2024 Mazda CX-50 vs. 2024 Subaru Forester Comparison - Kelley Blue Book (2024)

The 2024 Mazda CX-50 and 2024 Subaru Forester are compact SUVs that impress us with their agility, feature content, and standard all-wheel drive (AWD).

Introduced for the 2023 model year, the CX-50 sits in the middle of Mazda’s SUV lineup, above the smaller CX-30 and below the 3-row CX-90. There’s also a similarly sized CX-5 that’s narrower than the CX-50 and doesn’t have quite as much interior space or ground clearance.

The Subaru Forester occupies a similar middle-child role, nestled above the smaller Crosstrek but below the larger Outback and 3-row Ascent. Known for its outdoorsy image, the Forester got its last significant redesign for the 2022 model year. This is when the off-road-themed Wilderness trim joined the lineup, too.

Let’s see how the 2024 Mazda CX-50 and the 2024 Subaru Forester compare.

2024 Mazda CX-50

2024 Mazda CX-50 vs. 2024 Subaru Forester Comparison - Kelley Blue Book (1)

Starting at $30,300, the 2024 Mazda CX-50 is available in eight trim levels and has a choice of two engines. A 187-horsepower 4-cylinder paired with a 6-speed automatic is equipped to the four lower trims.

Beginning with the 2.5 Turbo, which has an asking price of $38,000, the CX-50 comes with a turbocharged version of this same 2.5-liter 4-cylinder. It makes 227 hp with 87-octane gasoline and 256 hp with 93-octane. It also is paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission. Despite being only in its second model year, Mazda retuned the suspension of the 2024 CX-50 for better ride and handling. A wireless device charging pad and Bose audio system are also now standard on more trims.

Mazda CX-50 Highlights

Turbocharged engine: The standard 187-hp 4-cylinder will keep many Mazda customers happy, though the turbocharged engine gives the CX-50 a lot more pep. This punchier powertrain doesn’t detract much from the CX-50’s fuel economy, either. The base 4-cylinder returns an EPA-rated 27 mpg combined, vs. 25 mpg combined for the turbo.

Mi-Drive: This driver-selectable system has various modes such as Normal, Sport, and Off-Road. It’s a handy feature for folks who plan to do some actual off-road driving in their Mazda. Sport mode ups the CX-50’s game with snappier acceleration and a firmer steering feel.

Sedan-like handling: The CX-50 is agile, and it feels more like a finely tuned sedan than a tall and heavy SUV. This is also true of the CX-5 and other Mazda SUVs, which are imbued with a fun-to-drive feel.

Check this week’s Fair Purchase Price or see the CX-50 models for sale near you.

2024 Subaru Forester

2024 Mazda CX-50 vs. 2024 Subaru Forester Comparison - Kelley Blue Book (2)

The 2024 Subaru Forester starts at $27,095. It’s available in six trims: Base, Premium, Sport, Limited, Wilderness, and Touring. There are only a few minor trim and feature updates for 2024. For example, the Premium trim now comes standard with a small rear spoiler and LED fog lights. Under the hood of every Forester is a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that sends 182 horsepower to all four wheels via a continuously variable automatic transmission.

Subaru Forester Highlights

Wilderness trim: The Wilderness trim adds more go-anywhere prowess to the 2024 Subaru Forester. It features redesigned bumpers for greater approach and departure angles, along with all-terrain tires, extra ground clearance, and an upgraded version of the Forester’s X-mode driving system. This tunes the transmission and AWD hardware for better traction on and off the pavement.

Spacious cabin, cargo volume: Some rivals offer more cutting-edge designs and fancier trim, yet the Forester’s light and airy cabin is a comfortable place to spend your time. The outward view is good, and there’s plenty of legroom for adults seated in the second row. Cargo capacity is equally generous with more than 28 cubic feet of room behind the split-folding rear seat back.

EyeSight safety bundle: All Forester models come with Subaru’s EyeSight bundle of active driver aids. This includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-departure alert, adaptive cruise control with lane centering, and automatic high-beam headlights.

Check this week’s Fair Purchase Price or see the Forester models for sale near you.


The Mazda CX-50 and Subaru Forester have plenty in common, most notably similar power, standard AWD, excellent maneuverability in all types of driving situations, and similar suites of active safety technology. They also have identical warranties, and each has adult-friendly rear seating and more than enough cargo space for all your load-lugging needs.


There is a lot to recommend with either of these 5-seat compact SUVs. The Subaru Forester has legions of fans thanks to its all-terrain capability, commanding driving position, and affordable price. In base trim, it costs thousands less than an entry-level CX-50. A comfortable ride quality and ample ground clearance bolster the Forester’s appeal. The Wilderness model further woos adventure seekers with its added off-road prowess.

As for the Mazda CX-50, it’s a highly polished product with a classy cabin and a choice of two powertrains. The turbocharged 4-cylinder is energetic, and it will leave the Forester in its wake. The Mazda boasts a sleek and handsome design, and the top trims are especially luxurious thanks to their leather upholstery, heated and ventilated seats, head-up instrument display, and surround-view parking camera.

Of these two SUVs, the Mazda CX-50 has an edge in refinement and feel, if not fuel economy. Yet the Subaru Forester remains a solid pick, as legions of buyers in the Northeast, Northwest, and Colorado can attest.

2024 Mazda CX-502024 Subaru Forester
Starting Price$30,300$27,095
Popular Powertrains
Engine2.5-liter 4-cylinder2.5-liter 4-cylinder
Horsepower187 hp @ 6,000 rpm182 hp @ 5,800 rpm
Torque185 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm176 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm
Transmission6-speed automaticCVT
Fuel economy24 mpg city/30 mpg highway/27 mpg combined26 mpg city/33 mpg highway/29 mpg combined
Also AvailableTurbo 2.5-liter 4-cyl.
Basic Warranty3 years/36,000 miles3 years/36,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty5 years/60,000 miles5 years/60,000 miles
NHTSA Overall SafetyNA5 star
Max Seating Capacity55
Wheelbase110.8 inches105.1 inches
Overall Length185.8 inches182.7 inches
Width75.6 inches71.5 inches
Height63.5 inches67.5 inches
Turning Diameter36.0 feet35.4 feet
Headroom, Front39.1 inches41.2 inches
Headroom, 2nd Row38.6 inches39.6 inches
Legroom, Front41.7 inches43.3 inches
Legroom, 2nd Row39.8 inches39.4 inches
Shoulder Room, Front55.9 inches58.1 inches
Shoulder Room, 2nd Row53.6 inches57.2 inches
Cargo Volume31.4 cubic feet28.9 cubic feet

As a seasoned automotive enthusiast and expert, I've delved deep into the intricate details of various car models, including the 2024 Mazda CX-50 and 2024 Subaru Forester. My extensive knowledge extends beyond just surface-level information; I immerse myself in technical specifications, design nuances, and performance dynamics to provide comprehensive insights.

The 2024 Mazda CX-50 and Subaru Forester represent the epitome of compact SUVs, each boasting distinct features that cater to different preferences. Let's break down the key concepts mentioned in the article:

  1. Mazda CX-50 Overview:

    • Introduction and Positioning: The CX-50, introduced in 2023, is positioned in the middle of Mazda's SUV lineup, between the smaller CX-30 and the 3-row CX-90.
    • Engine Options: It offers a choice of two engines, with the higher trims featuring a turbocharged version of the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine.
    • Price Range: Starting at $30,300, the CX-50 is available in eight trim levels, with the turbocharged 2.5-liter engine equipped on the higher trims.
  2. Mazda CX-50 Highlights:

    • Turbocharged Engine: The turbocharged engine delivers 227 hp with 87-octane gasoline and 256 hp with 93-octane, providing a significant boost in performance.
    • Mi-Drive System: Offers selectable driving modes such as Normal, Sport, and Off-Road, enhancing adaptability for different driving conditions.
    • Sedan-Like Handling: Boasts agile and sedan-like handling, distinguishing it from the conventional characteristics of tall SUVs.
  3. Subaru Forester Overview:

    • Positioning: The Forester occupies a middle position in Subaru's SUV lineup, between the smaller Crosstrek and the larger Outback and Ascent.
    • Redesign: The last significant redesign occurred in the 2022 model year, introducing the off-road-themed Wilderness trim.
  4. Subaru Forester Highlights:

    • Wilderness Trim: The Wilderness trim enhances off-road capabilities with redesigned bumpers, all-terrain tires, extra ground clearance, and an upgraded X-mode driving system.
    • Spacious Cabin: The Forester offers a comfortable and spacious cabin with ample legroom, generous cargo capacity, and a light and airy ambiance.
    • EyeSight Safety Bundle: All Forester models come equipped with Subaru's EyeSight bundle, incorporating various active driver aids for safety.
  5. Similarities:

    • Both the Mazda CX-50 and Subaru Forester share commonalities such as similar power outputs, standard all-wheel drive (AWD), excellent maneuverability, and comprehensive suites of active safety technology.
    • Identical warranties, adult-friendly rear seating, and ample cargo space are additional similarities.
  6. Conclusion:

    • The article concludes by highlighting the strengths of each SUV. The Subaru Forester appeals to outdoor enthusiasts with its off-road capabilities, spacious cabin, and affordability.
    • The Mazda CX-50, on the other hand, offers a refined and luxurious experience with its turbocharged engine, polished design, and advanced features.
  7. Specifications Comparison:

    • The article provides a detailed comparison of key specifications, including starting prices, powertrains, fuel economy, dimensions, and cargo volumes for both the Mazda CX-50 and Subaru Forester.

In summary, my expertise allows me to dissect and communicate the intricate details of these vehicles, offering a nuanced understanding of their features and capabilities.

2024 Mazda CX-50 vs. 2024 Subaru Forester Comparison - Kelley Blue Book (2024)
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