It’s hard to fault the Subaru Forester as a great SUV or tall wagon. It’s got plenty of room, standard four-wheel drive, several great features, and classic Subaru looks. The Subaru Forester gets a new face for 2022, as well as some new options and trim levels. But the sub-$30,000 SUV segment may be the most competitive in the automotive space right now. Can the Subaru Forester compete with recently updated alternatives from Hyundai, Ford, and Mazda, and bestsellers like the Toyota RAV4 and VW Tiguan?
The Forester checks a lot of the right boxes for an SUV
It has 8.7 inches of ground clearance which, while not huge, can help you get over a surprising number of rocks on a trail. It also has a generous 74.2 cubic feet of cargo space with the seats folded, putting it far ahead of the CR-V or RAV4 SUVs. Forester comes standard with Subaru’s 182-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine linked to a CVT transmission, as well as all-wheel drive. Plus, it’s one of the cheapest SUVs in five years.
While the base version starts at $26,395, the version you want is the Premium for $29,395, which comes with a power heated driver’s seat, keyless entry, a power sunroof, and automatic climate control. To tackle the trails, it has X-Mode with Hill Descent Control, as well as an upgraded interior. Just like the others, Subaru has its own driver assistance technology, and in this case it’s called EyeSight. It comes standard on the 2023 Forester.
The Hyundai Tucson is a lot of value for less than $30,000
Like the Subaru, the Hyundai Tucson received a major facelift for 2022. In the Tucson’s case, that facelift gave it a much more upscale look, more like a Toyota Venza, both inside and out. It still comes with the Hyundai 2.5-liter four-cylinder that makes 187 horsepower. It’s also a lot of value, with features many of us like even on entry-level SE or SEL trims, like Apple CarPlay, an 8-inch touchscreen, and various assistive aids like lane-keep assist and follow assist. of lane.
The Tucson also features Hyundai’s clever H-Tex seats, which is a synthetic leather that’s easy on the eyes and easy to keep clean. Tucson comes as a hybrid or PHEV version, but they are much more expensive.
Ford redesigned the Escape so it can race
The all-new 2023 Ford Escape has all-new styling that gives this SUV a much-deserved break. The Escape has always had an anonymous look, but not anymore, with styling inspired by Mach-E. The new Escape starts at $27,500, and for that you get one of Ford’s newest interiors, as well as a 180-horsepower turbocharged three-cylinder engine. It holds 65.4 cubic feet of luggage.
Fun fact: The Maverick truck is built on the same platform as the Escape.
The VW Tiguan is an alternative to the three-row Subaru Forester
The Forester is a five-seater, so if you need room for seven for less than $30,000, you’ll have to jump into the VW Tiguan. The base S trim gets manual air conditioning, while more expensive versions of the Tiguan offer more perks like heated steering wheels and leather trim. However, even the base Tiguan has a 6.5-inch touchscreen with smartphone integration, various driver aids like forward collision alert, and even VW’s 8-inch digital cockpit.
The Tiguan comes with VW’s ubiquitous 184-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, giving it nearly identical power to the Subaru. It starts at $27,885 and comes standard with seven seats, and as a bonus, the second row slides and reclines. The third row even splits 50/50. Sure, it’s a bit basic inside, but the cloth seats have a premium feel, and the front seats are heated. However, it does not rank as high as the others in J.D. Power.
We have to put the Toyota RAV4 on the list as a Subaru Forester alternative
The Toyota RAV4 is a sales home run for Toyota. It’s the best-selling SUV on the planet right now. It’s hard to fault the RAV4 with its roomy cabin, good looks, and the Toyota name to back up its reliability. Plus, with a base price of $27,575 (or just $30,225 for the hybrid) and the upgraded XLE costing just under $30,000, it’s got plenty of value.
It also makes more power than the Forester, 203 horsepower, from its 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. But it doesn’t have that much space, with just 69.8 cubic feet of space in the rear with the seats folded.
Mazda CX-50 and CX-5 are great sporty Subaru Forester alternatives
The CX-5 and CX-50 are similar and related SUVs. The CX-5 is the sporty road version, while the CX-50 is the one most people looking for a Forester will cross-buy. It also comes with all-wheel drive and has an off-road mode as well as a tow mode for up to 3,500 pounds. The base 2.5 S starts at $27,550 but the $28,950 2.5 S Select adds a 10.25-inch screen, 17-inch wheels, leather-trimmed seats, dual-zone climate control, and a six-speed automatic instead of a boring CVT. . Unfortunately, at this trim level, it doesn’t offer heated seats (like the Subaru).
The CX-50 was all-new for 2022. While it looks stylish, it only seats 56.3 cubic feet in the rear, so unlike the Subaru, you can’t sleep comfortably in the back.
RELATED: 10 Cool SUVs Under $40,000