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All-New 2020 Subaru Outback Is No Longer The Hottest Model, Forester Is

For the first time since 2016, the 2020 Forester passed the all-new 2020 Outback as the top model in the lineup. Why has Forester moved ahead of the popular wagon?

Is the Forester the brand’s new hot model? The Subaru Outback has been the best-selling model in Subaru of America’s lineup since 2016 when the wagon took over the top spot from the Forester compact SUV. Now Forester is back with the all-wheel-drive SUV taking back the top spot in the U.S. lineup to start the year.

To start the year, 13,209 2020 Forester compact SUVs were delivered to customers in January compared with 11,379 2020 Outback models moving off dealer lots. It’s a surprise because Subaru of America’s number-one selling model was just given a complete remodel with a new turbocharged engine, upgrades to driving dynamics and new technology. If you are shopping for an SUV which model is best for you?

You can read about the differences between Forester and Outback here.

2020 Subaru Forester2020 Subaru Forester was all-new for the 2019 model change

Forester received a remodel for the 2019 model change and has been gaining ground on the popular Outback finishing 2019 with 180,179 units delivered to customers compared with 181,178 Outback wagons moved off dealer lots.

One thing Subaru does well is they stick to the core values that set them apart from the crowded compact SUV field. At a time when many automakers are designing SUVs that look like sport coupes, Subaru bucks the trend and gives buyers what they want, excellent outward visibility from the driver’s seat.

2020 Subaru Forester hits the sweet spot

There are three core values Subaru has not changed on the Forester SUV. Those include good visibility, cargo-carrying ability, and versatility. The secret to Subaru’s success is that they stick to the basics and then they keep improving on them.

Consumers have come to know Forester as a “go-anywhere” small SUV. Enthusiasts around the globe take their Foresters on extreme excursions and even turn them into performance machines with engine and chassis modifications. The new-generation now comes with a new Dual-Function X-Mode for additional grip in more severe traction conditions.

What’s next for Forester?

Subaru introduces new models every five years with a mid-cycle refresh in the fourth year. The Forester compact SUV received a total remodel for the 2019 model year and a few new upgrades for 2020 with the main feature being a new Rear Seat Reminder. For 2021 models, look for the Forester to get very few changes in its third year of the product cycle. If you are waiting for 2021 models you won’t gain much by waiting.

The 2021 Subaru Outback will also get very few changes in the second year of the product cycle. Subaru won't make many revisions with dimensions, sheet metal, and most specifications remaining identical to the 2020 models.

Watch why the 2020 Subaru Outback is hotter than the 2020 Forester and click to subscribe to Torque News Youtube for daily automotive news coverage.

Demand for the fifth-generation 2020 Subaru Forester seems to be gaining traction. It’s back on top in the U.S. to start the year beating the popular Outback for the first time since 2016. Will the new-generation 2020 Forester stay on top? Stay tuned.

You Might Also Like: Subaru Forester Beats Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V In Top Vehicles Owners Keep The Longest

Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. All of his reports are archived on our Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Subaru Report. Check back tomorrow for more Subaru news and updates at Torque News!

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Photo credit: Subaru USA


JSA (not verified)    February 5, 2020 - 7:51PM

You're completely wrong for one very important reason: turbo.
Until they deliver is there XT once more, the Forester is just not the best.:(

Bob Springer (not verified)    February 5, 2020 - 8:02PM

What about the Subaru engine problems w/oil leakage from head gasket- has that been addressed ? And has the cvt transmission been addressed to last longer or have less brake downs ? Just don’t trust that type of tranny lasting 100,000 plus miles. Any tips to make them last longer ?

Derek Recker (not verified)    February 5, 2020 - 9:33PM

Hi I am an avid Subaru person and the Forester is not my favorite since they got rid of the xt. Subaru needs to change back to being the adventure car and not a family car! The new outback that has the xt I'm happy for but I do like the design of the 2020 but won't buy. I will buy on older one and just retro fit to a turbo.

Bill S. (not verified)    February 6, 2020 - 8:30AM

I haven't driven a 2020 Subaru but my 2015 Forester rode like a truck and I traded it for a 2017 Outback. Much happier now.

Israel Rabang (not verified)    February 6, 2020 - 8:41AM

Well, I’m very serious regarding the specs of the model,,,once you’ve tried the Turbo/XTs , you can never go wrong and go back to premium and base models,,,have 3 units Turbo/ XTs And they’re up there with those wanna be SUVs

Israel Rabang (not verified)    February 6, 2020 - 8:46AM

Well, I’m very serious regarding the specs of the model,,,once you’ve tried the Turbo/XTs , you can never go wrong and go back to premium and base models,,,have 3 units Turbo/ XTs And they’re up there with those wanna be SUVs...please give us back the XT

Stephen (not verified)    February 6, 2020 - 3:54PM

I like the fact that the Outback is really a lifted wagon and has bucked the SUV trend. This is the last year of the 3.6 so my 2019 doing 5,000/6,000 miles annually will last me a while down the track.
Who knows what these cars will offer us by 2025 and beyond?

Bob W (not verified)    February 7, 2020 - 10:14AM

I sold my 2014 Forester Limited in October 2019 after 107,000 miles (no problems) and bought a 2020 Touring which I like even more.
-good MPG
-ground clearance
-cargo capacity
-AWD system
-outward visibility
-turning radius