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Subaru Forester 2019 review: 2.5i


Choosing to go with a base model vehicle usually means settling for features like manual windows, steel wheels and air-conditioning with just two settings - freezing or boiling.

Increasingly, though, car brands are looking to make base models a more compelling proposition.  

The 2.5i is the cheapest Forester you can buy. The 2.5i is the cheapest Forester you can buy.

Enter the Subaru Forester 2.5i. Priced at $33,490, it's the cheapest Forester you can buy. But don't let that put you off reading further.

The 2.5i comes with a hefty list of standard features including a 6.5-inch multimedia touchscreen, a Harman Kardon sound system with six speakers, a leather steering wheel and gear knob, active cruise control, tinted windows at the rear, rain-sensing wipers and automatic LED headlights. And that's just for starters.

The 2.5i comes with a 6.5-inch multimedia touchscreen. The 2.5i comes with a 6.5-inch multimedia touchscreen.

So does that make this base-model Forester worth considering as a family hauler? My three kids and I had the weekend to find out.  

Saturday

The Forester's schedule included taking the kids to soccer and dance recitals in the morning, followed by hauling the groceries home from the local supermarket in the afternoon.

The exterior design of this car looks more 'SUV' than the previous generation. The exterior design of this car looks more 'SUV' than the previous generation.

The exterior design of this car looks more 'SUV' than the previous generation, which could have been mistaken for a wagon. It looks noticeably taller, longer and altogether more solid. It's still unmistakably Forester though.

Looking at the Forester front-on conveys a deceptively lean profile with various sharp angles and creases running down the side profile. I'm not a fan of the 17-inch alloys, which don't seem to sit quite right within the frame. Overall, though, you get the sense this Forester is designed with function rather than form in mind. 

The 17-inch alloys, which don't seem to sit quite right within the frame. The 17-inch alloys, which don't seem to sit quite right within the frame.

The Forester's ride height is ideal and makes getting in and out an easy exercise, perfect for those with dodgy hip or knee joints.

Its large size produces big dividends in the cabin, with tons of head and leg-room regardless of where you sit. There was at least two hand-widths of space between my knees and driver's seat. My kids had plenty of room to spread out, too, with good visibility out of the windows.

The seats are covered in a good-looking cloth material that looks hard wearing and provides a decent amount of comfort. The centre console within the dash features a heap of buttons that sit within a dual-screen setup, with a 6.5-inch touchscreen embedded in the front, and a second information display deep in the top section.

After a weekend in the driver's seat I found myself questioning the usefulness of this second screen, with its information possibly better suited to the digital display within the driver's binnacle.

The seats are covered in a good-looking cloth material. The seats are covered in a good-looking cloth material.

Other key standard features for the 2.5i include daytime running lights and LED tail lights, front and rear fog lights, heated folding door mirrors, keyless entry with push-button start, hill start assist, and the off-road focused X-Mode drive mode, hill descent control. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a digital radio (DAB) are also fitted as standard

Sunday

Our Forester was on light duties today with only a trip to the city and local park on the cards.

Up front sits a no frills 2.5-litre motor punching out a respectable 136kW of power and 239Nm of torque, and is matched with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Power is directed to all four wheels via Subaru’s  all-wheel-drive system.

The engine did a more than adequate job of propelling our test car around the suburbs, with good responsiveness to inputs from the right foot. Much of the credit should go to the CVT, which made the most of the power available.

The steering is well-weighted. The steering is well-weighted.

The well-weighted steering provided another notable highlight of our numerous trips around the 'burbs. Our cabin was well insulated from tyre, wind and, for the most part, engine noise - apart from when the Subaru was  under heavy acceleration. 

There's plenty of storage on offer throughout, with two cup holders front and rear, bottle holders in each door, a large centre console bin and decent space to store your phone or keys in front of the gear shifter.

There's plenty of storage on offer throughout, with two cup holders front and rear. There's plenty of storage on offer throughout, with two cup holders front and rear.

The boot measures 498 litres, expanding to a maximum storage space of 1481 litres with the 60/40 rear seat-back folded. Thoughtful additions here include tie-down points, cargo hooks and a 12V charge point.

The boot measures 498 litres. The boot measures 498 litres.

The safety kit included in this five-star ANCAP-awarded Forester is headlined by the brand's EyeSight tech - which brings AEB, rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning and lane change assist, as well as six airbags. An impressive list for an entry model.

For parents with young children the rear seat comes with two ISOFIX child seat anchors and three top tether points to attach a car seat to.

After the weekend, our trip computer displayed a combined fuel consumption reading of 8.6 litres/100km - slightly higher than Subaru's official combined petrol consumption figure of 7.4L/100km. The Forester's 63-litre fuel tank is happy to sip regular 91RON unleaded.


The Wrap

Its long list of standard features, safety kit and punchy engine must surely set new benchmarks for what buyers should expect from a base-model car. A far cry from wind-up windows and dodgy air-con. Not to be overlooked.  

Is this car this or that? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.

Likes

Extensive standard features
Safety kit
Decent pulling power

Dislikes

Exterior styling
Second screen largely useless

Scores

Dan:

4

The Kids:

4