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New Subaru Forester Scores Best Over Mazda CX-5 And Nissan Rogue If You Like To Play In The Dirt

The 2020 Subaru Forester, Mazda CX-5, and Nissan Rogue all score the Consumer Guide Best Buy Award. Which Compact SUV is best of the best?

In the crowded Compact Crossover segment Consumer Guides gives the “Best Buy” award to the 2020 Subaru Forester, Mazda CX-5, and Nissan Rogue, beating vehicles like the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape, and Jeep Cherokee. Which of the three winners is the best of the best?

All three vehicles are excellent choices, and it really comes down to what you need the Compact Crossover to do for you. If you are looking for the most nimble of the models, the Mazda CX-5 offers the sportiest handling with quick steering response and a classy interior. If you like to drive, the CX-5 will not disappoint especially if you regularly drive curvy roads. If you need lots of cargo space, the CX-5 does not rank with the best in the class.

2020 Mazda CX-5 side view2020 Mazda CX-5

The best urban commuter is the Nissan Rogue and the most practical for city dwellers. It’s got a big back seat and room for two car seats for the growing family. You can also put a stroller in the back for trips to the store and still have room for the grocery bags. Rogue offers respectable fuel economy, a refined interior, and passenger and cargo versatility that few compact SUVs can match. At sea level, the Rogue will have adequate power. If you climb hills you may want more power.

2020 Nissan Rogue side view red color2020 Nissan Rogue

We think the Subaru Forester is the most versatile with its off-road-capability, excellent outward visibility, and safety is a plus for the Subaru brand with standard Eyesight suite of safety features. The 2020 Forester also comes with a new Rear Seat Reminder system, which alerts the driver to check the rear seat for children, pets or valuables before exiting the vehicle.

Why should I choose Forester over the CX-5 or Rouge?

The biggest difference between the Forester, CX-5 and Nissan Rogue is its ability to take you off the beaten path. X-Mode is an all-wheel-drive feature that allows you to navigate up or down a steep slope or rocky trail with little effort. It’s essentially a four-low setting for more extreme off-road excursions. The other two models do not come with a feature like this. If you like to get away from civilization and play in the dirt, Forester is your best choice.

2020 Subaru Forester with X-Mode rear view black color2020 Subaru Forester with X-Mode

All three models offer all-wheel-drive for those who live in cold-weather climates, but the 2020 Subaru Forester has extra ground clearance (8.7-inches) for those who have more adventurous lifestyles.

You May Also Like: Subaru Forester’s New Dual-Function X-MODE; Why Adventure-Seekers Want It

Denis Flierl has invested nearly 30 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. All of his reports are archived on our Subaru page. Follow Denis on FacebookTwitterInstagramSubaru Report. Check back tomorrow for more Subaru news and updates!

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Photo credit: Subaru, Mazda, Nissan


Tom (not verified)    December 6, 2019 - 9:59AM

If you like to go to the Dealer a lot for recalls pick Subaru. I have a 2018 Forester XT I should know. Next vehicle is a Mazda hands down.

Stephen (not verified)    December 6, 2019 - 8:21PM

In reply to by Tom (not verified)

Tom, I just bought the new CX5 Akera (Signature) 2.5 turbo end of June this year. Fine car, no problems or issues but I only kept it till November when I traded back to a 3.6L Outback. I just never bonded with it or felt any interest - back to an Outback and instantly felt at one with it.
No, it wasn't a Forester, but I'd forgotten how much emotional investment goes into a car purchase. Subaru over Mazda any time for me now

Digitaldoc (not verified)    December 6, 2019 - 11:04PM

The Rogue is a lousy pick, and probably the worst crossover of the compacts, as it is exceedingly underpowered, the CVT is among the worst, and the AWD also lags the competition in capability. The interior is nice, but overall it shows its age, and it sorely needs a redesign with more power. My theory is it only sells as Nissan has aggressive lease deals on them to keep them moving off the lot.