2021 Volvo XC40 vs. 2020 Subaru Forester

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 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 2020/10/21

The XC40’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Forester doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

Both the XC40 and Forester have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The XC40 has power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The Forester’s child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.

The XC40 has standard Automatic Braking After Collision, which automatically apply the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Forester doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

The XC40 offers an optional 360-Degree Surround View Camera to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Forester only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

Both the XC40 and the Forester have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front and rear 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 and rearview cameras.

Warranty

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The XC40 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 XC40’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the Forester’s (12 vs. 5 years).

Volvo pays for scheduled maintenance on the XC40 for 3 years and 36,000 miles. Volvo will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Subaru doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Forester.

Reliability

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To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the XC40 has a standard 800-amp battery. The Forester’s 620-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

Engine

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The XC40 T4’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 5 more horsepower (187 vs. 182) and 45 lbs.-ft. more torque (221 vs. 176) than the Forester’s 2.5 DOHC 4-cylinder. The XC40 T5’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 66 more horsepower (248 vs. 182) and 82 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 176) than the Forester’s 2.5 DOHC 4-cylinder.

As tested in Car and Driver the XC40 T5 is faster than the Subaru Forester:

XC40

Forester

Zero to 60 MPH

6.2 sec

8.5 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

16.4 sec

23.7 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

7 sec

9 sec

Quarter Mile

14.8 sec

16.6 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

95 MPH

86 MPH

Top Speed

131 MPH

127 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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The XC40 has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Forester doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the XC40’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Forester:

XC40

Forester Base/Premium

Forester Sport/Limited/Touring

Front Rotors

13.6 inches

11.6 inches

12.4 inches

Rear Rotors

11.9 inches

11.2 inches

11.2 inches

The XC40 stops shorter than the Forester:

XC40

Forester

60 to 0 MPH

125 feet

129 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

135 feet

138 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the XC40 has larger standard tires than the Forester (235/55R18 vs. 225/60R17). The XC40’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Forester (245/45R20 vs. 225/60R17).

The XC40’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 55 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Forester’s standard 60 series tires. The XC40’s optional tires have a lower 45 series profile than the Forester Sport/Limited/Touring’s 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the XC40 has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the Forester. The XC40’s optional 20-inch wheels are larger than the 18-inch wheels on the Forester Sport/Limited/Touring.

Suspension and Handling

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For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the XC40’s wheelbase is 1.3 inches longer than on the Forester (106.4 inches vs. 105.1 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the XC40 is 1.4 inches wider in the front and 2.2 inches wider in the rear than on the Forester.

The XC40 T5 R-Design AWD handles at .85 G’s, while the Forester Limited pulls only .78 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

Chassis

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The XC40 is 7.9 inches shorter than the Forester, making the XC40 easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Passenger Space

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The XC40 has .6 inches more front hip room and 1 inch more rear hip room than the Forester.

Cargo Capacity

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To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the XC40’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.

Towing

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The XC40’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the Forester’s (3500 vs. 1500 pounds). Maximum trailer towing in the Subaru Forester is only 1500 pounds. The XC40 offers up to a 4630 lbs. towing capacity.

Servicing Ease

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The XC40 uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Forester uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

Ergonomics

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The power windows standard on both the XC40 and the Forester have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the XC40 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 XC40’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.

If the windows are left open on the XC40 the driver can close them all at the outside door handle or from a distance using the remote. On a hot day the driver can also lower the windows the same way. The driver of the Forester can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The XC40’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.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are optional on the XC40 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 XC40’s headlight performance “Very Good,” a higher rating than the Forester’s headlights, which were rated “Good.”

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The XC40 offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The Forester doesn’t offer headlight washers.

The XC40’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Subaru only offers heated mirrors on the Forester Premium/Sport/Limited/Touring.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Volvo XC40 offers an optional wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The Forester doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

The XC40 R-Design/Inscription’s optional Park Assist Pilot 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

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The XC40 is available in both front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The Forester doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

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