Skip to main content

The 12 Best Small SUVs For Your Lifestyle - Subaru Forester Isn't A Good Fit For Everyone

How does the 2023 Subaru Forester stack up with the best small SUVs in affordability, and does it fit your lifestyle? Check out the twelve top new models and why Forester may not fit you the best.


Here are the twelve best compact and subcompact SUVs with the highest quality and reliability scores in the segment, according to J. D. Power. U.S. News also ranks the best compact SUVs. In addition to reliability, other factors like affordability, lifestyle, infotainment features, comfort, and safety technology should also be high on your list when shopping for a new vehicle.

From worst to best, here are the twelve top small SUVs and their overall U.S. News affordability and lifestyle score.

Jeep Wrangler 7.2/10
Buick Encore 7.4/10
GMC Terrain 7.5/10
Chevrolet Equinox 7.6/10
Buick Envision 7.7/10
Lincoln Corsair 8.2/10
Mitsubishi Outlander 8.2/10
Kia Sportage 8.2/10
Subaru Forester 8.3/10
Kia Soul 8.4/10
Hyundai Tucson 8.7/10
Honda CR-V 8.8/10

2023 Subaru Forester

What does U.S. News say?

“Shoppers who value passenger and cargo space as much as they value reliability will find a friend in the 2023 Subaru Forester. It has a roomier cabin than most small SUVs and one of the class's largest cargo areas.”

Is the 2023 Subaru Forester affordable?

All 2023 Forester trim levels increased by $550. The 2023 Forester comes in six trim levels; The Base Forester starts at $27,620, Premium ($30,620), Sport ($32,190), Limited ($34,300), Wilderness ($35,245), and Touring ($37,720). Pricing includes dealer fees ($1,225).

2023 Subaru Forester

How much will filling up the gas tank cost when talking about affordability?

The 2023 Subaru Forester compact SUV comes with standard all-wheel drive and is still one of the most fuel-efficient small SUVs. Forester gets an EPA-estimated 29 combined mpg and 26/33 city/highway mpg. A 2.5-liter four-cylinder Boxer engine powers the Forester.

Cost to own

Is the Subaru Forester expensive to own? According to Kelley Blue Books (KBB) 2022 5-Year Cost-to-Own Awards, Subaru has three SUVs that score among the top five lowest cost-to-own SUVs. KBB says the Subaru Forester compact SUV, Subaru Outback 2-Row midsize SUV, and Subaru Ascent 3-Row midsize SUV are the best in their class.


The Forester is the best pick for active customers using the SUV for more than a commuter vehicle. The Forester comes standard with all-wheel-drive, 8.7 inches of ground clearance, and X-Mode for improved severe weather traction. Forester also offers a new Wilderness trim level for customers who want to get further off the grid. The Forester Sport and Wilderness offer dual-function X-Mode with Deep Snow and Mud settings.

Forester offers a ladder-type roof rail design with convenient tie-down points. The rail system provides a dynamic load capacity of 176 lb. and a 700-lb static load limit, allowing the safe use of a rooftop tent. The option package has an MSRP of $625.


Standard features include a 6.5-inch Multimedia Plus system with a high-resolution touchscreen, smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio streaming connectivity, SiriusXM and TravelLink (4-month free Platinum Plan subscription), and CD player.


The affordable Forester Premium trim comes with a 10-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar support, panoramic power moonroof, heated front seats, heated exterior mirrors, and windshield wiper de-icer.

Safety technology

Forester comes standard with Subaru’s EyeSight safety technology. The next-generation system has a broader field of view and updated software. Automatic Emergency Steering is included on models equipped with Blind-Spot Detection with Lane Keep Assist and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert. The safety feature works with EyeSight and Blind-Spot Detection to assist with steering control to help avoid a collision at speeds less than 50 mph.

The Forester compact SUV earned the Top Safety Pick+ award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). It also gets the highest five-star rating from the NHTSA.


According to Consumer Reports (by subscription) recent tests and surveys, the 2023 Subaru Forester scores at the top of its class. CR says Forester is number one overall for its road-test performance, owner satisfaction, best-in-class reliability, and top IIHS safety scores.

2023 Subaru Forester

Our take

Compact SUV shoppers have a lot of choices, and the Subaru Forester is only the best for some. It's a good pick for customers with more active lifestyles. It's a good city commuter, but the Forester shines when you need all-weather and severe weather performance. The Forester won't leave you stranded in a snow or ice storm this winter. If you'll use your SUV for weekend road trips to get further off the grid, the Forester is your best lifestyle choice.

In the competitive compact SUV class, the 2023 Subaru Forester is ranked among the top four new models for shoppers by U.S. News. In addition to reliability, Forester scores high in other factors like affordability, lifestyle, infotainment features, comfort, and safety. Does it fit your lifestyle the best? Let us know your experience with Forester in the comments below.

You Might Also Like: Consumer Reports' 9 Best SUVs Under $30K - Subaru Forester, Crosstrek Are Now The Top 2 Picks

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.

Subaru Report - We’ve got you covered! Check back tomorrow for more unique, informative SUBARU news, reviews, and previews you can trust.

Leave your comments below, share the article with friends and tweet it out to your followers!

Photo credit: Subaru


Wayne (not verified)    December 4, 2022 - 9:34PM

I have a 2019 Forester Premium Package. It works so well in snow, dirt and just every day driving. 2 weeks after I bought it I was cruising thru 14" of Utah powder. Like floating on a cloud. The only 2 items I would have different would be the placement of the drink holders and change the infotainment system