2019 Subaru Forester Keeps Styling Safe, Dumps Manual Transmission and XT Trim

The next-generation 2019 Subaru Forester, which debuted Wednesday at the New York International Auto Show, looks mighty familiar. That’s because, despite the updated lines, the compact crossover retains the blocky, tall-greenhouse shape of its predecessors.

Subaru flirts with conformity, but never fully succumbs.

Now riding atop the Subaru Global Platform (shares with the Impreza and Crosstrek), the 2019 Forester offers a new trim level, a power boost for the stalwart 2.5-liter flat-four, and greater standard content — especially when it comes to driver assist technology. Unfortunately for brand purists, these standard driver’s aids have eliminated the manual transmission from the Forester lineup.

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2019 Subaru Forester Bound for New York, Needs to Keep the Sales Magic Alive

If there’s a great way to piss off Subaru buyers, the quirky Japanese brand hasn’t thought of it yet. Few automakers can boast of Subaru-like annual sales increases, and even fewer can say their customers are more likely to stick with the brand at trade-in time. Actually, only one brand can say that.

Subaru holds the distinction of actually seeing its U.S. sales rise during the recession, and from 2008 to 2017, volume rose by more than 245 percent. One of the models contributing to its success is the unassuming but remarkably capable Forester — a boxy, upright compact crossover with a tall greenhouse and an interior larger than its outside appearance would suggest.

Screwing up the next-generation Forester, which debuts later this month as a 2019 model, could hurt Subaru badly. No surprise, it looks like the automaker is choosing to play it safe.

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