Latest Subaru Forester is better than ever
Suv review: 2019 subaru Forester
subaru can legitimately lay claim to having started — or at least been one of the earliest entrants into — the red-hot crossover segment. now comes the fifth-generation Forester, and it’s the sharpest to date for many reasons.
To begin, it now rides on subaru’s new global platform and has a 30-millimetre longer wheelbase than the outgoing Forester. This brings noticeably more interior room; the rear seat is spacious enough for two adults — and a third if needed — with plenty of head and leg room. it also has lots of cargo space: With the seats upright, the capacity is 935 litres, which expands to 2,008 when the seats are folded down. The letdown is the modest 680-kilogram towing capacity.
more importantly, the new platform is 40 per cent stiffer torsionally than the outgoing model. When offroad, this helps to eliminate annoying body creaks. When back on the road, it works wonders for the ride and handling. even when pushed — and crossovers typically do not like to be pushed — the Forester remains flat and unflustered, with the steering being nicely weighted and quick to respond. considering the long-travel suspension, the Forester’s on-road comportment is as good as, if not better than, many of its peers.
part of the reason for the way it hugs a corner is down to subaru’s trademark all-wheel-drive system. it has been — and remains — one of the best around, simply because it is both proactive and reactive. under normal driving conditions, it sends 60 per cent of the power to the front wheels and 40 per cent to the rear. The proactive part sees it direct the power to the wheels with grip before unwanted wheelspin surfaces. However, if the conditions change mid-corner, it acts quickly to redistribute the power as needed. it also works with a brakebased torque vectoring system to sharpen turn-in response.
The aWd system on the test car worked with a two-mode version of subaru’s X-mode. There is a setting for snow-covered or dirt roads, and another for deeper snow or mud. The latter turns off the traction control to help to maintain forward momentum by allowing some wheel spin. The all-wheel ability and the electronic assists working in the background give the Forester better than average off-road ability. no, you’re not going to challenge the rubicon Trail, but a jaunt off into the hinterland can be tackled with confidence.
The latest Forester gets an updated 2.5-l four-cylinder, now pushing out 182 horsepower — up 12 over the outgoing model — and 176 pound-feet of torque at 4,400 rpm. aside from the usual flat-four grumble, the engine is quiet and refined.
The Forester’s continuously variable transmission (cvT) mimics the shift characteristics of a regular automatic transmission under hard acceleration, which does away with most, but not all, of the “motorboating ” racket so many hate. selecting the manual mode then allows the driver to bump up through seven pre-selected ratios. compared to most, it’s a civilized unit that really only reveals its cvT roots when forced to work hard.
it also features adjustable drive modes. For most situations, the intelligent mode is the right choice, favouring fuel economy but still leaving a lively response when the gas is hammered. sport mode ramps things up with sharper throttle response, delivering the best performance. That said, the performance level never makes the heart pound; it takes the Forester 9.8 seconds to get from zero to 100 km/h. The plus with the 2.5-l engine proved to be an average fuel economy of 10.1 l/100 km. compared to most all-wheel-drive rides, that verges on frugal.
The lamentable part of the performance quotient is the previous 2.0-l turbocharged four-cylinder engine, with 250 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, has disappeared from the lineup. unlike the 2.5-l flat-four, that engine did make the heart pound.
The Forester’s cabin is marked by its quality; it has top-notch materials, comfortable seats for long-haul drives, and all the expected conveniences. They include a nine-speaker Harman Kardon sound system and a good infotainment system with an eight-inch touch screen that supports apple carplay, android auto and the built-in gps navigation system. it’s an easy system to grasp, completing any given task quickly and without the lag evident in some systems.
subaru gets mixed reviews for the safety equipment list. The good is eyesight, which includes forwardcollision warning with automatic braking, adaptive cruise control and lane-departure warning with keep assist are available on all but the base model. The standard rearview camera has a washer to keep the lens clean, too. The bad is only the higher-end trim levels get blindspot monitoring and automatic high beams. For many drivers, having a second set of eyes on blind spots is the one safety feature viewed as most beneficial on a daily basis; it’s nice to know that the car will stop if the driver nods off, but hopefully this is a very rare occurrence.
all in all, this latest Forester is the best to date. There’s more luxury, better base power, sharper handling and it still comes with one of the best aWd systems around. if only that turbocharged engine was still available, it would have been even better.