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All-New 2019 Subaru Forester; The Good, Bad and Ugly [Full Gallery]

The all-new 2019 Subaru Forester makes its global debut with big changes. See the full details, specs, and gallery.


The all-new 2019 Subaru Forester is uncovered at the New York International Auto Show and it's getting big changes, but some fans will be disappointed. Here are the details, specs and full gallery above to see what upgrades are coming this fall when it makes its dealer launch. There are a lot of good, some bad and some ugly changes coming.

The Forester gets exterior changes, but as expected, none are extreme. It gets Subaru’s design language with a family resemblance with standard front, side, and rear under guards with color finish according to trim line. New LED headlights are standard on all Forester trims and complement the brand’s signature hexagonal grille. It features high-gloss black or silver trim highlights and gets new colors such as Jasper Green Metallic, Horizon Blue Pearl, and Crimson Red Pearl. All Foresters will come with lower cladding to protect the SUV from rocks and mud for off-road use.

The Good: Forester grows in size

The big changes come underneath as Forester grows with its wheelbase increased to 105.1 in. from 103.9 inches. This will translate to gains in rear, legroom, headroom, hip and shoulder room. Subaru says the doors have wider openings making ingress/egress and installing a child seat easier.

The Forester re-design also increases cargo space to 76.1 cubic ft. with the 60:40 split rear seatbacks lowered, a gain of 1.4 cubic ft. Forester's rear gate opening width is now 51.2-in. wide, a 5.3-in. increase over the previous model and up to 8-in. wider than on some competitive SUVs. The load floor sits flatter, and the cargo area’s squared-off shape has been further optimized for ease of carrying large objects.

Better: A new 2.5-liter boxer engine

The fifth-generation Forester gets a newly-upgraded 2.5-liter boxer engine. The new power plant now comes with direct injection, 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-generation Forester.

The Bad: 2.0-liter Forester XT is gone

We reported here on Torque News Subaru would discontinue the 2.0-liter turbo XT model. It's gone forever and Forester gets a new Sport trim, but its powered by the standard 2.5-liter engine. The new Forester Sport is an appearance package and gets “specially enhanced” standard equipment. Sport trim features a grille with black gloss finish frame, black-finish 18-in. wheels and rear roof spoiler. It also comes with orange accents on the black underguards and roof rail mounts. Inside the Sport Forester comes with a unique dark gray material with orange stitching and accents throughout.

The Ugly: Subaru drops the 6-speed manual

Subaru discontinues the manual gearbox in all Forester trims. Forester Sport won’t be offered with a 6-speed manual rower. The 2.5-liter boxer will come mated to a Lineartronic CVT featuring a seven-speed manual mode with steering wheel paddle-shift shifters. The Forester Sport model does come with a version of the Subaru WRX STI Intelligent Drive (SI-DRIVE) with Intelligent and Sport Sharp modes.


Subaru axes the 6-speed manual gearbox in the interest of safety. All 2019 Forester models will come standard with EyeSight driver assist technology for the first time. Subaru engineers haven’t been able to couple a manual transmission with EyeSight, so the 6-speed is expendable.

Added safety technology

The top Touring trim debuts with a new DriverFocus safety technology offering another layer of safety and convenience for the driver. The system can alert the driver of fatigue or distraction while on the road as well as automatically adjust many driver settings at start-up.

DriverFocus uses facial recognition software to identify signs of driver fatigue or driver distraction. The new driver monitoring system works with EyeSight to reduce the chance of an accident. DriverFocus can also recognize up to five drivers and remember their presets for seat position, climate, multifunction display and more.

The new 2019 Subaru Forester also gets a new electronic brake, new front seats, standard automatic climate control, LED headlights, auto start/stop, SI-DRIVE engine performance management, Active Torque Vectoring, trailer stability assist and welcome lighting, and a panoramic power moonroof is standard on Premium, Sport, Limited and Touring trims.

There’s a lot of new features on the all-new 2019 Subaru Forester making it much improved over the outgoing model. It also features the Subaru Global Platform offering a quieter cabin, improved driving dynamics, and additional safety. There is some bad and ugly with Subaru XT 2.0-liter turbo gone along with the 6-speed manual gearbox.

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Photo credit: Subaru NYIAS


Ed B (not verified)    March 29, 2018 - 9:53AM

The "bean counters" won and the enthusiasts lost. I get it, XT only accounted for roughly 5% of total Forester sales. However, while economy of scale makes sense, putting the same engine throughout the line is unfortunate. I have a 2017 XT and I don't think I'll trade the power (+68 more horsepower) for the new model. So, I guess the other 5% won't care because they actually gain +8 in horsepower. Subaru could have been a bit bolder in exterior design as well - they played it too safe in my opinion. I will test drive the new Forester, but the consistent move to reduce horsepower on several models is a concern - The Outback is next. They could have simply put the new Ascent turbo in an STI version of Forester. I have no option if I chose to stay in the Subaru family - the Ascent doesn't fit my lifestyle. The new 2019 Toyota RAV4 my be viable for me and they have a hybrid option. This new Forester is truly for the masses and the uniqueness is gone from the line. "Another pleasant valley Sunday here in status symbol land" - to quote the Monkey's song. (yeah, I'm dating myself LOL).

CV (not verified)    March 29, 2018 - 11:17AM

In reply to by Ed B (not verified)

I agree with Ed. We recently bought a 2018 Forester XT (the 2nd Forester turbo we've owned), and it will sadly be our last. I cannot imagine downgrading to a NA engine and we do not need something as large as an Ascent. It looks like we'll be moving on from Subaru when the time comes to replace our current XT.

Ed B (not verified)    March 29, 2018 - 4:08PM

In reply to by CV (not verified)

Yeah CW - I don't get it - most of their competitors are going with 4 cylinder turbos and Acura just brought back that engine for their 2019 RDX. I know it's about numbers but I think Subaru could have justified using the new turbo engine from the Ascent to make an STI version of Forester for the enthusiasts.

AWD (not verified)    March 29, 2018 - 8:40PM

In reply to by Ed B (not verified)

All that is left now for a AWD wagon with manual transmission with some power and any fun to drive is a VW-Alltrack. I just ditched my problematic CVT 2014 Crosstrek. Wheel alignments, wheel bearing hubs and axle shafts vibrations, noise, poor acceleration and a poor warranty. Subaru has changed, not me! Moving on.

John Goreham    April 1, 2018 - 2:56PM

In reply to by AWD (not verified)

Like AWD notes above, my dealer told me when my Forester had just 8,000 miles it needed a wheel alignment. Which was nothing by a money grab. My 96K 2007 Highlander has never needed a wheel alignment and I know which brand I will buy next.

VS (not verified)    June 18, 2018 - 11:12AM

In reply to by John Goreham

I hope the tires on the Toyota highlander did not run out sooner than what they are supposed to.Any car should always get a wheel alignment done if you want the tires to last you long. when I turned in my 6 years old Michelin Defender tires because of the dry rot on the side walls, there was still 5/32 of the tire thread left. That is because I did the alignment/rotation/balancing every 6 months. All in all, get the wheel alignment done every six months to make sure your tires wear out evenly.

John Goreham    March 29, 2018 - 12:45PM

Great overview. Denis, any idea what percentage of Foresters were sold as XTs and what percent overall had stick shifts? I can't find that data. As an owner of the Forester (2016) I can see that many of these changes were targeted at me and the bulk of the market. There is no top-selling compact crossover in America from any brand with a stick shift, or an up-powered engine. Unless you count the Escape as a top-seller. Which it really isn't.

Big Engines (not verified)    March 29, 2018 - 6:31PM

Good and bad :/
Didn't like so much the front design, it's has most thing from the previous generation, didn't like drop the turbo, compare Forester 182hp between Rav4 203 hp will go to Rav4 if you care about performance and didn't find Forester turbo, i read in Chinese resource that Subaru are working for down sized turbo engines! To replace 1.6L turbo and 2L turbo for 1.5L turbo and 1.8L turbo, I wish if Subaru drop the 2L turbo cause waiting for the new 1.8L turbo be better fuel economy and less emissions and but it again for the Forester, the new turbo engines maybe will be available in 2020 or 2021

Big Engines (not verified)    March 30, 2018 - 7:18AM

Like and dislike
like most new things in new Forester like new engine 2.5L and X-Mode came with multi terrain select for sand/rock/dirt/snow and so on (which surprised me so much that it is similar to the Rav4 has! like Subaru and Toyota maybe did cooperate in the design or the specifications of the two cars) but didn't like the front of the Forester, it's has most the look of the previous generation almost 90% from the front style and i don't like that but not surprised me cause Subaru always do boring style/design, the big thing i didn't like of the Forester that Subaru drop the tubro! not fair, i was waiting that long for the new Forester and know very well that the base engine is not that enough power compared to competitors and the solution is to choose a turbo engine for people like me care about performance :\

But i did read from Chinese cars news resources that Subaru is already working for new engines to down sized turbo engines! to replace 1.6L turbo and 2L turbo to 1.5L turbo and 1.8L turbo to become better fuel economy and less emissions, which is probably the new engines for the new generation Subaru Levorg or WRX/STI hatchback, and those engines will be come out in 2020 at least, so if Subaru drop the Turbo engine for the Forester cause it's the old engine 2.0L tubro for the new 1.8L turbo that is fine to me but if there are no more turbo for the Forester! that too stupid from Subaru and probably i will move to the new Rav4

The biggest advantage of Forester that it's have turbo engine compare to Rav4, CX-5, CR-V, Rough as Japanese competitors but now new Forester don't have something very special to think to own it

Very sad that Subaru didn't care at all for Subaru fans requests and most Subaru fans they scream to Subaru face to tell them their cars are underpower and didn't do something about it

Ed B (not verified)    April 4, 2018 - 3:21PM

Denis, the more days go by the more disappointed I am with the new Forester. Beyond the new Driverfocus safety feature this is a refresh externally. Kudos on on the interior changes but that's about as far as I go with positives.The turbo Forester and combination of safety features made the XT unique in the small SUV class. Now it's a just a "me too" offering in a sea of small SUVs fighting for market share. I wrote a letter to Infante and Doll, I'm sure it will be largely ignored, but I simply had to express my displeasure with the new offering. I really wanted to stay in the Subie family, but as an enthusiast the direction of the company (away from performance options) is concerning...

ReadyPlayerOne (not verified)    April 5, 2018 - 1:28PM

Hands down the latest Crosstrek is Subaru's best looking model. This new Forester still has a very boring body design. It's not even close to being modern looking like the CR-V, RAV4, Rogue, or CX-5.

David Kohlhase (not verified)    April 10, 2018 - 3:13PM

The current generation of forester does not have as good towing capacity (1500 lbs.) as the previous generation (2400 lbs.). Might they be able to go back to the greater towing capacity with the 2019?

MikeM (not verified)    June 1, 2018 - 12:05AM

I have a 2014 Forester and the 2019 sounds awesome. I can't want to trade my 2014 for a 2019 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

MARGARET MACKAY (not verified)    June 25, 2019 - 2:48PM

Just switched from a Subaru Outback to a Forester prem. So far the only problem I have are the seats they are like rocks.