Subaru has a new piece in the fast-moving game that is the compact crossover segment in North America in a redesigned version of its Forester.
A long-time proponent of AWD, Subaru nonetheless faces a lot of competition in this class from vehicles like the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, so it has upped the ante with a larger body and new safety technology the company says is a segment first.
That tech is called DriverFocus, which uses facial recognition software to watch for driver fatigue and distraction and then work with the EyeSight active safety suite to reduce the chance of a crash.
Other safety-related news includes LED headlights standard across the range.
This is also the roomiest Forester ever, thanks to a wheelbase stretched 30 mm, and the car's new platform allowed Subie engineers the build in a larger cargo opening, which is now 1,300 wide. A neat touch is an optional electric tailgate that can be powered closed and all of the car's doors locked with a single button.
A new interior brings a choice of 6.5- or 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreens, front seats designed for better long-haul comfort, a roomier second row and a wider rear door sill that's easier to use as a step to reach roof-mounted cargo.
Under the car's evolutionary styling is a new version of Subaru's 2.5L horizontally-opposed four-cylinder engine, now tuned for 182 hp and 176 lb-ft of torque, increases of 12 and 2, respectively. The only transmission is a continuously variable automatic (CVT) that can be optioned with a seven-speed manual mode.
Gone from the lineup, at least for now, is the outgoing car's turbocharged engine.
Other drivetrain news includes the offer of a two-mode X-Mode terrain management system that lets the driver tailor the car's performance to snow and dirt or deep snow and mud, in addition to a more basic X-Mode system standard in all models that optimizes traction on slippery surfaces and steep hills. The "symmetrical" AWD setup also boasts standard torque vectoring, a function that shuffles power between the left and right wheels for improved handling and cornering performance.
That's a feature Subaru hopes will help it maintain its standing as an AWD expert as Toyota rolls out an equally new 2019 version of its RAV4 that looks set to challenge in the ruggedness sweepstakes.
This vehicle has not yet been reviewed