Dedicated Forester owners, of which there are many, would be to happy to see Subaru leave the crossover just as it is. But Subaru has taken steps to push the fifth-generation 2019 Subaru Forester even further into the mainstream.
Let's start with what there's more of, and that's space. Built on the new Subaru Global Platform, the Forester's wheelbase grows 1.2 inches to 105.1 inches overall. Headroom, hiproom and shoulder room have all increased as well, but most notable is the expanded rear passenger legroom, now stretched 1.4 inches compared to the previous model. Cargo gains are evident as well, and with the 60/40-split rear seatbacks lowered, the Forester now offers 76.1 cubic feet of capacity. But perhaps more impressive is the rear gate opening, which has been widened by 5.3 inches to 51.3 inches. Subaru says that's as much as 8 inches wider than some competitors' openings, and golfers won't have to tilt their bags to load in horizontally.
This new-generation Forester also packs more electronic driver's aids. All Foresters will come standard with Subaru's proprietary EyeSight Driver Assist Technology, which includes pre-collision braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure and sway warning, lane keeping assist, pre-collision management and lead vehicle start alert. And Subaru has introduced DriverFocus, a first-in-class facial recognition system to combat driver fatigue and distraction. Depending on the trim level you choose, there will be either a 6.5-inch multimedia touchscreen or an 8-inch screen with the Multimedia Plus and Multimedia Navigation systems.
Five trim levels are available for the 2019 Forester — Standard, Premium, Limited, Touring and Sport. All Foresters come with all-wheel drive, but the 2019 model also receives Active Torque Vectoring, which Subaru previously introduced on its WRX and WRX STI models. Other changes include standard 17-inch steel wheels, while the Premium level upgrades to 17-inch alloy wheels, and the Sport, Limited and Touring models ride on 18-inch wheels unique to each trim. The Sport gets a black-gloss grille surround, a rear roof spoiler, and orange accents to black lower body cladding. There will also be new colors: Crimson Red Pearl, Horizon Blue Pearl and Jasper Green Metallic.
But while Subaru giveth, it also taketh away. Its venerable 2.5-liter flat-four engine soldiers on with 12 extra ponies and 2 additional pound-feet of torque, now at 182 horsepower and 176 lb-ft, but the turbocharged 250-hp 2.0-liter engine found in the now-defunct 2.0XT has been dropped. This engine gave the Forester absolute performance bragging rights in the class, and we're sad to see it go. Of course, all Foresters will still transmit power through a continuously variable automatic transmission.
Subaru has not yet released pricing info, but expect the 2019 Forester to start in the low to mid-$20Ks and top out in the mid-$30Ks when it goes on sale later this year.