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2020 Subaru Crosstrek vs Forester

2020 Subaru Crosstrek vs Forester

2020 Crosstrek vs Forester - How do they stack up? What are the differences?

Subaru has always been one of the most popular brands among outdoor lovers. Many of its vehicles come properly equipped for an off-road excursion. When shopping for a new crossover SUV, a lot of people will be choosing between the 2020 Subaru Crosstrek and the 2020 Subaru Forester.

The Forester is a great compact crossover. Drivers love its spaciousness and excellent fuel economy. For 2020, it now offers a few additional safety innovations.

Many car shoppers will also love what the Crosstrek has to offer. This subcompact crossover's affordability makes it hard to beat. Like its larger counterpart, the Crosstrek has an adventurous side. In this head-to-head comparison, we’ll find out if one of these models stands out from the other.

Size and Styling

Both of these crossovers have a five-passenger seating capacity. They will have no trouble accommodating the average American family. However, the 2020 Subaru Forester is the larger of the two. It has a total passenger volume of 111.9 cubic feet, which outclasses the 2020 Subaru Crosstrek’s total passenger volume of 100.9 cubic feet.

Rear legroom is where the Forester really sets itself apart from the Crosstrek. Passengers sitting in the Forester’s backseat will have an extra 2.9 inches to stretch their legs. This may be a big deal for drivers who have taller family members. There’s not a significant difference in front-seat legroom. However, greater overall headroom does give the Forester an advantage.

When it comes to storage space, the bigger Forester wins over the Crosstrek. According to Subaru, there is 34.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the Forester's second row. By comparison, the Subaru Crosstrek provides 20.8 feet of cargo space in the rear. Families who love traveling will benefit from the extra storage space the most.

Both of these crossovers offer extremely good outward visibility. Large windows and well-designed roof pillars enable drivers to better see their surroundings. Because there are so few blind spots, every driver will have confidence when changing lanes.

In terms of exterior styling, the Subaru Crosstrek has a bolder look. A more chiseled body and larger black fender flares give the Crosstrek an extra coolness factor. Even the Crosstrek’s wheels have an edgy design. Subaru also offers the Crosstrek with some upbeat paint options, including Pure Red and Sunshine Orange.

Drivers who prefer a more refined look will enjoy the Subaru Forester. A boxy design will enable the Forester to age gracefully. Upgraded alloy wheels give the higher trim levels more style. The racier Forester Sport has the most exciting look.

When in the city, the Crosstrek’s smaller size may prove to be an asset. It measures out at 175.8 inches long. By comparison, the Forester has a total length of 182.1 inches. Many drivers find the Crosstrek to be easier to park in confined areas.


Pushing the Subaru Crosstrek into action is a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine. It manages to kick out 152 horsepower. While an automatic CVT is optional, performance is somewhat elevated with the standard six-speed manual. Don’t expect the new Crosstrek to be a fast vehicle. Testers list the Crosstrek with a decent 0-60 mph time of 9.0 seconds.

Motivating the Subaru Forester is a larger 2.5-liter engine with 182 horsepower. There’s also noticeably more torque under the Forester’s hood. Unfortunately, this extra power doesn’t equate to a stronger performance. The Forester virtually matches the Crosstrek’s 0-60 mph time. Subaru also does not offer the new Forester with a manual gearbox.

Both of these crossovers have a 1,500-pound tow rating. However, only the Forester features trailer stability assist. This feature is designed to give drivers more assurance when pulling a load.

Regardless of which model a person chooses, they won’t have to spend a lot of money on fuel. Automatic Crosstrek models are rated to return up to 27 mpg town/33 mpg freeway. While the Crosstrek’s manual transmission is more engaging, it does cause the Crosstrek to consume more gas. Drivers can expect to average around 22 mpg town/29 mpg freeway. Meanwhile, the EPA rates the Forester to deliver 26 mpg town/33 mpg freeway.

On the street, the Crosstrek has an easygoing nature. Sharp steering helps the Crosstrek to inspire confidence. While handling is just okay, many test drivers rave about the Crosstrek’s fine ride quality. Drivers can also expect the Forester to offer car-like comfort on the road. However, expect the Forester to offer better overall handling.

The Crosstrek delivers a very quiet and relaxed ride on the highway. This is also true for the new Forester. These crossovers come ready to tackle the open road.

Like the Crosstrek, the Forester comes standard with Subaru’s full-time Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system. This is a big perk for folks who need a suitable winter vehicle. Both crossovers also have a high ground clearance of 8.7 inches. Drivers will have no trouble managing the snow.

Folks who routinely travel off-road will love these crossovers. They are both more than capable of going off-road. Aside from all-wheel drive, adventure seekers will also benefit from Subaru’s available X-MODE system. At the press of a button, it adjusts the AWD system for optimum grip on slippery trails. Hill descent control is included as well. Be aware that the base Forester model does not offer these trail-ready upgrades.

In terms of reliability, the Crosstrek is about average. It received a 2.5 out of 5.0 rating in J.D. Power’s dependability study. A poor dependability rating of 2.0 puts the Forester at a disadvantage.

Comfort, Options, and Performance

The 2020 Subaru Crossover is a sensational value for such a cool SUV. It has a low starting MSRP of $22,145. Although the 2020 Subaru Forester has a higher MSRP, it’s still a serious bargain. Prices start at a more than reasonable $24,495.

Automotive experts consider the Crosstrek’s interior quality to be above average. This fact further elevates the SUV’s value. Although the Crosstrek is geared towards budget-minded car shoppers, it feels like a premium vehicle on the inside. The Forester also gets high marks for its excellent craftsmanship. Upper Forester trims feel especially luxurious.

When comparing these models, shoppers will notice some common features. They both benefit from Subaru’s excellent Starlink infotainment system. Although the standard 6.5-inch touch display is a bit small, it’s incredibly rewarding to use. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto enable drivers to access their smartphone’s functions. Some of the other standard conveniences include automatic climate control, Bluetooth, and cloth upholstery.

While the base Crosstrek is a well-equipped vehicle, a few extra goodies come standard on the Forester. Satellite radio and HD Radio help the Forester to provide more entertainment. An additional USB port is also found on the Forester.

Climbing the trim ladder gives you access to more amenities. Heated front seats are offered on both crossovers. Meanwhile, a Wi-Fi hotspot allows passengers to log on to the web. Another big upgrade is the Harmon Kardon premium sound system. Navigation and a larger 8.0-inch infotainment screen are offered as well.

Some exclusive upgrades are available on the Forester. When going for a long drive, the Forester’s available reclining rear seats will allow passengers to experience more comfort. Subaru also offers the Forester with a 10-way power driver’s seat as opposed to a 6-way power driver’s seat. Dual-zone automatic climate control is another premium feature not found on the Crosstrek.

No trim in the Crosstrek’s lineup comes close to matching the Forester’s level of luxuriousness. During the winter, families will enjoy nestling up in the Forester Touring’s heated rear seats. A heated steering wheel and an 8-way power passenger seat are also found on this range-topping model.

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The 2020 Subaru Crosstrek provides a good amount of impact protection. It grabbed a five-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA. Aside from also receiving a perfect overall safety score, the 2020 Subaru Forester has an even higher frontal crash rating.

As expected, both vehicles feature a standard backup camera. However, only the Forester provides a rear seat reminder. This feature is designed to give busy parents extra peace of mind. If a child or pet happens to be riding in the back, the system will make sure they don’t get left behind in a hot vehicle.

The Forester also comes standard with Subaru’s award-winning EyeSight driving aids. Pre-collision braking, sway warning, active lane control, and smart cruise control are found throughout the Forester lineup. While these same safety features can be added to the Crosstrek, they are not standard.

While both SUVs offer optional blind-spot monitoring, only the Forester can be equipped with Subaru’s new DriverFocus system. This advanced feature uses cutting-edge technologies to monitor for signs of driver fatigue.

Which Model to Choose?

For some people choosing between the 2020 Subaru Crosstrek and the 2020 Subaru Forester, cost may be an important factor. While the Forester gives buyers a lot for their money, car shoppers can save more than $2,000 by choosing the Crosstrek. Keep in mind that some extra features come standard on the Forester, including satellite radio and an extra USB port.

When it comes to overall performance and driving excitement, there’s not a noticeable difference between these vehicles. Although the Forester’s engine develops more power, this fact doesn’t translate to quicker acceleration. The Forester also only matches the Crosstrek’s maximum towing capacity of 1,500 pounds.

There’s only a slight difference in fuel economy between these crossover SUVs. However, buyers can’t get the new Forester with a manual transmission. When equipped with a manual transmission, the Crosstrek can be a bit more entertaining to drive.

Drivers who plan to go off-roading will be happy with either vehicle. They have the same amount of ground clearance. Standard all-wheel drive is also a major plus. However, Subaru’s adventurous X-MODE system is not offered on the base Forester.

When deciding which vehicle to choose, interior space may also factor into a person’s decision. The Forester’s larger backseat and larger cargo area will better suit the needs of a growing family.

A lot of younger people will love the Crosstrek’s more rugged exterior styling. However, the boxy Forester is also attractive. The Forester Sport is an extremely eye-catching ride. Orange trim pieces and a cool set of black wheels give it a gorgeous look.

Drivers who live in larger cities can take advantage of the Crosstrek’s compact design. Because the Crosstrek is smaller, it will have fewer issues fitting into tight spots. On the other hand.

Both vehicles provide exceptional impact protection. While Subaru EyeSight safety technologies are offered on the Forester, only the Forester comes standard with these features. A rear seat reminder and DriverFocus system are exclusive to the Forester.

In conclusion, the Subaru Crosstrek is the better option for drivers on a tight budget. It's also a better city vehicle. Meanwhile, drivers who simply need more space or desire a few more luxury features should pick the Subaru Forester.

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