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A Different Fit – Subaru Forester/Ford EcoSport

The Forester and EcoSport are SUVs of varying size … and varying performance.

The all-wheel-drive Subaru Forester. (Photo: ® Subaru of America, Inc.)

Although still considered a compact SUV, the Subaru Forester has grown over the years. The interior is roomy, with comfortable and supportive seats, with rear seating easily fitting two adults. Overall interior storage is good, with 76 cubic feet of cargo space. The wide rear gate allows easy loading of bulky items and the split-fold rear seat gives the Forester extra versatility.

Like almost every Subaru, it features all-wheel drive and a continually variable transmission. The tradeoff for zippy performance is good fuel economy. The steering has a nice feel, the ride is controlled and comfortable – soaking up all but the worst potholes with ease – and the handling is surprisingly good.

Safety is well addressed with Subaru’s EyeSight system, which continually looks at traffic and warns when the driver strays from a lane. It’s standard on all Foresters. The 2019 Forester also features a new driver-distraction system that monitors the driver for signs of inattentiveness and drowsiness.

The Forester continues to be one of the best compact SUVs available today. The addition of the EyeSight system, along with an advanced driver-assistance system, makes it a top pick.

Base Price: $24,295

MPG: 26 city, 33 highway

Crash Test: 5 stars

The EcoSport has grown smaller with age. (Photo: © Ford Motor Company)

As SUVs grow bigger, Ford is building a smaller vehicle with its EcoSport. It comes in four trim levels and front- or all-wheel drive. Even base models come well equipped with remote keyless entry, cruise control and steering wheel controls for the audio system.

There is enough power for day-to-day driving, but I found myself having to put the accelerator to the floor quite often. Fuel economy is a bit of a disappointment; I averaged about 25 mpg in mostly highway driving.

Although there is plenty of head and legroom, the front seats are fairly uncomfortable. The high seating position offers good visibility and allows for easy entry and exit, however. Rear seats are reasonably comfortable with ample headroom and the surprisingly good-sized rear doors make for easy entry.

The EcoSport has some great features like flexible seating, decent cargo space and up-to-date technology. Yet, it doesn’t stand out in any one area – and does poorly in others. If you want a small, unique-looking SUV, the EcoSport is a good choice. But in reality, there are much better choices to be had.

Base Price: $19,995

MPG: 23 city, 29 highway

Crash Test: 4 stars

Looking for a new car ride? Find more car reviews online. AAA.com/TestDrive

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