Consumer Reports Prefers the 2021 Subaru Forester Far More Than the 2021 Lexus RX

Long gone are the days when you could leave your A-game at home when making SUVs. These days SUVs are a crowded and highly competitive marketplace with no room for models that aren’t either excellent sedans but bigger, or something more old-school with a proper four-wheel-drive system but still well equipped with modern luxuries like the Ford Bronco. The 2021 Lexus RX review and the 2021 Subaru Forester review both did great on Consumer Reports, but only one of them can emerge victoriously. 

Consumer Reports liked the 2021 Lexus RX and the Subaru Forester

The 2021 Lexus RX review went well. It scored an overall 80/100 on Consumer Reports with very few hard marks against it. The model has a long history of reliability; it is beautifully equipped and handsome. Honestly, other than its slightly clumsy brakes and handling, the only complaints Consumer Reports really had about the RX were minor things just short of nitpicky. 

A green 2020-2021 Subaru Forester on display in a parking lot with green bushes in the background
2021 Subaru Forester on display | Subaru

Unlike the 2021 Subaru Forester, the 2021 Lexus RX has two power options, the 295-hp 3.6-liter V6 and the hybrid verison of the same engine that makes 308 hp. Consumer Reports mentioned the hybrid in the cons because it can be a little rough when transitioning from electric to gas power, but that is a small price to pay for slightly better performance and much better fuel efficiency. 

2021 Lexus RX 350, a consumer reports recommended SUV in red driving through the snow
2021 Lexus RX 350 | Lexus

The hybrid gets 29 mpg combined and can rip a 0-60 mph sprint in 7.5 seconds, while the gas-only model gets 22 mpg and hits 60 mph at nearly the same time. 

How nice is the Lexus RX on the inside?

Compared to the Subaru Forester, which has a decent interior, the Lexus is a full-blown luxury SUV. Consumer Reports said in the 2021 Lexus RX review that it is killing it in this aspect. The RX’s interior is loaded with plush upholstery, soft-touch surfaces, and decorative stitching. Lexus gives you wood and aluminum trim, higher-grade leather, and rear sunshades if you get into the nicer trims. 

2021 Lexus RX350 red interior
2021 Lexus RX 350 | Lexus

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Overall the Lexus is a quiet, high-end, reliable, luxury SUV that CR really loved but ultimately isn’t that utilitarian and useable for anything other than driving on the roads. It also doesn’t have all that much cargo space (not that many people would plan to haul much in a Lexus.) 

The 2021 Subaru Forester review was glowing

The Lexus is good, but the 2021 Subaru Forester review went great. Consumer Reports barely had anything negative to say about it, resulting in a score of 89/100. Unlike the Lexus, the Subie’s only strike was one nitpicky thing; the raspy sound of its 182-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder. This engine is mighty and reliable. Subaru has built so much of its name on this engine and others very similar. Although it is efficient and reliable, it is not fast. 

A dark-blue 2021 Subaru Forester all-wheel-drive compact crossover SUV travels on a winding road through green rolling hills on a sunny day
2021 Subaru Forester | Subaru of America, Inc.

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The Lexus has a great, more traditional eight-speed transmission, but the Forester uses the more current continuously variable transmission. This, along with the, let’s say, humble power figures allows the 2021 Subaru Forester 28 mpg, nearly the same fuel efficiency as the 2021 Lexus RX Hybrid. Just because it’s slow and efficient doesn’t mean it can’t fly through a corner. It is said to do far better in the corners and on the brakes than the Lexus. 

Does the 2021 Subaru Forester have a nice interior? 

The Subaru has a nice interior. It has actually gotten a bit nicer even than the previous model. However, nice for Subaru and nice for Lexus are two different things. The Subaru has upgraded soft-touch surfaces, and where there aren’t padded surfaces, there is plastic. This is a major difference between the two. That being said, the Subaru Forester still has one of the best suits of standard safety features of any car.

2021 Subaru Forester Interior
2021 Subaru Forester Interior | Subaru

Subaru’s EyeSight suite of safety features is standard for all trim lines. EyeSight includes forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane-keeping assistance, and adaptive cruise control. All of this is why the Subaru Forester has one of the highest safety ratings in the game. 

The Forester and RX are both great, but one is better

Consumer Reports always keeps things even and objective. Although the Lexus is more comfortable and prettier, it just doesn’t tick all the Subaru’s boxes, and it costs nearly double.

The Forester starts at around $25k and goes up to about $35k. On the other hand, the Lexus starts at $45k and tops out just shy of $60k. The 2021 Subaru Forester is one of the all-around best SUVs on the road today, and one of the most affordable – and even good can’t compete with great.