The 2021 Subaru Forester offers a nice balance of sensible yet stylish, boasting a more spacious interior than competitors and some great updated features. Subaru clearly designed this 2021 upgrade to compete in an ever crowded market, and boasts more passenger room than Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, or the Ford Escape.

As usual, the marketing for this Forester is consistent with Subaru messaging. Marketing content is focused on how the new Forester is ready for any adventure (which feels the same as any other Subaru launch).

Overall, we like the upgraded 2021 safety features and comfortable looking interior, combined with the power and smooth handling you can expect from a Subaru. This is a good contender if you’re on the market for a compact SUV. 

Specs and features

Subaru has come out strong with a robust list of safety features, entertainment upgrades, and more interior space than before. 

Safety features

  • Adaptive LED headlamps and automatic high-beams (new for 2021)
  • Standard EyeSight® Driver Assist Technology
  • Subaru DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation System
  • All-Around Awareness, a suite of safety features that includes: Blind-Spot Detection system, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Rear-Vision Camera, and Reverse Automatic Braking
  • STARLINK Safety and Security system

Handling and efficiency

  • Standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive 
  • +33 MPG
  • 8.7 inches of ground clearance
  • X-MODE with Hill Descent Control and dual-function X-MODE with settings for snow, dirt, and mud

Interior and entertainment 

  • New rear center-console storage tray
  • Power Panoramic Moonroof
  • STARLINK Multimedia system with Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™ integration
  • Spacious interior, with 111.9 cubic feet of passenger volume and 76.1 cubic feet of cargo space
  • STARLINK Entertainment Anywhere kit (2 Apple iPad® 32GB Wi-Fi models, 2 Harman Kardon® Bluetooth Headphones, 2 OtterBox® Defender Series iPad cases

It’s also worth noting that the 2020 Subaru Forester received a 5-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, so it’s reasonable to expect the 2021 model to match that level of safety. In general, Subaru 2021 is looking to be a great year for safety.

Starting price breakdown

Pricing for the 2021 Subaru Forester starts at $24,795 as of September 2020. 

  • Forester (base model): $24,795
  • Forester Premium: $27,795
  • Forester Sport: $29,395
  • Forester Limited: $31,395
  • Forester Touring: $34,895

2021 Honda CRV vs 2021 Subaru Forester

The Forester’s main competition will likely continue to be the Honda CRV, which has long been a consumer favorite in the compact SUV category. So how do the 2021 models stack up against each other? 

In our opinion, the Forester wins in terms of entertainment systems, hands down. As others have noted, the Honda CRV connectivity and infotainment system is lacking (there’s not even an auxiliary input). The Forester also does have a more spacious interior, as they love to highlight on the website. In terms of safety, you really can’t go wrong with either. 

What people are saying

Reviews have been fairly consistent. Here are some takeaways and highlights from top reviews in Edmunds, Kelley Blue Book, Cars.com, and The Car Connection. 

Pros:

  • Great updated safety features
  • Standard all-wheel drive
  • Adaptive headlights are now standard
  • Wins on interior space 

Cons:

  • The design (interior and exterior) isn’t particularly exciting
  • Engine lacks power of competitors
  • Continuously variable automatic (CVT) as the only transmission
  • Engine can be noisy

Final thoughts

If you’re looking for smooth handling and a roomy interior, the Subaru 2021 might be worth exploring. Just don’t get your hopes up if you’re looking for a more sophisticated and powerful engine. That said, the Subaru Forester lineup for 2021 seems like a solid option for small families who will enjoy the infotainment, space, and safety features. 

Veronica Camara
Veronica is an independent content strategist, writer, and speaker, partnering with global brands and agencies to solve complex content challenges. Prior to consulting work, she was an in-house content strategist at Charles Schwab. She is currently living in sunny Playa del Carmen, Mexico and works remotely with clients across the USA and Canada.

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    3 Comments

    1. I’ve never paid much attention to Subarus but the safety features really caught my attention.

    2. I am not a big fan of big cars. However I like the fact that they are so upgraded that you can even sleep in them. It’s a good car for families.

    3. I have always respected Subaru! But I want to know more about the headlights!

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