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Rarely does the automotive industry come together to agree on any particular opinion. Unfortunately, the 2020 Subaru Forester experiences divisiveness from critics, leaving car shoppers wondering if it is a smart buy or an afterthought.

The 2020 Forester is a unique entry in the compact SUV segment, as it is capable of off-road driving with its standard all-wheel-drive system. Most other SUVs in the class feature a front-wheel-drive system instead, and upgrading to AWD is typically costly.

The 2020 Subaru Forester resembles the critically acclaimed 2020 Outback in some ways. After all, they share an engine, score similar safety ratings, and have a ground clearance of 8.7 inches. However, many critics haven’t responded to the Subaru Forester as positively as the Outback, while others believe it is a premier compact SUV. So, what’s the disconnect between the industry’s top reviewers?

Concerns about long-term dependability

2020 Subaru Forester on display at an auto show
Subaru Forester on display | Photo By Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Each expert weights categories differently. Some automotive pundits’ primary concern is driveability, and others place more emphasis on comfort. U.S. News & World Report seems to put added stock into predicted reliability, based on its review of the 2020 Subaru Forester, which scored 2/5 in the category.

The publication, which utilizes J.D. Power’s reliability data, only notes its “terrible predicted reliability” and “lackluster acceleration” as the only significant negatives in its analysis. These hindrances dropped the 2020 Subaru Forester to eighth in U.S. News’ compact SUV ranking.

Consumer Reports, meanwhile, doesn’t seem overly concerned about the 2020 Forester’s dependability. It still earned a lukewarm rating of 3/5, but that didn’t deter Consumer Reports from ranking it second among compact SUVs. The 2020 Subaru Forester received an 84/100 overall rating, which is the same score achieved by the top-slotted 2020 Mazda CX-5.

The 2020 Subaru Forester has attributes that are universally loved

Consumer Reports praised the Subaru Forester with top marks in predicted owner satisfaction and the road test. Particular points of note were its high braking score, easy access to the front and rear seats, and rear-seat comfort.

Subaru’s compact SUV wasn’t one of U.S. News & World Report’s top choices in the segment, but the organization still said it was a “well-rounded” vehicle. It gave the 2020 Forester top marks in fuel economy, spaciousness, and ride quality.

The 2020 Subaru Forester lacks the performance upgrades that are found in its bigger sibling, the Outback. The Forester’s four-cylinder engine won’t blow you away in terms of power. However, its 182 hp is enough get-up-and-go for your daily driving needs while achieving an impressive EPA-estimated 29 MPG city/highway combined.

Additionally, the 2020 Forester is loaded with driver-assistance systems, making this compact SUV a great choice for families and young drivers. Forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and lane-keeping assist come standard. Meanwhile, rear cross-traffic warning and blind spot warning are available for those who want an extra set of eyes on the road.

Contender or pretender?

Consumer Reports and U.S. News & World Report have a difference of opinion regarding the 2020 Subaru Forester. Meanwhile, both publications agree that the 2020 Mazda CX-5 is one of the compact SUV segment’s best choices.

However, the 2020 Forester is still an excellent option for those uninterested in the Mazda CX-5. Subaru’s compact SUV offers significant value with its fuel-efficient performance, premium safety systems, and spacious interior. Even some of its harshest critics agree that it’s still a reasonably good SUV, despite its predicted reliability concerns.


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