There continues to be big money available to car manufacturers who have a vehicle in the compact crossover segment, but only for those willing to keep these hot-selling models up to date with the latest technology.
That's what Subaru's up to this year with its Forester, which gets a few new standard features, and updates to others carried over from the 2017 model.
Subaru says all Forester trims get new child seat anchors and better seatbelt reminder warnings; the other safety-related addition is the availability of the EyeSight active safety suite in the entry-level turbocharged 2.0XT model, a package whose lane keep assist system functions over a wider speed range. That basic turbo trim also gains a standard windshield wiper de-icer, and the 2.0XT Limited trim with EyeSight now comes with automatic high beams.
In the less-potent 2.5i model, the Limited trim's navigation system now incorporates new connectivity apps, including Yelp, Best Parking and Glympse.
Building on 2017 changes that made the Forester's cabin notably quieter, this year's update takes the Forester a little more closer to the core of the mainstream, a fact that will be good for sales, but will probably disappoint the handful of Subaru fans who wish it was still the quirky brand it used to be.
That said, Subaru still caters to buyers who want something more than basic performance in their crossovers, hence the 2.0XT models' use of a 2.0L turbocharged engine derived from that used in the WRX sports car. Its 250 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque don't make the Forester as quick as that little sedan, but it does make this boxy vehicle satisfyingly responsive. For the most hardcore of enthusiasts, it's only too bad the turbo motor comes exclusively matched with the continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).
That said, Forester is one of the few vehicles in its class that can be had with a manual transmission at all, that being a six-speed offered in the 2.5i and 2.5i Touring trims, where it's lined up with a 2.5L four-cylinder good for 170 hp and 174 lb-ft. Truth be told, the Forester is actually at its most refined with the CVT, which brings with it a more sophisticated AWD system.
At the entry level end, the Forester gets a 6.2-inch infotainment touchscreen; it grows to a seven-inch unit with navigation in Limited models; the sound system contained in that screen powers four speakers in base models, six in Touring trim and eight in the Limited.
Other tech items include passive keyless entry, which is standard in Touring and Limited models with the EyeSight package.
All Foresters get air conditioning, which becomes dual-zone automatic climate control in the 2.5i Touring and all turbocharged trims, and a heated steering wheel is included in all Limited models. Heated seats are standard across the board; leather upholstery comes on line in Limited models; and all the but the absolutely base model get a 10-way power driver's seat.
Fuel consumption estimates are 9.2/7.4 L/100 km (city/highway) with the 2.5L engine and automatic transmission, while turbocharged models are rated 10.2/8.6 L/100 km.