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Subaru Forester 2.5i-S 2019 review

The Forester looks like it gets the job done, safely and reliably.
Nedahl Stelio
Family reviewer

15 Oct 2018 • 12 min read

The first thing you notice when you look at a Suburu Forester is that it’s a solid looking car. It doesn’t have time for fancy bells and whistles. The Forester looks like it gets the job done, safely and reliably. And thank goodness for that! This week was school holidays and if there was ever a week to need a solid car, this was it. Between ferrying the children from activity to activity and driving their friends around, I was thankful to have a decent sized car that felt safe. 

The Forester is a five-seater SUV, in competition with the likes of Mazda’s CX-5 and Toyota’s RAV4. I had the top of the range 2.5i-S in petrol, which comes in at around $41,490. It’s a rise over last year’s model, but it’s still good value when you look at what’s included. Let’s go over it. 

How does it drive?

Smooth and easy, the Suburu Forester drives really well. It handles nicely, the steering is not too heavy or light, and it cruises along the road without a lot of effort - there’s no heaviness that you can sometimes get with a solid car.

The Forester only comes in AWD, there’s no 2WD option, which gives it better traction on the road. The Forester only comes in AWD, there’s no 2WD option, which gives it better traction on the road.

There’s a 2.5-litre engine, which is enough power to get up hills and surge forward when you need to move quickly. The Forester only comes in AWD, there’s no 2WD option, which gives it better traction on the road. It feels good to drive around suburbia and I’d feel totally confident taking it away on longer trips.

Even though it’s long it’s not difficult to park. There’s a high definition reverse parking camera which is useful, the front camera however is on a mini screen that sits high on the dash - it’s a bit harder to see. There is a handy side camera in that viewing screen as well, which shows you the kerb or whatever is next to your car.

What does it look like?

It’s not going to win any prizes for Best Dressed, but I don’t think it wants to be in the running. The Suburu Forester has other, more practical purposes in mind, and it says this with the design.

The exterior is solid. It’s a tough looking car that feels like you could take it anywhere. It’s for people who would rather practicality and functionality than flash and fancy, and still want a car that works beautifully. The exterior is long rather than high and boxy, and it almost looks like a wagon, which gives it a sleek feel.

  • 2019 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S. (image credit: Dean McCartney) 2019 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S. (image credit: Dean McCartney)
  • 2019 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S. (image credit: Dean McCartney) 2019 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S. (image credit: Dean McCartney)
  • 2019 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S. (image credit: Dean McCartney) 2019 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

Inside also reflects this design ethos. In the top spec model there are leather seats and a leather steering wheel, plus textured surfaces and a high gloss finish around the gear stick which definitely lift the design. You’ll also get a large sunroof in this model.

They have upped their tech game, with a high-def colour multimedia screen, plus a small coloured screen on top of that which looks rather futuristic. The whole dashboard area looks very 2019.

How spacious is it?

There was loads of room in the front. Me and my 185cm husband had plenty of leg space, and even with the sunroof there was a good amount of headroom. We weren’t cramped at all, with generous space in the front. 

My two children, aged five and seven, had enough room in the back, and when we had to take one of their friends with us to the movies, she easily fit in the centre in a booster seat. You can also fit a third children’s car seat in the centre - I did it with two booster seats and a baby capsule.

  • We weren’t cramped at all, with generous space in the front. We weren’t cramped at all, with generous space in the front.
  • It has plenty of room to fit a pram or suitcases, and even though it’s not the largest in its class, its still big enough for a growing family. It has plenty of room to fit a pram or suitcases, and even though it’s not the largest in its class, its still big enough for a growing family.

When you fit the baby capsule behind the front seat, there is enough room for the front passenger’s legs. At 161cm, I fit in the back seat with so much room to spare, I think most adults will be very comfortable back there. 

The boot has been up-sized for 2019 to 498L which is slightly bigger than a CX-5, and smaller than a RAV4. It is plenty of room to fit a pram or suitcases, and even though it’s not the largest in its class, its still big enough for a growing family.

How easy is it to use everyday?

This model comes with a power operated tailgate which I always make good use out of, it seems I am always overloaded with stuff to take in or out. 

There is also some fancy new technology which works on driver face recognition, and it automatically puts the driver’s settings back into place as soon as you sit in the car. You just look straight ahead and it will do its thing.

Rear passengers also get their own air vents but not separate climate control. Rear passengers also get their own air vents but not separate climate control.

It was still quite high off the ground, even though it’s a long car rather than a high car. My little one needed a bit of help jumping down. You’ll get two cupholders in the front, two in the back, a bottle holder in each door and a centre storage bin. Rear passengers also get their own air vents but not separate climate control. 

The back seats flip down instantaneously with the lift of a button, which is very useful. 

What's the tech like?

All Suburu Foresters now come with Apple Carplay and Android Auto which is super helpful technology that syncs your phone with the multimedia system. Plug in and you’re able to use your phone’s main apps like Maps and Spotify, and you can also use voice control to make calls and send text messages. Handy!

Plug in and you’re able to use your phone’s main apps like Maps and Spotify. Plug in and you’re able to use your phone’s main apps like Maps and Spotify.

The audio is also pretty good, I was able to turn the sound up quite loud and have a good sing-along.

How safe is it?

Suburu takes safety seriously and all Forester models come with airbags for driver and front passenger, plus side curtain airbags that extend to the back row. On top of that you’ll get the latest safety tech including auto emergency braking which also works when the car is in reverse to prevent you from hitting anything. Plus lane departure alerts, blind spot monitoring and my absolute saviours, rear cross traffic alerts. It seems there are a lot of blind spots in Sydney where I really need eyes out the back of my head!

It comes with two ISOFIX points and three top tethers for children’s car seats.

How much does it cost to own?

The Suburu Forester 2.5i-S comes in at $41,490. Fuel consumption is a claimed 7.4L/100km on the combined cycle which is fairly average for a car of this size and type, and you can use regular 91 unleaded, which is better than most competitors. 

It’s covered by Suburu’s three year/unlimited km warranty, which is now a bit outdated compared with some of the offers out there. Services are needed every 12 months or 12,500km. 


The Wrap

The Suburu Forester 2.5i-S was a really easy addition to my family’s lifestyle. I liked the solid feeling of the car while driving - feeling safe on the road is a big thing with kids. It fit all of us quite comfortably, even when we were driving the children’s friends around for school holidays, and had enough boot space for a growing family. It drives really well and comes with all the latest technology and safety features you’d be after in 2019.

I gave it a family rating of 7.5 out of 10 because I think it’s really great value. My kids also gave it a 7.5, they had a comfortable week.

Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Likes

Safety features
Practical
Tech

Dislikes

Confusing screen set-up
Short warranty

Scores

Nedahl:

3.8

The Kids:

3.8

$41,490

Based on new car retail price