2020 Subaru Forester vs Kia Sportage Comparison Information in Shingle Springs, CA

There's good reason for the popularity of small SUVs, and the Subaru Forester is a prime example of why. Its smaller footprint means that it's not nearly as unwieldy as larger SUVs, but it retains the ground clearance, ride height, and capability that makes the SUV a popular choice. Of course, there are a number of competitors in the segment, including the Kia Sportage. But when you take a side-by-side look at what each model offers, you'll find that Subaru is much better equipped than Kia. We'll go into more detail below on how these two small SUVs stack up against each other.

Subaru Forester interior with rear seats folded

2020 Subaru Forester vs 2020 Kia Sportage: Design

There's no doubt that these two SUVs have different styles. The Kia Sportage has a distinctively funky exterior, while the Subaru Forester has a more traditional SUV look. While this may make the Kia Sportage stand out more, it also shows style over substance. Take the headlights, for example. The 2020 Subaru Forester comes standard with LED headlights, while these are an available upgrade only on the Kia Sportage. And, while the Forester has roof rails available at the entry level and standard on every other model, the base Kia Sportage doesn't even offer roof rails as an option. You have to upgrade to the higher S trim to get them.

On the inside, the differences in design become even clearer. With 111.9 cubic feet of passenger volume, the Subaru Forester is one of the roomiest small SUVs on the market. The Kia Sportage only gives you 98.6 cubic feet of passenger space. The 2020 Kia Sportage also has a little less standard cargo volume (30.7 cubic feet, compared to the 31.1 cubic feet in the Subaru Forester) and a lot less maximum cargo space (60.1 cubic feet, compared to the 76.1 cubic feet in the Subaru Forester).

Subaru Forester touchscreen

2020 Subaru Forester vs 2020 Kia Sportage: Interior Features

When it comes to your comfort, the spaciousness of the Subaru Forester is just the beginning. When you get a Subaru Forester, you'll get better features at lower trim levels. Heated seats, for example, are available in both SUVs, but only the 2020 Subaru Forester gives you the option of adding heated rear seats, too. The 2020 Subaru Forester also comes with automatic climate control in all models, while the base Kia Sportage starts out with manual air conditioning.

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Subaru Forester driving along off-road trail

2020 Subaru Forester vs 2020 Kia Sportage: Performance

Look at the engines in these SUVs and you'll see that horsepower and torque are nearly identical. But when the rubber hits the road, you'll notice a huge difference. This is because the Kia Sportage comes with a standard inline engine, while the Forester has a SUBARU BOXER® engine. This engine features a flat design that helps cancel out vibrations, and its low placement in the engine compartment gives the Subaru Forester a low center of gravity. The result is better handling, which is helped also by the standard all-wheel drive system. Despite being an AWD vehicle, the 2020 Subaru Forester actually gets better gas mileage than the entry-level Kia Sportage, which comes with front-wheel drive. While AWD is an available upgrade in the Sportage, it will cost more and decrease gas mileage.

Subaru Forester driving

2020 Subaru Forester vs Kia Sportage: Safety

Your safety is a top priority to Subaru, and it shows in the Forester. The standard all-wheel drive provides superior traction, and you'll be able to access features like available LED Steering Responsive Headlights, which track in the direction of your turn to increase visibility when you're taking corners at night. Such advanced headlights aren't available at all on the Kia Sportage. Similarly, the Subaru Forester comes with features like adaptive cruise control, which is an available upgrade if you choose the Kia Sportage.

Of course, crashes are best avoided altogether. But if you do get in an accident, the Subaru Forester can help protect you--and the experts agree. The 2020 Subaru Forester received the prestigious 2020 Top Safety Pick+ from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The Kia Sportage received the 2020 Top Safety Pick, which is still impressive--just not quite as much as the Forester. What's more, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the 2020 Subaru Forester a five-star rating in the Overall, Frontal Crash, and Side Crash categories. The 2020 Kia Sportage got five stars in the Overall and Side Crash categories, but only four stars in the Frontal Crash category.

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2020 Subaru Forester vs Kia Sportage: Value

The starting MSRP of the 2020 Subaru Forester is just slightly more than $500 greater than the starting MSRP of the 2020 Kia Sportage. Despite this, it gives you so much more for your money. Even adding all-wheel drive to the entry-level 2020 Kia Sportage will cost you an extra $1,500, making it more expensive than the Subaru Forester. And this isn't even taking into account that the Kia Sportage has less interior volume and a number of unavailable features! Come experience the value a 2020 Forester can offer at Shingle Springs Subaru.

2020 Subaru Forester2020 Kia Sportage
$24,495Starting MSRP*$23,990
StandardAll-Wheel DriveAvailable Upgrade
176 lb.-ft.Torque175 lb.-ft.
33 Highway / 26 CityFuel Efficiency (MPG)30 Highway / 23 City
111.9 cu. ft.Passenger Volume98.6 cu. ft.
76.1 cu. ft.Maximum Cargo Space60.1 cu. ft.
AutomaticStandard Climate ControlManual
StandardAdaptive Cruise ControlAvailable Upgrade
5 StarsNHTSA Frontal Crash Rating4 Stars

*Manufacturer's suggested retail price does not include destination and delivery charges, tax, title and registration fees. Destination and delivery includes handling and inland freight fees and may vary in some states. Prices, specifications, options, features and models subject to change without notice.