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Subaru Wasn’t Thinking When They Didn’t Drop A 2.4L Turbo Into New Forester

Subaru miscalculated by not bringing a new 2019 Forester Onyx Edition XT. Ascent, Outback and Legacy get the 2.4L turbo, why not Forester?


When Subaru discontinued the Forester 2.0XT turbocharged model, they miscalculated thinking they could do without the turbo model in the compact SUV. It would have been easy for the Japanese automaker to drop in the new Ascent-sourced FA24 2.4-liter turbo that Outback and Legacy are getting.

There are likely lots of customers who wouldn’t buy the older XT model but would buy a new Forester Onyx Edition XT riding on the new Global Platform, with comfortable seats, an upscale leather interior, and using regular 87 octane fuel. Many customers would jump on that. The sportier, speedy, smaller Forester XT is their first choice, but now consumers will be forced to look at the new Mazda CX-5 turbo model instead or move up in size to the new Kia Telluride or Sorento.

2019 Subaru ForesterHooking up

Another consideration for Forester buyers is the lack of towing capacity. The new 2.4-liter turbo Boxer engine develops 260-horsepower and the broad peak torque band of 277 lb-ft between 2,000 and 4,800 rpm would give a Forester XT more towing ability. The 2019 Forester can only tow up to 1500 lbs. The new Outback XT now comes with 3,500-lb. towing capacity, an increase from the previous 2,700-lb. rating.

Forester comes ready to play in the dirt and customers will use it for recreation, but Forester’s 2.5-liter naturally aspirated powertrain doesn’t have the capability to tow a larger trailer. The 2019 Forester does come standard with a Trailer Stability Assist (TSA) helping maintain vehicle stability while towing. But it can’t tow as much as the Outback and new Ascent family hauler.

2019 Subaru Forester

Many owners are looking for a sporty compact SUV vehicle that will tow a small camper, boat or multi-purpose trailer. A Forester can tow a small utility trailer, but for anything bigger, you'll need the new Outback or Ascent.

2019 Subaru Forester

Subaru would have hit a sweet spot with many customers if they would have brought a new 2019 Forester Onyx Edition XT turbo model. It likely would have been a hit with many customers, but Subaru Corp miscalculated on this one.

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Brian (not verified)    July 5, 2019 - 11:49AM

In reply to by Denis Flierl

Completely agree. I would be driving a new Forester right now if it had the turbo. Handles better and is more comfortable than the new RAV4 but feels less powerful and with less towing capacity. My bet is the turbo is being saved for a future model refresh.

Saul Good (not verified)    July 5, 2019 - 12:13PM

In reply to by Denis Flierl

Likely a combination of market demands (e.g. no, not everyone wants the turbo) and production capacity.

Subaru is already struggling to meet demand with a high level of quality in the US. Adding this to the mix may prove to be the demise of the brand in the States.

Lou (not verified)    July 5, 2019 - 1:14PM

In reply to by Denis Flierl

Totally agree! I have a 2014 XT and was waiting on the sidelines for the 2019 turbo. I normally buy new cars every 5 years. Test drive the non turbo forester and it's way underpowered. Embarrassingly underpowered. I can't imagine what hauling 4 other passengers would feel like. I'm ready to pull the pin on the wait and go with the 2019 Honda Passport with their powerful 3.5 V6. Subaru definitely dropped the ball. The turbo offers so much more. It's an industry standard.

Bill eEgan (not verified)    July 5, 2019 - 8:38PM

In reply to by Lou (not verified)

Ditto re above !
I have 2013XTurbo FORESTER Premium and have 1500kg Small Van and have 1800 towing capacity, and won't change over to current Forester as it is gutless by comparison to my 6years old 2litreTX with 41000K on the clock and fun to drive!
Wake up SUBARU.
By the way I find the Outback does not have the same head clearance as FORESTER and is a draw back for us taller Aussies over rough roads, in far north Queensland and longer trips!

Lidia Spyrka (not verified)    July 5, 2019 - 8:41PM

In reply to by Lou (not verified)

We have a 2015 turbo xt and will not trade it in until they add the turbo back in the lineup. They never did advertise it and basically were responsible for the turbo Forester demise. When other manufacturers are going turbo I cannot understand their reasoning. I agree the turbo xt was hard to come by but it was so worth the wait. Just needed the power to get out of harms way and with eye site it’s a 10!! We are keeping ours forever since we will NOT give ours up!!

Ren (not verified)    July 5, 2019 - 10:36PM

In reply to by Lidia Spyrka (not verified)

I owned a 2017 forester 2.5, it was an absolute dog i. The mountains. An embarrassment to drive. Dealer gave me the full price i bought it for a year later when i traded it in for a 2018 xt w all bells and whistles. Man that turbo is nice. My dealer had tons of new xt models sitting on the lot. Not sure what you are talking about. I dont think it sold that well. Most treehuggers don't want turbos.

Sc (not verified)    July 5, 2019 - 6:10PM

In reply to by Robert Rusho (not verified)

Make sure you dont have the lane assist button on,when I accidentally hit the button on the steering wheel it was steering for me when I veered alittle freaked me out...I should of read the manual

Henry (not verified)    July 6, 2019 - 8:10PM

In reply to by Denis Flierl

I am waiting for the last two years with the upgraded Forest XT because outback and ascent just too big and heavier, but no dice,I was going to purchase an older Forester with a turbo, guess they are going to lose me as a Subaru fanatic and stuck with the STI..

Jeff Adams (not verified)    July 24, 2019 - 7:01PM

In reply to by Denis Flierl

Probably CAFE requirements - Subaru sells more Outbacks than Forester's right? So my guess is that they'll see what percentage of people take the Outback XT, then add it for the next Forester if the take-rate isn't too high (in other words, as long as their CAFE remains within target range, you'll see an Forester XT....

Wrencher (not verified)    July 5, 2019 - 11:35AM

I own a 2018 Forester XT and yes everything this article says. I have 18 months on my lease otherwise I am jumping ship Subaru.

NOEL ALDERMAN (not verified)    July 5, 2019 - 11:46AM

I work at a Subaru dealer, and we have zero Forester inventory. We're selling as many as we can get, as soon as we can get them. Personally, the XT is the only Forester I would have ever considered buying. But I never did buy one, and very few other people did either. Subaru did not make a mistake, in so far as maximizing their business opportunity. Maybe release one mid generation could be a good idea, but dropping it at this point was absolutely the best move from Subarus perspective. From a Subaru fan perspective, maybe not. But those fans were unlikely to ever make an actual purchase.

Justin (not verified)    July 5, 2019 - 11:47AM

I have a 2015 Forester XT. My next Subaru will likely be the outback, if they dont bring the turbo back.
I can see why they did it, though. Foresters have no problem selling out, so it makes sense to streamline a single engine.

Joel (not verified)    July 5, 2019 - 12:17PM

Although enthusiasts wanted the turbo to continue, and personally I am in that camp as I will likely get an Outback XT, I have heard multiple reports that said only 5% of the Forester buyers opted for the turbo, so how could Subaru have "hit a home run" had they included the turbo in the lineup? Also, wasn't it here on this website that I have read that the new Foresters are just flying off the dealer lots? Again, I would have loved it if Subaru would have given the turbo option in the Forester (as I would just buy one of those), but we're in the minority.

Digitaldoc (not verified)    July 5, 2019 - 5:18PM

In reply to by Joel (not verified)

The 5% of Foresters is a turbo, does not tell the whole story. I went to buy one, back in Dec 2017, and was told by the dealership they had none, and nobody had one to sell or test drive within 100 miles. I ended up buying a competing product. How exactly did they expect anyone to buy this white whale? IMHO, the low sales were a self fulfilling prophesy.

Kendra Nick (not verified)    July 5, 2019 - 12:20PM

In my opinion, 2007 was the last good year for the Forester. After that, the body design turned to shit.

Dave Holden (not verified)    July 6, 2019 - 3:07AM

In reply to by Kendra Nick (not verified)

Totally agree. My old 2003 has more room in the cab and is easy to get in and out of than newer models. Having more bells and whistles doesn't necessarily mean a better experience

Digitaldoc (not verified)    July 5, 2019 - 12:43PM

Basically, every car needs an optional engine. So big miss with the Forester losing the turbo. Equally big miss that the Crosstrek does not offer anything, and they have a 1.6T available elsewhere that could be used.

One of the keys of BMW is every vehicle offers the option to upgrade the engine. Hyundai is adopting this model as well.

Not sure why Subaru wants to constrain its users to the lowest, and boringest powertrain options, but so far this strategy has convinced me to look elsewhere for my car purchases.

Ed Hresko (not verified)    July 5, 2019 - 1:23PM

Subaru's are all a piece of crap, nothing but problems, from leaking head gaskets to VVT issues, l should keep l have one, do your self a favor and buy a Honda.

Tony (not verified)    July 5, 2019 - 1:31PM

Given the high demand for the foresters, Subaru wanted to make sure the market stabilizes first before releasing the xt model. They can't really keep up the demand for the Forster right now as it is so they are putting all focus on just getting enough out.

David Gonzalez (not verified)    July 5, 2019 - 2:43PM

Yeah my father was one of those people pleased with his 2.0xt.
He wanted to replace the car with another Xt but couldn't understand why they dropped the turbo
So he test drove a ton of cars including the Mazda but he decided if he was going to pay close to 40k for a car he was going to just get a more upscale car and ended up with an RDX Aspec...

Michael Csonka (not verified)    July 5, 2019 - 3:03PM

I personally would love the Turbo 2.4 as it is an entirely different animal than then the previous turbo engines as it would increase real utility on 87 pump gas. But the reality for Subaru is they are literally sell all the 2.5 Foresters they can Management seems to be mortified by some quality lapses that have occured due to Subarus explosive growth. There more concerned now with making sure the products are up to the standard we expect then stretching production. Which is absolutely the right call. If they need the Turbo to sell thier production either through increased capacity such as a new north American plant or declining sales they'll add it. But thier not and should not make the mistake of sacrificing quality to push out more production.

Jeremy (not verified)    July 5, 2019 - 3:14PM

Have you shopped for a new 2019 Subaru Forester lately at your local dealership? It is difficult to find a dealer with a large supply. They are selling as fast as they are coming in. A lot of the incoming inventory is also Pre sold. It is even more difficult, if you are after a certain color combo in a Touring model or Limited. So please explain to me again how Subaru made a mistake with this model?