2019 Subaru Forester is now your personal Big Brother

2019 Subaru Forester official picture

The fifth-gen Forester monitors its driver for any sign of distraction

The fifth-generation Subaru Forester is based on the Subaru Global Platform and offers lots of improvements compared to the former generation. It also boasts exclusive monitoring and driving assist features in its segment.

There was a time when carmakers bragged about their SUV's off-road abilities, their performances or comfort features. Not anymore. What Subaru chose to promote when launching the all-new Forester was its segment-exclusive DriverFocus safety technology – a system that constantly monitors the driver's face for any signs of fatigue or distraction. And that's rather curious because the new Forester has many other nice things in store for its clients.

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The 2019 Forester sits on Subaru's modern Global Platform, which offers better safety, handling, and comfort. It's also roomier than the previous generation. The wheelbase increased to 2,669 mm (105.1 in.), most of the gain benefitting rear seat legroom, but the car also offers more generous headroom, hip and shoulder room. Wider rear door openings and a steep C-pillar angle make ingress/egress and installing a child seat easier. The flat load floor and wider rear gate opening design also increase cargo space to 2,154 liters (76.1 cu. ft.) with the 60:40 split rear seatbacks lowered.

The new 2019 Subaru Forester: drivetrain

All Foresters are powered by a new version of the 2.5-liter boxer four-cylinder engine, now with direct fuel injection and higher compression, along with active valve control system (AVCS) on the exhaust side. The new engine produces 182 hp and 176 lb-ft of torque, versus 170 hp and 174 lb-ft in the previous Forester, and is mated in standard with a Lineartronic CVT gearbox. In Sport and Touring variants, the CVT features a manual mode that simulates a seven-speed manual transmission, using steering wheel paddle shifters.

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The new car is quicker but also more economical, with up to 33 mpg estimated highway fuel economy. Of course, as in most modern cars, the driver can choose between different driving styles through the standard SI-DRIVE system that allows the driver to tailor the vehicle’s throttle characteristics by choosing between “Intelligent” and “Sport” modes (Sport Sharp on Forester Sport). “Intelligent” mode helps smooth out accelerator inputs for fuel saving, while “Sport” mode tunes the throttle to emphasize performance.

The new 2019 Subaru Forester: trims and tech

The Forester will be available in standard, Premium, Limited, Touring and new Sport trim levels. The standard model includes features such as EyeSight, LED headlights, Auto Start/Stop, SI-DRIVE Engine Performance management, Active Torque Vectoring, Automatic Climate Control, Electronic Parking Brake, Trailer Stability Assist and Welcome Lighting. A panoramic power moonroof is standard on Premium, Sport, Limited and Touring trims.

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The Sport trim is the most interesting, adding a high-grade instrument panel combination meter and multi-function display, LED fog lights, High Beam Assist, exterior mirrors with integrated turn signals, Keyless Access with Push-Button Start and PIN Code Access and the All-Weather Package (heated front seats, heated exterior mirrors, windshield wiper de-icer).

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All Forester models now feature standard automatic climate control (dual-zone on Limited and Touring models), and the optional heated front seats feature three-stage control versus two-stage before. The Touring trim adds new heated rear seats for 2019. Keyless Access with Push Button Start is standard on Sport, Limited and Touring trims and optional for Premium.

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The top-of-the-line 2019 Touring features 10-way power driver’s seat, new 8-way power front passenger seat, new heated rear seats and heated steering wheel. Also new for 2019, the exterior mirrors have a two-position memory function synchronized to the driver’s seat position memory and in addition tilt downward when reverse gear is engaged, to aid in parking maneuvers. A new power rear lock button is available on the rear liftgate that will close and lock the gate and all doors on the vehicle.

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Subaru Starlink Connected Services now offers optional Remote Engine Start via the MySubaru smartphone app. Climate controls can also be set on the app when Remote Engine Start is activated. Many other connected services such as Wi-Fi and concierge services are newly available on Forester for 2019 model year.

2019 Subaru Forester: off-road capabilities

The Forester is loved by off-road fanatics, so Subaru paid attention and didn't ruin its mud and track abilities. Subaru's Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive is standard, as is the Active Torque Vectoring system. Ground clearance is 22 cm (8.7 inches), which means it's still a very versatile car off the beaten track.

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Forester Premium, Sport, Limited and Touring come standard with driver-selectable X-Mode with Hill Descent Control. When engaged, X-Mode optimizes control of the engine, transmission shift pattern, Active AWD front/rear clutch force, brakes and the Vehicle Dynamics Control system to optimize wheel control on slippery surfaces and steep inclines. New for 2019, the Sport, Limited and Touring models come standard with a dual-mode version of X-Mode that offers Snow/Dirt and Deep Snow/Mud modes for even more capability to go virtually everywhere.

2019 Forester's driving assist systems

As mentioned before, the new Forester is like a personal Big Brother. Its DriverFocus system uses facial recognition software to identify signs of driver fatigue or driver distraction. It can also recognize up to five drivers and remember their presets for seat position, climate, multifunction display and more.


All versions of the 2019 Forester come standard with EyeSight Driver Assist Technology that includes Automatic Pre-Collision Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure and Sway Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Pre-Collision Throttle Management and Lead Vehicle Start Alert. Other available driver-assist technologies include Reverse Automatic Braking and Blind Spot Detection with Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Reverse Automatic Braking can apply the vehicle’s brakes if an obstacle is detected while reversing.

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Forester Sport, Limited, and Touring include High Beam Assist, and Limited and Touring also add Steering Responsive Headlights. New for the 2019 Forester, the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) now displays pressure for individual tires. New standard Trailer Stability Assist (TSA) utilizes yaw sensors to monitor trailer sway and then can brake individual wheels to stabilize the vehicle and trailer.

Inside, the Forester fills out its safety roster with the Subaru Advanced Frontal Airbags, a driver’s knee airbag, standard front side pelvis/torso airbags, and side curtain airbags that offer front and rear outboard seat coverage.

The new 2019 Subaru Forester: infotainment and connectivity

The 2019 Forester offers the latest touchscreen Subaru Starlink multimedia systems with standard features including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and SiriusXM services with Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity and audio streaming. A built-in, voice-activated navigation system powered by TomTom with an 8” high-res touchscreen is also available. The standard Forester comes with the 6.5” Multimedia system, while higher trim levels feature the 8.0” Multimedia Plus and 8.0” Multimedia Navigation systems.

2019 Subaru Forester interior

SUBARU STARLINK Connected Services now offers remote engine start (on models equipped with Keyless Access and Push-Button Start); concierge service; anti-theft vehicle immobilizer with flashing vehicle security lights; young driver safety functions including geofencing, speed alert, and curfew; and firmware updates over the air.

Also available, the Safety Plus package offers SOS emergency assistance, enhanced roadside assistance, automatic collision notification, maintenance notifications, monthly vehicle health report, and diagnostic alerts. The Safety Plus & Security Plus upgrade package adds stolen vehicle recovery service, vehicle security alarm notification, remote lock/unlock, remote horn and lights and a remote vehicle locator.

The new 2019 Subaru Forester is arriving at Subaru retailers later this year.