2021 Kia Sportage vs. 2020 Subaru Forester

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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Compared to metal, the Sportage’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 Sportage 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, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, blind spot warning systems, rear parking sensors and rear cross-path warning.

Warranty

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The Sportage comes with a full 5-year/60,000-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 2 years and 24,000 miles sooner.

Kia’s powertrain warranty covers the Sportage 5 years and 40,000 miles longer than Subaru covers the Forester. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the Forester ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.

There are over 20 percent more Kia dealers than there are Subaru dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the Sportage’s warranty.

Reliability

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J.D. Power and Associates rated the Sportage second among compact suvs in their 2020 Initial Quality Study. The Forester isn’t in the top three in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2020 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Kia vehicles are better in initial quality than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia first in initial quality, above the industry average. With 51 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 27th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Kia vehicles are more reliable than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Kia 10th in reliability, above the industry average. With 10 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 14th.

Engine

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The Sportage SX Turbo’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 55 more horsepower (237 vs. 182) and 84 lbs.-ft. more torque (260 vs. 176) than the Forester’s 2.5 DOHC 4-cylinder. The Sportage SX Turbo’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 58 more horsepower (240 vs. 182) and 84 lbs.-ft. more torque (260 vs. 176) than the Forester’s 2.5 DOHC 4-cylinder.

As tested in Motor Trend the Kia Sportage 4 cyl. is faster than the Subaru Forester:

Sportage

Forester

Zero to 60 MPH

8 sec

9.6 sec

Quarter Mile

16.3 sec

17.3 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

86.4 MPH

82.3 MPH

Brakes and Stopping

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

Sportage LX/S/EX

Sportage SX Turbo

Forester Base/Premium

Forester Sport/Limited/Touring

Front Rotors

12 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 Sportage stops much shorter than the Forester:

Sportage

Forester

60 to 0 MPH

118 feet

129 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

131 feet

138 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the Sportage SX Turbo’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Forester (245/45R19 vs. 225/60R17).

The Sportage SX Turbo’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Forester Sport/Limited/Touring’s 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Sportage SX Turbo has standard 19-inch wheels. The Forester’s largest wheels are only 18-inches.

Suspension and Handling

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For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Sportage is 1.8 inches wider in the front and 2.1 inches wider in the rear than the track on the Forester.

The Sportage SX Turbo AWD handles at .83 G’s, while the Forester Limited pulls only .78 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The Sportage SX Turbo AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.3 seconds quicker than the Forester Touring (26.8 seconds @ .65 average G’s vs. 28.1 seconds @ .6 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the Sportage’s turning circle is .6 feet tighter than the Forester’s (34.8 feet vs. 35.4 feet).

Chassis

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The Sportage is 5.7 inches shorter than the Forester, making the Sportage easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Cargo Capacity

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To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Sportage’s liftgate can be opened just by waiting momentarily behind 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.

Towing

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

Ergonomics

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The power windows standard on both the Sportage and the Forester have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Sportage 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.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are optional on the Sportage to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The Forester doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

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

Optional air-conditioned seats in the Sportage (except S/LX) 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.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Kia Sportage (except LX) offers an optional wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The Forester doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

Model Availability

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

Economic Advantages

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Insurance will cost less for the Sportage owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the Sportage will cost $140 less than the Forester over a five-year period.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Sportage is less expensive to operate than the Forester because it costs $100 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Sportage than the Forester, including $111 less for a water pump, $11 less for front brake pads, $381 less for a starter, $307 less for fuel injection, $136 less for a fuel pump, $99 less for front struts and $97 less for a timing belt/chain.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/10/22

The Kia Sportage has won recognition from these important consumer publications:

Sportage

Forester

Consumer Reports® Recommends

TRUE

Top Pick

Car Book “Best Bet”

TRUE

FALSE

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