Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Mazda 5 vs. forester


We are looking to replace a car that we have had for 14 years that needs more repairs than it is worth. We have a 1.5 year son. Through a bunch of researching and test driving we have narrowed down to the Mazda 5 or the Forester.

We leaning slightly towards the mazda 5 but was wondering about the reliability. If anyone had any advice or experience with Mazdas or recommendations on what to get, we love to hear it.

Thank you in advance,


Both are reliable vehicles.

The Forester has AWD if you feel you need it, but maintenance costs can be high on a Subaru, and you MUST follow the maintenance schedule. The AWD is great in snow, but reduces fuel mileage and increases maintenance costs.

The Mazda5 has sliding side doors, which, over time, may be much easier to live with, especially when it comes to loading and unloading kid stuff. It may get slightly better mileage than the Forester.

I think it comes down to which vehicle you prefer to drive.

I currently own a Legacy wagon (high maintenance) and my lady friend owns a Forester (not as reliable as she expected).

If I had to choose between the two vehicles you list, I’d take the Mazda5. My son and his wife just had a baby, and I’m recommending the Mazda5 to them.

There are additional costs with a Subaru which are the the differential fluids (~$100 every 30k-60k). However the coolant has finally gone to longer intervals so Subaru is on par with Mazda now.

The MPG is not better according to EPA with Mazda. The Mazda5 is on par.

If you want AWD the Forester is far superior in its class to its peers by a decent margin. If you want more passenger room and accessibility the Mazda5. Also the Mazda5 is more fun to drive IMHO.

I agree that both are good cars. However I suspect you have a reason for wanting 4WD. I am only suggesting to remember that 4WD cars generally cost more to maintain. They can help you get on the road and down the road in snow mud etc. However please remember that they Do Not help you stay on the road or stop faster. Modern stability control can help you stay on the road however.

The Mazda 5 will give less expensive and more reliable overall life. In addition, you need not worry about changing all those fluids and buying 4 new tires when one is damged beyond repair.

I would be more worried about the reliability of the Forester than the Mazda. I have yet to meet an unhappy Mazda owner, whereas there are many unhappy and disapointed Subaru owners. I only recomend Subarus to technical types, such as engineers, who live in a high-snowfall area.

Funny, I only recommend Subaru’s to people who are really bad drivers, and need all the help they can get in bad weather conditions. That way, at least they can get out of my way.


We bought a Mazda5 in late 2005 (1st model year 2006) and I have to say its been a terrific car. Zero repairs to date; in 5 years I’ve only changed the oil every 3K -5K, air filter a couple of times, one set of tires, flushed the brake fluid and replaced the battery 1X. Never uses even a drop of oil.

We have 2 kids and the sliding doors are VERY practical. Our’s is a 5pd which is both fun to drive and it gets decent mileage, about 28 hwy. We too live in snow country (Colorado) and I use this car to: go camping (carrying my 1949 Grumman 17’ aluminum canoe on the factory racks), for Home Depot runs (holds a ton with the rear seats folded down) and to go skiing. I run it in winter with studded snow tires and its unstoppable. I’m sure the Subaru is a good car, but you won’t regret buying a Mazda5. Good luck!