Preview: All-New 2019 Subaru Forester – The Changes Are Under The Skin

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Subaru’s all-new 2019 Forester has a long list of changes, but few you will notice at a glance.

Owners of current generation Subarus who love the look and style of their crossover will be thrilled to hear that Subaru hasn’t messed with success on the new 2019 Forester. Those hoping for a fresh design may be a bit disappointed, but Subaru fans seem to be “below the surface” sort of folks.

Forester Style Updates

The new 2019 Forester has almost identical headlights to the 2018 and an overall shape that appears to this 2016 Forester owner’s eye unchanged. Up front, the grill is very similar, but below the bumper line, Subaru has enhanced the foglight surrounds. Along the side, there is a bit more of an upward swoop, almost like the current Nissan Rogue has. The key difference is its size: It’s taller, longer and wider, and the cargo area opening is massive for this class. The taillights have been pushed out to the edges of the opening, which adds almost six inches to the width at the bottom of the opening.

While you won’t mistake the exterior for anything but a Forester, the inside has undergone some dramatic changes. Like the Crosstrek, the Forester is built on Subaru’s Global Platform Architecture, which means that it’s significantly stiffer, resulting in a much more quiet, comfortable interior at all speeds. One of the things that Forester lost out on to other competitors was the quality of the interior. That’s completely changed with the upcoming vehicle. Again, the changes mirror those in the Crosstrek, which used to have a cheap-feeling interior, but now boasts one of the nicest in the class.

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Important Forester Trim Changes

If you have been holding out for a Forester XT ( that’s the one with the turbocharger) you better head straight to a Subaru dealer because for 2019, the XT is discontinued. Likewise, if you have been that one Forester fan just dying to get ahold of a stick shift, better grab an ’18 because the stick is gone from the Forester line for 2019. Just like it has disappeared due to low sales and lower fuel economy ratings in the Toyota RAV4, Nissan Rogue, Mazda CX-5, and Honda CR-V and pretty much every other compact crossover. If that was your dealbreaker and you need to now find a stick shift in some other type of vehicle, feel free to use our handy list of every car with a manual transmission option.

One of the goals is to make the Forester more appealing to a younger audience, and that’s where the Forester Sport comes in. It’s got a unique grille, dark 18-inch wheels and rear roof spoiler.

Forester Safety Updates

If you are a Subaru fan, chances are safety is one of your top priorities. Fans of the EyeSight automatic emergency braking system will be pleased to hear that the new 2019 Forester comes standard with EyeSight. Another significant safety change comes due to the all-new Subaru platform that underpins the 2019 Forester. The new platform has been engineered to add significantly more crash protection. Although the outgoing Forester generation scored well overall, the Forester only earned a score of Marginal on the passenger side small frontal overlap test. That’s the second-worst score of the four available.

Subaru is also adding a new driver recognition system called Driver Focus that the company says will help with distracted driving. The system will also recognize which driver in the family is in the seat and adjust climate control and other settings to suit that driver’s prior tastes.

2019 Forester Drivetrain Changes

Subaru hasn’t replaced its 2.5-liter horizontally opposed (boxer) four-cylinder engine, but has updated it. Power is up a smidge to 182 hp. New variable drive modes will be included and on higher trim levels manual selection of engine speed will return. Previous model year Foresters with the 2.5-liter engine suffered from an unusually high rate of oil consumption problems resulting in difficulties for many owners. Subaru fans will be watching closely to see if there are any new reports after this updated version of the engine enters service. Subaru’s excellent off-road X-Mode will be part of higher level trims as well. We have used this technology in the Crosstrek on off-road courses and it is fantastic.

Subaru Forester Value

The Forester will have more standard equipment and more equipment pushed down to lower trim levels for 2019. With EyeSight now standard, the value of the Forester continues to get better. With Apple Car Play and also Android Auto available, the Forester offers the majority of cell phone owners with an Android device something they can’t get in a Toyota RAV4. Subaru has aimed squarely at the heart of the compact crossover market with its new Forester and prior owners and those new to Subaru will find it has a lot to offer.