Consumer Reports Calls Subaru Forester, Mazda CX-5, and Honda CR-V the Best 2021 SUVs under $30k

It’s fair to say that the SUV market is saturated. There are so many to choose from now that it can be a little confusing to wade through the crowded waters with any confidence that you have seen everything you need to make a sound decision. Consumer Reports has made a list of 2021 SUVs that are reliable, safe, and satisfying, all under $30k. The top three best options of the lot were the 2021 Subaru Forester, 2021, the Mazda CX-5, and the 2021 Honda CR-V.

Consumer Reports has found the best 2021 SUVs 

As Consumer Reports notes, this segment can be overwhelming, not only because of the sheer number of entries but also because so many of them seem similar. Consumer Reports says that once you dig deeper into customer satisfaction stats paired with performance, the cream starts to separate from the milk. 

Consumer Reports ranks cars based on a series of data and road testing. The overall scores can change over time given any new information that comes out, like increased reliability issues as the model ages. CR accounts for everything from ride comfort and cabin sound to reliability and fuel economy. This list of SUVs is based on the “as tested” price, so some versions of these models can creep over the $30k mark. 

The 2021 Subaru Forester is the best 2021 SUV under $30,000

A green 2020 Subaru Forester parked on a patterned concrete slab surrounded by potted trees and shrubbery
2020 Subaru Forester | Subaru of America, Inc.

The Subaru Forester has been a fan favorite for a while. Its small and agile platform makes the Forester fun to drive while maintaining a roomy interior for family and friends along with their gear. The Subaru line is all about access to a more outdoor lifestyle. This is made abundantly clear in this efficient compact SUV, with its 2.5-liter flat-four engine getting 28 miles per gallon overall. It is also loaded with safety features that boast good value for the money. CR gave it a strong overall score of 89/100. The base model starts at $24,795 and goes up to $34,895, depending on the configuration. 

Is the 2021 Mazda CX-5 a good SUV? 

Consumer Reports certainly thinks so. The Mazda CX-5 is an unstoppable force. People just like them. Consumer Reports found the Mazda to be roomy, efficient, and comfortable. The CX-5’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission are a snappy and responsive pair. In the test, the CX-5 got 24 mpg, making it a decently fuel-efficient compact SUV. Like the Subaru Forester, the CX-5 is an agile little SUV that still manages a roomy interior. 

A red 2021 Mazda CX-5 driving down a highway road
The 2021 Mazda CX-5 in action | Mazda

The interior is home to plenty of soft-touch surfaces and safety features. The cabin is quiet, and the interior quality is solid and looks great for the money. Overall the CX-5 is a reliable and comfy ride that hits all the major marks for most drivers to stay satisfied with their purchase. The CX-5 got an overall score of 83/100 and has a price range of $25,370 – $37,505.

The 2021 Honda CR-V remains a strong choice

Consumer Reports calls this “better small SUVs thanks to its roomy cabin, good fuel economy, and competent handling.” Its 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine makes a buzzy 190 hp. Bue to its small displacement and turbocharged power, the Honda CR-V gets to save fuel and still has plenty of power to be useful and satisfying to drive. The Honda gets 28 mpg overall, and the more expensive CR-V Hybrid gets a whopping 35 mpg overall. 

A blue 2021 Honda CR-V Touring compact SUV traveling on a city bridge
2021 Honda CR-V Touring | American Honda Motor Co., Inc.

The handling is said to be nimble and crisp for such a friendly little SUV. Part of what allows for agility is what makes the ride a little stiff. The suspension airs on the harder side, but it’s still comfortable. The road and wind noise is also well suppressed, making the overall experience in the cabin comfortable and quiet. These factors led to a strong showing and an 82/100 overall rating, and a price range of $25,350 – $36,350.