By Emma Jayne Williams

Fort Worth Star-Telegram

The Subaru Forester has been completely redesigned inside and out for its fifth generation, bringing the best-equipped, roomiest, most-capable, and most-versatile Forester ever built.

Technology upgrades include the all-new DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation system, for the first time and only on the 2019 Forester.

New features include EyeSight Driver Assist Technology, LED headlights, auto start/stop, SI-Drive Engine Performance management, Active Torque Vectoring, Automatic Climate Control, Electronic Parking Brake, Trailer Stability Assist, and welcome lighting.

EyeSight is standard on all versions of Forester, and includes automatic pre-collision braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure and sway warnings, lane-keep assist, pre-collision throttle management, and lead-vehicle start alert.

Pre-collision braking can apply full braking to completely stop the vehicle in emergency situations. Pre-collision throttle management restricts engine output if the driver accelerates when EyeSight detects an object in front of the vehicle. Lead-vehicle start alert prompts the driver that the vehicle ahead is moving away after being stopped. Lane-keep assist helps avoid lane drifting by gently steering the vehicle back to the proper lane. EyeSight has been found to reduce rear-end crashes with injuries by up to 85 percent.

Brake assist increases braking pressure in emergency braking situations, while brake override reduces the likelihood of unintended acceleration by cutting engine power if the gas pedal and the brake pedal are pressed at the same time.

Built on the Subaru Global Platform architecture with extensive high-strength steel, Forester offers durability, rigidity, and vibration resistance, along with enhanced crash safety, a quieter interior, better driving feel, agility, and confidence for many years.

Forester is available in standard ($24,295), Premium ($26,695), Limited ($30,795), Touring ($34,295), and new Sport ($28,795), each adding more features and amenities, while maintaining the vehicle’s rugged capability.

Top-of-the-line Touring debuts segment-exclusive DriverFocus safety technology (working with EyeSight) to alert the driver using audio and visual signals when the system detects fatigue or distraction using facial-recognition software. DriverFocus recognizes up to five drivers and remembers their seat, mirror and climate settings.

A new version of the 2.5-liter Subaru boxer four-cylinder engine with auto stop/start, along with a standard Lineartronic CVT allows Forester to achieve a fuel-efficient 26 mpg city/33 highway/29 combined.

The new engine produces 182 horsepower versus the 170 horsepower of the previous engine and yields quicker acceleration. Sport and Touring feature a seven-speed manual mode, using steering-wheel paddle shifters.

Subaru’s legendary Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive is standard. All but the base model have driver-selectable X-Mode with hill-descent control, which optimizes control of the engine, transmission shift patterns, active AWD front/rear clutch force, and brakes for maximum traction on slippery surfaces and steep inclines.

Large silver-trimmed 3D headlight housings with distinct daytime running lights wrapped around the front fascia and the front quarter, featuring Forester branding at the back edges. Fog lights were integrated into muscular chrome vent openings at the outer bumper.

Large 3D taillight housings wrapped around the liftgate and the rear quarter, and a roof spoiler with black edges extending down the liftgate window emphasized the width of the vehicle.

Raised roof rails with new integrated tie-down hooks are designed for flexibility in hauling cargo carriers, sports equipment with available accessories, or lashing down a Christmas tree. With 8.7 inches of ground clearance, more than most competitors, Forester is ready for off-roading, and has an easy step-in height.

Interior upgrades included high-quality, soft-touch materials and contrast stitching throughout, heated second-row outboard seats, and second-row A/C vents and dual USB ports.

An information screen (with date/time, external temperature/weather, trip info, A/C info, and more), separate from the infotainment panel, was set under a hood in the center of the dash.

A newly standard 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot would allow up to eight devices to connect and stream TV shows, movies, and music, or play games, check email, and much more.

Updated Starlink Multimedia with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Pandora was also standard, with wireless pairing and hands-free smartphone operation to connect to apps and other content and access news, navigation, music, and much more through apps. Built-in, voice-activated navigation was powered by TomTom, and used the eight-inch touch screen.

Cargo space is up to 76.1 cubic feet with the 6 0/40 rear seatbacks lowered, an increase of 1.9 cubic feet. With the seatbacks up, cargo is a very impressive 35.4 cubic feet. The flatter load floor and squared-off shape of the cargo area makes carrying large objects easier, and the 51.3-inch wide gate opening (5.3 inches wider than the previous model) makes loading a breeze - a folded stroller or full-size golf bag will fit in sideways.

The power liftgate was a plus, along with grocery-bag and tie-down hooks, under-floor storage, and a removable cargo tray.

My Forester had blind-spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert, a rearview camera, new tire-pressure monitor with individual tire display, and new standard trailer stability assist. Reverse automatic braking will stop the vehicle to avoid objects behind when reversing.

A new automatic power door lock/unlock system locks all doors, the liftgate and fuel door once the vehicle reaches 13 mph.

Reclining rear seatbacks helped make the rear passengers comfortable, and a heated windshield de-icer and heated side mirrors were handy on frosty mornings.

The cabin was quiet, roomy, and well equipped.

My Forester, with $975 destination charges added, delivered for $35,270.

22231256