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Subaru’s Forester Strategy; Will Loyal Customers Buy Into It?

Subaru has a three-fold strategy for the new 2019 Forester. Will loyal customers buy into it?


The Subaru Forester needed a remodel and the Japanese automaker brings the all-new 2019 Forester for customers this fall. Subaru has a strategy and they hope loyal customers and consumers new-to-the-brand will buy into it. Many Subaru fans wanted more drastic exterior styling and Subaru Corp went with only minor changes on the outside. Why didn’t Subaru Corp change the fifth-generation Forester more?

Subaru gets criticized for their uninspiring styling, but there’s a reason behind the Japanese automaker’s styling cues. Subaru’s Forester strategy is to not make major changes on the outside because it messes with their open greenhouse cabin with an open airy feeling inside. Forester also offers excellent visibility, and Subaru doesn’t want that to change.

Excellent visibility

Many new small SUVs now come with driver aids to help you know what’s going on around your vehicle like backup sensors, blind-spot monitors, and rear cross-traffic-alert systems. But there’s no substitute for being able to actually see the cars around you. The raked roof lines look cool, but they also don’t allow the driver to see their surroundings.

One of Subaru’s core values is offering excellent visibility in the Forester, and that isn’t going to change. According to a report by Consumer Reports, the Forester offers the best visibility of any vehicle on the road. The Outback wagon is second on the list, and Legacy sedan comes in third.

Subaru is proud of the small SUV’s big windows, square greenhouse, thin roof pillars bringing outstanding visibility for the driver. The upright design also gives Forester a roomy interior which is Subaru’s second Forester strategy.

cabinA roomier interior

At the New York International Auto Show, when Subaru unveiled the new Forester, Subaru of America’s CEO Tom Doll, said two things will be the difference as consumers take a look at the new 2019 Forester. "The interior is really the differentiator for this car.”

The next-generation Forester gets significant upgrades inside the cabin. It gets new seats up front, and the small SUV will be more spacious overall with rear-seat legroom growing by 1.4 inches. The cabin will also be quieter, thanks to the new Subaru Global Platform Forester now rides on. All new 2019 Foresters come with a wider rear lift gate opening (+5.3-in.) for easier loading of cargo.

Safety first

The third strategy for Subaru’s Forester is safety. Subaru says the safety factor will also be a big draw for consumers as they rediscover the all-new 2019 Forester. "Once people see the Forester and get an understanding of what it's all about, and the safety aspects that we've built into the vehicle," Doll said, "we think the sky's the limit with this thing.”

All 2019 Subaru Forester trims will now come standard with EyeSight driver assist safety technology. The small SUV will also be the only model in the lineup available with their new driver monitoring system called DriverFocus aimed at preventing accidents.

The all-new 2019 Subaru Forester will make its dealer launch later this fall, and it comes with Subaru’s strategy of excellent visibility, a roomier cabin and added safety features. Subaru Corp hopes these will be the reasons why consumers will rediscover the Forester nameplate.

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Photo credit: Subaru Corp


Terri (not verified)    September 2, 2018 - 7:15PM

It appears that the new Driver Focus System incorporates facial recognition that is tied to their StarLink. It will notify you if it "thinks" your eyes are not in the road. The concern I have is a privacy issue. Who can have access to the data it records. Can a insurance company request or buy that information? Also if you don't renew your subscription to StarLink how does that affect the waranty if at all?

Ed B. (not verified)    September 2, 2018 - 7:29PM

I’ve got no complaints with the visibility and safety. However, there could have been more exterior changes to differentiate the car from the previous generation - without jeopardizing the visibility. Lastly, one size fits all engine won’t bring many new buyers to the showroom.

Jaffar (not verified)    September 3, 2018 - 1:39AM

In reply to by Ed B. (not verified)

I suspect Subaru doesn't want new models to look drastically different from the previous ones to keep it's loyal customer base. In this manner, people hold on to their Subarus longer.
As for one engine fits all, the reason could be to cut cost of manufacturing, spare parts, and service to enable Subaru to keep prices tempting.

Justin (not verified)    September 2, 2018 - 8:05PM

I don't need all that safety features of the new Forester, I just basic Forester with a manual transmission.

William (not verified)    September 2, 2018 - 8:06PM

Worthless. Probably the last Forester I’ll want to drive. I’ll stick with my XT. Subaru doesn’t appreciate how much a CVT blows with an under powered vehicle.

Rick Holland (not verified)    September 2, 2018 - 11:21PM

In reply to by Joe (not verified)

Just what I used to think till I rented an 18 Imprezza with the eyesite technology stuff. Am going to sell my 14 Forester and get a 19 now. They have greatly improved the CVT also, is much better than that in the 14s, they went to simulated gear shifts so it feels more like a regular automatic.

Tyler (not verified)    September 2, 2018 - 8:07PM

Make it about 30% smaller, give it a proper amount of power, and a proper manual trans with no stupid driver assist systems and yeah, id be all over it. Just make the SG again.

Ed B (not verified)    September 2, 2018 - 9:15PM

In reply to by Kevin (not verified)

You’re right Kevin, without a turbo model and more unique styling, this won’t attract younger buyers. This 2019 Forester is for the loyal return owners who don’t care about power or styling, pure utility and safety minus the fun...

Baldman64 (not verified)    September 2, 2018 - 11:00PM

No turbo, no interest. Seriously, my wife's 2009 XT had great visibility, though a backup camera would be great but we drove several of the normally aspirated and for Denver, it's just a non-starter. Despite a bit of body roll, it was a great little car. Great in the mountains and the snow. Respectable on fire roads. A bit cramped on legroom, but we'll appointed enough for all day road trips. The gas mileage was a bit lacking but again without the turbo, we are looking elsewhere and probably not to Subaru at all. Another commenter already said that the CVT with 182 bhp is a slug, I would have to drive it to agree, but having driven other CVT cars that comment makes perfect sense. I would be curious to see what the weight difference is between the 09 and the 19

Tom Lieser (not verified)    September 2, 2018 - 11:35PM

Subaru USA has doubled its sales of the forester in 5 years with little increase in sales of turbo models and manual trans. It's a no brainer for management.

James Juarez (not verified)    September 3, 2018 - 12:15AM

Not happy 250hp engine dropped from 2019 lineup. My 2017 Forrester may be the last one I'm buying.

denise (not verified)    September 3, 2018 - 2:37AM

I have a 2015 Subaru Forester turbo, this car is a death trap. Had continued problems. New motor and turbo under 19,000.miles. had constant jerking. more problems also had to have new right cam put in. Subaru does not stand behind their products. Met requirements for lemon law. They still refuse to buy the car back.They have a 1.8 .rating. With the BBB in Washington State. Buyer beware

Jo (not verified)    September 3, 2018 - 7:20AM

Love my small 2014 "boxy" XT. Was ready for a new Forester BUT give me my turbo engine! I need the power! Don't make me look at another car.

JOHN H (not verified)    September 3, 2018 - 9:56AM

Looks nice... But without the XT model and the preppy 2.0 turbo this is just another boring econobox... I won't buy one. Subaru needs to or the turbo somewhere in there lineup... How about the Crosstrek ??

Break the boring, bring back the turbo

Lori (not verified)    September 3, 2018 - 3:21PM

I’m so glad my lease is up on my Forrester ! The air conditioning is horrible! I will probably go back to a Honda unless someone can convince me that the air conditioning has improved on the new model! My friend has the same forester and has replaced air compressor 3x mine has been replaced also. I just loved the visability of this car but air is horrendous!

David Martin (not verified)    September 3, 2018 - 7:54PM

I'll never buy another. The air conditioning is vastly useless after my Forester sits for awhile in 100+ degree weather.

Richard Jeffries (not verified)    September 4, 2018 - 9:52AM

I have a 2018 Forester and I really like it...the CVT is much improved, it rides so well and is also handles like a champ...I thought about waiting for the 2019 but it will have the auto start/stop feature on all models from what I understand - something I DO NOT want so I got the, the 2018 model is the end of cycle model which usually means the "bugs" have been worked out so should be very reliable....