2019 Subaru Forester Long-Term Review – After 3 Years of Driving This Is Our Favorite Subaru

By Steve & Tamami Laser

Three years ago, we said “goodbye” to our long-term 2016 Subaru Outback and started a new three-year lease on a 2019 Subaru Forester Touring.

While we considered models from other brands, we decided to stay with Subaru for a variety of reasons, including the standard Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive, EyeSight® safety and driver assist systems, and abundant creature comforts.

We went car shopping at Irvine Subaru (above), in Lake Forest, Calif. Our helpful salesperson, Marcelo, located the exact color (Jasper Green Metallic) and model Forester that we wanted. We made a great deal on a three-year lease and started out on a new adventure.

This video, from our CarNichiWa.com YouTube Channel, highlights three years of driving in our long-term Subaru, and also includes our Top 5 Forester favorites.

In addition to all the standard Forester Touring features, our green machine is fitted with a Popular Package that includes HomeLink® mirror with compass, cargo net, LED interior light upgrade, a rear bumper cover, auto-dimming exterior mirrors and all-weather floor mats. Additional accessories include a roof crossbar set, front side sill plates, and a sunshade.

With a base MSRP of $34,295.00, our Forester added the above features, plus destination, for a bottom line of $36,621. With a modest down payment, our monthly lease payments are about $400 for 36 months.

We’ve had a great time driving the Forester to some of our favorite destinations around Southern California. We were planning to drive more, yet as we mentioned last time, the pandemic caused us to postpone some journeys. We’ve also been alternating our drives with our other long-term vehicle, a 2018 Honda CR-V.

During the first three years, we drove the Forester some 12,500 miles, purchased 575 gallons of gas, and averaged 21.7 mpg. Most of our driving was in local traffic, and we managed to achieve higher mpg, in the mid-20 range, on longer trips.

Let’s take a look at our Top 5 Forester Favorites after three years of driving.

Boxer Engine

We’ve been happy with the all-around performance and drivability from the Forester’s 2.5-liter 4-cylinder “Boxer” engine, rated at 182 horsepower and 176 lb.-ft. of torque.

Whether we’re accelerating up to highway speeds, or cruising along on the steep and twisty roads in our neighborhood, the Forester is fun to drive.

We also like the added convenience and control from the steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, a feature of our Forester’s Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). In addition to providing fingertip upshift-and-downshift convenience, we can slow down without using the brakes downhill, or get a boost of acceleration while going uphill.

Another feature we like is the Forester’s “Sport” mode that helps to increase engine response. By pressing the SI-DRIVE button on the steering wheel, travelling up the steep hills in our area feels quicker and easier.

Symmetrical AWD

Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system was one of our favorite features on our previous Outback, so we knew it would make the top five list in our Forester. As we’ve said before, the combo of enhanced all-weather and road traction, with seamless operation, makes our Forester a joy to drive.

Since we live in sunny SoCal and rarely venture far off-road, why do we need AWD? Living on a 1,200-ft. high peninsula surrounded by the ocean means that the weather can change quickly, with foggy, misty and windy conditions. The Forester is an ideal companion that delivers an added sense of confidence and security while driving on slippery roads.

Versatile Interior

Our Forester Touring’s interior offers a pleasant home-away-from feeling with its comfortable seats, flexible space for transporting cargo, high-tech infotainment features, and pet-friendly environment.

The driver’s seat features 10-way power adjustment plus memory settings for two different drivers, while the front passenger’s seat has 8-way power control. Our Forester has an all-weather package that includes heated front and outboard rear seats, and there’s a heated steering wheel too.

The roomy cargo compartment, along with the 60/40-split rear seats, lets us carry different combos of passengers and cargo with ease. We’ve transported groceries, big boxes, luggage, a surfboard, and other gear.

We really like the Forester Touring’s thoughtfully integrated and easy-to-use 8.0-inch multimedia system with navigation, along with the Harman Kardon premium audio, SiriusXM® satellite radio, HD Radio® and dual USB ports.

Nearly every outing becomes a family adventure, with our dogs riding along in the back seat. (We asked them if they like the Forester, and they said, “Yesh!”) To keep them happy wherever we go, we carry aftermarket items and other goodies, including travel beds, blankets, toys, water, and tasty treats.

Safety Features

Our Forester’s standard Subaru EyeSight® Driver Assist Technology includes two cameras mounted near the inside rearview mirror.

Their task is to monitor the road ahead and provide information for a suite of safety features, such as Automatic Pre-Collision Braking, Lane Keeping Assist, and Lane Departure Warning.

The Reverse Automatic Braking System is another Forester Touring safety feature that we really appreciate. While backing into parking spaces, it has saved us several times from accidentally contacting objects, such as a low retaining wall. This technology can automatically apply the brakes if needed.


During three years, we made six visits to two Subaru dealers for regularly scheduled maintenance. The first three visits, for oil/filter changes, tire rotations, and multi-point inspections, were included as part of our lease deal with Irvine Subaru (at no charge).

Another visit to replace a control module for the power tailgate, was handled under the new vehicle warranty.

We went to Subaru Pacific in Hawthorne, Calif. for our last two service visits. Once for regular maintenance, and another time for an automaker’s recall notice, to check the rear stabilizer bracket bolts, at no charge. Our total out-of-pocket maintenance cost for three years of driving was $146.65.

We Extended Our Lease for Six Months

Three years is certainly ample time to get to know a vehicle. And we like everything about the Forester, except, perhaps, the “Auto Start-Stop” feature that we discussed in a previous story.

Yet the Forester fits our lifestyle perfectly, and we agree that this is our favorite Subaru. At the three year mark, we have three options: We can purchase the Forester and make it a permanent part of our family. Or we can turn it in, say “goodbye,” and lease another vehicle. Our lease contract gave us the option to extend our lease for another six months. And that’s what we did. So we have another six months to make a final decision.

Visit the following links for our additional Forester long-term review stories:

2019 Subaru Forester Long-Term Review – 10 Things We Love After 2 Years of Driving

2019 Subaru Forester Long-Term Review – Our Top 5 “Likes” After 1 Year of Driving

2019 Subaru Forester Long-Term Review Part 1 – Our 3-Year Lease Begins

The 2019 Forester in this story is privately leased by the editor of CarNichiWa.com

Story and video © 2022 CarNichiWa.com

Photos © 2019 – 2022 CarNichiWa.com