Over the past 20 years, the Subaru Forester SUV has developed an aura of dependability and safety. Its unique selling point was originally the extra safety of all-wheel drive. The all-paw traction returns in 2019 but every model grade now comes standard with adaptive radar cruise control, blind spot detection, lane keep assist, swiveling LED headlights and plenty more safety features besides. It now appears cheaper to run and better value.
What’s new with 2019 Subaru Forester?
Broadly speaking the Forester made the compact SUV trendy. In Australia today the Subaru Forester isn’t available with a manual or a 2.0-litre engine – you can only get it with a CVT (continuously variable transmission) and a new 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol boxer engine.
After putting just over 1000km on the clock, with two adults, a three-month old baby and all the luggage and paraphernalia that entails, the plucky SUV used an average of 6.9L/100km – impressive by anyone’s count… especially mine.
For what is a ‘base’ model or entry-level vehicle it has a premium look and feel. Bold 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and useful roof rails look good and are functional, while a small but intuitive 6.5-inch colour touchscreen infotainment system fitted as standard equipment adds interior appeal. Digital radio and Android Auto and Apple Carplay are part of the package too, so you also get the best mapping and audio streaming programs.
Interior fit and finish is generally very good and although the climate control dials feel a bit plasticky, the overall ambience in the cabin is neat and tidy, with sensibly placed controls, above average ergonomics, decent storage options and a total of three USB ports – two for the back seat.
What is the 2019 Subaru Forester like to drive?
Subaru has a put together another solid, capable medium-sized SUV with the 2019 Forester. Upright windows provide excellent vision, even through the side and rear frames, and the sort of driver assist systems that few other SUVs offer as standard. They are (mostly) useful and effective, too.
The adaptive radar cruise control has four different distance settings to keep you closer or farther away from the car in front, and functions as expected. It works all the way to stand-still and applies the auto-hold brake function when stopped too. You have to tickle the throttle to get it moving again which means you can’t completely zone out in traffic. The Forester’s idle-stop system that works well, shutting down the engine to save fuel, and the auto hold is good, together reducing wear and tear on brakes and engine in urban driving.
Although there was no off-roading as part of this test, the suspension and tyre package dealt effortlessly with gravel roads, the car always feeling predictable and manageable. The brakes deserve a mention too, providing plenty of stopping power without having to drive the pedal through the firewall.
Over the course of a week, covering 1000km including a drive from Perth to Margaret River and everywhere in between, the Subaru proved a capable and surprisingly frugal chariot, averaging 6.9L/100km according to the trip computer. That’s better its claimed 7.4L/100km and significantly more efficient than its predecessor’s 8.1L/100km.
Around 650 of those 1000km were freeway kilometres but when the engine spins at just 1500rpm at 100km/h, thanks in large part to the new CVT, the car easily passed 700km with one tank of juice – and the trip computer claimed there was still another 100km of fuel left.
Overall running costs should be lower for this model. That’s because of the reduced fuel usage combined with an improved five-year warranty and longer 12-month/12,500km intervals between services.
What’s the 2019 Subaru Forester like inside?
The 2019 Subaru Forester is bigger and more accommodating, with a 15mm longer and 20mm wider body, making for a 4625mm long and 1815mm wide machine. The wheelbase or distance between the front and rear wheels has increased by 30mm (to 2670).
That may not sound like much, but these small increases make a difference on a 300km drive, with the extended wheelbase increasing front and rear seat room. A bigger 498-litre boot (up from 422) combines with a wider tailgate opening to make loading luggage and goods a little easier and a pair of ISOFIX child seat anchorages makes fitting the baby seat effortless. There are also three top-tether anchorages for child seats.
I love the full-sized spare wheel and also the special storage nook for the rear cargo blind. It fits flush under the boot floor. It’s simple, clever solutions that few cars get right. There’s nothing more annoying than having the cargo blind sitting diagonally in the boot taking up space and rattling around.
Rear seat occupants have access to a pair of USB ports along with very useful seat back pockets which feature triple pouches so you can pop an iPad or Samsung tablet in there along with other odds and sods like cables and snacks.
Interior space for back seat occupants is pretty good, and there’s a fold down arm rest with cup holders for those who want a lounge-like setting. Front seat passenger space is very good and seat comfort is above average thanks to the mildly-contoured seats and supportive padding.
The view is peachy too. As mentioned standard features like the 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system, dual-zone climate control and a six-speaker Harmon-Kardon six-speaker stereo are welcome additions, fashioned into a conservative but modern dashboard design.
A soft leather-wrapped gear stick and steering wheel add a bit of luxury to these major touchpoints, while the 16 or so buttons and switches on the steering wheel spokes are a lot, but generally pretty intuitive.
The 2019 Forester should please the Subaru loyalists and maybe, just maybe, convert a few newcomers looking for something conservative, spacious and safe.
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