The 2018 Subaru Forester comes in a variety of different trims powered by one of two engines. The base engine is a 2.5L 4-cylinder making 170 horsepower. This engine is offered with a choice two transmissions -- a 6-speed manual or a continuously variable unit. The optional, turbocharged engine displaces 2.0L and makes a very healthy 250 horsepower. The turbocharged engine is only available with a continuously variable transmission, though the CVT does have a mode where it imitates a traditional manual, allowing upshifts and downshifts via paddles on the steering column.
2.5i Foresters come in four trims: Base, Premium, Limited and Touring. Base trims still feature a tilting and telescoping steering wheel with audio controls, a 4-speaker stereo with MP3 capabilities, a 4.3-inch color multi-function display and a rear backup camera. Premium models get a body-colored spoiler, panoramic sunroof, roof rails, 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels, a 10-way power adjustable driver's seat, reclining rear seats and a 6-speaker stereo. Limited models come standard with the CVT transmission and with leather seating. Heated front seats, a power liftgate, fog lights, a rear spoiler and heated mirrors are also standard equipment on Limited Foresters. Top-of-the-line Touring models feature everything from the Limited trim plus a navigation system, a dual-zone automatic climate control system, a heated steering wheel, push-button start and 18-inch wheels.
Forester 2.0 XT models come in both Premium and Touring form. Both get the powerful 250-horsepower engine, better brakes and more aggressive styling than 2.5i models, as well as a front fascia and 18-inch wheels. The Touring and Premium models are otherwise similarly equipped to their 2.5i namesakes. Torque vectoring, first introduced on the high-performance Subaru WRX, is standard on 2.0XT Touring models with EyeSight and provides improved handling in tricky conditions.
Accident avoidance and mitigation is covered by several safety systems. Symmetrical all-wheel drive, anti-lock brakes, several airbags, traction control and stability control are standard. All Foresters other than the Base model also benefit from EyeSight, a safety suite offered in a few variations. It includes devices like lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and forward collision warning with automatic braking.
The broad strokes of the Subaru Forester's functional aesthetic haven't changed much for this new 2019 generation. It's still upright, boxy and not too flashy. If you liked any previous generation of the Forester, chances are that you'll like this one, too.
The new Forester even manages to avoid the size-creep that you'd expect with a redesign for a new generation. The 2019 model looks wider than before, but that is an optical illusion thanks to stronger horizontal cues in the design of the nose and tailgate. The new Forester also managed to grow less than an inch longer from nose to tail, and it's no taller.
Sticking with what's familiar has its benefits. The characteristics I've always liked about the Forester's design -- the upright ergonomics of the driving position, the commanding view of the road, the bright, open greenhouse and strong sense of spaciousness in the cabin -- have all remained intact for 2019. In fact, Subaru has somehow managed to make the Forester even more spacious with improvements to legroom and an optional, massive panoramic power moonroof.
The Good The 2019 Subaru Forester keeps the previous generation's spacious design. Safety tech is top priority this year with standard EyeSight driver aid tech and available DriverFocus attention monitoring.
The Bad Fuel economy hasn't improved much despite the move to a more efficient transmission.
The Bottom Line For 2019, Subaru takes an "ain't broke, don't fix it" approach to the already solid Forester formula, but still manages to greatly improve safety and comfort.
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