New York Motor Show - These are the first official pictures of the fifth-generation Subaru Forester, billed as the roomiest, most versatile and safest Forester yet.

It’s the first Forester built on the Subaru Global Platform, and boasts a 2669mm wheelbase, up 30mm on its predecessor, giving it an extra 35mm of rear legroom, as well as a flatter load floor and a 135mm wider tailgate opening and a cavernous 2154-litre cargo bay with the 60:40 split rear bench seat folded, up 54 litres on the previous Forester.

All versions of the new Forester will have an updated version of Subaru’s proven 2.5-litre direct-injection, naturally-aspirated flat-four ‘boxer’ engine, now with direct fuel-injection, higher compression and variable exhaust valve timing, rated at 134kW and 238Nm (up from 125kW and 236Nm).

An SI-Drive throttle response selector allows you to choose between Intelligent and Sport modes,  and of course, it drives all four wheels via a Lineartronic continuously variable transmission and symmetrical all-wheel drive - albeit with paddle shift and a seven-step ‘manual’ optional on the Sport model. In a word, conservative.

Also standard across the range will be the EyeSight driver aid package, including automatic pre-collision braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure and sway warning, lane-keeping assist, pre-collision throttle management and lead vehicle start alert, as well as a new DriverFocus safety package on upmarket models that adjusts the car’s ergonomic sittings to your preferred settings and warns you if you get tired or distracted while you’re driving.

New LED headlights are standard, as are wind-cheating grille shutters, automatic aircon, new, more comfortable front seats, an electronic parking brake, a rear-view camera, wider door openings and a steeper C pillar to make working with a child seat easier.

Somebody on the Subaru interior design team must have young children because there’s also a  textured finish in the luggage compartment that resists dirt and scuffing, while the lower section of the front seat-backs has an easily-wiped PVC surface that also resists scuffing.

The new Forester will go on sale in the South Africa market in the first quarter of 2019, but the specifications and engine choices may be different from US-specification model shown in New York.

IOL Motoring