Subaru Forester ES 2.0-S EyeSight AWD Review
More Than Meets The Eye

3 Oct 2019

Unlike many of today's SUVs that look rugged but are only suitable for city driving, the Forester is a SUV that you can actually be more adventurous with, and take off the beaten path.

The all-new Subaru Forester has been described by Subaru to be a "fully redesigned extraordinary SUV". This fifth-generation Forester is bigger, better, and comes with loads more tech features built-in compared to the previous model.

This new Forester is all about safety, and a key feature is EyeSight — think of it as a pair of watchful digital eyes that helps the driver by constantly looking out for any hidden dangers. EyeSight is an award-winning driver-assist system that uses two front-facing stereo cameras to help the driver to well… keep an eye (or specifically, two eyes) on the road. With its excellent image recognition, EyeSight will warn the driver (and even apply the brakes if necessary) if it spots any potential problem. EyeSight also includes useful features like adaptive cruise control, lane departure and lane sway warning.

Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) is the more advanced version of cruise control — beyond just maintaining a set speed, AAC also helps to maintain a safe following distance from the vehicle in front.

When you are at a standstill, the Forester's Lead Vehicle Start Alert feature will even alert you if you are dreaming, and don't realise that the car in front of you has already moved off. This will no doubt be very useful for drivers that always end up getting honked at because they were fiddling with their phones.

The Forester is built on the new Subaru Global Platform that uses ultra-high tensile steel to keep the chassis rigid (with 50% less body roll), and is touted to have better crash absorption (by 40%), less vibration, and improve handling.

In terms of styling, the all-new Forester looks tough enough for the bush, and yet, still stylish enough for the city. The car’s contemporary looks are boosted by its front LED headlamps (with LED daytime running lights), LED fog lamps, as well as its LED turn signal on the power-folding door mirrors.

Unlike many of today's SUVs that look rugged but are only suitable for city driving, the Forester is a SUV that you can actually be more adventurous with, and take off the beaten path. It has Subaru's signature Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive System and comes with the X-MODE function that allows the car to handle challenging terrain. The Forester's minimum ground clearance of 220mm, together with its underguard protection, will help to protect the car's vital components if you are inclined for serious off-roading. And the car's raised roof rails, with added tie-down points, offer an added option for carrying extra supplies that you may need.

The interior of the Forester has been improved in terms of quality, features and space. Inside, the car feels more spacious, and rear passengers will enjoy the improved legroom, as well as the USB charging ports and air-con blowers that are situated behind the centre console. Cargo space has also been improved (total of 1,775 litres, a 251-litre increase over the previous model) and the rear electric tailgate has also been made wider for improved access.

The Forester's dash looks good with its dimpled design elements, and I especially like the added touch of aluminium pedals that give a bit of sportiness to the car.

Tech-wise, you get keyless access, push-button start system, multifunction steering wheel with cruise control, and paddle shifters. The Bluetooth-compatible audio system comes with an 8.0-inch display that has navigation built-in.

The Drive

The all-new Subaru Forester’s power comes from its 2.0-litre direct fuel injection, horizontally opposed, 4-cylinder, DOHC 16-valve petrol engine. It puts out 156hp of power and 196Nm of torque and propels the SUV to complete the century sprint in 10.3 seconds. Top speed maxes out at 193km/h.

The Forester's Boxer Engine is responsive, and its horizontally-opposed design gives it a low centre of gravity. Together with its Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, these features help the car to have better stability, especially during hard cornering.

Another feature that helps the car corner better is its Active Torque Vectoring. When you are taking a sharp corner, it’ll automatically apply some slight braking to the inner wheels, and this helps to deliver more torque to the car’s outer wheels.

With this update, the car gets a new Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) with seven-speed manual mode. The CVT is very smooth when picking up speed from a standstill, but I'm just not a fan of CVT. It's a smooth and efficient transmission, but I just don't like how it sounds, and how 'artificial' it feels — especially when you need a quick burst of power and you step down hard on the accelerator.

Our Thoughts

All in all, the all-new Subaru Forester has lots of improvements that make it an excellent SUV, especially so in terms of safety. And if you are considering this fifth-gen Forester, we definitely recommend you pay the additional $2k* ($115,800* in total) to get the S-version reviewed here, instead of the L-version. The S-version offers so much more, including Subaru Rear Vehicle Detection, 18-inch aluminium-alloy wheels (instead of 17-inch), power-sliding large glass sunroof, memory function on the driver’s seat, power rear gate with memory height function and those sweet aluminium pedals!

*All information accurate as at 2 October 2019

In Summary

We Like

Excellent safety features,áBoxer engine,áSymmetrical All-Wheel Drive

We Don't

CVT, average sound system


Packed with plenty of safety-oriented features, the all-new Subaru Forester 2.0i-S EyeSight is a vastly improved SUV from the previous model.

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Engine Capacity 1995cc
Engine Type Inline 4
Compression Ratio 12.5:1
Bore x Stroke (84.0 x 90.0)mm
Power 156bhp @ 6000rpm
Torque 196Nm @ 4000rpm
Power to Weight 101.4 bhp per ton


Top Speed 193 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 13.5 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Drive Type F4
Steering Electric


Body Type SUV
(L x W x H)
(4625 x 1815 x 1730) mm
Wheelbase 2670 mm
Turning Circle 10.8 metres
Kerb Weight 1538 kg
Boot Capacity 1775 L
Fuel Tank Capacity 63 L


Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Ventilated Discs