This is so crazy. I cannot understand why these features would not be offered in US market. I would love and would pay for rear seat heat, power passenger seat and how about memory buttons??
(Yes, I know (or believe) these are offered on '19 Forester but I think only on Touring?)
Any thoughts about how these choices are made?
Usually, decisions about products and features are made through product research and forums with the manufacturer. They look at other manufacturers products and see whether or not certain options are offered, and if they are, how often are they taken.
They also use surveys with the general population and with previous owners to see whether or not they would be interested in option A or option b and at what cost. I have been a member of online survey groups for a number of years, and occasionally will see auto related surveys that talk about options and whether or not they would be desirable and at what cost. Let's face it, look around many of the threads throughout this forum and you will find people who wish that their vehicle did not have this item or that item that other people love and cannot live without.
Some people love eyesight, some people don't, some people love the CVT and some people don't. It all comes down to what people like.
There often are consumer group panels in certain areas that are asked questions about certain options that if they were available would they buy them, and at what price.
As for the items now only being on touring models or on upper trim levels for other brands, that is common. It's a way to get people who cannot afford the top level brands or trims to think about them as their next step up the ladder.
In this regard, that's the way Cadillac and Lincoln used to exist. You would start in the GM world with the low-cost Chevy, move up to the Pontiac or the Oldsmobile, then to the Buick, and finally up into the Cadillac as the halo car - the one everyone desired. Over at Ford you'd start with Ford, move up to Mercury, and then top out in Lincoln. Chrysler did the same starting off with Plymouth then either DeSoto or Dodge, then finally up into the top rung Chryslers.
As was mentioned in another thread on the forums, a lot of times models and trims are brought out every few years or changed every few years too kind of LeapFrog from one to another. It's a way of getting you in the door with a low cost Impreza and then you would advance up through the Crosstrek, the Outback and the Forester to the Ascent as the top model. You might skip certain models or stay within one or two by trim level options, but you get the point.
As with the demise of the XT Turbo for 2019, there was just not enough sales momentum to carry the model through. This can be the same reason why certain options are not available in our Market versus another Market. Dealers also can take some of the blame, as they are the ones who order most of the vehicles sitting on their Lots. Dealers also know what sells and what doesn't.
One other thing that may impact whether or not certain options are available in one market versus another is due to government regulations. Look at the headlights that we used to have here in the United States versus what they had in Europe back in the 70s and 80s and even into the 90s. It took our government that long to catch up to the way that it was done. Look how long we were without diesel models in the United States because the government couldn't figure out the regulations from the horrible diesels we had in the late 70s and 80s. Anything that impacts your economy and fuel usage would need to be tested through the appropriate government agencies before being approved for sale.
Dealers may find more Forester premiums sell then tourings or limiteds or the new sport, and therefore put more premium trim levels on their lot. In this regard one thing I found interesting was when I purchased my 2014 2.5 Limited. Most of the limited's that my local dealer had on their lot all had the same equipment and trim - they ordered the same package. My Forester was a dealer trade from another dealer just a few hours away. Their standard orders included more items and packages then my local dealer's orders. So I have items on mine that most local Limited trimed Foresters do not have.