We drove an all-new $32,000 Subaru Forester SUV to see if it can compete with Honda, Toyota, and Nissan — here’s the verdict

The compact crossover SUV is a force to be reckoned with. The Subaru Forester has long been a leader in the segment.

Launched in 1998, the Subaru Forester was part of the initial wave of modern compact crossovers to reach the US market. Since then, the segment and SUVs, in general, have absolutely exploded in popularity. So much so that major automakers like Ford and General Motors have announced plans to ax the bulk of their passenger models.

According to data from Kelley Blue Book, nearly 3.1 million compact SUVs rolled off US dealership lots over the first ten months of 2018, equating to roughly one in every five vehicles sold.

And the public’s demand for these cars seems to be nothing less than insatiable with sales up more than 12% during that same period.

Read more: We drove a $46,000 Subaru Ascent SUV to see if it’s ready to challenge Honda, Toyota, and Ford — here’s the verdict.

The Forester is a lynchpin in Subaru’s lineup. The crossover has consistently been its second best-selling model behind only the Japanese brand’s signature Outback off-road wagon.

For 2019, Subaru is back with a new fifth-generation Forester and it already seems to be a hit. In its first full month on the market, the 2019 model pushed Forester sales up 19% over the previous year.

Recently, Business Insider was able to spend a week with a 2019 Subaru Forester Sport in Crystal Black Silica. The base Forester starts at $24,295 while the top-of-the-line Touring starts at $34,295. Our mid-grade Sport trim test car starts at $28,795. With options and fees, our Forester came to an as-tested price of $31,815.

Here’s a closer look at the 2019 Subaru Forester Sport.

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