2019 Subaru Forester vs compact SUV rivals: How they compare on paper

Pricing and specs have been released, so let's see how they stack up

We've seen what the 2019 Subaru Forester looks like (pretty much the same). We've found out how much it's going to cost (just a bit more). And also how much bigger and more powerful it'll be (appreciably on both counts). Now it's time to see how all of that compares to its top compact SUV rivals.

While you can see the same engine and dimension specs for every compact SUV here, for this comparison featuring the latest 2019 Forester info, we've decided to define "top rivals" as those that the 2018 model was most frequently cross-shopped with. That means the 2018 Honda CR-V, 2018 Toyota RAV4, 2018 Mazda CX-5 and 2018 Nissan Rogue. At the time of this writing, none of their respective manufacturers had released data for 2019 models. We also included info for the 2018 Forester as well.

So, without further blather, cue the Spreadsheet-o-Matic 3000.

How big are they?

The 2019 Forester may look nearly identical to the compact crossover it replaces, but it's nevertheless bigger and heavier. In particular, its wheelbase has increased from being the smallest in the segment to one that's pretty much average. It's a good bet that this gain is the reason rear seat legroom has also increased. Width is also up, but the Forester actually remains the narrowest compact SUV.

As for other noteworthy dimensions, the new Forester now has the most maximum cargo capacity of any compact SUV with 76.1 cubic feet. Now, it should be noted, that's without the panoramic sunroof that comes on all but the base model. With it, max capacity shrinks to 70.9 cu-ft. Two points about that. First, Subaru is the only company that calls out this difference, and all the others almost certainly are not measuring with a sunroof. Second, this gives you an idea about how much of "maximum cargo capacity" includes space up high where you're probably not storing much cargo. As such, we included the Forester's biggest number and think it fairly indicates Subaru should carry the "biggest in segment" crown.

How do their engines and fuel economy compare?

Here's the most important takeaway here: The new Forester is tied for the best fuel economy in the segment, but that's with standard all-wheel drive. Everything else listed above is with front-wheel drive. The 2019 model also gets a welcome injection of power, resulting in the fourth-most base horsepower in the segment (or fifth, if you consider the CR-V technically holds spots 1 and 3).

Of course, we must pour one out for the elimination of the Forester's turbocharged engine option. Though it was no longer the most powerful in the segment, its availability gave the Forester something that, as you can see, its top rivals could not match. If you want a more performance-oriented engine, you'll have to look beyond this group to the Chevy Equinox, Ford Escape, GMC Terrain, Jeep Cherokee, Kia Sportage or even the six-cylinder Subaru Outback.

We should also note the Forester has dropped its standard manual transmission, leaving the Cherokee as the only way to row your own in the segment. Does anyone care? (Sound of crickets.) Moving on.

As for the price, making the CVT standard is a big reason the Forester is now more expensive for 2019, but as you can see, it's pretty much smack-dab in the middle of the segment. In the 2019 Forester, though, that base price includes EyeSight accident avoidance tech, adaptive cruise control, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, the latest Subaru touchscreen and two USB ports. That's more than most provide. Then again, you have to put up with steel wheels and a urethane steering wheel.


We have yet to drive the 2019 Subaru Forester, but on paper at least, it's a far more competitive vehicle than the one it replaces. In terms of size, power, fuel economy and especially feature content, it makes a compelling argument for itself. It's important to note, however, that one of these top rivals is also being updated for 2019: the Toyota RAV4. We don't have all the details yet, but when we do, you can bet we'll do this all again.

How they compare in pictures

2019 Subaru Forester

Read what's new about the 2019 Forester

View 19 Photos

2018 Honda CR-V

Read our Honda CR-V review and see how it specifically compares to the Mazda CX-5

View 127 Photos

2018 Mazda CX-5

Read our Mazda CX-5 review and see how it specifically compares to the Honda CR-V

View 25 Photos

2018 Nissan Rogue

Read our 2018 Nissan Rogue Buying Guide

View 11 Photos

2018 Toyota RAV4

Read our 2018 Toyota RAV4 Buying Guide and see what's changing for the all-new 2019 model

View 36 Photos

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