By Steve & Tamami Laser
While it seems like only yesterday, a year has gone by since we took delivery of our long-term Subaru Forester. We’ve been busy running errands, going to and from work-related appointments, driving to car shows, and having fun on the weekends visiting some of our favorite Southern California attractions.
We took the above photo in one of our favorite destinations in Los Angeles County: Rancho Palos Verdes on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Many of our photos and videos have been made in this scenic place, along with the neighboring community of Rolling Hills Estates.
One year ago, we went to Irvine Subaru in Lake Forest, Calif., and made a three-year lease on our long-term 2019 Forester Touring. This was the second time we welcomed a Subaru into our family. The first was a 2016 Outback Limited that we leased for three years from Subaru Pacific in Torrance, Calif.
In this video from our CarNichiWa.com YouTube channel, our editor highlights the first year of driving our Subaru Forester.
Our Forester is the top-of-the-line Touring finished in Jasper Green Metallic with a Saddle Brown leather-trimmed interior. The fifth-generation Forester, redesigned for 2019, rides on the Subaru Global Platform, and comes with signature features, including the Boxer engine and standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive (AWD).
We drove more than 5,000 miles during the first year, well within our lease cap of 10,000 miles per year. And as we’ve mentioned before, we’re also in the midst of another long-term lease, with our 2018 Honda CR-V (that happens to be a competitor to the Forester).
Let’s take a look at our top five “likes” following the first year with our Forester.
Forester Like Number 1 – Boxer Engine
The Forester’s horizontally opposed 4-cylinder Boxer engine has been reliable and delivers satisfying performance. With 182 horsepower and 176 lb.-ft. of torque, there’s ample power on tap for our daily drives.
The Boxer does a fine job accelerating up to highway and freeway speeds, passing slower moving traffic, and during stop-and-go driving. About the only time that we wish for more power is when we’re climbing steep hills. Our fuel economy in city traffic is usually in the low- to mid-20 mpg range. This Forester has EPA fuel economy estimates of 26 city/33 highway and 29 combined.
Selecting Sport Mode, from the SI-DRIVE system button on the steering wheel, makes a difference that we can feel, with more sporty powertrain response. We also like the handy paddle “shifters” that offer fingertip control of the Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).
Forester Like Number 2 – All-Wheel Drive
While a rainy day can put a damper on driving, we’re usually overjoyed when a downpour occurs. That’s because it’s the perfect time for us to venture out in our Forester with its Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive.
It was raining pretty hard during one of our driving video sessions, and there were lots of puddles on the road. Yet as we mentioned in our video, the Forester’s AWD system makes wet-weather driving feel very secure.
We also have the opportunity to increase traction response, depending upon the terrain, thanks to the Forester’s X-Mode® selector on the center console. Settings include: Snow/Dirt; Deep Snow/Mud; and Normal, tailoring response to the terrain. (We left the controller in Normal during the rainstorm.)
Forester Like Number 3 – Safety Features
Like our previous Outback, the Forester Touring is equipped with Subaru’s EyeSight® Driver Assist Technology. Subaru says it has sold more than 1 million vehicles fitted with this system. Twin cameras mounted near the inside rearview mirror monitor the road ahead.
The Driver Assist features on our Forester include Automatic Pre-Collision Braking, Lane Keep Assist, and Lane Departure Warning. Adaptive Cruise Control can automatically adjust our car’s speed to stay with the flow of traffic.
Our Forester Touring’s advanced safety systems also include Reverse Automatic Braking, a feature often found on luxury cars. While backing into a parking spot one day, this technology applied the brakes and stopped the car before we made contact with a low wall.
Forester Like Number 4 – Versatile Cabin
From the well-designed dash with its big 8-inch navigation system, to the comfortable front seats with two-position driver’s seat memory, our Forester has a comfortable and versatile interior.
The flexible 60/40 split-folding rear seats give us the flexibility to carry different combinations of passengers and cargo. There’s more than enough cargo space to tote a week’s worth of groceries, or luggage for a weekend trip.
We loaded two hard cases and several soft gear bags before departing for the weekend. Everything fit behind the rear seats with room to spare. Another time, we folded down one side of the split seatback and transported a surfboard inside the car, leaving space for three passengers.
And, of course, our dogs really like riding in the Forester. We bought an aftermarket hammock-like screen that attaches to the front seatbacks and rear seat for protection. Plus a travel bed (above) that lets them ride along with us in comfort wherever we go.
Forester Like Number 5 – Reliable
During the first year of driving, our Forester has been very reliable – more reliable than our previous Outback. We check the engine oil level regularly and haven’t needed to add any between changes.
We took our car back to the dealer’s service department once during the year for regularly scheduled maintenance, which was free, as part of our lease deal (thanks, Irvine Subaru). This included an oil and filter change, tire rotation, and multi-point inspection.
And for one repair covered under warranty. Our power rear tailgate stopped functioning, whether using the remote on the keyfob, the button on the dash, or the switch on the tailgate. Service technicians diagnosed the issue, installed a new control module, and now it works fine.
There were no recalls or other surprises to report. So after one year of driving our Forester, the total cost for maintenance was $0 (we really like that).
Forester “Dislike” – Auto Start-Stop System
We have only one item on our “Dislike” list – the Forester’s Auto Start-Stop System. This feature is designed to conserve fuel by shutting off the engine during long periods of idling. For example, when we stop at a red traffic light, the engine shuts off after a few seconds (if the air conditioning is on, it will continue running).
When the light turns green, and we lift our foot off the brake pedal, the engine automatically restarts. So what do we dislike? The restart is not smooth in operation – we can feel the car vibrate for a moment. Also, stop-start can be annoying, when driving in heavy traffic, for example, or on a congested freeway.
The Auto Start-Stop feature can be turned off manually by pressing a button on the lower dash panel (we marked it with a “star” in the above photo). However, this only works for one driving cycle. So if we park the car, shut the engine off using the regular keyless start switch on the dash, and go into a store, we’ll need to press the Auto-Stop deactivation button again, after we return, and start the car.
Summary – We Really Like Our Forester
Following three years with our former Outback, we weren’t sure that we wanted to make another long-term commitment with a Subaru so quickly. After all, there are plenty of other brands and models to choose.
However, wrapping up a year behind the wheel of our Forester, we think we made the right decision. And while we highlighted our top five “likes” in this story, there are plenty of other good things to talk about. We plan to cover them in our next story. In the meantime, we’re heading out for another fun-filled weekend in our Forester.
Click or tap on the following link for our first Forester long-term story:
The 2019 Forester test car in this story is privately leased by the editorial staff of CarNichiWa.com
Story, photos and video © 2020 CarNichiWa.com