2019 BMW X1 vs. 2018 Subaru Forester

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The X1’s optional driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Forester doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Compared to metal, the X1’s plastic fuel tank can withstand harder, more intrusive impacts without leaking; this decreases the possibility of fire. The Subaru Forester has a metal gas tank.

Both the X1 and the Forester have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras and available all wheel drive.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the BMW X1 is safer than the Subaru Forester:

 

X1

Forester

 

Passenger

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Chest Compression

.5 inches

.7 inches

Neck Injury Risk

31%

52%

Neck Stress

175 lbs.

215 lbs.

Neck Compression

68 lbs.

134 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the BMW X1 is safer than the Subaru Forester:

 

X1

Forester

 

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

193

235

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

13 inches

14 inches

Spine Acceleration

39 G’s

44 G’s

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

Warranty

The X1 comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Forester’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

The X1’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the Forester’s (12 vs. 5 years).

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the X1 for 3 years and 36,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Subaru doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Forester.

Reliability

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the X1 has a standard 150-amp alternator. The Forester’s 130-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the X1 first among small premium SUVs in their 2018 Initial Quality Study. The Forester isn’t in the top three in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that BMW vehicles are better in initial quality than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 11th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 28 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 28th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 8th in reliability, above the industry average. With 40 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 24th.

Engine

The X1’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 58 more horsepower (228 vs. 170) and 84 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 174) than the Forester 2.5i’s standard 2.5 SOHC 4 cyl.

As tested in Car and Driver the BMW X1 is faster than the Forester 2.5i (automatics tested):

 

X1

Forester

Zero to 30 MPH

2.4 sec

3.3 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

6.3 sec

8.6 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

17.1 sec

25.1 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

7.3 sec

8.9 sec

Passing 30 to 50 MPH

3.5 sec

4.4 sec

Passing 50 to 70 MPH

4.6 sec

5.8 sec

Quarter Mile

14.9 sec

16.7 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

94 MPH

85 MPH

Top Speed

129 MPH

122 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the X1 xDrive28i gets better fuel mileage than the Forester 2.0XT (22 city/31 hwy vs. 23 city/27 hwy).

Regenerative brakes improve the X1’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Forester doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the X1’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Forester doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the BMW X1 higher (7 out of 10) than the Subaru Forester (1 to 7). This means the X1 produces up to 47 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Forester every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

The BMW X1 comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the Forester.

The X1’s launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The Forester doesn’t offer launch control.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the X1’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Forester:

 

X1

Forester 2.5i

Forester 2.0XT

Front Rotors

13 inches

11.6 inches

12.4 inches

Rear Rotors

11.8 inches

10.8 inches

10.9 inches

The X1’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs standard on the Forester 2.5i are solid, not vented.

The X1 stops much shorter than the Forester:

 

X1

Forester

 

70 to 0 MPH

170 feet

180 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

The X1’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 50 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Forester 2.5i’s standard 60 series tires. The X1’s optional tires have a lower 45 series profile than the Forester 2.5i Touring/2.0XT’s 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the X1 has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the Forester 2.5i. The X1’s optional 19-inch wheels are larger than the 18-inch wheels on the Forester 2.5i Touring/2.0XT.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the X1 can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The Forester doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

The X1 has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Forester’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the X1’s wheelbase is 1.2 inches longer than on the Forester (105.1 inches vs. 103.9 inches).

The X1 xDrive28i handles at .87 G’s, while the Forester 2.0XT Touring pulls only .75 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The X1 xDrive28i executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.8 seconds quicker than the Forester 2.5i Touring (26.8 seconds @ .65 average G’s vs. 28.6 seconds @ .55 average G’s).

Chassis

The X1 is 5.5 inches shorter than the Forester, making the X1 easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

As tested by Car and Driver while at idle, the interior of the X1 xDrive28i is quieter than the Forester 2.5i Touring (40 vs. 42 dB).

Cargo Capacity

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the X1’s available liftgate can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The Forester doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Servicing Ease

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that BMW service is better than Subaru. J.D. Power ranks BMW 8th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 31% lower rating, Subaru is ranked 18th.

Ergonomics

The X1 offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Forester doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The power windows standard on both the X1 and the Forester have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the X1 is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Forester prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The X1’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Forester’s standard passenger windows don’t open or close automatically. With the Forester’s optional power windows, only the front windows open or close automatically.

If the windows are left open on the X1 the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Forester can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The X1’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Forester’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

The X1 has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The Forester has an automatic headlight on/off feature standard only on the Limited/Touring/2.0XT.

The X1’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Heated mirrors cost extra on the Forester and aren’t offered on the Forester Base.

When the X1 is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The Forester’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

The X1 has a standard center folding armrest for the rear passengers. A center armrest helps make rear passengers more comfortable. The Forester Base doesn’t offer a rear seat center armrest.

The X1 has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning is only available on the Forester Touring.

Both the X1 and the Forester offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the X1 has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Forester doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

The X1’s optional Parking Assistant can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Forester doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

The X1 is available in both front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The Forester doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

Recommendations

J.D. Power and Associates rated the X1 first among small premium SUVs in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The Forester isn’t in the top three in its category.

The X1 was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Five/10Best Trucks” for 2 of the last 3 years. The Forester has never been a Car and Driver “Top Five/10Best Truck” pick.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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