In a year when Honda, Dodge, and Mercedes all saw sales fall, Subaru is one of the brands that’s kept climbing the charts. The automaker just had its best July in history, and it continues setting new records on a monthly (and annual) basis.
Subaru Forester, the brand’s compact SUV, has been a key part of that success. Between 2012 and 2017, this model doubled its sales (and then some). Needless to say, Subaru has been quite capable of accommodating U.S. consumers’ shift to SUVs in recent years.
Overall, Forester’s solid fuel economy, standard all-wheel drive, and strong safety ratings were major reasons for this model’s success. For the 2019 model year, Subaru is delivering a fully redesigned Forester, and it saw no reason to mess with that formula. Here’s everything you need to know about the updated model, including pricing released in August.
1. More power, more space
In everything from SUVs to the new Chevy Silverado, we’ve seen vehicles getting bigger following their redesign. That trend held with Subaru increasing the size of Forester’s wheelbase (1.2 inches) and rear legroom (1.4 inches) as well as adding more room for the head, shoulder, and hips.
Meanwhile, they widened the door openings, too. Cargo space also got a boost (to 76.1 cubic feet). Out back, the biggest bump of all came in the rear gate opening, which grew 5.3 inches. (It’s now over 4 feet wide.)
This size boost came with a bump in power as well. Subaru’s 2.5-liter boxer engine got updated with a direct injection system and higher compression. In practice, power specs increased to 182 horsepower (from 170) and 176 pound-feet of torque (from 174).
Naturally, four-wheel drive remains standard. The upgrades won’t break the bank of consumers looking to pick up a 2019 model: A base Forester ($24,295) only went up $500 from the 2018 edition.
2. Styling changes
While we doubt Forester consumers prioritize style like an Alfa Romeo buyer, we’ve seen some strong designs in Mazda and Hyundai SUVs in recent years, so there’s no reason for Subaru to sit pat. For the redesigned model, the automaker sculpted higher wheel arches, added new LED lights, and made underguards standard on all models.
New colors include Jasper Green Metallic, Crimson Red Pearl (above), and Horizon Blue Pearl. Meanwhile, the Sport trim Subaru is introducing for 2019 got a number of exterior styling upgrades to differentiate it from the carryover lines.
3. New Sport trim
Forester’s new Sport edition will turn the most heads in what is a less-than-showy nameplate. Right away, you notice the black-gloss grille devoid of chrome and black-finish 18-inch wheels.
Meanwhile, the orange highlights on the black underguards and roof mounts offer a bit of contrast. That theme carries over to the interior, which features orange stitching and accents on the air vents and gearbox.
In terms of drive dynamics, Forester Sport gets an exclusive version of Subaru Intelligent Drive (SI-Drive) and a seven-speed manual mode with paddle shifters at the wheel.
High Beam assist, LED fog lights, a cargo area tray, and LED lights to help cargo loading also come standard. This model gets a starting price of $28,795, placing right in the middle of the five trims.
4. Safety and tech upgrades
For 2019, a base Forester comes with many new standard safety features. The list includes LED lights and EyeSight Driver Assist — a package from Subaru’s two Top Safety Pick+ models of ’18. That brings in auto-braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure assist, and other alerts. Meanwhile, Touring models get standard DriverFocus, an innovative facial-recognition system that helps reduce the impact of distracted driving.
As far as infotainment goes, Forester keeps pace with the industry leaders. Standard Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Bluetooth hands-free connectivity come throughout the lineup. Two touchscreen systems (from 6.5 inches in base models to 8 inches in higher trims) are the focal points in the cabin.
5. Fuel economy ratings, pricing, and release date
Despite the added space and power, Forester became more economical for the 2019 model year. EPA estimates crept up to 33 mpg highway, which boosted the overall rating to 29 mpg, a one-tick improvement over the previous edition. That ties the 2019 model with Honda CR-V, the segment leader for fuel economy.
As far as pricing goes, the Premium model ($26,695) that lands between the base and Sport models offers X-mode with hill-descent control, a more upscale interior, and a 10-way power driver’s seat with lumbar support.
Right above Sport is the Limited trim ($30,795), which brings in 18-inch alloy wheels with black finish, keyless access, the all-weather package, and much more advanced safety tech. Leather seats and steering wheel, plus a power rear gate, further distinguish this model.
The 2019 Forester line tops out at the Touring model ($34,295). For that price, you get the Sport’s paddle shifters, an 8-inch screen with navigation, reverse auto-braking, a power passenger seat, and heated rear seats (among other interior upgrades).
Forester will reach U.S. dealerships in the fall.