By Steve & Tamami Laser
How long does it take to really get to know a car? We can get a pretty good impression after a week behind the wheel. Yet it takes much longer to discover the things that we really “like” or “love.” After driving our long-term Subaru Forester Touring for two years, we’ve come up with a list of the “10 Things We Love.”
If you follow our reviews and YouTube channel, you may have noticed that we covered our “Top 5 Likes” after the first year of driving. So, how many of these “likes” have turned into “loves?” This story covers our favorite features and attributes that make the Forester a joy to live with.
This video, from the CarNichiWa.com YouTube channel, highlights our top 10 list after driving the Subaru Forester Touring for two years.
Flashback: Our Forester journey began two years ago at Irvine Subaru in Lake Forest, Calif., where we said “goodbye” to our previous long-term 2016 Subaru Outback (that we leased from Subaru Pacific), and started a three-year lease on a new 2019 Forester.
We drove the Forester about 5,000 miles during the second year, with total mileage topping the 10,000 mark. We were planning on driving more, yet the pandemic caused us to postpone longer journeys, as many Southern California attractions were closed. We’re also splitting our driving between the Forester, and a 2018 Honda CR-V, another long-term tester.
Let’s take a closer look at the “10 Things We Love” about our Forester.
Number 1 – Boxer Engine
Subaru’s 2.5-liter 4-cylinder “Boxer” engine continues to make our Forester fun to drive. Rated at 182 horsepower and 176 lb.-ft. of torque, it’s smooth and responsive around town, and provides good performance on highways. It also teams well with the Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) and Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system.
While we wish for more power on hills, we’ve found that selecting the “Sport” mode, by pressing the SI-DRIVE button on the steering wheel, really makes a difference. During the past year, we’ve been driving mostly on city and local roads, with our fuel economy in the low- to mid-20 mpg range. This Forester’s EPA estimate is 26 city/33 highway and 29 combined.
Number 2 – Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive
The more we drive the Forester, the more we love the Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system with Active Torque Vectoring. The combination of enhanced traction in all weather and road conditions, along with its seamless operation, makes it one of the Forester’s best features.
While we don’t do much off-road driving, it provides an added sense of confidence and security on wet and slippery surfaces. And It assists handling when driving on twisty, dry roads, like the one shown above.
Forester’s X-Mode® lets the driver increase traction response when desired, using this center-console mounted selector. The modes include Normal, Snow/Dirt, and Deep Snow/Mud.
Number 3 – Paddle Shifters
Living at 1,200 feet above sea level, we use our Forester’s paddle shifters often when going up and down the local hills. Conveniently mounted on the steering wheel, the shifters simulate 7-speeds for the CVT. The paddle shifters have become such an essential part of our driving style, that we often find ourselves trying to replicate their use when driving our Honda CR-V, but to no avail (it doesn’t have them).
Number 4 – Smooth Ride
The longer we drive the Forester, the more we appreciate its smooth, well-controlled ride. It’s a combination of a well-engineered suspension, with all of the elements working together, to absorb bumps and road irregularities, without a harsh, bumpy or floaty response. The steering is also nicely weighted, yet not quite as sporty feeling as our CR-V, which also has a thicker-rimmed steering wheel (yet no paddle shifters).
Number 5 – Cargo Space & Versatility
Over the years, we’ve owned a variety of sedans, coupes, convertibles, vans, pickups and wagons. As a crossover, the Forester really shines with its versatile cargo space. We can transport a surfboard inside the car, gear for a weekend getaway, and luggage for longer stays. The tall roof, and low cargo floor, let us carry groceries and goods from a big box store with ease. Best of all, with its compact footprint, the Forester fits into parking spots and garages where our previous vans feared to tread.
Number 6 – Pet Friendly
Subaru touts the canine friendly aspects of its vehicles, and that’s another reason why we love the Forester. Our dogs feel at home riding in the back seat (we know, because we asked them if they enjoy the ride, and they said, “Yesh!”). And to make journeys more comfortable, we purchased an aftermarket hammock and travel bed, so they can relax. We also bring along some of their favorite toys, and of course, a supply of tasty treats.
Number 7 – Safety Features & EyeSight®
As part of Subaru’s EyeSight® Driver Assist Technology, our Forester has twin cameras mounted near the inside rearview mirror. They monitor the road ahead and are integral components for several safety features, including Automatic Pre-Collision Braking, Lane Keeping Assist, and Lane Departure Warning.
Our Forester is also equipped with Reverse Automatic Braking, a feature that has saved us several times from accidentally contacting objects when backing into parking spaces.
Number 8 – Multimedia System & Voice Control
The first car we ever owned was equipped with an AM radio! Things have come a long way since then. Our Forester Touring has a wonderfully designed, and thoughtfully integrated, 8.0-inch multimedia system with navigation, in the center of the dash.
For ease of use while driving, we can press the voice control button on the steering wheel, and ask for things like, “find golf course.” Once we’ve made a selection (see the demo in our video), the navi system offers turn-by-turn directions.
Number 9 – Power Tailgate
When we get used to using a convenience feature, like our Forester’s power tailgate, we wonder how we ever got along without it in our previous vehicles. We can open and close the tailgate using the keyfob, a button on the dash, or a hidden switch on the tailgate.
Number 10 – Reliable
During the first two years of driving, we visited our dealer’s service department four times. Three visits were for regularly scheduled maintenance, which was included as part of our lease deal with Irvine Subaru (no extra charge, Thanks!). These visits included oil and filter changes, tire rotations, and multi-point vehicle inspections.
We also returned for one repair, covered under the manufacturer’s new vehicle warranty, to replace a control module for the power tailgate (we highlighted this in our 1-year update story).
Our total cost for maintenance, after two years, was $0.00. And that’s another thing that we love.
After Two Years of Driving – We Love Our Forester
We’ve enjoyed driving our Forester during the past two years, and we really do love it. In closing, we need to mention that we’re still not thrilled with the “Auto Start-Stop” feature that we discussed last time. However, that’s not enough to spoil this great relationship.
As we get closer to the three year mark, we’ll have to make a difficult decision. Should we say “goodbye” and return it at lease end? Or should we purchase the Forester, and make it a regular part of our leet? Time is running short, and we need to make a decision soon.
Click or tap on the following links for our additional Forester long-term review stories:
The 2019 Forester in this story is privately leased by the editorial staff of CarNichiWa.com
Story and video © 2021 CarNichiWa.com
Photos © 2019-2021 CarNichiWa.com