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CR’s 12 Reliable, Fuel-Stingy Compact SUVs - An Aging Subaru Forester Still Ranks Best

Are the 2023 Subaru Forester and 2023 Crosstrek reliable vehicles? How fuel-efficient are they? An updated ranking by Consumer Reports says the Forester is the best in class, and the Crosstrek is close behind.


Which compact SUVs are the most reliable and fuel-efficient? A recent Consumer Reports study (by subscription) recommends three Subaru models, the 2023 Subaru Forester, 2023 Subaru Crosstrek, and the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid, as the most reliable and fuel-stingy new SUVs you can buy this year.

Consumer Reports compiled the compact SUVs that scored well in their road tests have average-or-better predicted reliability ratings and get 28 mpg overall or better. CR says the 2023 Forester compact SUV is the best in the compact SUV category, and the popular 2023 Crosstrek scores highest in its subcompact SUV class.

2023 Subaru Forester

Consumer Reports' most reliable and fuel-efficient compact SUVs are listed in order of their overall score.

The Consumer Reports' ten most reliable and fuel-efficient compact SUVs are the Subaru Forester with a score of 87, Lexus NX Hybrid (87), Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid (85), Subaru Crosstrek (84), Honda CR-V (84), Hyundai Tucson Hybrid (83), Toyota RAV4 Prime (81), Kia Sportage Hybrid (80), Toyota RAV4 Hybrid (78), Toyota Corolla Cross (77), Lexus UX (75), and Ford Escape Hybrid (73).

Consumer Reports says the Forester and Crosstrek score high in essential areas.

The 2023 Forester, 2023 Crosstrek, and 2023 Crosstrek Hybrid score high in reliability, fuel mileage, performance, safety, and owner satisfaction in the Consumer Reports ranking.

2023 Subaru Forester

Are the Forester and Crosstrek reliable?

The 2023 Subaru Crosstrek and 2023 Forester scored 4/5 in predicted reliability and are expected to be much more reliable than other new cars.

What does CR say about the Forester?

"The popular Forester delivers a satisfying combination of a roomy interior, excellent visibility, commendable fuel economy, simple controls, a comfortable ride, and responsive handling. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder with the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) returned 28 mpg in our tests, among the best in class."

Where can Forester improve?

CR says, "But acceleration isn't exhilarating, and the engine's noise isn't the most pleasant."

What is the price of the 2023 Forester?

All 2023 Forester trim levels increased by $550 in price. 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).

How fuel-efficient is the Forester?

The 2023 Subaru Forester, with standard all-wheel-drive, is the number two small SUV in fuel mileage with 28 combined mpg and 20/38 city/highway mpg.

What does CR say about the Crosstrek?

"Both versions of the Crosstrek are appealing small SUVs with high overall scores. They deliver good fuel economy, impressive ride comfort, and competent and enjoyable handling. In our tests, the Hybrid had a 17-mile electric range, and we got 33 mpg overall in hybrid mode, a slight mileage improvement over the regular Crosstrek. It has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a continuously variable transmission, and in our tests, it got 29 mpg overall, which is among the best for small SUVs."

What is the price of the 2023 Crosstrek?

All 2023 Subaru Crosstrek trim levels get a $600 price increase. The 2023 Subaru Crosstrek now comes in six trim levels for U.S. customers. 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 fuel mileage of the Crosstrek?

The Subaru Crosstrek uses direct injection on its new 2.5-liter four-cylinder Boxer engine and gets 27/34 city/highway mpg and 29 combined mpg. The 2.0-liter engine gets 28/33 mpg and 30 combined mpg with the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) automatic, contributing to better mileage.

The EPA rates the Crosstrek Hybrid's fuel economy at 35 mpg and 90 mpg-e combined.

What sets the Forester and Crosstrek apart from the other models?

Will you use your vehicle for off-pavement adventures? The 2023 Subaru Forester and Crosstrek come with 8.7 inches of ground clearance, standard all-wheel-drive, and dual-function X-Mode that sets them apart from the competition.

The Forester Sport and Wilderness and Crosstrek Sport and Limited trims feature a new dual-function X-Mode with deep mud and deep snow mode for added extreme weather performance.

Our take

If you don't need a new compact SUV in the next nine to twelve months, you should wait for the next-generation 2024 Forester and all-new 2024 Crosstrek.

The 2024 Forester gets a complete remodel, but the new upgrades have yet to be announced. Forester will get updated exterior styling, interior upgrades, infotainment, and next-generation safety features. Subaru is tight-lipped about future product plans, but sources tell us the new compact SUV will get new engine upgrades. Stay tuned for more information.

The Crosstrek Hybrid is overpriced, and compact SUV shoppers aren't willing to pay the extra $12,000 for the fuel mileage increase. Subaru sells very few Hybrid models, and they are discontinuing the Crosstrek Hybrid after this year. Check what's coming next for the Crosstrek Hybrid here.

Consumer Reports says the 2023 Subaru Forester, 2023 Subaru Crosstrek, and Crosstrek Hybrid are among the best in class in reliability and fuel efficiency and are a good value for small SUV shoppers this winter. We suggest waiting about a year for the next-generation models if you don't need a new vehicle.

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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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Photo credit: Competition Subaru


Mike (not verified)    February 7, 2023 - 1:07PM

On our current desert trip our 2020 outback is getting 34MPG highway at 75MPH (the speed limit)
We are very impressed