As Subaru’s world strategic vehicle and the most widely sold model, the fifth generation Forester has helped Subaru gain a foothold in Taiwan in the three years since its launch in 2018 with the SGP (SUBARU GLOBAL PLATFORM), the new and improved X-Mode off-road mode, the world’s first “Driver Monitoring System” and EyeSight. The Subaru Global Platform, the new and improved XMode off-road mode, the world’s first Driver Monitoring System, and EyeSight have helped Subaru to gain a firm foothold in Taiwan in the past three years. Last year, Subaru launched a mid-life facelift for the long-established Forester, with a more sporty look and a 4.0 EyeSight upgrade.
The biggest difference to the Subaru Forester is the introduction of more ‘BOLDER’ design language on the front end, including the ‘hexagonal’ tank cover that has become the brand’s symbol. The headlamp design has been changed from the original square LED headlamps to the sharp-eyed eagle style, and the interior design has been changed from the traditional hood style to a multiple LED matrix style for a more powerful look.
The sides of the car maintain a more square structure, with the door lines clearly defined and the rising window frame lines adding to the design, and the 80-degree opening rear seat door is a rare feature in its class. At the rear, a new silver lower fascia has been introduced for the bumper, and the new five-spoke 18-inch two-tone cut-out aluminum rims add to the lively appearance.
Anyone familiar with Subaru knows that none of its cars are overly ‘fancy’ in terms of interior design. It is because Subaru knows that a “safe and secure driving environment” can only be achieved by giving the driver or passenger the most comfortable design.
This is why the Forester has been given the same “practical” look with synthetic leather and stitching, but with a two-tone color scheme for a more vibrant look and a center console screen with an 8.0″ Panasonic in-car system as standard, which can be connected to Android Auto/Apple CarPlay and other popular features. A 360-degree surround view system is also available as an option.
The 6.3″ separate multi-function display on top shows the EyeSight intelligent driving assistance system in action, the vehicle’s off-road angle, and driving information, and is conveniently positioned at driver level so that you can get the information you need at a glance. The Driver Monitoring System also includes an infra-red LED and camera unit at the top edge of the center console screen.
The system combines three functions: concentration detection warning, fatigue detection warning, and personalized intelligent face recognition, and this time include a gesture control function for the air conditioning temperature. In practice, the sensor works well, reducing the chance of taking the driver’s eyes off the front of the car.
The interior space has always been Forester’s strength, with a length of 4625 x a width of 1815 x a height of 1730mm and a wheelbase of 2667mm, the rear seat is an obvious benefit, with plenty of knee and headroom. The doors can be opened at an angle of up to 80 degrees, and the doors have an easy-to-step, non-slip step on the side of the door threshold so that the owner can add things to the roof in a more relaxed position and access the baby seat.
With a capacity of 520 liters, the luggage compartment can accommodate the standard four suitcases and still have room for a few small items. In addition to the hooks all around, two new hooks have been added to the upper part of the boot to provide additional functions such as hanging objects and fixing pivots.
The most significant change to the Forester is the introduction of EyeSight 4.0 with the Outback flagship, which has been upgraded to a wide-angle stereo camera and has expanded the viewing area to twice the original size. The lens is now attached to the windscreen, reducing the risk of accidental contact with the lens when wiping the glass.
The basic functions such as PCB Collision Avoidance Automatic Braking, PCTM Collision Avoidance Throttle, LDW Lane Departure Warning, LSW Lane Drift Warning, LVSA Front Vehicle Departure Warning, ACC Active Distance Control Cruise Control, SRVD Rear Side Vehicle Detection Warning and HBA High Beam Assist remain unchanged but are optimized for specific functions.
For example, the PCB Collision Avoidance Automatic Braking system has a larger operating range and additional oncoming car detection at intersections. If a collision cannot be avoided, the AES Emergency Automatic Steering Assist system comes into play and is activated to reduce casualties if there is sufficient room to avoid it.
The ACC section, which is more commonly used by most people, not only has the ‘Intelligent Multi-Mode’ to control the throttle and braking in a more sophisticated manner, but also has the ‘LCF Lane Keeping Centering System’ and ‘LDP Lane Departure Assist System’. The latter will only actuate above 60km/h, vibrating the steering wheel before starting and only correcting back to the original road if the driver is not paying attention.
Although the Japanese Forester was introduced with the Levorg model, the new CB18 1.8 DIT turbo engine is not currently available in overseas markets due to emissions regulations, thus leaving the mid-life Forester without a major highlight. The FB20 2.0 HWD four-cylinder natural gas engine has been around for a long time, but has been replaced with direct injection and 80% of the other components have been redesigned, resulting in 156hp/6000rpm and 20.0kgm/4000rpm of torque.
The Forester has been on the market for three years and I have driven it quite a few times. Although the natural intake setup is not as straightforward as the turbo engine, the Linertornic CVT chain and gear design provides a more generous ‘gear simulation’, making the power output relatively quicker in the first part of the car and much more moderate in the middle and later parts of the car, but it would be unfair to say that it is not powerful enough. After all, not every user is a combat driver.
The chassis has been improved for comfort, and while it is true that the Forester was a little more direct in its handling of shocks in the past, the coil springs in the suspension have been retuned to reduce friction when the shock absorbs the excess vibration. The steering mechanism has been strengthened to give the driver a more direct sense of feedback on mountain roads, and the original low centre of gravity makes carrying the whole family a more pleasant experience.
Off-road capability is also a core value of the Forester, and even a feature that makes it far superior to its rivals. The X-Mode is now on standby above 40km/h and automatically switches on when the speed drops below 35km/h. In addition, the brakes are released more immediately when ‘accelerating’ during steep descents, making it easier to keep within the target speed.
The Forester has been given a significant facelift, the most appreciated of which is the improvement of the similarity between the previous and second generation, and the visual effect of the car is more in line with the outdoor wild style. Subaru’s dedication to detail is also evident.
In addition to the Subaru’s core technology, the new generation EyeSight driver assistance system has been introduced to enhance the Forester’s already well-received safety features, so apart from the powertrain, which has not been upgraded due to the parent company’s policy, the Forester is still a good value Japanese mid-size SUV considering the price adjustment.
In conclusion, although the Forester has been on the market for almost four years, its spaciousness, comfort and stability of driving performance have been revitalised to allow the whole family to explore the unknown world with greater peace of mind and safety, making for a richer family life!