating position means that higher rear passengers might brush their hair on the headliner. If you are not that high, you will enjoy excellent outside visibility and sufficient thigh support.
Although not the largest in the class, the 2019 Subaru Forester cargo area is very impressive. Behind the back seat is 35.4 cubic feet of space, more than most competitors but less than the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V. Without a sunroof, the 2019 Forester has the largest cargo area in a category compact crossover, 76.1 cubic feet with the rear seat folded.
Release Date and Price
The 2019 Subaru Forester is on sale and arriving now at dealers nationwide. Key competitors include the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Mazda CX-5.
The 2019 Subaru Forester has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just over $25,000 (all prices include the $975 destination fee) for the base model. The Premium trim begins at $27,670, while the new Sport trim priced from $29,770. The Forester Limited is $31,770 and the top model Touring checks in at $35,270.