You’re in the market for a brand-new compact SUV. You’re tired of looking at all the Honda CR-Vs and Toyota RAV4s on the road and want something different. And though the luxury models appeal to you, they’re out of your price range. What to do? For something that fits your style but doesn’t break your budget, check out the 2021 Subaru Forester and the 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan.
Now all you have to do is pick one. Which will it be? Don’t worry — we’re here to help.
The 2021 Subaru Forester is expected to sell well
For the past few years, the Outback has been the most established Subaru model in sales and performance. The Subaru Forester is the same size as the Outback, and their performance is almost equal. The Forester has been steadily growing in recognition. It even outsold the Outback in 2020 by nearly 24,000 units — 176,996 to 153,290 — according to GoodCarBadCar.
For the 2021 model year, Subaru has added even more features across the Forester’s trim levels. In terms of functionality and size, the 2021 Forester offers an SUV-like driving position and large windows for clear outward visibility. The 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine on all trims delivers adequate power and good fuel economy. And in keeping with Subaru’s rugged reputation, all-wheel drive is standard on the Forester. The 2021 Subaru Forester starts at $24,795.
2021 Volkswagen Tiguan is a stylish compact SUV
The Volkswagen Tiguan offers attractive styling, practicality, spaciousness, and comfort. Plus, it’s one of only two compact SUVs (along with the Mitsubishi Outlander) that offers optional third-row seating.
Volkswagen made some notable changes to the 2021 Tiguan. The SE trim now has adaptive cruise control and the MIB3 infotainment system. The SEL Premium R-line trim got a power-adjustable passenger seat. And the S and SE trims received new 17-inch wheel designs. All trims come with a 184-hp, 2.0-liter turbo-four, which provides adequate power and decent fuel economy. The 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan starts at $25,245.
2021 Subaru Forester vs. 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan
The Subaru Forester’s warranty isn’t as extensive as the Volkswagen Tiguan’s, according to Car and Driver. Subaru provides a five-year/unlimited-mile warranty that includes 12 months of roadside assistance, not long compared with other brand’s offers of seven years or more. Volkswagen offers a five-year/unlimited-mile warranty for all its models, Car and Driver reported. Plus, the warranty is transferable. The Tiguan’s resale value is also a bit better.
As for performance, the Forester and the Tiguan offer about the same towing capacity, according to NewCars.com. And it’s a tie in terms of horsepower. The Subaru Forester’s small turning radius allows it to maneuver easily in and out of tight spots compared with the Volkswagen Tiguan. This makes the Forester’s handling much better. Its torque is also is much lower than that of the Tiguan.
Although the Subaru Forester’s back seat is slightly more spacious, it offers less seating than the Volkswagen Tiguan, making the VW a better choice if you need to shuttle more people around. The Forester also has more front head- and legroom, making it more comfortable for taller drivers. The Forester’s cargo area is also larger than the Tiguan’s.
Regarding advanced safety features, the Forester is loaded with them. It boasts automatic emergency braking (AEB) that detects cyclists and pedestrians. It also offers a lane departure warning and active lane-keeping assistance. There’s adaptive cruise control that works through the brand’s EyeSight driver-assist system, and blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert come standard on some models. A reverse camera comes standard on all models, and rear AEB — to stop the vehicle from bumping into cars or other objects while reversing — is standard on higher-trim models.
The 2021 Tiguan’s advanced safety features include forwarding collision warning, blind-spot monitor, adaptive cruise contract, and lane-keep assist. It also offers Travel Assist, a driver aid that allows the system to control the brakes and steering wheel when the need arises. This sporty crossover also comes with high-end safety features such as LED headlights and parking assist.
As for fuel economy, the Subaru Forester requires fewer stops at the pump than the Tiguan. The Forester gets 26 mpg in the city and 33 on the highway, while the Tiguan gets 22 mpg in the city and 29 on the highway, NewCars.com reported.
Overall, the 2021 Subaru Forester is a better compact SUV than the 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan. It’s more fun to drive than the VW. Plus, it offers better safety features and fuel economy. Putting the Forester over the top is its dependability: It scored a 4 out of 5 from Consumer Reports for predicted reliability. Unfortunately for the Tiguan, Consumer Reports gave the 2021 model a dismal 2 out of 5 in predicted reliability.