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2019 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S long-term review, part one

By Ash Westerman, 22 Jun 2019 Reviews

2019 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S long-term review, part one

Fresh from a strong COTY showing, Forester is looking for a podium spot in Westerman’s garage

I’LL concede it’s entirely possible the new fifth-gen Subaru Forester is no great fan of my exterior styling. So yes, our feelings toward each other may be completely mutual.

In fact, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Forester’s Eyesight camera recognition system scanned my face for the first time, and the software basically translated this to: “You’re kidding! I’ve got to look at this every day for the next six months?”

Read: 2019 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S review

Sorry, pal, but arranged marriages often don’t ignite with a passionate flame. It’s said that women fall in love via their ears and men fall in love via their eyes. So maybe it’s not pathetically shallow of me to admit that the biggest hurdle from the outset for me bonding with the Forester is the look of it. Maybe I’m genetically programmed to feel this way.

The tall-boy roofline, those contrived sliced-segment tail-lights … it just looks a bit ungainly to my eye, so my first mission is to attempt to get past this and seek out the virtues that took it to the pointy end of COTY late last year.

Because what would I know? The sales success of the Forester would indicate I’m solidly outnumbered here. It’s unequivocally more popular than I am. I’ve amassed a few thousand views for my online content published this year, while the Forester has netted approximately $64m worth of retail sales in the first two months of 2019 alone. It’s currently Australia’s top-selling AWD soft-roader, and regular readers may remember that it triumphed over three rivals (Ford Escape, Mazda CX-5 and VW Tiguan) in our November 2018 comparison.

Subaru Forester 2019 Car of the Year finalist review

I sure can’t moan that I’ve been short-changed in terms of spec. Mine is the range-topping 2.5i-S, which, over the Premium model below it, adds leather seats, a panoramic sunroof, eight-speaker Harman Kardon audio with subwoofer, and additional mud/snow modes for the X-Mode off-road-drive program. It will be a challenge to get down and dirty to evaluate the true benefit of these latter two, but I’ll try.

What should be easier is making a call on whether the extra $3000 my S model charges over the Premium is money well spent. (Never mind the fact that I reckon the naming convention for these two is about-face. Shouldn’t Premium be the range-topper?)

Anyway, early niggles are minor. I’d appreciate more under-thigh support from the driver’s seat, and the steering has a tiny dead spot either side of centre. Countering this is the visibility, cabin space, absorbent ride and useful driver aids. As for the engine, that’s like the old footy adage – a game of two halves, which we’ll kick off next month. 

Read more about our Subaru Forester long termer: