The Subaru Forester has been a staple of the Subaru lineup for more than 20 years alongside the Impreza and Legacy, and for the 2019 model year the Pleiades brand is introducing the all-new fifth-generation model at the 2018 New York International Auto Show (NYIAS). The company claims that the latest version is the roomiest, most versatile and most spacious yet.

An evolution of its predecessor from the outside, the new Forester incorporates Subaru’s “Dynamic x Solid” design language, with standard LED headlights and sharp C-shaped daytime running lights flanking a six-sided grille. Along the side, the more expressive shoulder lines flow up into the D-pillars to accentuate the car’s height and strength, while the rear features C-shaped tail lights.

The new Sport trim level adds LED fog lights, a black grille, black 18-inch alloy wheels and a black rear spoiler, along with orange exterior highlights. Inside, there’s dark grey upholstery with orange stitching and accents, along with a cargo tray and LED interior lighting. It also gets PIN code access and the All-Weather Package that adds heated front seats, heated exterior mirrors and a wiper de-icer.

The cabin is very similar to the latest Impreza and XV, with a new dashboard design featuring slim vertical air vents flanking a centre infotainment display. Subaru says that the pillars have been strategically designed to improve visibility together with the expansive glass area, and all models come with a reverse camera.

Interior space has been increased with the redesign, thanks to a wheelbase that has grown by 30 mm to 2,670 mm. Rear legroom has grown by 35 mm to a whole 1,000 mm, while head-, hip- and shoulder room have also seen increases, improving the feeling of spaciousness within the cabin. Wider rear door openings and a steeper C-pillar allow for easier entry and egress and also makes installing a child seat easier.

Up front, the new seats are said to be more comfortable on long journeys, and an electric parking brake frees up console space. Moving to the boot, cargo space now measures a massive 2,155 litres with the 60:40-split rear seats folded – an increased of 40 litres – and the maximum width of the tailgate opening is now 135 mm wider at 1,300 mm. This allows a golf bag to be slotted in without having to tilt it.

The textured material on the boot floor, sides and tailgate is dirt- and scratch-resistant and is easier to clean, and the same can be said of the PVC material used on the bottom of the front seat backs. The front seat pockets have also been divided to better segregate items such as magazines and gadgets. A powered tailgate is offered as standard on the Limited and Touring models (optional on the Premium and Sport).

All models get automatic climate control – with dual-zone control on Limited and Touring variants – and the optional front seat heating comes with three instead of two settings. Meanwhile, the Touring model also gets rear seat heating for the first time, along with a heated steering wheel and a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat (eight-way for the passenger) with a memory function for the driver’s seat and door mirrors.

Moving to the rest of the equipment list, Premium, Sport, Limited and Touring models also receive a panoramic sunroof, while the Sport, Limited and Touring receive keyless entry and push-button start as standard – a feature that is optional on the Premium model. In conjunction with Subaru Starlink Connected Services, this adds remote engine start via the MySubaru app, which can also setup the climate control.

As standard, the Forester comes with the Starlink Multimedia system with a 6.5-inch touchscreen as well as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, SiriusXM, Aha, Pandora and Starlink app integration. The Multimedia Plus system adds an eight-inch screen, while the Multimedia Navigation system gets TomTom voice-activated navigation. There’s also WiFi connectivity available as well as a host of concierge and emergency services.

Power comes from a new 2.5 litre naturally-aspirated flat-four engine with direct injection, a higher compression ratio and an active valve control system (AVCS) on the exhaust side. It now delivers 182 hp and 239 Nm of torque, and is mated with a standard Lineartronic CVT to provide an estimated 7.1 litres per 100 km fuel consumption. Sport and Touring models get a seven-speed manual mode with paddle shifters.

Of course, Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system comes as standard, paired to the WRX and WRX STI‘s Active Torque Vectoring system. Also standard is the SI-Drive system, which features Intelligent and Sport (Sport Sharp on the Forester Sport) drive modes tuned for either efficiency or performance.

Premium, Sport, Limited and Touring models receive the driver-selectable X-Mode system with Hill Descent Control, which optimises engine, transmission, AWD system and Vehicle Dynamics Control for maximum traction on slippery conditions. A new dual-mode version with Snow/Dirt and Deep Snow/Mud modes is fitted on Sport, Limited and Touring variants.

The new Subaru Global Platform is said to provide greater handling capability, agility, ride comfort and crash protection. The new architecture is said to be inherently resistant to noise, vibration and harshness (NVH), and while road noise has been significantly reduced with the new Forester, the company has also worked to tune out certain frequencies to make conversation or listening to music at highway speeds more comfortable.

In terms of safety, all Foresters in the United States come with the EyeSight driver assistance system. This adds Automatic Pre-Collision Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure and Sway Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Pre-Collision Throttle Management and Lead Vehicle Start Alert. Also available are Reverse Automatic Braking and Blind Spot Detection with Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

High Beam Assist is offered on the Sport, Limited and Touring models, with the last two also getting adaptive headlights. New for the 2019 is Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) and standard-fit Trailer Stability Assist (TSA), while the Touring receives the new DriverFocus system that uses facial recognition to recognise driver fatigue or distraction.