2019 Forester is your new fave camp­site

Texarkana Gazette - - AUTO SUNDAY - By Larry Printz

ASHEVILLE, N.C.—Sup­pose you’ve been kicked out of your apart­ment be­cause you can’t pay the rent.

It’s not un­likely given the fed­eral min­i­mum wage is a mere $7.25 an hour. That’s $15,080 an­nu­ally, or 91 per­cent less than a con­gress­man’s $174,000 salary. Al­though at $84 an hour, mem­bers of Congress earn far less than most blood­less, un­car­ing, multi-mil­lion­aire, rob­ber baron CEOs.

Still, should this hap­pen, you’d want to own the re­designed, fifth-gen­er­a­tion 2019 Subaru Forester cross­over; its roof is engi­neered to hold 700 pounds when parked. Know­ing that you can pitch a tent on top of your car means you’ll never be home­less.

Such engi­neer­ing isn’t un­usual for Subaru. It’s why all Subarus had all-wheel drive long be­fore it was com­mon. Know­ing that you can over­come the worst ef­fects of the po­lar vor­tex with ease gives you the sense that Subaru cares. Bet­ter yet should you ever awaken to a mas­sive bl­iz­zard, you could ar­rive to work be­fore your boss—and how im­pres­sive is that?

You can even amaze your in-laws de­spite your job’s lousy pay. They’ll be im­pressed that you’re ma­ture enough to buy a Forester with such pre­mium op­tions as heated rear seats; power lift­gate; heated steer­ing wheel; rear seat air-con­di­tion­ing vents; rear USB ports; Wi-Fi hotspot; an All-Weather Pack­age with heated front seats, heated ex­te­rior mir­rors and wind­shield de-icer; dual au­to­matic cli­mate con­trol; au­to­matic high beams; steer­ing re­spon­sive head­lights; re­mote ve­hi­cle start; and Subaru’s new driver fa­tigue sys­tem. Like the sys­tem in­tro­duced by Mercedes-Benz, the ve­hi­cle alerts you if it feels you’re get­ting too tired. It’s like driv­ing with your mother the car, ex­cept your mother prob­a­bly doesn’t drink mo­tor oil.

Un­for­tu­nately for you, there’s enough room for your in-laws to ride along as they be­rate your piti­ful ca­reer. Thanks to a 1.1-inch longer wheel­base, there’s an ad­di­tional 1.4 inches of rear seat legroom and a five-inch wider rear door open­ing, it’s eas­ier for them to come along for the ride. Seats are well bol­stered and firm, with good head and legroom. The driver en­joys a fairly un­ob­structed view in all di­rec­tions. Cargo space is a gen­er­ous 33 cu­bic feet, and the 51.2-inch tail­gate open­ing is wide enough to fit a 1969 Subaru 360.

Of course, you might want to get to your des­ti­na­tion quicker, so you don’t have to deal with them. Un­for­tu­nately, last year’s man­ual trans­mis­sion and 250-horse­power tur­bocharged en­gine is no longer of­fered. In­stead, Foresters get a new ver­sion of the 2.5-liter hor­i­zon­tally op­posed four-cylin­der en­gine with di­rect in­jec­tion and au­to­matic stop/ start. Gen­er­at­ing 182 horse­power through a con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sion, it can tow up to 1,500 pounds. This means you’ll be headed nowhere fast, but there will be for­ward mo­men­tum. Thank­fully, the driver-se­lectable Subaru In­tel­li­gent Drive, or SI-DRIVE, changes the car’s throt­tle re­sponse from ef­fi­cient “In­tel­li­gent” mode to a more ag­gres­sive “Sport” mode. Forester Sport mod­els have a more ag­gres­sive “Sport Sharp” mode, along with more ag­gres­sive gear­ing and a trans­mis­sion that im­i­tates a seven-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion through steer­ing wheel mounted pad­dle-shifters.

Once you drop off your in-laws at bingo, you’ll find the cabin is im­pres­sively quiet, and not just be­cause they’re gone. How­ever, there will be noise when you floor the throt­tle, which will be of­ten. Power is ac­cept­able thanks to the at­ten­tive CVT that makes the most of what’s avail­able. As is typ­i­cal of CVTs, there’s some mild rub­ber band­ing in the driv­e­line, but it’s not ob­jec­tion­able. No­tably, shift­ing to L makes the en­gine more re­spon­sive, but it runs 1,500-2,000 rpm higher, which hurts fuel econ­omy. Also, there’s a lot of ini­tial throt­tle travel where no­tice­ably more spry, es­pe­cially when the CVT is in seven-speed man­ual mode.

Clearly the Forester is in no hurry. Then again, nei­ther are most Subaru own­ers, who trea­sure their safety and well­be­ing. This is why Au­to­matic Pre-Col­li­sion Brak­ing, Adap­tive Cruise Con­trol, Lane De­par­ture and Sway Warn­ing, Lane Keep As­sist, Pre-Col­li­sion Throt­tle Man­age­ment and Lead Ve­hi­cle Start Alert are stan­dard. Re­verse Au­to­matic Brak­ing, Blind Spot De­tec­tion, Lane Change As­sist, and Rear Cross Traf­fic Alert are op­tional.

The Forester can be en­gag­ing and ag­ile to drive, al­though the ride is jittery over bro­ken pave­ment. Body lean is not ex­ces­sive, mak­ing it more adept once the side­walk ends. But its firm on-road ride be­comes pun­ish­ing off-road, with a sur­pris­ing lack of bump ab­sorp­tion.

Be­ing tech savvy, you’ll scoff at Subaru’s pocket-sized stan­dard 6.5-inch mul­ti­me­dia high-res­o­lu­tion touch­screen, but will ap­pre­ci­ate the pres­ence of Aha, Pan­dora, Tom Tom nav­i­ga­tion, Ap­ple CarPlay, An­droid Auto, Blue­tooth, dual USB ports and a CD player—which should soothe your in-laws as they play their fa­vorite Abba CD. Nev­er­the­less, the stan­dard au­dio sys­tem pro­vides as­ton­ish­ingly poor sound; this makes the Har­man/Kar­don sys­tem and its larger 8-inch screen a musthave op­tion.

Still, the 2019 Subaru Forester’s new­found al­ter­na­tive as a camp­ground beats couch surf­ing or liv­ing in your par­ent’s spare bed­room. It’s some­thing else that Subaru’s com­peti­tors can’t match. And once you get a bet­ter job an­other job and an­other Subaru, you can rent it out as a car condo.

That should im­press the in-laws.

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