2019 Mazda CX-5 vs. 2019 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, crash mitigating brakes, 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.

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 5 more horsepower (187 vs. 182) and 10 lbs.-ft. more torque (186 vs. 176) than the Forester’s 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. The CX-5 GT Reserve/Signature’s standard 2.5 turbo 4 cyl. produces 68 more horsepower (250 vs. 182) and 134 lbs.-ft. more torque (310 vs. 176) than the Forester’s 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

The CX-5’s 2.2 turbo diesel produces 114 lbs.-ft. more torque (290 vs. 176) than the Forester’s 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

As tested in Motor Trend the Mazda CX-5 is faster than the Subaru Forester:

CX-5 4 cyl.

CX-5 GT Reserve/Signature

Forester

Zero to 60 MPH

8.3 sec

6.4 sec

9.6 sec

Quarter Mile

16.3 sec

14.9 sec

17.3 sec

Fuel Economy and Range

An engine control system that can shut down half of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the CX-5 2.5 non-turbo’s fuel efficiency. The Forester doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.

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 GT Reserve/Signature

Forester Base/Premium

Forester Sport/Limited/Touring

Front Rotors

11.7 inches

12.6 inches

11.6 inches

12.4 inches

Rear Rotors

11.9 inches

11.9 inches

11.2 inches

11.2 inches

The CX-5 stops shorter than the Forester:

CX-5

Forester

60 to 0 MPH

123 feet

129 feet

Motor Trend

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 1.1 inches longer than on the Forester (106.2 inches vs. 105.1 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the CX-5 is 1.2 inches wider in the front and 1 inch wider in the rear than on the Forester.

The CX-5 Grand Touring AWD handles at .81 G’s, while the Forester Touring pulls only .79 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

Chassis

The CX-5 is 3 inches shorter than the Forester, making the CX-5 easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Passenger Space

The CX-5 has 1.1 inches more front hip room, .2 inches more rear legroom and 1.7 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). Maximum trailer towing in the Subaru Forester is only 1500 pounds. The CX-5 offers up to a 3500 lbs. towing capacity.

Ergonomics

The CX-5 offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed 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 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 Premium/Sport/Limited/Touring’s power windows, only the front windows open or close automatically.

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.”

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.

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.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Mazda CX-5 and the Subaru Forester, based on reliability, safety and performance.

Motor Trend performed a comparison test in its April 2019 issue and they ranked the Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD higher than the Subaru Forester Limited.

The CX-5 was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Five/10Best Trucks” for 2 of the last 2 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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