This is the fifth-generation of the venerable Forester, having earned a reputation for being the sensible, practical, and versatile choice for buyers in the mid-size SUV market since it was first introduced in 1997. No pressure then.
Built on Subaru’s ‘Subaru Global Platform’ architecture, shared by fellow 2016 COTY finalist the Subaru Impreza, the Forester is 90 percent new compared to the previous generation.
In the generational leap, Subaru has maintained the practical attributes that has made the Forester so popular for the past two decades.
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However, there is no longer a turbocharged option, with a new 136kW/239Nm 2.5-litre four-pot horizontally opposed powertrain debuting in the Forester, mated to a CVT auto.
Seemingly the only chink in the Forester’s armour was its new styling, which struggled to carry favour with the judging panel. Luckily, looks aren’t a judging criterion for COTY.
Hopes for the Forester were high heading into Car of the Year 2019, after it bested previous COTY finalists the Mazda CX-5 and Volkswagen Tiguan in a comparison.
“The Forester walks away with the win,” COTY judge Byron Mathioudakis wrote in October, “representing a step forward for both Subaru’s evergreen model line and SUVs in this segment. The design is certainly divisive, but otherwise the Subaru is stunningly complete, with loads of character and very few vices.”
He continued, stating the new-gen Forester “elevates itself above all with sheer effortlessness. It simply rises above the trees of normal SUVs.”
During the first round of testing,the Forester lived up to expectations, punching itself a ticket into the final five with confidence.
To find out if Subaru has what it takes to be crowned Wheels Car of the Year 2019, tune into whichcar.com/wheels on the night of Wednesday, January 30.