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Automotive shoppers have many choices for compact SUVs — and two popular choices are the Subaru Forester and the Kia Sportage. Previously, we highlighted the strength of the Sportage. And now, we show how the 2023 Subaru Forester beats the 2023 Kia Sportage in one big way: off-road capabilities.

2023 Subaru Forester is better for off-road use than the 2023 Kia Sportage

Front angle view of blue 2023 Subaru Forester Wilderness off-road compact SUV
2023 Subaru Forester | Subaru

Drivers increasingly long for adventures out in nature. Consequently, automakers are offering compact SUVs with greater off-road capabilities. The 2023 Subaru Forester perfectly meets this demand. It is better for off-road use than the 2023 Kia Sportage.

There are a number of factors that give the Subaru SUV better off-road capabilities. While all-wheel drive is standard for all Forester models, it’s optional for the Sportage. Also, the Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system for the Forester is more effective at traveling over rough terrain than the AWD system in the Sportage.

One of the reasons why the Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive is so effective is its continually routes power to all of the wheels, enabling the compact SUV to detect wheel slippage before it occurs. Also, for enhanced traction, there’s a selectable X-MODE feature.

Additionally, the Forester provides higher ground clearance — with up to 9.2 inches, compared to 8.3 inches for the Sportage. The higher ground clearance enables the Forester to safely drive over obstacles, such as rocks.

Furthermore, while the Sportage offers rugged new X-Pro and X-Pro Prestige trims, they don’t match the off-road capabilities of the Forester Wilderness model.

2023 Forester is also better for driving in the snow than the 2023 Sportage

Front angle view of white 2023 Kia Sportage compact SUV
2023 Kia Sportage | Kia

For compact SUV drivers that never head off-road, these capabilities of the 2023 Subaru Forester have other benefits. For one, the Subaru SUV is better at driving in adverse weather conditions than the 2023 Kia Sportage, such as snow, rain, and icy roads. This makes the Forester a preferable choice for those that live in a harsh winter climate.

Also, the off-road capabilities are beneficial for driving on poor-quality roads. Most drivers eventually encounter roads with potholes, cracks, and loose gravel.

Other strengths of the Subaru Forester over the Kia Sportage

The 2023 Forester has other strengths over the 2023 Sportage. This includes more passenger space. The Forester provides a total passenger volume of 111.6 cu-ft, compared to 108.0 cu-ft for the Sportage. Also, the difference in passenger space is most significant for front seat legroom. There are 43.3 inches of front legroom in the Forester and 41.4 inches in the Sportage

Additionally, the Forester can tow more. It provides a maximum towing capacity of 3,500 pounds, while the Sportage tops out at 2,500 pounds.

Furthermore, the Forester is safer. Unlike the Sportage, it earned a 2023 IIHS Top Safety Pick award. This award is based on superior results in crash tests and other safety evaluations. While the Sportage earned an IIHS award last year, it didn’t make the cut in 2023.

With its better off-road capabilities, the 2023 Subaru Forester beats the 2023 Kia Sportage in one big way. Whether for driving off the beaten path, on poor quality roads, or in snow or other adverse weather conditions, the off-road capabilities have multiple benefits for compact SUV drivers.

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