The crossover automobile market has become crowded in recent years, with new models flooding the growing scene that blurs the line between car and SUV.
One is a brash young rookie hoping to steal the show, while the other is a proven veteran looking to maintain their spot on the roster.
Ford Bronco Sport vs. Subaru Forester: What’s The Difference?
The Subaru Forester is great if most of your driving is done around town and you want a quiet and smooth ride, but the Bronco is better if you need something more rugged and practical, not to mention it’s made in America.
Subaru’s long tradition of excellent safety needs to be taken into consideration, particularly if you are looking for a car for a first-time driver.
If you are looking at purchasing a Forester, the Premium model is the best combination of price and performance.
The Bronco, however, is just plain more fun.
The appearance is more fun, the roof and doors are detachable, and it looks at its driver like a dog begging to be taken for a run in the park. It comes through on every promise and is a joy in the backcountry.
The myriad options and accessories make it easy to customize and tailor to your exact budget and personal preferences.
The Big Bend model will best serve those wanting to jump in a Bronco Sport to get the most without spending unnecessarily.
Curb appeal is a real thing
Few people will choose a car based solely on fuel mileage and towing capacity.
Drivers want their vehicles to look good, and that is a fair question considering the amount of money and time most of us will spend driving.
These vehicles boast about their offroad capacity, so comparing them to hiking boots is fair.
The Ford Bronco Sport looks like it can take a beating and keep going strong.
It sits high and has the feel of a well-worn, high-top leather hiking boot.
The Bronco Sport model names are a mix of national parks, dinosaurs, and something called Wildtrak.
Depending on the one chosen, there are over one hundred optional accessories. Options range from bigger tires, cargo carrier platforms, roof tents, mud flaps, and fender flare kits, all adding to the rugged appearance of the Bronco Sport.
The Bronco Sport looks like a capable off-road machine from the start.
It seems to borrow heavily from the Jeep Wrangler design but manages to create a unique look.
Like a sturdy hiking boot, it has a way of communicating the need to get outside and off the street.
The Subaru Forester sits lower and has a sleeker look than the Ford.
The front end is more pronounced, and it looks like a car that was blessed with off-road capabilities, which is what it is.
The Forester was introduced in 1997 and was based mainly on the Subaru Impreza.
The Forester looks more like a trail running shoe than a hiking boot.
This is not meant to be taken negatively.
The Forester may not stand out as much on the street, but it looks more than capable enough to be taken off the pavement and into the backcountry.
The lower profile was intentional and allowed the Forester to be released without needing to include stickers warning about the risk of rollover like its competitors.
Subaru promoted this design as “SUV tough, Car easy,” which comes through.
It is up to the buyer to decide what impression they want from the vehicle they drive.
Drivers wanting a trip to the grocery store to feel like an expedition may opt for the Bronco Sport, while those happy with a more subtle feel will side with the Forester.
Nobody has ever said they love stopping at a gas station.
It is one instance where you are simply burning your money.
Let’s compare the fuel efficiency of these two vehicles.
Bronco Sport vs. Subaru Forester
The Bronco Sport averages 26 mpg while the Forester manages 29 mpg.
Compared to the average new vehicle, Bronco Sport owners will spend an extra $500 over five years, while Forester drivers will save an average of $750 during the same time.
The tank size of the two vehicles is comparable, 16 gallons for the Ford Bronco Sport and 16.6 gallons for the Forester.
This small amount won’t make a difference unless you have a habit of living dangerously and driving on fumes.
The annual fuel cost is $250 more for the Bronco Sport, $2350 compared to $2100, which is not a whole lot but is enough to pay for a gym membership at a 24-hour fitness center.
Overall, the Subaru Forester is slightly better in fuel efficiency, but the biggest difference will be made in how the vehicles are driven.
Accelerating slowly, avoiding sudden stops and starts, and how much city driving you do compared to highway driving will all considerably impact how fuel-efficient the vehicle is.
The conversation on safety has to start with the Subaru Forester.
Subaru has long prided itself as a people-first car company, which means an emphasis on safety.
Newer models are loaded with technology like Subaru Eyesight, autonomous emergency steering, adaptive cruise control, and a pre-collision braking system are only a few of the safety features available.
With Subaru, everything from the height of the driver’s seat to the positioning of the frame is done to maximize visibility and create a safer driving experience.
This combines to give the Subaru Forester a five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
For all the talk about Subaru and its reputation for safety, the Bronco Sport may go a step further. Ford’s compact SUV took home five stars from the NHTSA just like the Forester but earned a superior rating in front crash prevention results.
Both vehicle’s structures are equipped with airbags around the entirety and ABS braking systems, cross-traffic alerts, lane assist, daytime running lights, lane departure warnings, and traction control, just to name a few of the many features.
The one area where the Subaru might be expected to outshine the Bronco would be in rollover prevention, but both received a score of four out of five stars making the point moot.
Drivers can feel safe and confident in both of these vehicles and their ability to help them handle whatever the road throws at them.
The offroad ability might be the greatest safety feature because of the way it creates space between you and all the other drivers on the road.
Handling and Off-Road Capability
These vehicles want to give the impression that they can keep going when the pavement ends.
They both do a very good job fulfilling that promise.
Clearance is an issue for any vehicle wanting to be taken off-road.
Subaru provides 8.7 inches in the Forester, and the Bronco has from 7.8 to 11 inches of separation from the ground depending on the model.
This may be surprising given how much higher the Bronco’s roof is from the ground, but they are relatively comparable when it comes to passing over fallen logs while picking your way through a rock field.
Skid plates, wheel arch molding, rocker panels, and metal bash plates to protect your vehicle’s undercarriage are all beneficial, if not essential, for continuing off-road performance.
The Bronco Sport especially does a great job providing these essentials to make sure every trip off-road is as enjoyable as the last, and your vehicle isn’t damaged.
What about those moments when you don’t want to rush back to civilization? The Forester and Bronco Sport have available rooftop tent systems for off-the-ground camping and a more pleasant backcountry experience.
Rather than look for a clean, soft place to pitch a tent, all you need is a “parking spot,” and you are good to go.
Add-ons like this are a great bonus for anyone wanting to take full advantage of their vehicle’s capabilities and push its functionality to the limits.
When you arrive back on smooth pavement, city driving is one area the Forester will distinguish itself.
The Subaru can provide a smoother and quieter ride around town which shouldn’t surprise given its roots are tied to a car.
This may be the biggest difference between the two vehicles outside of the appearance.
The offroad abilities are slightly in favor of the Bronco Sport, but if ninety percent of the driving will be done around town, it may not be a trade worth making.
These vehicles beg to be driven outdoors and taken for a good time.
Inviting some friends for a road trip or camping requires space for both people and their gear.
The interior of the Subaru Forester has kept pace with the increased amount of technology and comfort expected.
The latest model has an eight-inch touchscreen display making navigation and entertainment easy and intuitive.
The car sits at SUV level height, making entry and exit easy, and the tall doors easily accommodate adults.
Seating is comfortable for four adults, and there is space for a fifth though comfort will depend on the size of the occupants.
There are USB power points in both the front and rear of the vehicle.
Subaru has also outfitted the entire vehicle with an easy-to-clean soft-touch material for those days when you bring part of the outdoors home with you.
Ford Bronco Sport
The Ford Bronco Sport takes the rugged exterior and continues the same feel to the interior.
The floor features rubber mats making cleaning up a breeze, and the safari-type roof provides plenty of headroom for all passengers.
Seating is similar to the Forester, comfortable for four, adequate for five, depending on size
The Bronco also keeps current with the latest technology using a Sync3 interface for voice-activated phone calls, navigation, and entertainment.
The Bronco Sport excels in all the features available in the cargo area.
Multiple tie-downs, power outlets, a bike rack, and even a built-in bottle opener turn your vehicle into a portable base camp.
The roof is rated for an additional 150 pounds of gear, which means you won’t have to leave anything or anyone behind.
Neither the Forester nor Bronco Sport is willing to sacrifice comfort in the pursuit of durability.
Ford prioritized a spacious interior able to withstand the messiness of outdoor living.
Subaru has done the same and continued to emphasize safety by placing key features and the body design itself.
A vehicle is only valuable if it is running and reliable.
Everything else is worthless if the car spends more time in the shop than on the road.
Let’s see how these two vehicles compare in reliability.
The Ford Bronco sport is a new addition to the crossover market.
The original Ford Bronco was sold from 1966 until 1996 before being discontinued to make room for newer models such as the Expedition, Excursion, and Explorer.
After a twenty-five-year break, the newer model Bronco Sport came onto the market in 2021.
Consumer reviews are mixed and may or may not reveal problems down the road for the new kid on the block.
The jury is still out as every vehicle has the opportunity to earn its reputation, and the Bronco Sport is still young.
Most experts agree that this is a vehicle that goes above the call to stay on the road and keep the cost of ownership to a minimum.
Owners have to decide for themselves if the excitement of owning the first version of the Bronco Sport is worth the headache that can sometimes accompany driving the first vehicles off the line.
The Bronco Sport may be young, but the Forester is well into middle age and has had time to earn its reputation.
The consensus is the Forester is getting better with age. Most experts recommend avoiding earlier models, except those from years 2010 to 2013.
The overall reliability rating by J.D. Power and Associates since 2011 peaks at 82/100, and the lowest score is 77
Subaru has long held a reputation for safety and above-average dependency, and the Forester sits comfortably in that category.