Skip to main content

Costs of ownership are a huge factor to consider when looking for an SUV. A small SUV could have an affordable starting price and a high cost of ownership. The cheapest small SUV to own is a Japanese model, and it isn’t the Toyota RAV4.

What is the cheapest small SUV to own?

A blue 2023 Subaru Forester is driving on the road.
The 2023 Subaru Forester | Subaru

The Subaru Forester is the cheapest small SUV to own, based on a list compiled by Forbes. According to Forbes’ list, the Subaru Forester costs $37,367 to own over a five-year time period. This price includes the cost of the vehicle as well as gas prices, insurance costs, and maintenance costs.

The 2023 Subaru Forester starts at $26,395. It uses a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine to make 182 horsepower and 176 lb-ft of torque. The small SUV achieves 26 miles per gallon in the city and 33 miles per gallon on the highway.

The Forester’s cost of ownership is low compared to rivals because it’s incredibly reliable. It is one of the most long-lasting SUVs in its vehicle segment. Subaru’s small SUV can last for over 200,000 miles or over 14 years when well-maintained. Its dependability, combined with decent fuel economy makes it one of the least expensive SUVs to maintain. Does that mean that it’s better to get than the Toyota RAV4?

2023 Subaru Forester vs. 2023 Toyota RAV4

The front of a white Subaru Forester small SUV.
The 2023 Subaru Forester | Subaru

The Toyota RAV4 starts at $28,275. It uses a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine to make 203 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. Toyota’s popular small SUV gets 27 miles per gallon in the city and 35 miles per gallon on the highway.

The RAV4 is the most popular SUV in the world. It’s affordable, practical, and has become the quintessential small family SUV for millions of drivers around the world.

Subaru’s small SUV is more affordable than the RAV4. The 2023 RAV4 is more powerful and more fuel efficient than the Forester. The Subaru Forester can outlast Toyota’s small SUV based on longevity and reliability studies.

Ultimately, the greatest difference between the two small SUVs is design. The Forester, like most Subaru SUVs, is geared toward drivers with a desire to take the road less traveled. The RAV4 is the more typical daily driver (though it has off-road configurations). Subaru’s small SUV may have the lowest cost of ownership in its segment, but it’s unlikely to beat the RAV4 in sales anytime soon.

Should you get a 2023 Subaru Forester?

The Subaru Forester is a great small SUV for drivers interested in a long period of ownership. If you plan on owning a small SUV for over a decade, the Forester provides great value for the money over time.

Car and Driver claims that the Premium configuration is the best trim to get because of standard features like a panoramic sunroof and a six-speaker sound system. The most exciting version of the Forester is the 2023 Subaru Forester Wilderness.

The 2023 Subaru Forester Wilderness starts at $34,320. It comes standard with Subaru’s X-Mode terrain management system, a front metal skid plate, and Yokohama Goelandar all-terrain tires. The small SUV has 9.2 inches of ground clearance. The Forester Wilderness is the most extreme Forester configuration.


MotorTrend Is Wild About Its Pick for the Best 2023 Subaru Forester Trim