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11 Best SUVs With No Deal-Breaking Flaws - 3 Subaru Models Are A Smart Buy

What are the best subcompact, compact and midsize SUVs? The 2021 Subaru Forester, 2022 Outback, and 2021 Crosstrek score best with no deal-breaking flaws in three critical areas. Check out what makes them the highest-rated SUVs.

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Not all SUVs will leave you stress-free after a long commute or road trip, regarding driver visibility, easy-to-use controls, and rear-seat comfort. The 2021 Subaru Forester, 2022 Subaru Outback, and 2021 Subaru Crosstrek just scored highest in Consumer Reports’ (by subscription) latest testing.

According to CR, three Subaru all-wheel-drive models are a smart buy for shoppers this fall. Here are the best-rated vehicles and four critical areas to consider while shopping for a subcompact, compact or midsize SUV.

2021 Subaru Forester, 2021 Subaru Crosstrek, 2022 Subaru Outback
photo credit: Patrick Subaru

Consumer Reports identified four categories where there can be significant deal-breaking flaws that will make a buyer regret a purchase: how the controls work, visibility, rear-seat comfort, and cabin noise.

Best Usability and Controls

The SUVs with the best usability and controls are the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek (subcompact SUV), Kia Sportage (compact SUV), and Kia Sorento (midsize SUV).

2021 Subaru Forester, 2021 Subaru Crosstrek, 2022 Subaru Outback

CR says, “The Crosstrek’s controls are mostly logical to use and well-placed. The center control area has two screens, the lower one is for the infotainment system, and the one mounted on the top of the dash displays vehicle data.”

Best Visibility

Subaru scores best in all three segments when it comes to best visibility. The best models are the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek (subcompact SUV), 2021 Subaru Forester (compact SUV), and 2022 Subaru Outback (midsize SUV).

2021 Subaru Forester, 2021 Subaru Crosstrek, 2022 Subaru Outback

Subaru gets criticized for its exterior styling but has consistently scored best in outward visibility. CR says, “The Forester may look like a box on wheels, but that shape gives it several advantages: good headroom, plenty of cargo room, and incredible visibility. It has one of the best outward views of any vehicle we’ve tested.”

Best Rear-Seat Comfort

The highest-rated SUVs for rear-seat passengers are the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek (subcompact SUV), 2021 Subaru Forester (compact SUV), and Hyundai Santa Fe (midsize SUV).

CR says, “The Crosstrek is a well-rounded SUV that treats rear-seat passengers very well. The Forester is very easy to get in and out. The rear doors open wide, leaving a large opening and an easy-to-reach seat. The space in the back is generous, with impressive headroom, legroom, and foot room.”

Cabin Noise

The best SUVs in cabin quietness are the Hyundai Tucson (compact SUV) and Kia Telluride (midsize SUV).

The 2021 Subaru Forester compact SUV, 2021 Subaru Crosstrek subcompact SUV, and 2022 Subaru Outback midsize SUV score highest in Consumer Reports’ latest driver visibility, easy-to-use controls, and rear-seat comfort. CR says the three SUVs don’t have any of the significant deal-breaking flaws, they will keep owners stress-free on a long commute or road trip, and they are a smart buy for shoppers they fall.

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Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. Check out Subaru Report where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Nickpam (not verified)    September 30, 2021 - 11:28AM

Hello Who has an electric car, can you tell me how to use it in general? Is it worth buying? And how are the batteries? Because I want to buy one but don't know

Jason V (not verified)    October 1, 2021 - 10:48AM

What absolute nonsense. My family has had three successive Subarus (2012 Impreza 2015 Forester and 2016 Forester) and all three have been unreliable disasters. Each has required multiple engine replacements at low miles due to excessive oil consumption. Subaru has lied about the defective engine problem and their solution is to put their customers through one oil consumption test after another. The quality has dropped dramatically across the board and these vehicles are constantly in the shop. Multiple air conditioning compressor failures, defective batteries, faulty radio/Bluetooth, bad bearings and control arm bushings, even the hood latch failing on the highway among other problems. Stay as far away from Subaru as possible. Subaru's image of durability is nothing more than a myth. The reason they still do ok in Consumer Reports is because they attempt to buy off their customers' goodwill via extended warranties and credits toward new vehicles. But they won't own up to the fact they knowingly produce and sell vehicles with defective engines and won't fix them even under warranty. Their solution is to replace the defective engine with another defective engine then tell you to buy a new car if you're unhappy!

JL Wentz (not verified)    October 1, 2021 - 3:56PM

In reply to by Jason V (not verified)

I am sorry if you really have had those problems. I guess I'm really fortunate. Owned a 2000 Legacy, 2010 Legacy (which my son is still driving) 2001 Forester and my current car a 2015 Outback. Not one of these cars had a single major issue while I owned them. Of course I take care of my autos and have since my first car in 1974. From my experience and observation, some folks cars are in the shop all the time, regardless of make. I have family members and friends who just drive until a light comes on, or the car won't go. Rarely when I go to help, there's corrosion all over the battery terminals, motor oil is black as coal, tires have 20 psi, and they need help finding the hood release.

Jason V (not verified)    October 1, 2021 - 5:32PM

In reply to by JL Wentz (not verified)

I too am very good about regular maintenance of my vehicles. I have actually done all the scheduled maintenance at the dealership. They are hands down the worst quality vehicles I've ever owned, and consistent across three very low mileage it's clearly not a one -off lemon situation. Subaru is not a high quality car manufacturer.

Christian (not verified)    October 1, 2021 - 6:04PM

In reply to by Jason V (not verified)

I just wanted to remind you that Subaru from 2010-2017 were rated 3rd to last when it comes to reliability, but 2018-now, they are 4th in most reliable vehicles tied with Kia (RAM, Lexus, and Dodge are 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in case you wanted to know). So yeah they have been one of the worst rated brands, but they have came a huge way, my mom owns a 2020 Subaru Outback coming up on 80,000 miles and she has not taken it to the shop once, other than to change the oil, but that’s it. And my Parents just recently bought me a 2021 Subaru Crosstrek to start driving with when I get my drivers license in about 5 months, anyways I have loved the Subaru Crosstrek so much. Don’t take this as an offense I just wanted to get this cleared up so that way nobody thinks anything bad about Subaru in the past. Thank you, have a great day!

Christian Oden (not verified)    October 2, 2021 - 4:28PM

In reply to by Bob (not verified)

Nope, no mistake. She literally has 80,000 miles on a 2020. The reason is is because she is not the only one that drives it, my dad and I drove the vehicle. And it was also a demo with 12,000 miles (practically used but they considered it as a demo). We bought it in November of 2019 and it is now October 1st or 2021 so almost 2 years. So she put around average 35,000 miles.

Jason V (not verified)    October 2, 2021 - 8:55AM

I really do not believe those predicted reliability or initial quality ratings. My year's Forester also scored highly by CR and initial quality rating from J D Power was average. It's obviously corrupt. As a note during my latest repair episode, I had a new 2019 Forester as a loaner vehicle. At a little more than 3,000 miles on the odometer persistent rattles started from the driver's side. It got so annoying on a longer trip I kept the windows open. Poor cabin assembly quality. And this is the new and improved version! The CVTs they now use are also riddled with problems.

I've always wondered how Subaru markets itself as this green car company while lagging years behind all the other car makers in terms of electric and hybrid offerings. Then it dawned on me. The cars are such pieces of crap they spend all their time broken and in the shop not polluting at all-- as green as it gets! No electrification needed.