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Subaru specializes in vehicles that can go off-road, and that’s helped create a loyal fan base. The Forester is an excellent compact SUV from the Japanese automaker that has seen significant sales. But shoppers might have a new favorite Subie in the lineup, as the Subaru Crosstrek may be hurting Forester sales. 

The 2 SUVs’ sales figures for 2023 are telling

2023 Subaru Crosstrek and 2023 Subaru Forester
2023 Subaru Crosstrek (top) and 2023 Subaru Forester | Subaru of America, Inc.

Although it’s still early, 2023 has not been a good year for the Forester, and that’s a continuation of a trend that began several years ago. According to GoodCarBadCar, Subaru sold just over 14,000 units of the Crosstrek subcompact SUV last month. That made it the best-selling Subie of the month. In comparison, the Japanese auto giant sold about 10,300 units of the Forester in the same month. That number made it the third best-selling Subie of the month.

Overall, Subaru has sold roughly 41,500 Crosstrek units in 2023. That’s a nearly 11% increase over the same period in 2022. The Forester, meanwhile, has sold about 30,400 units in 2023. That’s a 3% decrease compared to the previous year. Once again, that makes the Crosstrek the best-selling Subaru of 2023, while the Forester is the third-best.

The Subaru Crosstrek has overtaken the Forester in sales

Those numbers reflect that the Forester was Subaru’s best-selling car, but since 2019, its sales have continued to decline. In that year, the automaker sold just over 180,000 Forester units. In comparison, the company sold about 131,000 Crosstrek units in 2019. 

Sales numbers declined for both vehicles in 2020, likely because of the chip shortage and other related issues. However, Crosstrek sales recovered in 2021, while the same wasn’t true for the Forester. In 2021, Subaru sold about 155,000 Forester units, and its sales numbers dropped to 114,000 by 2022. 

Meanwhile, the Crosstrek recorded sales of 127,000 units in 2021, and its sales jumped to 155,000 by 2022. Because the Crosstrek sold better than the Forester in the first three months of 2023, the former will likely continue to be the best-selling Subaru this year. 

Why are more consumers choosing the Subaru Crosstrek over the Forester?

Off the bat, supply chain difficulties likely play a role in explaining why the Subaru Forester has struggled. For example, Crosstrek sales climbed modestly in March 2023 compared to the same month last year, while the Forester’s sales grew by over 56%. Subaru sells about 10,000 Forester units monthly, but between March 2022 and July 2022, the SUV sold far worse than that. 

That could show there was low inventory, a common problem during the height of the supply chain issues. Although the Forester has returned to selling about 10,000 units a month, it’s still selling below the Crosstrek. That might reflect a change in appetite from consumers.

The Forester is a compact crossover, while the Crosstrek is a subcompact crossover. That size difference has several implications for the two models. One of the most significant differences is cost. The Forester starts at about $26,500, while the Crosstrek starts at around $23,500. That’s a $3,000 difference, and it could be a big enough factor to push shoppers toward the Crosstrek.


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