2023 Mazda CX-50 vs. Subaru Forester Comparison

You have many options if you’re shopping for a compact SUV. A couple of oned on the more rugged side of the segment are the Subaru Forester and the all-new Mazda CX-50. Both come with standard all-wheel drive and a brawny appearance hinting at their adventurous capabilities.

Let’s take a closer look at these SUVs and find the right one for you.

2023 Mazda CX-50

2023 Mazda CX-50 in polymetal gray.

The Mazda CX-50 is an all-new model in the Mazda SUV lineup. It has the brand’s virtues of an upscale interior and fun-to-drive character, but it also has a rugged personality. Pricing starts at $26,800. Price yours or View listings near you.

Mazda CX-50 Highlights:

Fun to drive: The Mazda CX-50 is an enjoyable SUV to drive. The handling is more agile than you might expect for an SUV and the base engine makes it pretty quick. The CX-50 gets much more exciting with the optional turbocharged engine, which produces up to 256 horsepower and 320 lb-ft of torque. By comparison, the Forester only has one engine option and isn’t very sporty.

Premium interior: Mazda has a reputation for building premium interiors without a premium price tag, and the CX-50 is no exception. This is a very nice interior for the money and gets luxurious in the upper trims with features like Bose 12-speaker audio, leather seats, a panoramic moonroof, and wireless charging.

Many standard features: The CX-50 is well-equipped, even in the base 2.5 S trim. Standard features include wireless Apple CarPlay, a Wi-Fi hotspot, alloy wheels, and an impressive set of driver assistance features like adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, and more.

2022 Subaru Forester

2022 Subaru Forester Touring driving near trees

The Subaru Forester is safe, roomy, and an eager off-roader, the embodiment of the Subaru brand in the form of a compact SUV. Pricing for the 2022 model starts at $25,895. Price yours or View listings near you.

Subaru Forester Highlights:

Good fuel economy: The Subaru Forester is more fuel-efficient than the Mazda CX-50. The Forester has a combined fuel economy rating of 29 mpg from the EPA. The CX-50 gets 27 mpg with the base engine and 25 mpg with the optional turbocharged engine. Those fuel savings add up if gas is expensive where you live.

Rugged Wilderness model: Every Subaru Forester is a competent off-roader, but its off-road chops are improved in the Wilderness model. It has perks like extra ground clearance, off-road tires, and dual-function X-Mode, plus a unique appearance package inside and out.

Roomy cargo hold: The cargo capacity is similar behind the back seats of these two SUVs, but when you fold the back seats down in the Forester, it has much more cargo space than the CX-50. The Forester has a maximum cargo capacity of 74.2 cubic feet, compared to just 56.3 cubic feet of space in the CX-50.


Standard AWD, many safety features, 4-cylinder engines.


With a lower starting price, roomier interior, and better fuel economy, the Subaru Forester is the value choice between these two compact SUVs. However, drivers looking for a more engaging driving experience and a more upscale interior will prefer the Mazda CX-50.

2023 Mazda CX-50 2022 Subaru Forester
Starting Price $26,800 $25,895
Popular Powertrains
Engine 2.5-liter I4 2.5-liter I4
Horsepower 187 hp @ 6,000 rpm 182 hp @ 5,800 rpm
Torque 186 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm 176 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic CVT
Fuel Economy 24 city/30 highway/27 combined mpg 26 city/33 highway/29 combined mpg
Also Available 2.5-liter turbocharged I4
Basic Warranty 3 years/36,000 miles 3 years/36,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty 5 years/60,000 miles 5 years/60,000 miles
NHTSA Overall Safety TBD 5 stars
Max Seating Capacity 5 5
Wheelbase 110.8 inches 105.1 inches
Overall Length 185.8 inches 182.7 inches
Width 80.8 inches 71.5 inches
Height 63.5 inches 67.5 inches
Turning Diameter 36.0 feet 35.4 feet
Headroom, Front 39.1 inches 41.2 inches
Headroom, Rear 38.6 inches 39.6 inches
Legroom, Front 41.7 inches 43.3 inches
Legroom, Rear 39.8 inches 39.4 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 55.9 inches 58.1 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 53.6 inches 57.2 inches
Cargo Volume 31.4/56.3 cubic feet 28.9/74.2 cubic feet

Source: KBB Feed

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