You don’t win violently, Tony, you win when … you keep your dignity Don Shirley (Greenbook, 2018)
I am toast. Maybe I caught you off guard and you think I am expressing myself in metaphors but not: white mold bread that cruelly radiates heat through a series of resistances in a kind of spring cage until the heat scorches (more or less, depending on taste) both sides. It is a painful process but one that transforms us from a few simple slices of bread into what we are: some toast. We leave our pale pupae to emerge as succulent mulattoes of wheat. As toasts we are important since we become the paradigm of Murphy’s law once you smear us with that whitish and greasy material that you call butter. That’s despite having more to do with angular momentum, but that’s another debate.
Long ago, instead of embodying Murphy’s, we were judges of Darwin’s laws, especially by stubbornly jamming ourselves inside the toasters and insisting on the hungry human on duty to get us out using some metal object. But now the stupidity is very protected and the electrical systems jump before these imprudences. What are you going to do. But our most important task is to give lovers the second kiss in the morning, fill the kitchens with the smell of toasted bread, participate in romantic evenings covered in salmon and generally take care of your emotional balance. Because also without the toasts the universe would not exist. And long before Shroedinger’s cat got into its box, we would walk our quantum barks around the kitchens. Has it been toasted yet?
It can be said that the Subaru Forester is an old acquaintance of MuyComputer, a different SUV from a different Japanese brand that has always taken a different approach to its car models than the competition, prioritizing on the one hand the capabilities of its vehicles to go out of the asphalt, without endowing them with off-road capabilities, and on the other being faithful to mechanical solutions other than the classic ones with its ubiquitous boxer engine as a standard-bearer but also with its own contributions to both active and passive driving and safety systems.
In this updated version of the Subaru SUV we find some aesthetic changes and other more profound ones such as those that have been adopted in the mechanical part and that make him deserving of the ECE label of the DGT, without abandoning the Boxer philosophy, that no one worry about it. Outwardly the design does not change too much and this 2020 version Forester still has the same robust off-road look that sets it apart from the lighter aesthetics of other competitive SUVs but there are major changes.
To begin with, this generation of the Forester is larger, especially in width and length, where it grows 20 and 15 millimeters respectively and taller, 5 millimeters. As can be seen, they are not increases that can have a significant impact on the interior space, but rather respond to external aesthetic changes even though the platform on which it is built is new with respect to the previous model.
The front and rear are perhaps the most noticeable design touches that the Japanese brand has applied. Up front the headlights and top grille are virtually the same as the bottom shape changes. The blocks into which the fog lamps are inserted have a vertical design and the black plastic plastic grinding that ends in the air intake on the bottom and the gray fender takes up more space in this version and extends in the wheel arches to carry to the rear.
At the rear, the black plastic molding once again stars in the lower part, taking up more space on the bumper, although it has practically the same design and size as in the previous generation. The headlamps, however, do change design and a shiny black plastic piece is added that joins them just below the rear window. The gray fender that protects the bottom and gives that “serious” off-road look also changes shape and covers even the tailpipe.
Otherwise the bodywork has the same off-road appearance as its predecessors, with the same 22-centimeter ground clearance, the gray fenders we have mentioned also peeking in the sides and the roof bars complete that somewhat more adventurous appearance than other SUVs more urban. It also maintains the large glazed surfaces and generously sized doors that, as we will see later, facilitate and illuminate the life on board of this Japanese.
Inside the new Forester there are some touches with new features and certain quality adjustments, such as upholstery with new materials, metallic gray inserts and a new design of the dashboard with a new shape for the ventilation nozzles and a new design more ergonomic and attractive for the inside of the doors. For the rest, the practical spirit of the car is maintained with the controls easily accessible and a steering wheel also with a series of switches for functions such as navigation or control of the multimedia system that we found comfortable and well resuyeltos.
Another feature that remains is the ease of access to the interior, with large doors that have a very wide opening angle. Inside, the less aerodynamic shapes than other competitors offer a good interior space in which the height and width of the rear occupants stand out, allowing three people to travel more comfortably than in SUVs of a similar category. In addition, the large glazed surfaces that we already mentioned make the feeling of space, in addition to visibility, very great.
The car is very comfortable and all its seats adapt to both driving on long road trips and excursions off the road. In addition, the front ones have an even better lateral support than the previous generation, so although the car’s philosophy does not invite too much to sporty driving, we will find ourselves comfortable and stable even on routes with many curves that we face at a certain speed.
Regarding the trunk, the Forester increases the already generous capacity of its trunk to 509 liters, despite the fact that in this version a space is allocated for the storage of the battery of the hybrid system. It is a boot with regular shapes and very usable with different hooks and rings for fixing the load. It can also increase its capacity to 1780 liters if we fold down the seats.
As for the information and entertainment systems, like the previous generation, the information is divided into two screens: one in the central part of the dashboard and another placed more towards the nose of the car and smaller at the top. Subaru has taken advantage of this second screen to offer information on the operation of the hybrid system, allowing you to have a lot of data on display without having to press any menu key or selection of any kind.
The Subaru Forester continues to equip a good number of sophisticated systems such as directional headlights, blind spot detection system or the EyeSight system that uses two cameras that analyze the environment to perform emergency braking, lane change warning or monitor the operation of the control adaptive cruising. A system that we already tested in the previous generation and we found it to be very effective and easy to use as well as not very intrusive with driving.
The most innovative system provided by this new Forester is the DMS or Driver Monitoring System that uses facial recognition to identify the driver who is at the controls of the vehicle. Once identified, the car adapts the parameters of the car to the user’s preferences such as the adjustment of the seats, the rear-view mirrors and other settings such as the temperature or the information displayed by the instrumentation. In addition, the DMS is responsible for analyzing whether the driver is distracted or fatigued after long periods behind the wheel.
The other important novelty of this Forester is the hybrid motorization that could be said to be halfway to the “complete” hybrids such as Toyota or Lexus and Mild Hybrid offered by Kia. The set consists of a direct injection atmospheric 2-liter engine with the Subaru’s classic Boxer configuration that delivers 150 horsepower that is associated with a small 17-horsepower electric motor with a battery capable of storing 0.6 kWh of electrical energy .
Despite the fact that the electric is a small engine, the fundamental difference with the Mild Hybrid systems is that in the Subaru case it is capable of moving the car. The Japanese model system however always works automatically and cannot be forced electrically as in other hybrid cars. We can only select between the Intelligent mode that optimizes the operation of the propulsion system for less consumption and the Sport mode in which the electric motor pushes to the maximum of its capabilities.
In any case, the contribution of the electric drive is less than in other “classic” hybrids and it comes into operation in fewer cases given the low capacity of the battery, so fuel economy in situations such as urban driving is not as great as in those models. Nor does it seem that the 17 horsepower of the electric motor will provide an extra boost when it comes to demanding performance from the Forester. But the best way to check all this is at the wheel.
At the controls
At the wheel of the Forester we find ourselves with that feeling of a comfortable car but with a point of adventure capacity that practically all its models transmit. The efficiency of its four-wheel drive and, in the case of the Forester, the considerable height of the car allow very pleasant and safe off-road excursions. Without having all the capabilities of an SUV, this model is capable of facing obstacles and more complex situations than would be expected with very little intervention by the driver.
On the road, it is a comfortable car to use and with enough power to face any type of trip, although it is not a car with sporty airs, we can maintain good speed averages even in rough terrain, with its all-wheel drive, also contributes to the ability to link curves with enough joy. The contribution of one more point of comfort is very welcome in a car that already seemed very comfortable to us. In addition, the hybrid motorization is quite quiet if we do not fully press the accelerator and in any case less noisy than other hybrid models with a continuous variator gearbox.
This ecological version of the Forester keeps intact all the hallmarks of this model and the brand that manufactures it, including the boxer engine and certain off-road capabilities. The ECO seal provides slightly less consumption and pollution in addition to tax advantages and others such as access to cities during episodes of high pollution and that contribution is not negligible at the moment.
On the other hand, this model has raised the bar in comfort and convenience as well as versatility with an even larger boot and a generous interior space that is complemented by greater visibility and light than we can find in other cars in its category. An ideal car for mixed use that can cope with long trips without problems and that has numerous built-in driving assistance systems that round it off making it a safer car.
The Forester remains true to its philosophy of a mixed car with good off-road performance, good driving assistance systems and in this version a hybrid motorization with an underpowered electric motor.