ASHEVILLE, N.C. —
Suppose you’ve been kicked out of your apartment because you
can’t pay the rent.
It’s not unlikely
given the federal minimum wage is a mere $7.25 an hour. That’s
$15,080 annually, or 91 percent less than a congressman’s $174,000
salary. Although at $84 an hour, members of Congress earn far less
than most bloodless, uncaring, multi-millionaire, robber baron CEOs.
Still, should this
happen, you’d want to own the redesigned, fifth-generation 2019
Subaru Forester crossover; its roof is engineered to hold 700 pounds
when parked. Knowing that you can pitch a tent on top of your car
means you’ll never be homeless.
isn’t unusual for Subaru. It’s why all Subarus had all-wheel
drive long before it was common. Knowing that you can overcome the
worst effects of the polar vortex with ease gives you the sense that
Subaru cares. Better yet should you ever awaken to a massive
blizzard, you could arrive to work before your boss — and how
impressive is that?
You can even amaze
your in-laws despite your job’s lousy pay. They’ll be impressed
that you’re mature enough to buy a Forester with such premium
options as heated rear seats; power liftgate; heated steering wheel;
rear seat air-conditioning vents; rear USB ports; Wi-Fi hotspot; an
All-Weather Package with heated front seats, heated exterior mirrors
and windshield de-icer; dual automatic climate control; automatic
high beams; steering responsive headlights; remote vehicle start;
and Subaru’s new driver fatigue system. Like the system introduced
by Mercedes-Benz, the vehicle alerts you if it feels you’re
getting too tired. It’s like driving with your mother the car,
except your mother probably doesn’t drink motor oil.
you, there’s enough room for your in-laws to ride along as they
berate your pitiful career. Thanks to a 1.1-inch longer wheelbase,
there’s an additional 1.4 inches of rear seat legroom and a
five-inch wider rear door opening, it’s easier for them to come
along for the ride. Seats are well bolstered and firm, with good
head and legroom. The driver enjoys a fairly unobstructed view in
all directions. Cargo space is a generous 33 cubic feet, and the
51.2-inch tailgate opening is wide enough to fit a 1969 Subaru 360.
Of course, you might
want to get to your destination quicker, so you don’t have to deal
with them. Unfortunately, last year’s manual transmission and
250-horsepower turbocharged engine is no longer offered. Instead,
Foresters get a new version of the 2.5-liter horizontally opposed
four-cylinder engine with direct injection and automatic stop/start.
Generating 182 horsepower through a continuously variable
transmission, it can tow up to 1,500 pounds. This means you’ll be
headed nowhere fast, but there will be forward momentum. Thankfully,
the driver-selectable Subaru Intelligent Drive, or SI-DRIVE, changes
the car’s throttle response from efficient “Intelligent” mode
to a more aggressive “Sport” mode. Forester Sport models have a
more aggressive “Sport Sharp” mode, along with more aggressive
gearing and a transmission that imitates a seven-speed manual
transmission through steering wheel mounted paddle-shifters.
Once you drop off
your in-laws at bingo, you’ll find the cabin is impressively
quiet, and not just because they’re gone. However, there will be
noise when you floor the throttle, which will be often. Power is
acceptable thanks to the attentive CVT that makes the most of
what’s available. As is typical of CVTs, there’s some mild
rubber banding in the driveline, but it’s not objectionable.
Notably, shifting to L makes the engine more responsive, but it runs
1,500-2,000 rpm higher, which hurts fuel economy. Also, there’s a
lot of initial throttle travel where noticeably more spry,
especially when the CVT is in seven-speed manual mode.
Clearly the Forester
is in no hurry. Then again, neither are most Subaru owners, who
treasure their safety and wellbeing. This is why Automatic
Pre-Collision Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure and
Sway Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Pre-Collision Throttle Management
and Lead Vehicle Start Alert are standard. Reverse Automatic
Braking, Blind Spot Detection, Lane Change Assist, and Rear Cross
Traffic Alert are optional.
The Forester can be
engaging and agile to drive, although the ride is jittery over
broken pavement. Body lean is not excessive, making it more adept
once the sidewalk ends. But its firm on-road ride becomes punishing
off-road, with a surprising lack of bump absorption.
Being tech savvy,
you’ll scoff at Subaru’s pocket-sized standard 6.5-inch
multimedia high-resolution touchscreen, but will appreciate the
presence of Aha, Pandora, Tom Tom navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android
Auto, Bluetooth, dual USB ports and a CD player — which should
soothe your in-laws as they play their favorite Abba CD.
Nevertheless, the standard audio system provides astonishingly poor
sound; this makes the Harman/Kardon system and its larger 8-inch
screen a must-have option.
Still, the 2019
Subaru Forester’s newfound alternative as a campground beats couch
surfing or living in your parent’s spare bedroom. It’s something
else that Subaru’s competitors can’t match. And once you get a
better job another job and another Subaru, you can rent it out as a
That should impress
2019 Subaru Forester
Compact, two-row, SUV
Horizontally-opposed 2.5-liter four-cylinder
Horsepower: 182 @
EPA fuel economy
(city/highway): 26 /33 mpg
Length: 182.1 inches
33-76.1 cubic feet
Ground clearance: 8.7
ABOUT THE WRITER
Larry Printz is an
automotive journalist based in South Florida. Readers may send him
email at TheDrivingPrintz@gmail.com.