New Forester adds all the mod cons

The Forester was one of the original Sports Utility Vehicles, cars with cross-country practicalities and some off-road ability.

Since 1997, some 250,000 have been sold around Australia and this new one, the fifth generation, continues to uphold a well-earned reputation.

While the body is new, with more legroom for back seat passengers, more shoulder room and a larger cargo space, the Subaru remains recognisable as a well-known compact wagon.

And the Forester remains with all-wheel drive powered by a flat, four-cylinder boxer engine where cylinders are horizontally opposed (as in old Beetles and Porsche 911s).

This time there’s a bit more power and a bit more torque for the 2.5 litre engine. The fresh 136kW and 239Nm, plus some revision to the Constantly Variable Transmission, are noticeable from the get-go; engine and transmission responses are that bit sharper than before.

As before the Forester offers comfortable, reassuring and safe travel over any type of road conditions and through any weather.

The all-wheel drive, responsive drive train, well-sorted chassis and suspension plus a long list of driver aids for primary and secondary safety combine for peace of mind.

It’s not one for screaming into corners; decent ground clearance of 220mm means this Subaru is a touch top heavy and spirited driving will have it kneeling at the front end with some body roll.

Best to let it lope along. Best to appreciate all that traction and rough track ability when visiting the cousins’ farm or heading down a forest track to spy on a great crested warbler.

This is a go-most-places machine with some off-road ability, comfortable packaging as an all-roads tourer plus road manners and conveniences that make it an easy get-around wagon for the suburbs.

So the Subaru’s basics again have widespread appeal. Plus it retains a full-sized spare wheel and a CD player, unlike many rivals.

Added now is some of the industry’s newest and smartest technology.

This Forester can monitor blind spots, automatically brake if reversing into drama, tell a driver if the wagon is drifting across lanes or there’s traffic coming at it from the side.  It will also alert the pilot if the car in front has moved off in the traffic.

Then there’s Subaru’s Driver Monitoring System which can recognise a particular driver’s preference for seat position, mirror adjustment and air conditioning setting.

It recognises a face and warns a driver if it detects drowsiness or a lack of attention to the road ahead.

That bit of kit puts the Subaru Forester up with some of the world’s snazziest –

and dearest – road machines yet this MY19 Forester still sports reasonable pricing with list prices from $33,490 to $41,990.

The downside is you need a month of Sundays to fathom all those bells and whistles.