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The Subaru Forester Is Stuck In The Middle Again

Which compact SUVs are the most comfortable and spacious and get good gas mileage? Consumer Reports recommends eleven in an updated report. See why the Subaru Forester gets stuck in the middle. But it stands out in a critical area. 

Which compact SUV has the best room and space for your family, friends, pets, and outdoor gear? According to an updated Consumer Reports (by subscription) ranking, eleven solid choices exist. I'll explain why the Forester has must-have traits that the others don't. 

CR says they also have good reliability, good road test scores and they have standard safety technology to go along with their cargo-carrying ability. The 2024 Subaru Forester is on the list but it's not the best in terms of space. 

I'll explain where Forester beats every other small SUV on CR's list for active customers. But first, I've listed the most comfortable and spacious compact SUVs in order of their roominess, based on CR's own scores for comfort and ease of access.

CR says, "To create our list of the roomiest compact SUVs, our experts measured interior space, checked how many suitcases and duffel bags could fit in the back, had testers of all shapes and sizes repeatedly get into and out of both the front and rear seats, and calculated cargo capacity by seeing how big an expandable rectangular pipe-frame "box" could fit through the rear opening. We did this as part of our weeks-long in-depth evaluations."

CR's Roomiest, Most Comfortable 2024 Model Year Compact SUVs

  1. Honda CR-V Hybrid - $34,050 - $40,200
  2. Hyundai Tucson Hybrid - $32,575 - $45,450
  3. Kia Sportage Hybrid - $28,590 - $44,090
  4. Subaru Forester - $27,095 - $37,395
  5. Toyota RAV4 Hybrid - $28,475 - $39,780
  6. Honda CR-V - $29,500 - $36,160
  7. Toyota RAV4 Prime - $43,690 - $47,560
  8. Hyundai Tucson - $27,500 - $45,450
  9. Kia Sportage - $27,190 - $44,090
  10. Nissan Rogue - $28,850 - $40,630
  11. Mazda CX-50 - $30,300 - $43,300

The Forester is stuck in the middle again. But check out the pricing that I've also included. The Forester is the most affordable compact SUV on this list, especially when compared to the more expensive Hybrid models. 

2024 Forester 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).

Affordability now, is a critical factor for buyers. With interest rates up and the price of new vehicles rising, the Forester is the best value pick of the bunch. 

What Does CR Say About The 2024 Subaru Forester?

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

CR says, "The Subaru Forester has the interior space and cargo room of a midsized SUV, with compact SUV fuel economy and more than 36 cubic feet of space with the rear seat folded. It's easy to get into the comfortable front seats, and the rear-seat room is particularly generous and easy to get into as well. Add in the excellent visibility, simple controls, comfortable ride, and responsive handling, and it's no surprise that the Forester is among our top-rated SUVs." 

"The 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine combined with a continuously variable transmission yields 28 mpg overall, among the best in the class. But acceleration isn't exhilarating, and the engine's noise isn't the most pleasant. BSW and RCTW are optional. A redesigned 2025 Forester goes on sale later this year."

What Is The Forester Fuel Mileage?

The 2024 Forester gets an EPA-estimated 26/33 city/highway mpg and 29 combined mpg. According to the EPA estimates, the Forester Wilderness gets 25/28 city/highway mpg and 26 combined mpg.

Why Do You Need The Extra Space?

When you think of roominess, why do you need the space? Any small SUV will handle trips to the grocery store and commuting. But if you use your compact SUV for more than a grocery hauler? If you are an active outdoor enthusiast, you'll load up your camping gear, mountain bikes, kayak, and snowboards to escape the city. Which compact SUV is the best for those activities?

There are more things you should know about the Forester.

The Forester comes with standard roof rails to carry a mountain bike rack or cargo carrier to take your extra gear if you need more room inside for your friends. For outdoor enthusiasts, there's more. 

You've likely heard of the Forester Wilderness trim level ($36,015). It features: 

  • Extra ground clearance (9.2 inches) 
  • A metal front skid plate for under-body protection on the trail 
  • Body cladding to protect against scrapes 
  • Yokohama Geolander all-terrain tires 
  • Upgraded suspension with extra wheel travel
  • Dual-function X-Mode for all-terrain performance
  • hex-design LED fog lights
  • Anti-glare hood decal in a matte-black finish
  • Ladder-type roof rails that can support up to 800 lb. for using a rooftop tent
  • Water-resistant StarTex seating surfaces

Wait, There's Still More

Although it's not available yet (it's coming a year from now), the 2025 Subaru Forester Hybrid trim level will be available to U.S. and Canadian customers. It will offer active customers a more rugged compact SUV that is even more fuel-efficient. You can read my new Forester Hybrid report here.  

The Subaru Forester may not have the most cargo space, but it checks all the boxes for the most active customers who won't be sitting at home this summer. It's also the most affordable. That's a good combination. 

Are you an active outdoor enthusiast? Tell us the activities you use your compact SUV for. If so, click the red Add New Comment link below and let us know.

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: Tucson Subaru