The wheels of evolution turn ever so slowly for Subaru.
Incremental improvements are usually rolled out when the product at hand is solid enough that it doesn’t require anything radical. Say what you will about Subaru’s mid-size crossover, the Forester, but they certainly don’t think that it needs sweeping changes. So they’ve spared it that, and as a result, you’d have to be a Subaru anorak to be able to tell what’s been changed for the Forester as it comes into its fifth generation.
With the 5th-gen, the Forester is ditching the turbocharged mill too, limiting (for the time being, at least) the options for motivation to a sole 2.5-litre naturally-aspirated flat-four Boxer unit. It’s new though, sporting lots of small changes and improvements that have contributed to its marginally-improved power output (now 136kW/240Nm) and improved fuel efficiency (or so Subaru claims).
And as is expected by something bearing the Pleaides on the nose, you’ll find a Lineartronic CVT automatic gearbox in the middle, and a proprietary Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system sending power to, you guessed it, all four wheels.
The Forester has gotten lower with this latest generation, though its grown wider and longer (30mm longer in fact, which goes directly to rear legroom). It’s also gotten smarter, featuring a driver monitoring system for the first time, as well as autonomous braking (forwards and rearwards).
Under the skin, you’ll find the same ‘Subaru Global Platform’ skeleton that underpins newer Subaru cars, utilising more high-tensile steel, and resulting in a lighter body-in-white.
But where it matters is inside, where thankfully, Subaru has been a bit more extensive with the revisions that went into this new generation Forester. The cabin might not seem imaginative (in fact, it looks just like the smaller XV), but it does at least feel far more premium and plush than the outgoing car. Hell, even getting into the car has been revised, with the C-pillars seeing changes to improve ingress and egress.
The big change (least, the one most noticeable to laymen) comes in the form of an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment display mounted between the front A/C vents, which is integrated neatly into the dash and promises a fairly easy user experience. There’s also Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for those who’d prefer that sort of thing.
Again, we reiterate that this is a totally new car. But while the Subaru Forester may not grab headlines and turn heads the way some of its competition do, we have no doubt that the rugged dependability that we liked so much in the outgoing car will have carried over into the new one. And that, if nothing else, will appease the Forester cult members just fine.