Ford Bronco Sport vs. Subaru Forester: More Capable SUV?

While the comparison might not be obvious at a glance, it is there. The Ford Bronco has been one of the more anticipated releases from this year. The Ford Bronco isn’t out yet, but the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport has been out and about on roads. Though the Subaru Forester might not be the first opponent that comes to mind, the vehicles share some similarities.

Is the Ford Bronco Sport a good car?

Edmunds gave the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport a 7.6 out of 10 for the expert rating. In the rankings with other small SUVs, the Sport came in at number 10. The starting MSRP is listed at $26,820 for the base model. That increases in price as the specs change, with the top-of-the-line First Edition MSRP coming in at $38,500.

One of the noted features was that the Bronco Sport is more capable than other small SUVs. It is also good for weekend adventures, but the day-to-day stuff, too. If you order it from the factory, Buyers can customize the Sport in various ways. It is also more affordable than the regular Bronco.

The Bronco lacks in cargo space and fuel economy, though. The back row is a bit cramped, and the seat makes for less cargo area. But one thing it does well? The cargo area has power outlets, hooks, and storage bins for most upper-level trims.

The Sport gets an EPA-estimated 23 miles per gallon combined with the 2.0L engine and 26 miles per gallon with the 1.5L engine.

Is a Subaru Forester a good car?

A Subaru Forester sits on display
The Subaru Forester is ready for adventure but is better equipped than the Ford Bronco Sport? | Zhe Ji/Getty Images

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Edmunds gave the 2021 Subaru Forester a similar rating of 7.8 out of 10. On the list of small SUVs, the Forester came in at number five. Subaru lists the base MSRP at $24,795. The top-of-the-line Touring edition starts at $34,895.

The Forester has a large following, and for a good reason. It has a ton of cargo space and even has roof rails that allow room for extra stuff on top. It also gets an EPA-estimated 26 miles per gallon in the city and 33 miles per gallon on the highway. That is about 29 miles per gallon combined.

The Forester is not the flashiest or sportiest car out there, but many potential buyers aren’t looking for that anyway.

Who pulls out ahead off-road?

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Both the Forester and the Bronco Sport have strengths, on and off-road. It depends on which piece of that equation is more important when choosing between the two. Since both SUVs are all-wheel-drive, that is covered.

Edmunds notes that the Base, Big Bend, and Outer Banks trims are comfortable on the streets. The Badlands and First Edition are better equipped for off-road but still have comfortable features.

The Forester, however, seems to have a solid mix of comfort and off-road capabilities across all trim levels. Edmunds notes that the Forester has an advantage out of the gate because of that. Each model has all-wheel-drive, 8.7 inches of ground clearance, and the optional X-Mode traction mode.

With the Bronco Sport, the base trims are a bit less capable. Buyers can add features and upgrades, or the top-level trim can fix that. But if the plan is to go from the dealership to the dirt, the Base trim might leave you wanting more.

However, the top-level trims are more capable than the Forester once you are there. Upgraded suspension, high ground clearance, and a rear differential make off-roading easy.

This is where the decision comes down to the buyer. The Forester is a solid value and does everything drivers might need for casual off-roading and everyday life. The Bronco Sport is going to turn more heads and offer flashy features. The cost is higher, but more seasoned off-roaders might appreciate the extra features offered.

In the final decision, Edmunds chose the Forester as the “better buy,” but that might not be the case for everyone.