2019 Subaru Forester Sport Review: Stays On Top

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2019 Subaru Forester
2019 Subaru Forester | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The all-new 2019 Subaru Forester is at the top of its game. In fact, it’s always been that way and Subaru intends on keeping that way.

It has been said that it is more difficult to stay on top than to get there. In the car business, there are two motives and they are quite simple: Get to the top or Stay there. The 2019 Subaru Forester more or less started at the top just over 20 years ago when it launched as one of the first of its kind: a compact SUV.

Two decades later, it remains exactly where it started. In this business, brands and products that have failed at both are long gone – there are rarely any second chances. The struggle is real and the amounts carmakers pour into putting their best “wheels” forward are astronomical. In a sense, one flat tire can destroy billions of dollars can be wasted.

2019 Subaru Forester | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The Subaru way

Subaru’s always done their own thing and as a testament to the fact that they’re on the right track, they’ve done quite well for themselves as a second-tier Japanese automaker. And they continue to do well because they’re still at it, doing their thing.

Let’s begin with the basics: The all-new Subaru Global Platform (SGP). As thing, it’s quite common among manufacturers to platform-share for economies of scale. Unlike most other car companies, instead of evolving for the sake of evolution, Subaru continues to supply its loyal fans with what they want and like.

The SGP is a rock and on that rock, Subaru installed a Subaru suspension and tuned the chassis to do Subaru things. I love this about the Forester. The dampers and spring that make up this suspension are designed to comply with whatever surface you might be driving upon, or through. The long wheel travel, 220mm of ground clearance and Subaru’s symmetrical full-time All-Wheel Drive system will have you taking chances wherever you go.

2019 Subaru Forester | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

One powertrain only

Included as standard with the AWD system are X-mode and brake-biased torque vectoring. Some trims offer dual X-mode with snow/dirt and deep snow/mud drive modes so you could go off-roading with some much bigger boys. Unless you’re a Jeep Cherokee, Misters RAV4 and CR-V should stay home.

While on the topic of moving, the only powertrain configuration available involves a revised yet familiar 2.5-litre flat 4-cylinder Boxer engine. It delivers 182-horsepower and 176 lb.-ft. of torque and is coupled to Lineartronic CVT Continuously Variable Transmission. If I was to point out my main and only issue with the Forester, it’s the transmission.

Admittedly, I’m the real issue here as, as far as CVT transmissions go, Subaru’s is quite good. There are eight pre-programmed “gears” which, depending on the amount of throttle input, can mimic a conventional automatic transmission. The way I drive, as in slightly aggressively, the engine drones for a while as it attempts to extract the maximum amount of torque at a certain engine speed. Nope, can’t do it… The upside however is that it is extremely proficient and makes the Forester one of the easiest on fuel in the segment.

My tested $34,995 Sport trimmer 2019 Subaru Forester includes an SI-Drive (Subaru Intelligent Drive) sport button. What it does is sharpen throttle response and forces the CVT to hold off lowering engine speeds, and not much more.

2019 Subaru Forester | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The value question

The 2019 Subaru Forester 2.5i, at $27,995, is almost a bargain when compared to its competition. As AWD and numerous other features are standard, it undercuts many other compact SUVs by at least a few grand.

If you’re like me and care little for active safety features, the $30,295 Convenience trim is the greater bargain. You get dual-zone climate controls, fog lights, power driver seats a 6.5-inch screen, a wiper de-icer and 17-inch alloys.

Afterwards, all trims include Subaru full battery of safety features through their award-winning EyeSight system. My only other gripe is that on the top-line $37,695 Limited and $39,495 Premier are privy to a heated steering wheel.

2019 Subaru Forester | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Room and comfort for all

Even without a heated steering wheel, the Subaru Forester’s cabin is quite comfortable. The front seats are large and fairly accommodating, lacking only a little thigh support. The rear bench can easily take on three abreast or two baby seats with just enough room for a younger human. The boot is huge, proving 1,000+ litres of easily accessible volume. Lift-over is relatively low, making stroller lifts plausibly easier.

Infotainment-wise, the Forester’s got it all thanks to its standard STARLINK smartphone integration. The smaller screen is 6.5 inches in size while, from the Sport on, its dimensions increase to 8 inches. The display is clear and the menus nearly intuitive to navigate. SiriusXM satellite radio is also standard, as are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Although the 2019 Subaru Forester has scarcely evolved physically from the previous generation, it looks just as modern and rugged as it needs to be. The Forester is a go-to choice along with the Toyota RAV4 and Mazda CX-5.

If you live the cottage life and need a dash more capability and fear the Jeep Cherokee, that leaves only the Subaru Forester to get you to the top.


2019 Subaru Forester Picture Gallery

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