The fifth generation Subaru Forester emerges in 2019 with the Japanese company proudly noting 97 percent of all Foresters sold in the past 10 years remain on the road.

That complements Kelly Blue Book’s high resale value year after year.

A compact SUV, Forester becomes longer, wider and taller for 2019 using Subaru’s more rigid Global Platform, already under-pinning Subaru’s all-wheel-drive Ascent, Crosstrek and Impreza.

The Global Platform’s suspension vastly improves the ride, swallowing road imperfections and improving off-road wanderings.

All Foresters must use a 2.5-liter boxer engine now with a continuous variable transmission that isn’t as muscular as the previously optional 2.0-liter turbo-charged engine.

The result is more miles per gallon and an expanded gas tank extent driving range above 500 miles per fill-up and Subaru’s SI-Drive maximizes engine performance for top efficiency.

A stop-start feature added to improve gas mileage is clunky but can be shut off.

We test-drove the Touring with no add-ons, top above base, Premium, Sport and Limited trims. Three drive modes let you chose snow, mud or normal driving with the Global platform aiding off-roading adventures on 18-inch wheels. Ground clearance remains 8.7-inches.

Inside, the cabin’s classy and roomy mixing comfort and functionality with leather-trimmed, stitched upholstery.

Fit and finish are excellent, all seating positions are heated, comfortable for adults and high-tech features plentiful enough to attract millennials.

Subaru’s proprietary EyeSight provides a suite of cutting-edge safety aids, now augmented with the Touring trim’s DriverFocus system. It facially recognizes drivers and automatically adjusts mirrors, seat, temperature, etc. to driver preference.

Underway, two cameras watch the driver’s eyes, beeping a warning when eyes stray from the road for more than three seconds or a drowsy driver begins to nod off.

When stopped and the vehicle in front of you drives off, and you aren’t paying attention (cell phone?), Forester also alerts.

Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Sirius XM are now standard, and the CD player is gone.

A widened automatic rear gate opens to increased cargo space and storage trays hide beneath the cargo floor mat and sit above a spare tire.

Active safety features appear between dashboard gauges and a recessed cowl above the touch-screen showing audio, temperature and climate controls.

The 8-inch, graphically sharp touch-screen has a beehive of drill-down icons. Voice-activated navigation/info maps were current and upgraded free for three years. Harman/Kardon premium audio uses nine speakers for clear and clean sound.

LIKES: Reliability, versatility, spaciousness, ride, off-road prowess, visibility

DISLIKES: Jerky stop/start, reduced power, no CD player, minor wind noise

BOTTOM LINE: Safety, reliability and performance make it a top-notch compact SUV




Base price with destination charge: $35,270 (no options)

Vehicle weight:3,588 lbs.

Wheelbase: 105.1 inches

Length: 182-inches

Width: 70.7 inches

Engine: 2.5-liter, DOHC, 4-cylinder, Boxer

Horsepower: 182-hp at 5,800 rpm

Torque: 176 lbs.-ft. at 4,400rpm

Transmission: Continuous variable transmission/manual paddles

EPA rating: 26 mpg city and 29 mpg highway

Range: 16.6-gallon tank, regular

Performance: 0-60 in just under 9 seconds

Tom Crosby is a former journalist and communications director for AAA Carolinas. He has been reviewing cars since 1996, and has been active in traffic safety issues for more than 30 years.