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All-New 2019 Subaru Forester Sport vs. Forester 2.0XT Comparison

See how the new 2019 Subaru Forester Sport stacks up against the outgoing 2.0XT.

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Sorry XT fans, the turbocharged 2.0XT Subaru Forester is gone forever and it’s not coming back. It’s been replaced by the 2019 Forester Sport trim. Here’s a detailed comparison on what Forester XT fans will be getting to replace it.

The 2.0XT Forester and its 250 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine is gone and is replaced by the 2019 Subaru Sport with the standard 2.5-liter boxer engine. Also gone is the Forester XT’s fully synchronized 6-speed manual gearbox.

The new 2019 Subaru Forester Sport is powered by the standard 2.5-liter naturally aspirated Boxer engine. All fifth-generation Foresters get the newly-upgraded 2.5-liter boxer engine. The new power plant 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. It’s quite a downgrade compared with the XT’s 250hp turbo engine.

Subaru also discontinues the 6-speed manual gearbox in all Forester trims including the new Sport trim. 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 as upgrades.

3 reasons Subaru axed the Forester

There are three reasons Subaru Corporation discontinued the Forester 2.0XT. The brand is focusing on global fuel-economy standards, (fuel economy in the 2.0XT w/ CVT was 27/23 city/highway mpg compared with the Sport’s 33 mpg highway), slow XT sales and engineering costs.

Subaru Australia boss Colin Christie says, “Having only one engine and one drivetrain allows us to be very clear and very focused on what we are doing. The XT turbos are nice to have, but the reality is we were down to selling 70 or 80 a month so it has not been a massive seller for us. The manual transmission was only two percent of our Forester sales anyway, so it’s a lot of cost and engineering to cater for not a lot of people.”

Subaru Corp is streamlining the 2019 Forester lineup with one engine and one transmission. This will affect all global models as the 2.0XT, 2.0-liter turbo diesel engine and 6-speed manual gearbox are also being axed in European and Australian markets.

Forester Sport specs

So the all-new Forester Sport is basically an appearance package and gets “specially enhanced” standard equipment. Here’s a list of standard features. The new Sport comes with the 182-hp Subaru Boxer engine, Dual-function X-MODE with Hill Descent Control, SI-DRIVE with Sport Sharp mode, and of course, Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive.

Outside appearance upgrades include 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with black finish, roof rails with integrated tie-downs, front, rear and side under guards with orange accents, and gloss black and orange exterior accents.

Inside it comes standard with dark gray sport fabric with a leather shifter, Orange stitching and trim accents, Sport gauges with color LCD display, Keyless Access with Push-Button Start, STARLINK Multimedia, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto app integration. It also gets 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat, panoramic moonroof and EyeSight driver assist technology.

Optional equipment like a power rear gate with height memory functions, Harman Kardon 576-watt-equivalent premium audio system, Blind-Spot Detection with Lane Change Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Reverse Automatic Braking, 8.0-inch touchscreen, and SiriusXM Travel Link can be added.

We can understand if Forester XT fans are disappointed with the all-new 2019 Subaru Forester Sport trim. It’s an appearance package with the enhanced performance of the 2.0-liter turbo engine removed.

Reader Poll: Tell us what you think about the 2.0XT being axed and replaced with the Forester Sport. Thumbs up or thumbs down?

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Photo credit: Subaru

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LJNYMD (not verified)    April 7, 2018 - 1:19PM

Pretty disappointing. I live in the mountains and the 2.5i is really irritating on the way up, reaching 4500 or even 5000 rpms. So Subaru has axed the best engine in the lineup, leaving only the hamster (2.5i) and the dinosaur (3.6R in the Outback). Now sport means orange paint. Cool.

Notice that everything in this explanation is why it is better for Subaru, no mention of the customer.

Ort (not verified)    April 7, 2019 - 1:39AM

In reply to by Tyson (not verified)

I'm not happy with the 3.6 being discontinued. I have a 2013 outback 3.6r and I'm going to hang on to it forever if I have to. Rebuild the engine, transmission--whatever it takes. I don't want a plain 4 banger with no guts.

Joe (not verified)    April 8, 2018 - 2:59PM

In reply to by LJNYMD (not verified)

Very disappointing. I understand their business decision however. I'm sure they'll understand XT owners leaving the brand as well. It's not much of a loss to them.

Robert (not verified)    July 31, 2018 - 11:04AM

In reply to by LJNYMD (not verified)

The excuse that not enough people purchased the XT Turbo and manual is just tyhat... an excuse. Where is the engineering excellence? Where is the vision? The excuse about 2 engines doesn't hold water, unless they get rid of the WRX 2.0? WIll they be dropping one of the WRX powerplants? Will they be dropping the WRX manual?

What killed the XT Turbo was the wrong people in the decision making positions. No other excuses and especially not that the customers are at fault for not buying enough. The year by year tweeks are also the problem. Those shouldn't be done when more important things could be. The tweeks are a waste of engineering.

They should have fixed the NHTSA 4-STAR crash deficiency in 2015 and used the 2016 model year to raise the 2.5i and 2.0 Turbo's mpg up. 2017 should have moved the 2.5 STI Turbo to the XT that would leave them with one engine size and the WRX engining would go into the XT. THey should have used the 2018 models to bring all the trims up to 5 STARS on the NHTSA ratings and Good/TSP on the IIHS ratings.

They should be moving to electric motors starting with the rearwheel drive... Tesla is the example. The WRX and XT should have been their first effort. They should have placed a solar panel on the roof in 2015 and increased its size and use with each succeeding year.

The bean-counters have neutered the company and have managed to disenfranchised 10-12% of the Forester sales in dropping the manual and Turbo. No excuses for this but poor performance on Subaru's part... afterall they still have the manual and the turbo in the WRX line.

Philip Karam (not verified)    January 11, 2024 - 9:50AM

In reply to by LJNYMD (not verified)

In 2019 I really wanted a Subaru Forester XT, however I was told that the XT was discontinued. I was left with no other choice but to look elsewhere. I was very disappointed, broken hearted. So the next choice was Volvo, I owned at the time a 2005 Volvo XC70 that I accumulated over 325,000 miles. I was about to retire in the next 2 years so what better reason that I had but to buy a new car before retirement, Since I was moving to Dominica and therefore work out all the bugs before shipping. Volvos diagnostic system VIDA was not available in Dominica. I started looking at all the AWD SUV's, and found that the Acura system was very good. My criteria was a vehicle that could pass a diagonal test and have at least 250hp, of which the RDX was pretty good. I now own the RDX which should have been a Subaru. Most of my vehicles over the years have been turbocharged, I like power.

Brizar (not verified)    April 9, 2018 - 10:06AM

It seems very odd just when other manufactures such as Alfa, Jaguar and Volvo have started producing 2ltr turbos Subaru ditch their brilliant XT. When I heard Subaru had dumped the XT I sold mine and bought a Volvo XC 40, 2ltr Turbo after 15 years a Subaru owner.

SK (not verified)    June 15, 2018 - 1:24AM

In reply to by Brizar (not verified)

Afraid I don't follow... the XT Turbo has been discontinued but you already had one? But then sold it for a Volvo because Subaru was no longer going to be making the model that you already owned?

Brian (not verified)    December 13, 2018 - 2:00PM

In reply to by Brizar (not verified)

I don't understand why you would sell yours, for me it's time to buy a used Forester XT!! Forget the new model, I can't stand any of the base 2.5i motors, far too underpowered for all the mountain passes I drive every single day. I'm an enthusiast and I personally would not buy any Subaru without the WRX motor in it, so this means I will never buy another Subaru. But I will be buying a used CPO XT Touring trim with eyesight the second my current car sells. I do love the new Volvo's as well, but I'm not willing to spend the $ they are asking for them. If I did it would be on the new V60 wagon.

Ed B (not verified)    April 9, 2018 - 12:13PM

Folks, I share your pain. I guess I'll be keeping my 2017 XT for quite some time. There are so many choices out there with the 4 cyl turbo - even Acura woke up and reintroduced it in the coming RDX. Oh well, Subaru is happy with the traditional mom and pop buyers. However, the youth and enthusiasts will have to look for alternatives. Bottom line, the bean counters won...

Ljnymd (not verified)    April 17, 2018 - 7:01PM

So I spent the last week or so getting some competition among the many Subaru dealers in Colorado for an 2018 XT Touring. It worked out pretty well and I drove the new vehicle back to Utah. I am sure there will be some improvements with the new Forester model but don’t think they will outweigh the advantages of the turbo. It just flies up those mountain roads!

Ed B (not verified)    April 18, 2018 - 12:18PM

In reply to by Ljnymd (not verified)

Yes, the interior improvements are good but you can't replace the power of the turbo. We'll see how this sells in late 2018. Lackluster sales will be the only factor to move Subaru to rethink a turbo option in the Forester again...

Mark (not verified)    November 28, 2018 - 9:26PM

In reply to by Ljnymd (not verified)

In July I was lucky to get one of the the last 2018 XT Trourings in the Atlanta area. Very impressed with first Subaru. XT engine, etc. make it special, brawny, no “sport” bling needed. Sport trim without an engine upgrade is boring.

Yoot Satoshi (not verified)    April 18, 2018 - 6:33PM

I owned a 2012 Forester 2.5i and a 2012 WRX. Got rid of them both and consolidated it into a 2018 Forester XT, as i'm getting older, before the announcement of the 2019. I'm disappointed as I love the AWD, but I hate hate hate the power of the 2.5i. I'm no street racer and it's not like the WRX nor my current 250HP machine is a monster, but I would say they're worthy of the word "sport" which keeps a smile on my face. This "extra" power also me through my daily boring life with a bit of control of the road and to avoid dangers. I'm glad the SH-AWD and Turbo is back on the RDX, maybe that'll be my next move in a few years. Plus Subaru can never get their interiors and audio correct. Such a shame.

Njeru Kamunde (not verified)    April 20, 2018 - 7:43AM

Subie shouldn't have axed the 2.0XT.The safety features and infotainment on the 2.5iSport are excellent but as always,Subies are useless cars without the turbos.

XTman (not verified)    April 24, 2018 - 2:54PM

I understand why Subaru ditched the XT. However, they have ignored the surprise factor which promotes sales. Every car driver that assumes that the Forester is a snail to be easily passed get a surprise when a Forester is much quicker than his car is. The presence of about 5% XTs on the roads sends many potential buyers to Subaru.
Well I'll have to decide to keep my wonderful 2015 XT and wait for a new turbo alternative, or switch brand, which is very difficult for me.

Ernie Rech (not verified)    April 26, 2018 - 2:16AM

When I heard that Subaru was removing the Forester XT turbo in 2019, I went out and bought a new 2018 Forester XT touring replacing my 2015 XT touring. At least I will be able to enjoy the turbo power for a few more years. Like others, when I decide to trade the 2018 I probably will go to another brand. Very disappointed in Subaru.