Which Should You Get, the Subaru Forester or the Mazda CX-5?

The crossover SUV realm has kept us quite busy this year. And with so much variety in today’s market, there’s a lot to talk about. Two of the most popular SUVs of 2020 are the Subaru Forester and the Mazda CX-5. Both of these models are appealing in their own way, but which one is a better fit for you?


Both the Forester and the CX-5 have their own take on sporty style. With the Forester, you get a sporty, rugged vibe while the CX-5 is sporty and sleek. You can’t judge a vehicle’s performance based on looks alone. However, the exteriors of these two models signal the unique driving experiences they offer. 

How the Forester and the CX-5 perform

There’s only one engine option on the Forester and that’s a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with a 182-horsepower. The Forester is the kind SUV that you can drive in your everyday life but it’s also capable enough for the occasional off-roading excursion. 

It takes the Forester a little longer to accelerate compared to its class rivals, but it gets the job done. And even though it can feel a little pokey at times, you’ll find that Forester provides a comfortable and balanced ride. The major performance highlight on this SUV is its good fuel economy ratings with a combined 29 mpg. Another bonus is that all Subaru Foresters come standard with all-wheel-drive. 

On the flip side, the CX-5 features two different engine options. The CX-5’s standard engine is a 187-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. This four-cylinder accelerates well and offers adequate power. But, for a more dynamic experience, you’ll want the available turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder that generates a 277-hp. The turbocharged engine is only available on the upper-level trims with AWD. No matter which engine you chose, the CX-5 rides smoothly and feels refined. 

On the inside 

Mazda removing all touchscreens
The interior of a Mazda CX-5 SUV | Natan Dvir/Bloomberg via Getty Images

If you’re looking for an upscale cabin experience, you will probably be more drawn to the CX-5 since it has one of the nicest car cabins in its class. Its standard cloth upholstery is attractive and the high-quality finishings make it feel grander. You can also upgrade to faux leather or genuine leather.  The Forester offers an inviting cabin too, but standard models don’t feel as upscale compared to the CX-5.

Infotainment features are selling points of both the Forester and the CX-5. The CX-5 comes with a slightly larger display screen compared to the  Forester’s, but Subaru offers more standard infotainment features in this instance. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto both come on the Forester while these connectivity features are upgrades on the CX-5. 

The final verdict 

2020 Subaru Forester Limited
2020 Subaru Forester Limited | Subaru

Both the Forester and the CX-5 have earned excellent crash-test ratings from the NHTSA and the IIHS. Out of these two options though, the CX-5 has significantly higher predicted reliability ratings. Choosing between the Forester and CX-5 comes down to your personal preferences. If you are looking for a refined model for city life, then you will probably enjoy the CX-5 more. But if you want an SUV that’s more suitable for going off the beaten path, go with the Forester.

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