3 Reasons the 2021 Subaru Forester Beats the Mazda CX-5

The 2021 Subaru Forester and the Mazda CX-5 are highly sought-after new SUVs. The Subaru had a slight edge over the Mazda automobile in most categories, but the Forester fell behind in reliability. Which of these SUVs was most recommended by Consumer Reports?

2021 Subaru Forester & Mazda CX-5: road test

The 2021 Subaru Forester has a slight edge over the Mazda CX-5
Is the Subaru Forester car better than the Mazda CX-5? | Zhe Ji/Getty Images

The 2021 Subaru Forester had a leg up over the Mazda CX-5 for a few reasons. Consumer Reports gave the Forester a 90 on the road test, while the CX-5 only scored a 78. What makes the Forester stand out so much?

For starters, the Forester has been on a gradual incline over the past few years. The interior is roomy and comfortable, the fuel economy is noteworthy, and the standard safety equipment is plentiful.

Overall, the 2.5L four-cylinder engine gets 182 hp. 28 miles per gallon makes it quite the economic SUV. “The Forester is adept at absorbing road imperfections, making it one of the better riding SUVs in the category,” Consumer Reports says.

79% of Forester owners say they would purchase the same car again.

CR notes that the 2021 CX-5 improved this year with ride comfort, interior quality, and noise isolation within the cabin. The 187-hp 2.5L four-cylinder has a six-speed transmission. The SUV gets around 24 miles per gallon overall.

The Mazda SUV is easy to drive and responsive, with an improved smooth ride even over the 2020 version. 73% of CX-5 owners say they would purchase the same car again.

Mazda CX-5 & Subaru Forester: safety and ratings

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Overall, the Forester scored an 89 overall. A 90 on the road test, plus four out of five stars for both the predicted reliability and predicted owner satisfaction.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rated the SUV “good” in each category. This includes side, rear, driver, and passenger crash ratings. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave all of the crash ratings five stars, except for the four-door rollover rating. This received a score of four out of five.

The standard safety features include automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detections, and lane-keeping assist. Blindspot warning is an option, as is rear cross-traffic warning.

The CX-5 came in with a score of 83 overall. A 78 on the road test and a five out of five for predicted reliability. The predicted owner satisfaction scored four out of five.

The IIHS gave the same “good” score for each category. The NHTSA gave ratings of five stars, except the similar four-wheel and two-wheel drive rollover categories.

The standard safety features include automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detections, lane-keeping assist, and blind-spot warning.

Consumer Reports reliability scores

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The Forester has overall improved reliability. Since 2018, Subaru has been working hard to make a more dependable SUV. For Mazda, the reliability has been steadily increasing since its first year in 2013.

This is where the Mazda CX-5 sneaks ahead a bit. With a score of five out of five, it is clear the brand has been working hard on making and keeping a reliable SUV. The Forester has been improving but does not have the same longevity that the Mazda CX-5 does.

When deciding on one SUV over the other, it depends on what the driver wants to do with it. Occasional off-roading adventures on the weekend? Subaru has you covered. Groceries, children, road trips? Either one will work, but the CX-5 is likely more comfortable for families.