What's the difference between a Forester and a Crosstrek?


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY for people bored with too many details:

The Forester is bigger, inside and out.  Young families usually go for the Forester, singles and couples for the Crosstrek (no diaper bags to stuff in the smaller cargo area).  Most people think that the Crosstrek looks cooler and more sporty. Crosstrek is a little more nimble because of less weight and lower center of gravity. Only Crosstrek comes with manual transmission option in case you like to row your own. Comparably equipped, the Forester is about $2,000 more expensive.  Here are a few of the things you get in the Forester for the extra money:

  • Upgraded audio;
  • More interior space for people and cargo;
  • More luxurious options such as power rear lift gate and heated steering wheel;
  • A more powerful 2.5 liter engine compared to the 2.0 liter in the Crosstrek. However, for the 2021 model year, the Crosstrek Sport and Limited models have the same 2.5 liter engine that is standard in the Forester.
If you've been driving an older Forester and find the new Foresters are a little too big, you might like the Crosstrek because it's about the same size as the Foresters built before 2014.

Video Comparison


All new Foresters and Crosstreks come standard with:
  • Many safety features, including symmetrical full-time all wheel drive  (with no buttons to push), Vehicle Dynamics Control  (VDC) to prevent skids, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution, and much more.  See our Planet-exclusive Subaru Safety page
  • Many convenience features, including Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio connectivity, air conditioning, keyless entry, cd player, power windows, power mirrors, and much more.  
  • The utility and all-weather prowess of a sport utility vehicle without the sacrifices in cost, fuel economy, ride, and poor outward visibility.

Both purchased new at Planet come standard with:

Review and Specs



Ground clearance is identical at just shy of 9 inches.
They are the same width.
Forester is almost six full inches longer.
That's a lot, especially when you're parking in Boston.
Forester is four inches taller.
And you notice that you sit higher in the Forester, even though both vehicles give you a "command driving position" (the auto industry term that describes that great feeling of sitting high in a vehicle so you can see what's ahead).
Ride Quality
The Forester weighs a couple hundred pounds more, so it feels a little more substantial than the Crosstrek. With their raised suspensions, they both have more "travel" than most vehicles. "Travel" is just a fancy way of saying that there is more space for the suspension to compress, which results in a more compliant ride.

Lots of "dead cat space" between the top of the tire and the bottom of the wheel well. (That's the technical industry term, believe it or not.)

Even though we hired a dog as our greeter, we really do love cats. Lots of "dead cat space" on the Forester too.

Outward Visibility
Both use this ingenious little window in the corner so the mirror doesn't block your view. Rearward visibility is great in both cars compared to competitors but Forester is slightly better because of even bigger rear windows.
Comparably equipped, the Forester is $2,000 more, which buys you everything described in the executive summary above.

Crosstrek models and prices

Forester models and prices

Crosstrek offers an optional 2.5 liter engine which comes on the Sport and Limited models. It's available only with an automatic and returns 26 city, 34 highway.

2.0 liter four cylinder
152 horsepower

2.5 liter four cylinder
182 horsepower

Fuel Economy
Standard engines in both cars run regular unleaded.

Continuously variable automatic transmission:
27 city, 33 highway

Six-speed manual:
23 city, 29 highway

Continuously variable automatic transmission:
26 city, 33 highway

Lots more!
Visit our Planet-exclusive Crosstrek and Forester centers for pictures, videos and links.

Planet Crosstrek Center

Planet Forester Center

Search our inventory for your next vehicle!




Planet helps those in Boston, Cambridge, South Shore, North Shore, and Quincy decide between the Subaru Crosstrek and the Subaru Forester.

* Although every reasonable effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained on this site, absolute accuracy cannot be guaranteed. This site, and all information and materials appearing on it, are presented to the user "as is" without warranty of any kind, either express or implied, including but not limited to the implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title or non-infringement. All vehicles are subject to prior sale. Price does not include applicable tax, title, and license. Not responsible for typographical errors.