Emma Jayne Williams

Subaru remakes its compact Forester for 2019 with lots of new technology

The Subaru Forester has been completely redesigned inside and out for its fifth generation, bringing the best-equipped, roomiest, most-capable, and most-versatile Forester ever built.

Technology upgrades include the all-new DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation system, for the first time and only on the 2019 Forester.

New features include EyeSight Driver Assist Technology, LED headlights, auto start/stop, SI-Drive Engine Performance management, Active Torque Vectoring, Automatic Climate Control, Electronic Parking Brake, Trailer Stability Assist, and welcome lighting.

EyeSight is standard on all versions of Forester, and includes automatic pre-collision braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure and sway warnings, lane-keep assist, pre-collision throttle management, and lead-vehicle start alert.

Pre-collision braking can apply full braking to completely stop the vehicle in emergency situations. Pre-collision throttle management restricts engine output if the driver accelerates when EyeSight detects an object in front of the vehicle. Lead-vehicle start alert prompts the driver that the vehicle ahead is moving away after being stopped. Lane-keep assist helps avoid lane drifting by gently steering the vehicle back to the proper lane.

EyeSight has been found to reduce rear-end crashes with injuries by up to 85 percent.

Brake assist increases braking pressure in emergency braking situations, while brake override reduces the likelihood of unintended acceleration by cutting engine power if the gas pedal and the brake pedal are pressed at the same time.

Built on the Subaru Global Platform architecture with extensive high-strength steel, Forester offers durability, rigidity, and vibration resistance, along with enhanced crash safety, a quieter interior, better driving feel, agility, and confidence for many years.

Forester is available in standard ($24,295), Premium ($26,695), Limited ($30,795), Touring ($34,295), and new Sport ($28,795) trim levels, each adding more features and amenities, while maintaining the vehicle’s rugged capability.

My 2019 Touring is the most luxurious Forester ever, with new heated rear seats and steering wheel, memory for the exterior mirrors and driver’s seat, and downward-tilt mirror function when reversing.

Eight exterior colors are available for Touring, including new Jasper Green Metallic (light sage), Crimson Red Pearl, and Horizon Blue Pearl (dark sky, my Touring). Ice Silver (slight blue tint) and Sepia Bronze are also interesting and attractive. Black leather and Saddle Brown leather (mine) interiors are available, depending on the exterior color.

Top-of-the-line Touring also debuts segment-exclusive DriverFocus safety technology (working with EyeSight) to alert the driver using audio and visual signals when the system detects fatigue or distraction using facial-recognition software. DriverFocus also recognizes up to five drivers and remembers their seat, mirror and climate settings.

A new version of the 2.5-liter Subaru boxer four-cylinder engine with auto stop/start, along with a standard Lineartronic CVT allows Forester to achieve a fuel-efficient 26 mpg city/33 highway/29 combined. With mostly local/neighborhood driving, I achieved 28.5 mpg.

The new engine produces 182 horsepower versus the 170 horsepower of the previous engine and yields quicker acceleration. Sport and Touring trims feature a seven-speed manual mode, using steering-wheel paddle shifters.

Subaru’s legendary Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive is standard on all trims, monitoring acceleration/deceleration, cornering, and traction, delivering optimal distribution of power to the wheels with the best grip for maximum traction, better handling, improved efficiency and quick response to road conditions.

Standard driver-selectable SI-Drive allows the driver to tailor throttle characteristics by choosing “Intelligent” or “Sport” mode. Intelligent smooths accelerator input for fuel savings, while Sport emphasizes performance.

My Forester Touring had standard LED steering-responsive headlights, which tracked the direction of the turn for better visibility, and high-beam assist – working with EyeSight – to switch the headlights between high and low when an oncoming vehicle was detected.

Each trim features its own wheel design and size. My Touring had eye-catching18-inch, five-spoke (wide, flat, with decorative cutouts at one edge) aluminum-alloy wheels, with machine-finished face and black painted pockets.

All but the base model have driver-selectable X-Mode with hill-descent control, which optimizes control of the engine, transmission shift patterns, active AWD front/rear clutch force, and brakes for maximum traction on slippery surfaces and steep inclines. For 2019, my Touring came with a dual-mode version with Snow/Dirt and Deep Snow/Mud modes, in addition to Snow and Mud in the basic X-Mode system.

A strong shoulder line flowed beneath the pillars from front to rear, emphasizing Forester’s height and strength, while prominent wheel arches suggested all-wheel drive functionality. Muscular creases lifted the edges of the hood. Forester’s new, more rugged style still retains a family resemblance.

The signature hexagonal grille, outlined with chrome with a large chrome strip across the top and featuring the blue Subaru badge, had active grille shutters to help reduce fuel consumption.

Large silver-trimmed 3-D headlight housings with distinct daytime running lights wrapped around the front fascia and the front quarter, featuring Forester branding at the back edges. Fog lights were integrated into muscular chrome vent openings at the outer bumper.

Lower-body side cladding and standard front, side, and rear under guards protected against mud, rocks, and other road debris. Silver trim highlighted the under guards, the side cladding, and the black roof rails. Chrome outlined the side windows, and satin chrome capped the side mirrors.

Large 3-D taillight housings wrapped around the liftgate and the rear quarter, and a roof spoiler with black edges extending down the liftgate window emphasized the width of the vehicle.

Raised roof rails with new integrated tie-down hooks are designed for flexibility in hauling cargo carriers, sports equipment with available accessories, or lashing down a Christmas tree. With 8.7 inches of ground clearance, more than most competitors, Forester is ready for off-road driving, yet has an easy step-in height.

My Forester was spacious with new front seats (heated) constructed for comfort on long drives. Interior upgrades included high-quality, soft-touch materials and contrast stitching throughout, heated second-row outboard seats, and second-row A/C vents and dual USB ports.

A standard panoramic moon roof provided an open, airy feeling. The new electronic parking brake freed up console space by removing the parking brake handle.

Saddle Brown door panels and dash were accented by black honeycomb-textured trim. An information screen (with date/time, external temperature/weather, trip info, A/C info, and more), separate from the infotainment panel, was set under a hood in the center of the dash.

A newly standard 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot would allow up to eight devices to connect and stream TV shows, movies, and music, or play games, check email, and much more.

Updated Starlink Multimedia with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Pandora was also standard, with wireless pairing and hands-free smartphone operation to connect to apps and other content and access news, navigation, music, and much more through apps such as iHeartRadio, Yelp, Magellan and SiriusXM All Access Radio. Built-in, voice-activated navigation was powered by TomTom, and used the eight-inch touch screen.

Reflecting real-world usage, the cargo floor, sides, and rear gate interior surfaces have a textured surface to resist dirt and scuffing. PVC material at the bottom of the front seat backs is also scuff resistant and easy to clean.

Cargo space is up to 76.1 cubic feet with the 60/40 rear seatbacks lowered, an increase of 1.9 cubic feet. With the seatbacks up, cargo is a very impressive 35.4 cubic feet. The flatter load floor and squared-off shape of the cargo area makes carrying large objects easier, and the 51.3-inch wide gate opening (5.3 inches wider than the previous model) makes loading a breeze – a folded stroller or full-size golf bag will fit in sideways.

The power liftgate was a plus, along with grocery-bag and tie-down hooks, under-floor storage (a temporary spare under the under-floor storage), and a removable cargo tray (with embossed bamboo cane design).

My Forester had blind-spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert, a rearview camera, new tire-pressure monitor with individual tire display, and new standard trailer stability assist (brakes individual wheels to stabilize the vehicle and trailer). Reverse automatic braking will stop the vehicle to avoid objects behind when reversing.

A new automatic power door lock/unlock system locks all doors, the liftgate and fuel door once the vehicle reaches 13 mph. Forester’s new platform uses the latest Subaru ring-shaped reinforcement frame design, providing excellent occupant protection in a collision, along with multiple air bags including side-curtain front and rear.

Reclining rear seatbacks helped make the rear passengers comfortable, and a heated windshield de-icer and heated side mirrors were handy on frosty mornings.

The cabin was quiet, roomy, and well equipped.

My Forester, with $975 destination charges added, delivered for $35,270.

The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at emmajayne1948@gmail.com.

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