Crossover Showdown in Columbus: 2023 Subaru Forester vs 2023 Mazda CX-5

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2023 Subaru Forester vs 2023 Mazda CX-5 Comparison in Columbus, OH

A daily driver, by definition, is a vehicle that you can count on to get you from point A to point B practically every day, a vehicle you can rely on no matter the weather or the season. A daily driver should also be able to double as a practical weekend warrior for extended road trips or a quick jaunt into the mountains. At Byers Airport Subaru, we believe that the Subaru lineup of crossover SUVs fits the bill perfectly. With spacious interiors to seat up to 5 comfortably and also carry a large load of cargo, these rugged machines are engineered to not only be durable for everyday driving use but rugged enough to handle an off-road excursion or two. We understand choosing the crossover SUV that checks all your boxes can be hard and we also realize that there are more brands than just Subaru so to show you why we think Subaru is your best value, we've put together the following comparison page so you can see how the Subaru crossover SUV stacks up against the competition. Below, you'll take a deep dive into the specs and features of the 2023 Subaru Forester and the 2023 Mazda CX-5. You'll learn about the safety, performance, technology, and much more of both SUVs so you can make an informed decision.

Close up of LED steering responsive headlights on blue 2023 Forester.

2023 Subaru Forester vs 2023 Mazda CX-5: Design & Exterior Features

The 2023 Forester was engineered to be the perfect combination of daily driver and weekend warrior, which is why it comes with a standard ground clearance of 8.7 inches. If you upgrade to the rugged Wilderness trim, your ground clearance increases to 9.2 inches. The 2023 CX-5 only offers 7.6 inches of standard ground clearance but it only increases to 7.9 inches. Both SUVs offer standard 17-inch wheels with all-season tires, but only the Forester Wilderness has 18-inch wheels paired to all-terrain tires so you can check out the road less traveled and know you're safe. LED steering responsive headlights are standard fare on the Forester and to get a feature anywhere close to this innovation on the CX-5, you'll have to climb trim levels and spend more money. Both offer an available panoramic moonroof but you'll only find heated side mirrors and roof rails that can hold up to 800 lbs of static weight available on the Forester.

Long shot of cargo area inside 2023 Subaru Forester with camping gear.

2023 Subaru Forester vs 2023 Mazda CX-5: Comfort & Technology

You'll find more head- and legroom inside the 2023 Forester versus the 2023 CX-5 and 111.6 cubic feet of passenger volume on the Forester means more room and comfort for its 5 occupants compared to the CX-5's 104 cubic feet of room. Both SUVs offer the same amount of cargo volume behind the rear seat but when you lay that seat flat, the Forester is the undisputed winner: 74.2 cubic feet of space versus 58.1 cubic feet in the CX-5. You can upgrade trim levels on both vehicles for a power-adjustable driver's seat but the CX-5 only offers an 8-way seat while you get a 10-way seat in the Forester. Heated front and rear outboard seats are available on both SUVs but you'll have to climb almost to the top of the CX-5's trim levels for heated rear seats, which will cost you more. Leather-trimmed upholstery is an available feature on both the Forester and the CX-5, but only the Forester Wilderness trim level offers water-repellent upholstery to keep your interior looking clean and new for longer.

Staying connected is easy inside both the 2023 Forester and the 2023 CX-5, thanks to their standard multimedia centers. Apple CarPlay®, Android Auto, and Bluetooth® are all standard fare while navigation is available on higher trim levels of both SUVs.

Long view of silver 2023 Subaru Forester driving down foggy highway with bikes on top.

2023 Subaru Forester vs 2023 Mazda CX-5: Performance

The 2023 Forester and 2023 CX-5 are similar when it comes to their powertrains. Both boast 2.5-liter engines and offer comparable horsepower: 182 from the Forester and 187 from the CX-5. The biggest difference between the two is that the Forester can claim the famous BOXER® engine, which offers better balance and fuel efficiency. You'll get 33 MPG on the highway with the Forester while only 30 highway MPG with the CX-5. Both offer standard all-wheel drive and Active Torque Vectoring but only on the Forester will you find available X-MODE®. The Forester is mated to a Lineartronic® CVT automatic transmission but you can upgrade trim levels for a 7- or 8-speed manual mode. The CX-5 only offers the 6-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift mode.

Shot of safety range from the windshield of a blue 2023 Subaru Forester.

2023 Subaru Forester vs 2023 Mazda CX-5: Safety

Both the 2023 Forester and the 2023 CX-5 were named a Top Safety Pick by the IIHS and awarded a perfect 5-star overall safety rating by the NHTSA. You'll find the Pre-Collision Braking System, Lane Departure Warning, and Advanced Adaptive Cruise Control standard fare in both SUVs, while only the Forester offers standard Pre-Collision Throttle Management, Sway Warning, Lane Centering, and High Beam Assist. The DriverFocus® Distraction Mitigation System is exclusive only to the Forester and helps keep your focus on the road with the assistance of sounds to alert you when the system notices driving done while drowsy or distracted.

2023 Subaru Forester vs 2023 Mazda CX-5: Overall Value

With the standard BOXER® engine, better fuel efficiency, and more quality exterior features and interior comfort amenities, it's obvious that the 2023 Subaru Forester is your best value. With a starting MSRP of just $26,495, it's not far off from the starting MSRP of $26,700 that the CX-5 boasts, but with that price, you get features on the Forester that you have to pay more for on the CX-5, making your value even greater. If you have any questions about the Forester or would like to schedule a test drive, we encourage you to reach out to Byers Airport Subaru by phone, online, or stop by our showroom in Columbus. We're always happy to see you.

Feature 2023 Subaru Forester 2023 Mazda CX-5
Starting MSRP* $26,495 $26,700
Standard Horsepower 182 187
Standard Torque (lb/ft) 176 186
All-wheel Drive Standard Standard
Fuel Economy (MPG) 33 Highway / 26 City 30 Highway / 24 City
Max Cargo Volume (Cubic Feet) 74.2 59.3
LED Steering Responsive Headlights Standard Available
Reverse Automatic Braking Available Unavailable
Adaptive Cruise Control Standard Standard
2023 IIHS Award Top Safety Pick Top Safety Pick

*MSRP does not include destination and delivery charges, tax, title, and registration fees. Destination and delivery includes handling and inland freight fees and may vary in some states. Prices, specifications, options, features, and models subject to change without notice. Select colors may be subject to an additional charge. See your retailer for more information.


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401 N Hamilton Rd, Columbus, OH, 43213
Byers Airport Subaru 39.9843728, -82.8702342.