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2019 Subaru Forester

Starting Price: $25,270 | Price Yours

Above Average: Standard all-wheel drive (AWD) and EyeSight, huge interior, excellent safety and resale numbers, real off-road ability, superior outward visibility, available driver drowsiness monitor

Below Average: Doesn’t look all that different than the previous model, average acceleration, rear windows don’t roll all the way down

Consensus: A quirky looking family favorite, providing excellent year-round driving confidence, a roomy interior and top marks in the areas of safety, resale and fuel economy.

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2019 Mazda CX-5

Starting Price: $25,325 | Price Yours

Above Average: Expressive styling, exquisite interior design, turbocharged engine option, sporty ride and handling

Below Average:  Cargo space, small infotainment screen, outdated navigation system, small windows limited rear visibility

Consensus: The sportiest of the compact SUV class, the CX-5 offers stunning good looks, an elegant cabin and plenty of high-tech features without breaking the bank.

The Subaru Forester has been remade for 2019. Slightly larger and riding on Subaru’s new Global Platform, it retains many of the previous generation’s attributes with some noticeable improvements in the areas of quietness, comfort and fuel-efficiency. The Forster offers an amazing feature set for the money. Standard equipment includes the EyeSight collision avoidance system, Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A new Sport model adds Si-Drive and paddle shifters, but without the previous generation’s turbocharged engine, it’s little more than window dressing. The Forester’s roomy interior and high roof make it ideal for tall occupants, and its massive glass greenhouse provides excellent 360-degree visibility.  A generous 8.7-inches of ground clearance allows the Forester to tackle light off-road situations, as does its X-Mode traction management system. With its 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine, the Forester isn’t exactly quick, but it can keep up with most other SUVs in this class. Despite its standard all-wheel drive, the Forester earns impressive fuel economy figures of 26 mpg city and 33 mpg highway.

The Mazda CX-5 may be one of the best-looking small SUVs ever made. Its sleek exterior is matched by an elegant interior that looks fantastic even on base models. While the CX-5 doesn’t offer as much passenger room as the Forester, its rear seat legroom is nearly identical to the Subaru. Cargo space, on the other hand, is about the smallest in the segment. Mazda offers a number of trims, including a new Grand Touring Reserve and Signature grades, the latter loaded with every available option. The standard engine for the CX-5 is a peppy 2.5-liter 4-cylinder pretty much the equal of the Forester’s 2.5-liter engine, only in the Mazda’s case the transmission is a satisfying 6-speed automatic vs. the Forester’s CVT. All-wheel drive is optional on the CX-5 and when so equipped, sees fuel economy fall well below the Forester’s estimates. Opt for the Grand Touring Reserve or Signature trim, and you’ll get standard AWD plus a 250-horsepower turbocharged 2.5-liter engine that turns the CX-5 from a snoozer into a sleeper capable of leaving the Forester in the dust.

Subaru Forester Advantages

Advantages for the Forester include standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, standard adaptive cruise control, more front seat legroom, a larger cargo bay, better rearward visibility, standard all-wheel drive, available panoramic sunroof, a tighter turning circle and better off-road abilities.

Mazda CX-5 Advantages

The CX-5 offers a 250-horsepower turbocharged engine, a nicer interior layout, superior handling, available ventilated front seats, standard blind-spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert.

Similarities

The Forester and CX-5 both offer impressive upper end trims with features like heated rear seats, heated steering wheel and premium audio. Both vehicles attain similar fuel economy and both are competitively priced according to equipment levels. Both cars perform well in crash testing, offer advanced driver assist systems and hold good long-term resale values, although the Forester’s numbers are considerably higher than the CX-5s.

Final Recommendation

If you’re seeking performance in small SUV, the turbocharged trims of the CX-5 are definitely more fun to drive than the Forester. The CX-5 also offers a more lavish interior, but it’s not as roomy or functional. For those looking for a spacious, practical and nicely equipped SUV with excellent marks for resale and safety, the Subaru Forester is the right choice. In addition to its numerous advantages, the Forester can tackle light off-road trails and deep snow that will prove problematic for the CX-5 due to its low front spoiler.

  2019 Subaru Forester 2019 Mazda CX-5
Popular Powertrains    
Engine 2.5-liter flat-4 2.5-liter I4
Horsepower 182 hp @ 5,800 rpm 187 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Torque 176 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm 186 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm
Transmission Continuously Variable Automatic, 6-Spd
Fuel Economy 29 mpg (26 city/33 hwy) 28 mpg (25 city/31 hwy)
Also Available   250-hp 2.5L turbo I4, AWD
Specs    
Warranty 3 years/36,000 miles 3 years/36,000 miles
NHTSA Overall Safety Rating n/a 5 Stars
Max Seating Capacity 5 5
Wheelbase 105.1 inches 106.2 inches
Overall Length 182.1 inches 179.1 inches
Width 71.5 inches 72.5 inches
Height 67.5 inches 65.4 inches
Turning Diameter 35.4 feet 36 feet
Headroom, Front 41.2 inches 39.7 inches
Headroom, Rear 39.6 inches 39.0 inches
Legroom, Front 43.3 inches 41.0 inches
Legroom, Rear 39.4 inches 39.6 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 58.2 inches 57.1 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 57.2 inches 54.8 inches
EPA Passenger Volume 111.9 cu. ft 103.6 cu. ft.
EPA Cargo Volume 33.0 cu. ft. 30.9 cu. ft.
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