2017~2021 Considering a change from Subaru

Not as pleasing to drive as the Model 3 sedan, questionable build quality, high starting price.
The all-wheel drive Long Range offers 316 miles of range...
The Model Y that we tested was a Long Range model with all-wheel drive, and over our 200-mile highway fuel economy test route we recorded just 94 MPGe and an estimated highway driving range of 220 miles.

- Car & Driver

The Tesla's ride is too stiff and very choppy. Bumps and ruts hit hard, making passengers feel every road imperfection, and the ride motions are short and quick, which makes the car feel nervous.
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Consumer Reports

Just cruising around, we found the Model Y to have a pretty firm ride, like something from BMW's M division. That might be a bit too busy and jolty for some folks. Interior noise is at best so-so (even given the lack of a gasoline engine to drown out the outside world).
- Motor Trend
There are all valid points. I'd be hard pressed to find a CUV/SUV that handled as well as a performance-oriented sedan, regardless of the type of vehicle.

Like any vehicle, depending on how you drive it will determine the efficiency. If I drive my Subaru in sport mode, I'm under 20 mpg. If I drive very gently, I can push close to 30. I'm sure this is also amplified by the electrical motors of the Tesla. Highways are not kind of EV's - especially above 70 mph... the energy required to move the vehicle through the air is a squared relationship. This also is exacerbated by the fact that gasoline has more potential energy in it compared to a battery's potential energy (meaning a full tank of gas has more PE than a full charge of Lithium-Ion type chemistry)

I've heard the ride is stiff on performance models. I haven't really heard this complaint on the regular LR model with the stock 19" Gemini wheels. I could see if someone upgraded to the 20" induction or 21" Uberturbine wheels with the tiny sidewalls that they'd feel every imperfection.

Again, all valid arguments which just necessitates the need to test drive everything before buying.

Thanks for sharing.
 
I used to own a 2018 Outback which I replaced with an Acura MDX (mechanically identical to your Honda Pilot). My mother loved my Outback so she bought herself a 2020 Outback XT. I currently drive the MDX and 2019 CX-5 Touring as my daily drivers depending on where I am living (my job has me working in SoCal and New Mexico so I have cars in both states). Having extensively driven the CX-5 and both 18 & 20 Subaru models I can state that they are all excellent cars and I don't think you can make a bad choice with either selection.
Each make/model has their own trims and features lists and they can all be spec'd to have the features that you want, so I'll just compare the bones of the cars.

Noise: The Subarus are louder, especially in engine noise. The Mazda sounds smooth and refined even when you are at full throttle, whereas the Subaru engines are really course and sound like they are full of gravel. But both models are quiet cruisers on the highway, but Mazda wins my vote here.

Ride Quality/Handling: Mazda is sporty and has a tighter suspension. You will feel every bump in the road (especially with the large rims) but it never feels jarring or exhausting, there's just plenty of feedback. The Subaru suspensions are soft and allow a lot of travel. This makes the ride butter smooth but there is substantial body roll in the corners and panic braking will make you think the nose of the car is scraping the asphalt.

Transmission: Mazda has the tried and true 6 speed. No gimmicks here, it works well and knows what gear to be in always. It never draws attention to itself and I love that you can manually shift gears with the lever (Pull back for upshift, push forward to downshift just like a true sequential gearbox). The Subaru CVT has paddles which is only useful for driving down steep grades. The simulated gearshifts are fine, but unnecessary given that there is an infinite number of ratios to choose from with a CVT. In everyday driving the CVT is great to live with and very smooth, but it gets confused at full throttle (especially in the turbo model). I personally have no concerns with the long term reliability of either transmission.

AWD: Subaru symmetrical AWD is the best for off road and all weather performance hands down. In my experience, the Mazda is reluctant to send power rearward until the front wheels lose traction. This likely wont be an issue unless you have a steep driveway that ices easily or take your cars off pavement often like I do.

Driver Assistance: The Mazda's interface is easier to use and the ACC is very smooth. Because it is a radar-based unit it works in fog offering that extra level of safety in poor visibility conditions. The Subaru Eyesight system works exceptionally well and has lane centering assist which is a very useful feature to reduce driver fatigue. Additionally, the ACC doesn't get confused by cars in adjacent lanes while driving around curves (because it doesn't rely on radar). My only concern is that the system doesn't work in fog, severe rain, or when there's condensation on the windshield that blocks the systems view.

Fuel Economy: I get bad gas mileage in the 2020 Outback XT. Best I've managed in that is 24 mpg. With the 2.5 naturally aspirated engines in the CX-5 and my old 18 Outback, I easily average 32+ mpg, but I am 90% highway 10% city driving. (25.5 mpg on my MDX fyi). I cannot speak to the economy of Mazda's 2.5 Turbo engine however.

Overall these are both great cars but choosing a winner depends on your priorities (and if your current Forester has Eyesight and if that is a priority for you). The Mazda is the drivers car and performs well on the road. It is smaller and less spacious though, especially if you will put passengers in the rear seats. The Subaru is a better cruiser in my opinion. The seats and suspension are soft and supple, and with the Eyesight system you can roadtrip that car for days without feeling exhausted, even though the Mazda is a bit quieter. An issue I have with the Mazda is the fuel tank size. I drive mostly highway miles and the CX-5 needs to refuel about every 350 miles which puts me at the gas station way more frequently than I ever did in my Outback or my MDX.

That discussion aside...
Electric cars are great and they should be cheaper to own compared to traditional gasoline powered cars. I haven't studied enough metrics to know how well they will hold up over 10-15 years, but the engineer in me expects them to be more reliable and need less repairs than a gasoline or hybrid vehicle because they are mechanically simple. Less complexity = less to go wrong.
In my opinion Teslas are disappointing. They perform great and their range is impressive, but they are built too poorly for my consideration. Chipping paint, software reboots, water leaks, creaking, rattling, misaligned body panels, broken door handles... that's unacceptable for a car at any price point. I was hoping they would have improved their quality by now, especially on the Model S that's been in production since 2012, but no.
The future is looking good though, each year more and more EVs become available with more range and lower purchase price.
 
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I used to own a 2018 Outback which I replaced with an Acura MDX (mechanically identical to your Honda Pilot). My mother loved my Outback so she bought herself a 2020 Outback XT. I currently drive the MDX and 2019 CX-5 Touring as my daily drivers depending on where I am living (my job has me working in SoCal and New Mexico so I have cars in both states). Having extensively driven the CX-5 and both 18 & 20 Subaru models I can state that they are all excellent cars and I don't think you can make a bad choice with either selection.
Each make/model has their own trims and features lists and they can all be spec'd to have the features that you want, so I'll just compare the bones of the cars.

Noise: The Subarus are louder, especially in engine noise. The Mazda sounds smooth and refined even when you are at full throttle, whereas the Subaru engines are really course and sound like they are full of gravel. But both models are quiet cruisers on the highway, but Mazda wins my vote here.

Ride Quality/Handling: Mazda is sporty and has a tighter suspension. You will feel every bump in the road (especially with the large rims) but it never feels jarring or exhausting, there's just plenty of feedback. The Subaru suspensions are soft and allow a lot of travel. This makes the ride butter smooth but there is substantial body roll in the corners and panic braking will make you think the nose of the car is scraping the asphalt.

Transmission: Mazda has the tried and true 6 speed. No gimmicks here, it works well and knows what gear to be in always. It never draws attention to itself and I love that you can manually shift gears with the lever (Pull back for upshift, push forward to downshift just like a true sequential gearbox). The Subaru CVT has paddles which is only useful for driving down steep grades. The simulated gearshifts are fine, but unnecessary given that there is an infinite number of ratios to choose from with a CVT. In everyday driving the CVT is great to live with and very smooth, but it gets confused at full throttle (especially in the turbo model). I personally have no concerns with the long term reliability of either transmission.

AWD: Subaru symmetrical AWD is the best for off road and all weather performance hands down. In my experience, the Mazda is reluctant to send power rearward until the front wheels lose traction. This likely wont be an issue unless you have a steep driveway that ices easily or take your cars off pavement often like I do.

Driver Assistance: The Mazda's interface is easier to use and the ACC is very smooth. Because it is a radar-based unit it works in fog offering that extra level of safety in poor visibility conditions. The Subaru Eyesight system works exceptionally well and has lane centering assist which is a very useful feature to reduce driver fatigue. Additionally, the ACC doesn't get confused by cars in adjacent lanes while driving around curves (because it doesn't rely on radar). My only concern is that the system doesn't work in fog, severe rain, or when there's condensation on the windshield that blocks the systems view.

Fuel Economy: I get bad gas mileage in the 2020 Outback XT. Best I've managed in that is 24 mpg. With the 2.5 naturally aspirated engines in the CX-5 and my old 18 Outback, I easily average 32+ mpg, but I am 90% highway 10% city driving. (25.5 mpg on my MDX fyi). I cannot speak to the economy of Mazda's 2.5 Turbo engine however.

Overall these are both great cars but choosing a winner depends on your priorities (and if your current Forester has Eyesight and if that is a priority for you). The Mazda is the drivers car and performs well on the road. It is smaller and less spacious though, especially if you will put passengers in the rear seats. The Subaru is a better cruiser in my opinion. The seats and suspension are soft and supple, and with the Eyesight system you can roadtrip that car for days without feeling exhausted, even though the Mazda is a bit quieter. An issue I have with the Mazda is the fuel tank size. I drive mostly highway miles and the CX-5 needs to refuel about every 350 miles which puts me at the gas station way more frequently than I ever did in my Outback or my MDX.

That discussion aside...
Electric cars are great and they should be cheaper to own compared to traditional gasoline powered cars. I haven't studied enough metrics to know how well they will hold up over 10-15 years, but the engineer in me expects them to be more reliable and need less repairs than a gasoline or hybrid vehicle because they are mechanically simple. Less complexity = less to go wrong.
In my opinion Teslas are disappointing. They perform great and their range is impressive, but they are built too poorly for my consideration. Chipping paint, software reboots, water leaks, creaking, rattling, misaligned body panels, broken door handles... that's unacceptable for a car at any price point. I was hoping they would have improved their quality by now, especially on the Model S that's been in production since 2012, but no.
The future is looking good though, each year more and more EVs become available with more range and lower purchase price.
Truly brilliant post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I really appreciate the apples to apples comparisons. I have a slightly older Forester that doesn’t have Lane Centering. It was added in the 2020 Model Year, and I would love to have it.

Have to go take one (CX5) for a Test Drive!
 
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North of Toronto
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2019 CX-9 Sig
My biggest concerns are learning a new system since I've had Subaru for so long, and how they perform in snow. While I do live in a suburban environment, I do have to drive through snow throughout the winter months here and I'm considered essential personnel, so I have to go to work even when there's a state of emergency or roads close. I've been pulled over by local law enforcement to reprimand me about driving when there's a state of emergency and after showing my credentials they allow me along but strongly suggest I turn back.
Well, if snow is up there with concerns, I won't bother to tell you start running winter tires and store them at the dealer, but start running winter tires and store them at the dealer.

Having said that, and people may disagree with me but I do live in the great white north and did snowplow residential for 3 winters so I know a bit about navigating the fluff...I'd take a CX5 with winter tires over any Subaru with all seasons. Every day of the week. Any day of the week. I'd take a 2wd SUV with winters over an SUV with all seasons if I'm going into a storm where roads are closed. But both the options with winter rubber, ya the Subaru would seem to be the consensus from what I've read.

As for your potential switch, sorry I skimmed a couple of the replies but if it wasn't said, you'd be dropping some cargo capacity in the cx5.
 
By the time you're ready, hopefully the model y has its act together and if you can afford it, it could be a great car. However, I'd probably stay away from 2020/2021 cars.

I work in Transportation Electrification (and drive a turbo CX5, ironic I know), and have to say a lot of exciting EV's are coming soon! I've spent a lot of time behind a friend's Model3 LR, and it is hard to beat when it comes to acceleration.

It sounds more like you prefer the peace of mind that AWD offers. But as a poster recommended before, just buy a set of snow tires and store them at your dealer. I had my 3 series BMW on snow tires (RWD) and passed brand new foresters, outbacks and 4runners (clearly not running similar tires) uphill in the snow.

I come from a large family who has every subaru model in existence, with the exception of an STI. And i'll say the CX5 is a better daily driver than all of them. I'm averaging 26mpg in my turbo with 60% fwy/hwy and 40% city. It's also much quieter and does feel a class above. Although i'd classify it as semi-luxury and not necessarily luxury level. It is smaller than both forester and outback so if you need the space, I'd say look elsewhere. I have friends who have the naturally aspirated version and the first gen model who have all said the CX5 has done fantastic getting them to the mountain and back.

Someone else also mentioned the VW id4, and I'd also say look at that. Just cause there aren't EA chargers everywhere, doesn't mean you shouldn't consider it. There are plenty of Chargepoint, EVgo & Semaconnect stations all over NJ. I also guarantee at launch that this car will have a better build quality than the model y did at launch. And by this time next year, the AWD version should be released.

The RAV4 prime should be a good mix of the Tesla, Forester and CX5. If you can splurge, the BMW X3 PHEV is also pretty good. I wanted this myself, but it was brand new when I was looking and they weren't taking a cent off the price tag.
 
I recently closed on two new 2020 Foresters (one for my daughter and a 2nd for a friend) and have a 2021 CX-5 on order. So I've spent quite a bit of time looking at the tradeoffs.

The Forester is a darn good car, borderline great if you get a good deal and where getting the most car for the money is the #1 priority. Both of the Foresters I negotiated on were Premiums with an extra BSM/rear-power-gate package and a few port-installed options and were OTD for about $27,500+TTL. It is just incredible what you get for this money...... a big/roomy AWD SUV with all the latest active safety gear (including radar cruise control with stop/start), a big moonroof, power rear gate, LED lights, keyless, homelink and lots of other nice features. The 2nd thing that is super impressive is how good the visibility is out of the car - you sit tall with lots of glass and a very low beltline. (It's the anti-car of the new Camaro.) Other strengths are the smoothness of the CVT, nice soft ride and generally roominess inside. Great small car for a big dog owner!

But....reliability has been a little below the Japanese competition of late. That may mostly be the usual ebb/flow that happens when a new model comes out as it did in 2019 and the 20's and 21's are likely going to cause the data to rebound. That being said the CX-5 reliability has been VERY good lately so I certainly give the edge to the CX-5. The other aspect where the Forester lets you down is just the numb driving dynamics, again something the CX-5 excels at. There are two sides to every coin and the CVT, soft suspension, and tallness of the Forester all conspire to make the CX-5 a much better handler with much more direct feedback. I can't see enjoying driving a Forester at speed on a windy road whereas the CX-5 would be great fun, especially with a good set of summer tires. And only the CX-5 gives you the turbo option, albeit at much increased cost. Then there's the interiors - the Forester certainly serviceable, but the CX-5 a step up, maybe two steps up in the high-end trims.

These two cars to me define the state-of-the-art in high-value non-luxury-marque compact SUVs. The RAV4 and CRV are both good too, but neither matches the utility of the Subaru nor the high-end feel and driving dynamics of the CX-5. The main reason to go with either the Honda or Toyota is if you're after fuel mileage in which case you want the hybrid versions, maybe even the RAV4 Prime if supply ever catches up to demand.

Pure electric cars are a whole different kettle of fish and I honestly don't see how they're likely to be cross-shopped. If your driving patterns are compatible with an electric car, you can install a L2 home charger, and you don't mind the extra upfront cost (maybe not that much more depending on your individual tax situation), the electrics are a great way to go as the driving experience is great, running costs are much lower, maintenance is way reduced, and who doesn't like almost never having to pump gas? Here the Kona Electric strikes me as the best deal right now and it still is eligible for the fed tax credit. The Teslas are very cool, but expensive and you do have to look past the fit/finish issues. OTOH, the way you buy Teslas sure beats the typical car dealer.

- Mark
 
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According to Consumer Reports, the Mazda CX5 and Forester have the same overall rating of 84.
The Subaru has more comfortable rear seats, a bit more room inside, and gets better fuel mileage..
The Mazda is faster, handles better, quieter, and more reliable.
I picked the Mazda for the same reason but am trying to return it. The seats hurt my upper back so much, the headrest forces my head forward. If you have any back issues, make sure you get a long enough test drive with the cx5 to make sure it fits your body.
 
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2014 Mazda3 S GT auto, 2008 MX5 6-speed
I picked the Mazda for the same reason but am trying to return it. The seats hurt my upper back so much, the headrest forces my head forward. If you have any back issues, make sure you get a long enough test drive with the cx5 to make sure it fits your body.
Are the seats in every trim level the same? Typically they are not. Which trim level did you buy? It took a while for my Mazda3 GT seats to conform to my body. They are definitely more firm than those in my MX5 but the 3's seats are not as uncomfortable as they were when new. Some auto upholsterers can add foam to seats as per customer suggestions.
 

sm1ke

Work In Progress..
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Contributor
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Canada
:
'18 CX-9 Signature
I picked the Mazda for the same reason but am trying to return it. The seats hurt my upper back so much, the headrest forces my head forward. If you have any back issues, make sure you get a long enough test drive with the cx5 to make sure it fits your body.
It might also be worth mentioning that Mazda includes some specific instructions for seat adjustment in the owner's manual. They may help to improve your seating position/comfort.
 
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