SHEVILLE, N.C. – The redesigned Subaru Forester from 2019 looks like the generation he is replacing. The new version retained the large windows of its predecessor and the high ground clearance, as well as the easy to maneuver control.
But that is no disappointment. The previous generation was nothing to mess around with.
The Forester, a cross-over pioneer, entered the market in 1997. Since then, Subaru of America estimates that nearly a fifth of American sales have been Foresters since 1968 – or more than 1.8 million vehicles.
With the Outback, the Forester has been a catalyst for the continued American growth of Subaru.
"The Forester of the fourth generation was a huge home run for us," said Todd Hill, manager of the planning of the car lines, during the introduction of the Forester media last month here.
But while he plays safely, Subaru has made several changes to the redesign. Some are more subtle than others, such as the word "Forester" that appears in the headlight unit.
Five trim levels
The automaker has added automatic door locks, a first for Forester and a standard automatic stop-start system. It is the only Subaru that has this function, with the exception of the discontinued first generation Crosstrek Hybrid.
At the rear, the cargo door opens 5.3 centimeters wider than the door of the 2018 version.
Now built on the Subaru Global Platform, the fifth-generation Forester is packed in a new body and powered by a 2.5-liter engine that has 90 percent new components and a refreshed continuously variable transmission.
The crossover is available in five lists for 2019: Base, Premium, Sport, Limited and Touring. Premium is expected to trim the volume, Hill said. But he added that the sales orders are higher than the expected 10 percent mix for the Range-topping Touring.
In August of this year, Subaru sold 108,471 Foresters in the United States, a decrease of 8.7 percent from a year earlier. In 2017, Subaru sold 177.563 Foresters, the second behind the Outback.
The redesign is now for sale. Subaru representatives in the United States and Japan have shown that Forester's sales in the US should be 200,000 per year.
Hill noted that 57 percent of Forester's buyers are new to the brand, making it a conquering rider. But he also said that nearly 20 percent of Forester's buyers have at least their third Subaru vehicle.
Suitable for roof tent
Subaru sees the intended Forester customer as a "guaranteed navigator" with a median age of around 37 years. That is younger than buyers of the outgoing version, Hill commented. He said that 52 percent of the buyers are women and that the same percentage is married. And Forester buyers also enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking and kayaking.
Subaru has recognized a new outdoor phenomenon among its buyers: roof tents. As the name implies, motorhomes place their tent on their vehicles with the support of roof rails and crossbars instead of on the ground.
All Foresters, except for the basic model, are supplied with standard roof rails. Sports and Touring trims have extra attachment points.
Owner manuals generally do not recommend a roof tent due to the maximum load on the roof, Hill said. "Officially everyone has to say:" No, please do not do that. "
"But we knew our roof [resistance] was very strong because of our very safe body and we knew that the racks are very strong. So we went back to the engineers and said: "Hey, can we do this?"
The planning managers first had to explain the concept.
"After a while they said OK," said Hill. "So we are officially able to tell our owners that you can do this – if you follow the guidelines of the user manual."