We drove an all-new $32,000 Subaru Forester SUV to see if it can compete with Honda, Toyota, and Nissan - here's the verdict
Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider
- The Subaru Forester is all-new for 2019.
- The Forester is one of the best-selling compact crossover SUVs in the world and competes against the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, and the Nissan Rogue.
- The new fifth generation Forester is powered by a 2.5-liter, 182 horsepower, boxer-four-cylinder engine.
- The base Forester starts at $24,295, while the top-of-the-line Touring starts at $34,295. Our mid-grade Sport trim test car starts at $28,795. With options and fees, our Forester came to an as-tested price of $31,815.
- We were impressed with the Forester's solid feel, great cabin ergonomics, standard all-wheel-drive, and an impressive suite of safety technology.
- We were underwhelmed by the Forester's naturally aspirated powertrain and rough-around-the-edges demeanor.
The compact crossover SUV is a force to be reckoned with. The Subaru Forester has long been a leader in the segment.
Launched in 1998, the Subaru Forester was part of the initial wave of modern compact crossovers to reach the US market. Since then, the segment and SUVs, in general, have absolutely exploded in popularity. So much so that major automakers like Ford and General Motors have announced plans to ax the bulk of their passenger models.
According to data from Kelley Blue Book, nearly 3.1 million compact SUVs rolled off US dealership lots over the first ten months of 2018, equating to roughly one in every five vehicles sold.
And the public's demand for these cars seems to be nothing less than insatiable with sales up more than 12% during that same period.
The Forester is a lynchpin in Subaru's lineup. The crossover has consistently been its second best-selling model behind only the Japanese brand's signature Outback off-road wagon.
For 2019, Subaru is back with a new fifth-generation Forester and it already seems to be a hit. In its first full month on the market, the 2019 model pushed Forester sales up 19% over the previous year.
Recently, Business Insider was able to spend a week with a 2019 Subaru Forester Sport in Crystal Black Silica. The base Forester starts at $24,295 while the top-of-the-line Touring starts at $34,295. Our mid-grade Sport trim test car starts at $28,795. With options and fees, our Forester came to an as-tested price of $31,815.
Here's a closer look at the 2019 Subaru Forester Sport.
The original Subaru Forester launched in 1998 and joined the first wave of modern compact crossover SUVs that also included...
... The first generation Toyota RAV4 and...
....The first generation Honda CR-V.
Fast forward two decades and the Forester is still competing against the RAV4 and...
Now, a host of others have entered the fray such as the Nissan Rogue,...
... Mazda CX-5,...
... Volkswagen Tiguan,...
... Ford Escape, and ...
... Chevrolet Equinox among others.
In Subaru's lineup, the Forester slots in above the compact Crosstrek crossover but below...
... The mid-size Outback and...
The new fifth generation Forester debuted for the 2019 model. Its all-new and built on the Subaru Global Platform that also underpins the Crosstrek and the Impreza.
Aesthetically though, you'd be hard-pressed to spot the difference between the new model and its outgoing predecessor. In other words, it's undeniably a Subaru. Overall, the styling is restrained and handsome.
In Sport trim, the Forester gets a blacked out front grille, orange accents, and...
... Blacked out wheels.
At 182.1 inches long with a 105.1-inch wheelbase, the 2019 Forester is about an inch longer than the outgoing model. This translates into a slight more roomy interior.
Speaking of the interior, it's rather impressive. While the Forester's cabin isn't exactly stylish or plush, it's very roomy and well-designed. Cabin ergonomics and button placement are on point.
The cabin feels solidly put together while material quality is impressively high. Everything about this interior gives you the impression that it's built to last.
Although, the orange accents aren't my favorite.
In front of the driver is a leather-wrapped steering wheel. It's packed with the various button needed to operate everything from the drive mode selector to the adaptive cruise control. Fortunately, the buttons are clearly labeled and the controls are intuitive to use.
There's also digital information display flanked by a traditional analog gauge cluster.
The Foresters' center console features not one, but two infotainment screens. It's the same setup found in both the Crosstek and the Ascent.
Our test car came equipped with the optional eight-inch touchscreen running Subaru's Starlink infotainment system. Forester's come equipped with a 6.5-inch unit.
We were impressed with Starlink's simple, straightforward layout as well as it's high feature content.
Features include Apple CarPlay,...
... Android Auto, and Pandora App integration.
There's also satellite radio,...
... Weather information,...
... Local fuel prices,...
... roadside assistance, and Wi-Fi hotspot capability. This is also where the display for the standard back-up camera lives.
The secondary display, which is controlled using the "Info" button on the steering wheel, is just as useful. It offers readouts of the vehicles trip computer, climate control,...
... Secondary engine gauges,...
...Its active safety systems,...
... The radio,...
... The weather,...
... The all-wheel-drive system, and...
... The state of its EyeSight driver assistance systems that comes standard on all Foresters.
EyeSight includes adaptive cruise control, automatic pre-collision braking, lane departure warning, lane-keep assist, and pre-collision throttle management. The system, which works through a pair of cameras located on either side of the rear-view mirror, worked brilliantly and is a true asset to Subaru.
Here's better view of the EyeSight cameras.
The center console also houses the shifter, the electronic parking brake, the heated seats, and the drive mode selector, more on that later.
Under the armrest, there is a sizable storage bin with an additional power plug.
The second row is particularly impressive with ample head and legroom for even the taller amongst us.
The rear seats now have 39.4 inches of legroom, up 1.4 inches from the outgoing model.
Overall, the Forester's cabin feels roomy, airy, and inviting.
The massive, standard panoramic sunroof certainly helps create that environment.
Open the power rear hatch and...
... You'll find 33 cubic feet of cargo space with the seats up. Fold the second row down and cargo capacity increases to a voluminous 70.9 cubic feet.
You'll also find a spare tire located underneath the rear cargo area.
Power for the new Forester comes from an updated version of Subaru's trusty 2.5-liter, boxer-four-cylinder engine. The naturally aspirated powerplant produces 182 horsepower, up 12 horsepower from the outgoing model.
It's mated to Subaru's Lineartronic continuously variable transmission or CVT that sends power to all four wheels...
...Thanks to the company's signature Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive system.
The Forester's AWD system can operate in several modes including dirt, snow, and mud. This, along with...
... The Forester's 8.7 inches of ground clearance should be able to get you through most sticky situations.
For everyday driving, Subaru has included two additional driving modes you can activate using the buttons on the steering wheel.
Sport mode calibrates the drivetrain for performance, while Intelligent mode aims for smoothness and fuel economy.
Testing by Motor Trend, found the 2019 Forester capable of sprinting from 0-60 mph in 9.6 seconds.
So, what's it like to drive?
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