2019 Subaru Forester First Drive: Same Forest, New Trees

The 2019 Subaru Forester may sport a familiar face, but underneath its evolutionary sheet metal hides a completely new crossover. Built on the modular Subaru Global Platform (SGP) that also underpins the Impreza, Crosstrek, and Ascent, the fifth-generation Forester is both more polished and versatile than its predecessor.

Fancy Forester Features:

Rigid and refined, SGP is a formidable structure that keeps undue noise, vibration, and harshness from entering the cabin of the Forester. Whether tackling the Blue Ridge Parkway’s twisting tarmac or plowing through North Carolina’s many pitted and pockmarked dirt roads, the top-of-the-line Forester Touring that I drove maintained a sense of calm and composure befitting its $35,270 as-tested price.

2019 Subaru Forester
2019 Subaru Forester

A secure and predictable chassis does not make for an engaging driving experience, though, and the crossover’s softly sprung suspension, in conjunction with its quick but lifeless electric-assist rack-and-pinion steering, made it a rather dull dance partner during the more dynamic portions of my drive. That said, the standard all-wheel-drive system, which now includes brake-based torque vectoring, proved beneficial, as it worked to reign-in understeer and keep the Forester on its intended path.

Although the 182-horsepower 2.5-liter flat-four packs 12 more ponies than last year (the engine shares only 10 percent of its parts with the previous 2.5-lit...