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The 8 Best SUVs Under $30,000 - Forester And Outback Now Move To The Top

The 2021 Subaru Forester and Outback are now ranked the two best SUVs under $30,000 by Consumer Reports. Check out why they both now score number one best in their category.


What are the best SUVs under $30,000? According to Consumer Reports, (by subscription) the 2021 Subaru Forester and 2021 Subaru Outback are number one and two best overall in their recent tests and surveys.

Why are the 2021 Subaru Forester and 2021 Subaru Outback ranked so high by Consumer Reports? They are CR's top choices because they offer good performance and are safe, reliable, fuel-efficient, and satisfying choices. Both Forester and Outback come standard with all-wheel-drive.

2021 Subaru Forester, 2021 Subaru Outback

The scores are based on CR's most recent tests and owner surveys. The Forester scores ahead of Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V.

The 2021 Subaru Forester scores number one of nineteen compact SUVs with a top score of 89 points ahead of the Mazda CX-5 (83 points), Honda CR-V (82), Hyundai Tucson (80), Kia Sportage (80), Nissan Rogue (76), and Toyota RAV4 (69).

Consumer Reports ranks Forester the best compact SUV for its "roomy interior, excellent visibility, commendable fuel economy, simple controls, a comfortable ride, and responsive handling." CR achieved 28 mpg overall, which is among the best in class.

The 2021 Forester is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 182 horsepower and 176 lb-ft of torque. A CVT automatic is the only transmission offered. Is there a downside to the Forester? CR says, "acceleration isn't exhilarating, and the engine's noise isn't the most pleasant."

What is the price of the 2021 Subaru Forester? The base trim has an MSRP of $25,845, including destination and delivery fees.

2021 Subaru Forester, 2021 Subaru Outback
photo credit: Adventure Subaru

The 2021 Subaru Outback scores number one of twelve Two-Row midsize SUVs with a top score of 86. The Outback scores ahead of the Ford Edge (83), Lexus NX (82), Lexus UX (81), Nissan Murano (79), Toyota Venza (78), and Hyundai Santa Fe (76).

Consumer Reports ranks Outback number one overall because it's "a smart alternative to an SUV, the ride is very comfortable, handling is responsive and secure, and the addition of comfort and convenience features with the 2020 redesign made this wagon even better."

Is there a downside to the Outback? CR says, "The base 2.5-liter four-cylinder does the job but can feel strained under stress", but says, "The turbocharged 260 horsepower 2.4-liter engine transforms the Outback, giving it effortless acceleration."

In Consumer Reports testing, the 2021 Outback with the 2.5-liter engine gets 16/32 city/highway mpg and 24 combined mpg. The EPA rates the Outback 2.4-liter engine 23/30 city/highway and 26 combined mpg.

What is the price of the 2021 Subaru Outback? The base trim is priced from $27,845, including destination and delivery fees.

In the latest Consumer Reports rankings, the 2021 Subaru Forester is number one of nineteen compact SUVs. The 2021 Subaru Outback is number one of twelve Two-Row midsize SUVs. CR says they move up and are now the best 2021 model year SUVs in their category under $30,000.

You Might Also Like: Are Subaru Forester And Outback Owners The Most Loyal? J.D. Power Says Yes

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: Subaru