Help me decide - Subaru Forester or Mazda CX-5?

I am in the market for a new crossover SUV. I have narrowed it down to a Subaru Forester (Limited) and a Mazda CX-5 (probably Grand Touring). I would love any input or to hear from people who have these vehicles. Tell me the good and the bad. Here are the things that are important to me:

Reliability. I’m planning to keep it until it dies so hopefully 150K or 200K miles or more.

Service costs as low as possible. The Forester has all-wheel drive. The Mazda probably won’t. I live in the South so we get very little snow or ice (I don’t think I need all-wheel drive).

A little zippy, fun to drive, good turning radius. In the past, I had a 2007 Subaru Forester and I have a Subaru Outback now. I liked the old Forester more than the Outback. It was more nimble and easier to drive.

Good visibility out the windows.

I don’t need it to have all the newest and most advanced safety features. I like having a backup camera and a blind spot detector, but having a bunch of other safety features isn’t important to me.

My last 2 cars were Subarus but it seems like Subaru services have gotten kinda expensive. I have also heard that a lot of newer Subarus have had problems with the windshields cracking easily or for no reason. I have had this happen with my current Outback so this makes me a little scared of getting another Subaru.

I have driven both cars and I really like both of them. Any opinions on which car would best suit my needs? Thanks!

Flip a coin. It would be as valid as anything WE would suggest for you. You are the best judge of what suits your needs - especially considering you’ve owned Subarus in the past. Good Luck!


Since I don’t know you how could I tell which one to buy . Are you the only one who will ever drive this thing . If there is another human type in your household then that is who you should involve in the decision .
My personal opinion is if you don’t need all wheel drive then why get one .


Why would you even consider a Subaru if you don’t need all wheel drive?

Remember, there are two types of Subaru:
Those that need their head gasket replaced now, and
Those that will need their head gasket replaced in the future.


That joke is kinda old and has to be modernized.
Once Subaru transitioned from EJ engine to FB, it seems that head gasket trouble was retired and substitute is “progressively high oil consumption” now.
Still, I would bet on Mazda between the suggested two.


Even @GorehamJ has admitted there’s a limit as to how long one may wish to keep a Subaru, and I believe he’s owned a few of them.

I was reading the latest Consumer Reports car buyers guide, and in the reliability section the Forester’s rating for “engine, major” went from “much worse than average “ to “much better than average “ with the new engine design, so it apparently solved some significant problems.


For me I have never been a fan of CVT transmissions and on that alone it would favor the Mazda which still runs a conventional auto . Some people like them I don’t .


Judging by the complaints we get here CVTs only seem to last about 100,000 miles. Of course, if someones CVT lasts more than 100,000, they are not likely to complain.

There’s no way to know which will be the most reliable ride of course, but were I doing the guessing, I’d choose the Mazda if everything else were more or less equal.

Are these makes/models available to rent anywhere?
Rent one of each for a week and try before you buy.
:palm_tree: :sunglasses: :palm_tree:

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I try and avoid all wheel drive on principle. myself. And if you live in the south, you don’t have any need for AWD. Most folks don’t “need” AWD, anyway. I’m also skeptical of CVTs, too.

Go for the Mazda.


My niece just had to make that decision and picked the Mazda CX-5. Over the mileage planned, it will have less maintenance and far fewer chances of major repairs.

The Subaru has good All Wheel drive if you need it; my niece did not want it although the Mazda is available with AWD as well.

The CVT transmission alone would steer me away form the Subaru,

My sister in law just traded her Subaru for a Honda Accord after having a number of problems with it.

My wife has a 7 year old Mazda 3 Sport which has yet to have any repair of any sort!

Around here (Duluth, MN) I must see 50 Subarus for every Mazda. AWD is valued here. And the old Mazdas I see have lots more rust than most of their cohorts. If where you live AWD is not needed and rust not so much a problem, I’d say go for the Mazda.

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Good point! Mazda quality has increased sharply in the last 5-6 years. It is now close to Toyota’s. My wife’s 2012 Mazda 3 has no rust whatsoever, and they use a lot of salt in the Foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

Mazda changed their rust-proofing process around 2012 or so as I recall.
The 2013 I bought in 2018 was in rust-free shape, driving history on NY, NJ, MD, VA, so it was exposed to salt.
As of now, still OK.

This is a no-brainer

Go with the Mazda CX-5

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Thanks everyone! I was leaning towards the Mazda because of the AWD and the windshield thing. Your posts have helped me decide on the Mazda.


Go with the Forester because it has the best AWD, and the few times you will want it, it will be there. If you are unlucky and find yourself in a serious accident, I think you will have a better chance of walking away unhurt in the Forester. Real servicing and particularly dealer servicing is always more expensive than bare minimum servicing, and longer oil change intervals do not guaranty engine health in old age. In my past experience Mazda dealer service was not cheap
If you want to save gas don’t get an SUV/CUV. Keeping a car running well up to and at 200,000 miles requires more rather than less servicing and maintenance, and its even better if you are proactive and replace wear parts before they actually fail.


Safety-wise, both cars are 5-star rated by NHTSA, so the argument is rightfully prepended by “I think”, as it has no data to support it.

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