Even just glancing at the crossover market will make you giddy. Choices are abundant and the competition is fierce. But two great cars that continue to deliver on versatility, safety, and pleasure are the Subaru XV and the Forester. Almost like brothers, they tussle for the top spot in Subaru’s dangerously capable, yet affordable SUV range. But who are these cars really designed for, and which one is best for you? Here’s the ultimate Subaru XV vs Forester review.
How similar is the Subaru XV vs Forester
On paper, you may be wondering what’s the big difference here. Both cars have all-wheel drive, identical insurance options, overlapping prices and very similar off-road capabilities. But dig a little deeper and you realise these cars are meant for two different people. First up, there’s the exterior design. The Subaru Forester is like the broad-shouldered, adventurous scout, whereas the Subaru XV is the lighter, more versatile car with a keen sense for the road less travelled.
For a better look at the inside of the Subaru XV check out this XV interior review!
Forester a family affair
Sure, the Subaru XV would feel more comfortable sliding into a tight city parking spot. But lugging the whole tribe down south for a family Christmas affair is starting to push the boundaries. If you’re a family of 4+, you’re probably going to require the Forester. There’s no point buying a crossover that’ll do great on the gravel but still need a trailer for everyone’s luggage. With all the extra weight, you’re going to want a bigger engine too. Again, you’ll be looking to the Forester for extra power and more room. And space-wise the Forester just has more of it – everywhere. Wherever you look you’ll find extra space – and it’s not just the boot. With extra space above your head, a tad more legroom, and a general feeling of spaciousness, bigger families are bound to feel more at home on longer trips. If you take the battle to the back row seats, if you’re over 6 foot you’ll seriously want to be in the Forester.
Here’s why the Subaru Forester is the getaway car of choice.
Couples vacation south? Get the XV.
If it’s just the two of you, the XV is your machine. It’s lighter, more versatile, and perfect for inner-city living, while secretly transforming into a mountain climber the moment the bitumen disappears. With adequate room in the boot, and a clever way of distributing space, you never feel cramped. The party piece of the XV is that you can bring it anywhere and not feel out of place. Crawl over the soft sands down at Margaret River, or charge down the freeway, it’s chameleon on the road.
Picture yourself heading South in a new Forester XV? Read the full Subaru XV review.
OK, but which car is more fuel efficient?
Fuel stats are always a bit dubious. Much depends on how you drive and how much weight you’ve loaded in the back. Generally, though, smaller lighter cars do better and there’s no shaking that rule when it comes to the Subaru XV vs Forester. However, both cars do offer a hybrid model – with the Subaru Global Paltform set to push this further with full EVs in the future. This means you’re able to do a couple of short trips all battery-powered before a single mg of petrol is burned. If you’re doing short commutes, that’s a big saver.
I want a car that handles well. Which one should I choose?
If you’re after nail-biting fun, don’t expect to throw your new Crosstrek into a corner and smell the smoke. When it comes to getting good, safe and measured performance out of your car, both the Subaru XV and the Forester offer an attractive driving experience geared to life outdoors. For a lighter more agile ride, choose the 2.0l 4 cylinder propelled XV, but want more oomph at your foot, get the 2.5l 4 cylinder Forester Sport for a more capable feel behind the wheel. Expect ride height to feel excellent on both the XV and the Forester and handling feels confident either way.
For more on the Subaru Forester’s ride and handling, read this Subaru Forester review.
Subaru XV vs Forester: Who can tow more?
Thinking of having a trailer party? Both crossovers boast the same towing capacity, but it’s the Forester that pulls away with better overall capability with a larger engine, and the Subaru XV’s hybrid model isn’t as strong as its petrol counterparts. Don’t get too excited about towing a caravan, but trailers and mid-sized boats are all fair game.
Which feels safer on the open road?
Both cars have excellent 5-star ANCAP safety ratings. And with Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, you can expect a lot of safety features from these crossovers. Backing up an already stable ride is a slew of safety specs that make driving either one of these cars feel even more secure. Both cars boast a rear reverse camera, but it’s the Forester that wins with standard Eyesight safety Technology. That gives you lane sway warning, adaptive cruise control, pre-collision warning amongst other handy aids – including emergency brake assist. It’s also available on everything but the entry level XV model. But all fancy specs aside, the ride on both cars feels grippy and confident.
And the winner is…
The Subaru XV vs Forester showdown comes down to personality and your lifestyle. Head to head, these cars do present as close competition for each other. But the more you dig, the more these cars reveal their different strengths. For the undecided buyer, these cars offer the best of both worlds: ease of daily use, but with the very real promise of an adventure come the weekend. At the end of the day, buy a Forester to bring your friends down south, but get an XV if you know you want to spend less on fuel, and are mainly city-bound.
Note: The Subaru XV model is marketed as the Subaru Crosstrek. This change in name was made to align with Subaru’s global naming strategy. Therefore, when referring to the Subaru XV in the context in the market, it is synonymous with the Subaru Crosstrek. Rest assured, any information or references pertaining to the Subaru XV can be considered applicable to the Subaru Crosstrek.