50 Minute Test Drive: 2019 Subaru Forester

2019 Subaru Forester

*Somebody* just got a makeover and is looking really smart.

Don’t you hate test drives that are a dizzying whirl of information overload? So do I. So when I got a chance for a quick drive in the 2019 Subaru Forester, I made a point to take note of all the features and design details in this newly redesigned, and more refined looking, 5 passenger SUV.

In the 2019 Forester, which carries an all-in price tag of $35,000, Subaru stays true to its promise of preserving all that matters most to you. Safety, capability and comfort are front and center. And for those of us to whom looks matter, this SUV is slimmed down, a bit more muscular and and has a more elegant profile than prior editions.

Related: Subaru Ascent brings new love to the 3-row SUV

2019 Subaru Forester

Leg room in the back seat is impressively roomy; the floor is flat adding leg room. And, notice the two USB ports and heated seats for rear passengers. Photo: Scotty Reiss

First, Forester Offers More Space

The company proudly boasts that the doors open wider and the cargo area is wider due to the use of more high strength steel. This shows in the rear seat, which was easy to get in and out of and has plenty of leg room. The rear seats  feature 3 LATCH anchors for child passenger safety seats, which are neatly covered with a leather flap, and with the added leg room, installing seats should be relatively easy.

The rear seats in the Touring edition, which has a 4 cylinder 182 horsepower engine, are heated on the passenger’s and driver’s side, and back seat passengers have two 2.1 amp USB ports, which have a greater charge capacity to power a tablet or laptop.

The front seat was roomy, too, and the Java brown leather upholstery, which is exclusive to the Touring model, felt quite luxurious.

Related: Why we bought our Subaru Outback

2019 Subaru Forester

A screen between the gauges shows the safety systems that are engaged, including adaptive cruise, lane keep assist, and DriverFocus (the eye icon). Photo: Scotty Reiss

The Subaru Point of Distinction: Looking at the Road As You Would

Subaru has taken safety to heart: The company has developed its own suite of safety systems that combined, functions like the human eye. Called EyeSight, a set of color cameras are placed to deliver overlapping images to the computer so that the system can observe all that is on the road ahead, monitoring and reacting as you would. The system, which is standard on all Subaru models, features:

  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Lane keep assist and lane departure warning
  • Pre-collision braking, which applies braking before you do when the system senses a collision is possible
  • Pre-collision throttle management, which reduces engine power when the system detects that a collision is possible (this will prevent further heartbreak if the driver accidentally hits the accelerator instead of the brake)
  • Steering responsive headlights
  • Lead vehicle start alert, which notifies you in stopped traffic if the car ahead of you moves
  • Steering responsive headlights, in which the lights to turn with the diction of the steering wheel (available in the Limited and Touring editions)

Related: Why the Subaru Legacy is my favorite sedan for hitting the road

2019 Subaru Forester

Gunnison, Colorado. Isn’t seeing this the point of your drive? Photo: Scotty Reiss

More Sightseeing, Less Driver Distraction

Driver distraction is at an all-time high. So the process of getting away—to relax and recharge off the stress grid—can be ironically not part of the unplug process: You’re driving, not looking at the beautiful scenery surrounding you.

A brand new feature that Subaru introduced in the 2019 Forester is called Driver Focus. This system monitors the driver for fatigue or distraction and gives a visual and audible warning. Driver Focus can recognize different drivers and can remember seat, mirror and climate settings for up to 5 drivers. Paired with EyeSight’s features such as adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist, drivers can relax and enjoy more of the sights on the road.

2019 Subaru Forester

A view of the 2019 Subaru Forester’s driver’s seat. Photo: Scotty Reiss

X Mode: Really Letting the Forester do the Work

Subaru’s reputation is rooted in all wheel drive and 4WD capability; it was the first brand to offer this technology across all its models and why it became so popular with drivers in northern states where you really need capability.

X Mode lets you choose the amount of all wheel drive assist you want the Subaru to kick in; but dual mode X Mode adds to it with automated capability on challenging surfaces: The system controls acceleration and braking to maximize grip on rough terrain, mud, snow, gravel, sand, hills; you just take your foot off the brake or gas and the system self-regulates. All you do is steer, again, taking some of the distraction out of these situations; steering itself can be a challenge in many places!

2019 Subaru Forester

Old and new Subaru Foresters side by side on the Colorado highway. Photo: Scotty Reiss

A Car Designed to Keep Your Eyes on the Road

And, that is the point, in more than one way: yes, we should all stay focused on what’s ahead of us, but also, we want to enjoy the drive. Our test drive took us through some steep passes in the Colorado Rockies where we saw beautiful vistas and even a bit of snow. I was amazed by the scenery and the serenity, and wanted to take it all in. But safely from the driver’s seat, which Subaru’s systems let me do. 

2019 Subaru Forester

The infotainment screen in the 2019 Subaru Forester. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Disclosure: I was a guest of Rocky Mountain Redline’s Redline Rally, where I was able to test drive the Subaru Forester. Travel and accommodations were provided but all opinions are my own.

2019 Subaru Forester

The rear cargo area, topped with a rubber Subaru-branded floor mat. Photo: Scotty Reiss

This Popular Suv Just Got A Makeover. Not Only Does It Look Good, But It'S A Lot Smarter, Too!

Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss