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2023 Subaru Forester Vs. Crosstrek - The Most Popular Model May Not Be Your Best Pick

Is the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek or the 2023 Subaru Forester the best pick for small SUV shoppers? Check out the differences and see which new all-wheel-drive model is the best for you.


Should you buy the 2023 Forester or the 2023 Crosstrek? The 2023 Subaru Forester has been the Japanese automaker's most researched model in the all-wheel-drive lineup, but is it the best? The 2023 Subaru Crosstrek ranked ahead of the popular Forester last summer. The most recent report from Edmunds says the Forester is the hot model passing the Outback and Crosstrek.

Is the Subaru Crosstrek subcompact SUV or the Forester compact SUV the best pick for small SUV shoppers? Many would argue the Forester is the best model because of its larger cargo capacity and standard EyeSight safety tech on every trim level.

2023 Subaru Crosstrek

2023 Forester Vs 2023 Crosstrek

The Forester stands four inches taller than Crosstrek, so you sit a little higher, have a little more headroom, and have a better view of the road. Forester was recently ranked highest and best for older drivers. Forester also scores best in outward visibility. The Forester is almost six inches longer, making a difference when parking, so Crosstrek is ideally suited for city dwellers.


Forester offers more cargo-carrying ability than the Crosstrek. Behind the rear seats, Forester has 28.9 cubic ft of space compared to Crosstrek's 20.8 cubic ft. Forester provides 74.2 cubic ft with the rear seats folded flat, and the Crosstrek has considerably less at 55.3 cubic ft. Forester's rear tailgate opening is wider and has a lower cargo floor (2.5 inches), making it easier to load heavy cargo.

2023 Subaru Forester

Ride Quality

The Forester weighs a couple of hundred pounds more, so it feels slightly more substantial than the Crosstrek. With their raised suspensions, they both have more "travel" than most vehicles. "Travel" is just a fancy way of saying that there is more space for the suspension to compress, which results in a more compliant ride.


Crosstrek offers a 2.0-liter engine as standard, and an optional 2.5-liter engine comes on the Sport and Limited models. A 2.5-liter engine on all trim levels powers the Forester.

Fuel Economy

Standard engines in both cars run regular unleaded gas.

The 2023 Subaru Crosstrek with the larger 2.5-liter Boxer engine comes with 30 more horsepower and gets an EPA estimated fuel mileage of 27/34 city/highway mpg and 29 combined mpg.

The 2023 Crosstrek with the 2.0-liter four-cylinder Boxer engine gets an EPA-estimated 28/33 mpg and 30 combined mpg.

The 2023 Subaru Forester compact SUV comes with standard all-wheel drive and gets an EPA-estimated 29 combined mpg and 26/33 city/highway mpg. The Forester comes with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder Boxer engine.

The EPA says the new Forester Wilderness gets an estimated 25/28 city/highway mpg and 26 combined mpg.

What is the price of the Crosstrek?

The base trim is priced from $24,870, Premium ($26,020), Special Edition ($27,970), Sport ($29,220), Limited ($30,720), and Crosstrek Hybrid ($38,070). Prices include destination and delivery fees ($1,225).

What is the price of the Forester?

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).

The 2023 Subaru Crosstrek outsold the popular Forester for the first time last year. Subaru of America delivered a record 155,142 Crosstreks to customers in 2022 compared with Forester's 114,096 sales.

The 2023 Subaru Crosstrek Sport and Limited trim levels with the all-new 2.5-liter engine have increased the Crosstrek's popularity. The Crosstrek is by far the most popular Subaru model now. You can decide if it's the best for you.

Both the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek and 2023 Forester are capable all-wheel-drive SUVs. The Crosstrek could keep its number-one status in 2023 because the next-generation Crosstrek is coming. Stay tuned.

You Might Also Like: The Next-Generation Subaru Crosstrek Gets a New X-Mode Upgrade the Outback Wilderness Doesn’t Even Have

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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Photo credit: main image Planet Subaru


PacoMartin (not verified)    January 13, 2023 - 4:57AM

I would argue if you are shopping CVT that the base Forester is a much better purchase for he money than the Base and Premium trim of the Crosstrek. You have a bigger engine and more cargo space for about same money.
$24,995 152hp CVT Crosstrek Base
$26,145 152hp CVT Crosstrek Premium
$26,395 182hp CVT Forester Base
$27,995 182hp CVT Crosstrek Sport
$29,495 182hp CVT Crosstrek Limited
Crosstrek is a more exciting option than Forester if you want MT or if ou are shopping Sport or Limited trim.

PacoMartin (not verified)    January 13, 2023 - 7:21AM

While Nissan is much larger than Subaru globally (Nissan sells more vehicles in China than the US), Nissan US sales this year have dropped below Subaru's 2019 peak of 700,117.

682,731 Nissan US sales in 2022
919,086 Nissan US sales in 2021
819,715 Nissan US sales in 2020
1,227,973 Nissan US sales in 2019
1,344,597 Nissan US sales in 2018
1,440,049 Nissan US sales in 2017
1,426,130 Nissan US sales in 2016

I think Subaru has a good chance at becoming Japan's new #3 in the US in the next two years.