2019 Mazda CX-5 vs. 2018 Subaru Forester

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

Both the CX-5 and the Forester have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive and lane departure warning systems.

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Mazda vehicles are better in initial quality than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mazda 22nd in initial quality. With 15 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 28th.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Mazda vehicles are more reliable than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mazda 14th in reliability. With 23 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 24th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Mazda vehicles are more reliable than Subaru vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Mazda third in reliability. Subaru is ranked fourth.

Engine

The CX-5’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 17 more horsepower (187 vs. 170) and 12 lbs.-ft. more torque (186 vs. 174) than the Forester 2.5i’s standard 2.5 SOHC 4 cyl. The CX-5 GT Reserve/Signature’s standard 2.5 turbo 4 cyl. produces 52 lbs.-ft. more torque (310 vs. 258) than the Forester 2.0XT’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Motor Trend the Mazda CX-5 (base engine) is faster than the Forester 2.5i (automatics tested):

 

CX-5

Forester

Zero to 60 MPH

8.3 sec

9 sec

Quarter Mile

16.3 sec

16.9 sec

Fuel Economy and Range

An engine control system that can shut down half of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the CX-5 non-turbo’s fuel efficiency. The Forester doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Mazda CX-5 uses regular unleaded gasoline (premium recommended on CX-5 GT Reserve/Signature for maximum performance). The Forester 2.0XT requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Mazda CX-5 higher (7 out of 10) than the Subaru Forester (1 to 7). This means the CX-5 produces up to 47 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Forester every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

The Mazda CX-5 comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the Forester.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the CX-5 GT Reserve/Signature’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Forester:

 

CX-5

CX-5 Turbo

Forester 2.5i

Forester 2.0XT

Front Rotors

11.7 inches

12.6 inches

11.6 inches

12.4 inches

Rear Rotors

11.9 inches

11.9 inches

10.8 inches

10.9 inches

Tires and Wheels

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the CX-5 Grand Touring/Signature has standard 19-inch wheels. The Forester’s largest wheels are only 18-inches.

Suspension and Handling

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the CX-5’s wheelbase is 2.3 inches longer than on the Forester (106.2 inches vs. 103.9 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the CX-5 is 1.9 inches wider in the front and 1.7 inches wider in the rear than on the Forester.

The CX-5 Grand Touring AWD handles at .81 G’s, while the Forester 2.5i Touring pulls only .78 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The CX-5 Grand Touring AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the Forester 2.5i Touring (28 seconds @ .59 average G’s vs. 28.6 seconds @ .55 average G’s).

Passenger Space

The CX-5 has 1.3 inches more front hip room, .1 inches more front shoulder room, 1.6 inches more rear legroom and 2.3 inches more rear hip room than the Forester.

Towing

The CX-5’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the Forester’s (2000 vs. 1500 pounds).

Ergonomics

The CX-5 offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed 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 CX-5’s optional wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically according to the amount of rainfall on the windshield. The Forester’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

Consumer Reports rated the CX-5’s headlight performance “Very Good,” a higher rating than the Forester’s headlights, which were rated “Good.”

Both the CX-5 and the Forester offer available heated front seats. The CX-5 Grand Touring also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the Forester.

Optional air-conditioned seats in the CX-5 (except Sport/Touring) keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The Forester doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

Both the CX-5 and the Forester offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the CX-5 Touring/Grand Touring/Signature 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.

Model Availability

The CX-5 is available in both front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The Forester doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the CX-5 is less expensive to operate than the Forester because it costs $315 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the CX-5 than the Forester, including $215 less for a water pump, $10 less for front brake pads, $202 less for a starter, $178 less for fuel injection, $120 less for a fuel pump, $115 less for front struts and $225 less for a timing belt/chain.

Recommendations

The CX-5 was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Five/10Best Trucks” in 2018. 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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