Best AWD SUV under $45,000

Subaru Forester 2.5I

The AWD SUV Under $45,000 category is one of the most prolific in terms of makes, models and sales. Little wonder that competition is fierce. But the Subaru Forester 2.5i has prevailed again, making it back-to-back wins ahead of last year’s finalists – Mazda’s CX-5 Maxx Sport and Kia’s Sportage Platinum.

With nine class-leading, or equal class-leading, scores and strong performance across most of the remaining 12 score lines, consistency is what drove the Forester into the winner’s circle.

As the entry-level but one to the Forester range, the 2.5i steals a price and depreciation march on the mid-range Maxx Sport and range-topping Sportage Platinum. The trade-off is that its standard equipment level – while good – is not as comprehensive. The safety inventory is.

Tick the boxes for dual front/side/curtain and driver’s knee airbags, anti-lock brakes with brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution, electronic stability/traction controls, and much more. A full-sized spare alloy wheel – surely a ‘must’ on any vehicle marketed as capable of going off-road – helps the Forester to a standout practicality score.

The Forester 2.5i is very much a highly-capable all-rounder, one that is ideally suited to the modern lifestyle of a young family or empty nesters that see the horizon extending beyond urban limits.


Indicative Drive Away Price: $36,759


View scoresheet


Criteria out of 10 – Subaru Forester 2.5i

Value for Money  Rating
Pricing  8H
Depreciation  9M
Running and Repair Costs  6H
Fuel Consumption  5H
Warranty and Dealer Access  4M
Insurance  10L
Standard Features  5H

Design and Function  Rating 
Safety   7C
Environment  9C
Seating Comfort  7H
Space  7M
Practicality  9H
Ergonomics  8H
Build and Finish  7H

On the Road  Rating
Performance  7M
Ride  8M
Handling  7H
Braking  7M
Smoothness and Quietness  7M

Off the Road  Rating
General Off-Road Ability  7M

Note: Level of weighting importance for each score: L = Low, M = Medium, H = High, C = Critical.

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