The redesigned Subaru Forester not only bested the other small SUVs in this month's Consumer Reports small SUV Ratings, its turbocharged and nonturbocharged versions also leapfrogged over the six- and four-cylinder versions of the Toyota RAV4.
Subaru gave the second-generation Forester a more modern SUV look, but its real changes are found beneath its skin. Drawbacks with the original Forester, itself a capable and well-rounded vehicle, have been rectified. The rear seat is much roomier, the cabin is quieter, and standard safety gear now includes electronic stability control and curtain air bags.
In addition to the Foresters, Consumer Reports tested the new Nissan Rogue, as well as the four-cylinder Mitsubishi Outlander for the small SUV Ratings. Consumer Reports also pitted the Kia Sorento against the redesigned Jeep Liberty.
Only the Foresters and Outlander earn recommendations in the Consumer Reports small SUV Ratings. For the Foresters, Consumer Reports predict above-average reliability based on the performance of past Subarus. The Outlander had outstanding reliability in its first year of redesign.
The Jeep Liberty scored badly in the Consumer Reports testing, even lower than its predecessor.
Prices for the vehicles in this group range from $22,040 for the Forester 2.5X to $28,860 for the Forester 2.5XT Limited. Each vehicle in the small SUV Ratings has standard ESC and curtain air bags. ESC has been shown to reduce the chances of crashes and potential rollovers in SUVs, and curtain air bags reduce the potential for injury.
Other small-SUV models deserving consideration include the RAV4, the Hyundai Santa Fe and Tucson, and the Honda CR-V.