Reviewed for you: Subaru Forester

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23 May 2019 by smartleasing

When Subaru announced it would drop the diesel engine, manual transmission and turbocharged petrol XT variant from the Forester line-up, the Internet melted. But with few Forester buyers opting for any of those things, it made sense to drop them and focus instead on the release of a hybrid Forester which will be here sometime soon. This means the Forester is, for now, a one-engine, one-transmission offering, but it’s lost none of its rugged charm or capability for when the road gets rough.

What’s the price and what do you get?

The Forester kicks-off at $33,490+ORCs for the entry-level 2.5i, moves to $35,490+ORCs for the 2.5i-L and then $38,490+ORCs for the 2.5i Premium and $41,490+ORCs for the 2.5i-S.

The entry-level Forester is well-equipped offering Subaru’s full active safety suite via Eyesight, a 6.5-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto but no sat-nav. Across the range, there are rear air vents and twin USB outlets for those in the back. Move up to the 2.5i-L, and you get Subaru’s new Driver Monitoring System (DMS) which can recognise the driver and adjust things like mirrors and seats to suit. More than this it also sounds an alert if it detects the driver is dozing off or distracted behind the wheel. The 2.5i-L also adds a bunch of extra cameras for multiple views around the vehicle and adds reverse automatic braking.

For the 2.5i Premium, the DMS adds door mirror and seat adjustment to its functionality. The infotainment screen grows to 8.0-inches and adds native sat nav; there’s electric adjustment for the driver’s seat and a powered tailgate. The wheels grow to 18-inches. The top-spec 2.5i-S add a Harmon Kardon sound system, dual-mode X-Mode functionality some cosmetic fripperies, leather seats and a powered panoramic sunroof.

What’s the interior like?

The new Forester has an all-new interior, but the look and feel will be familiar to anyone who’s sat in a recently-released Subaru. There’s greater use of soft touch and high-quality materials with well-damped switch gear. The controls fall easily to hand (you don’t have to stretch to reach them) and are easy to use while driving - the Forester’s interior is easily one of the more practical automotive interiors you’ll find. The infotainment system is touch sensitive with physical shortcut buttons (something not all vehicle makers offer), and with Apple and Android connectivity and voice control it’s a cinch to use.

What’s the passenger space like?

The new Forester is a little longer and wider than the old car, thanks to the fact it sits on Subaru’s new modular platform already used under the Impreza and XV, and the upcoming fifth-generation Outback. That means there’s a little more room inside the cabin. The front seats are broad but comfortable, and it’s the same in the back with room for three adults across the rear bench. Whether you’re in the front or the back, there’s good head and leg room.

What about the boot?

The boot offers 498 litres of storage (an increase of 78 litres) with the back seats in use, and it grows to 1060 litres with the back seats folded down. The space is nice and square, and the rear seats (60:40) can be dropped from the boot via a lever. There’s a light in the roof and a 12V outlet with a scattering of hooks and bag holders around the edges. Beneath the floor is a full-size spare.

What’s under the bonnet?

There’s just the one engine available for the Forester now: a heavily revised version of the old car’s 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, making 136kW of power and 239Nm of torque which is slightly more than the old car. This is mated to a CVT and being a Subaru transmission it’s a good one. As a buyer, all this means that you can expect an energetic engine with plenty of pep for around town driving and enough grunt when you load up the family and head for the hills on weekends. It’s also a very quiet engine too.

What’s it like on the road?

The Forester we get in Australia benefits from the input of Subaru’s local engineering team which means the ride and handling has been tuned to suit our roads and tastes. Thus, the new Forester is comfortable and composed whether you’re on dirt or bitumen, the Forester is in a class of its own. 

With around 220mm of ground clearance (bettering most ‘proper’ 4x4s), permanent all-wheel drive and the clever X-Mode system the Forester will take rutted and broken tracks in its stride where its competitors (running part-time all-wheel-drive systems) would be left behind with wheels spinning uselessly. The key takeaway with the new Forester is that it’s better to drive around town, on the highway and in the bush than before.

What safety features does it get?

The new Forester has a five-star ANCAP rating and all models get Subaru’s EyeSight active safety system which includes autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and blind spot monitoring. On top-spec models, there’s also rear cross traffic alert with reverse braking. There are also the usual airbags, traction and stability controls, reversing camera and tyre pressure monitoring and obviously, the new driver management system which can monitor driver fatigue.

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