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Subaru Forester And Outback Take Best SUVs Crown For Short Drivers

Which Compact and Midsize SUVs are the best for shorter drivers? Consumer Reports says two Subaru models are the best. See Why Forester and Outback consistently rank the highest.

Why do the Subaru Forester and Subaru Outback consistently rank highest for short drivers? As in previous years, Forester and Outback are always at the top of the Consumer Reports (by subscription) Best Cars For Short People list. It's no different this year

Mary Reed, the 5-foot, 1-inch business manager at CR's Auto Test Center, explains what she looks for in evaluating a car: "I adjust the seat for comfort before driving, sliding it forward as needed and moving the steering wheel. I then consider the visibility over the hood and to the rear, especially the corners. With everything adjusted, I then check access to make sure the ease of entry factors into my specific setup. This is something that would be easy to overlook on a test drive."

The Subaru Forester is the Best Compact SUV for Short Drivers

  • Price Range:  $27,095 - $37,395
  • CR MPG:  Overall 28 / City 20 / Hwy 38 mpg
  • #2 of 31  Compact SUVs

What sets Forester apart?

The 2024 Subaru Forester is a rare compact SUV that fits shorter and taller drivers. CR says the Forester is the top model in the compact SUV category. Forester has 8.7 inches of ground clearance and is rated the best compact SUV for outward visibility. You can read my report here.

The Subaru Outback is the Best Midsized 2-Row SUV for Short Drivers

  • Price Range:  $28,895 - $42,795
  • CR MPG:  Overall 24 / City 16 / Hwy 32 mpg
  • #2 of 17  Midsized SUVs

What sets Outback apart?

The 2024 Outback is a unique model that drives like a car but has the utility of an SUV. Its 8.7-inch ride height makes it easier for smaller drivers to see the road ahead. It is also easier to slide in and out without stepping up. 

I'll list Consumer Reports Best Segment Winners For Short Drivers

Best Mainstream Cars

  • Best Compact Car for Short Drivers - Kia Soul
  • Best Compact SUV for Short Drivers - Subaru Forester
  • Best Midsized Car for Short Drivers - Toyota Crown
  • Best Midsized 2-Row SUV for Short Drivers - Subaru Outback 
  • Best Midsized 3-Row SUV for Short Drivers - Honda Pilot
  • Best Minivan for Short Drivers - Honda Odyssey

Best Luxury Cars

  • Best Luxury Compact Car for Short Drivers - Audi A3
  • Best Luxury Compact SUV for Short Drivers - BMW X3
  • Best Midsized Luxury Car for Short Drivers - Lexus ES
  • Best Large Luxury Car for Short Drivers - Lexus LS
  • Best Luxury Midsized 2-Row SUV for Short Drivers - Lexus RX
  • Best Luxury Midsized 3-Row SUV for Short Drivers - Volvo XC90

Subaru Outback and Forester were also the top picks for short drivers in the recent Kelley Blue Book rankings. You can read my report here

There's A Unique Reason Why They Are The Best 

The Subaru Boxer engine in the Forester and Outback sits much lower in the chassis, giving the vehicle more stability and a more dynamic driving experience. The lower engine height plays a significant role in a Subaru vehicle's outward visibility from the driver's seat.

The significant benefit is that the hood slopes downward because of the Boxer engine's height in the engine compartment. This gives the driver improved outward visibility and a better view of the road ahead. Even though the Outback is a midsize SUV, it feels like you're driving a much smaller vehicle.

Before you go, the Outback was recently picked as the best midsize SUV for visibility. You can read my report here.

Check out the 2024 Forester and Outback pricing

The Forester has six trim levels: Base ($28,190), Premium ($31,390), Sport ($32,960), Limited ($35,070), Wilderness ($36,015), and Touring ($38,490). Pricing includes destination and dealer fees ($1,295).

The 2024 Outback comes in nine trim levels: Base ($30,190), Premium ($32,490), Onyx Edition ($37,400), Limited ($37,090), Touring ($41,640), Onyx Edition XT ($40,655), Wilderness ($41,255), Limited XT ($41,490), and Touring XT ($44,090). In addition, destination and delivery fees are included in the price above ($1,295).

How Does The All-New 2025 Forester Rank For Short Drivers?

The 2025 Subaru Forester arrives now across the U.S. and has yet to be rated. Stay tuned. 

I am Denis Flierl, a top Torque News reporter since 2012. I’ve invested over 13 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role, working with every major car brand. I am an experienced Rocky Mountain Automotive Press member. You'll find my expert Subaru analysis here. Follow me on my X SubaruReportAll Subaru, WRXSTI, @DenisFlierlFacebook, and Instagram.

Photo credit: Freepicks


Carl Nord (not verified)    May 28, 2024 - 10:56PM

They are also the only choice for tall drivers who aren't contortionists.
I am 6'2" and in searching for a new SUV the only cars i could get into and out of with ease were the Outback and the Forrester. Every. other maker, highend included has shrunk by an inch or 2 the distance from the top lip of the door frame to the seat, making entrance and exit difficult and awkward.