Battle of the 4X4 SUVs: 2021 Subaru Forester vs 2021 Jeep Wrangler

4X4If you’re an adventure seeker who loves traveling off the beaten path, you need a rugged 4X4 vehicle. The 2021 Jeep Wrangler and the 2021 Subaru Forester rank among the most capable SUVs in America. Both are specifically geared towards outdoor lifestyles. In this head-to-head comparison, we’ll find out which SUV is the better choice for you.


The 2021 Jeep Wrangler comes standard with a strong Pentastar V6 engine, which develops 285 horsepower. You can also opt for a turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 270 horsepower. Meanwhile, Jeep’s available EcoDiesel engine develops 260 horsepower and a noteworthy 442 lb-ft of torque.

All versions of the Subaru Forester are equipped with a Boxer four-cylinder engine, which develops 182 horsepower. It comes as no surprise that the new Wrangler offers quicker acceleration. However, expect the lighter and more nimble Forester to offer much better handling on the street. You’ll also find the Forester to be easier to park in tight spots.

Fuel Economy

While the Subaru Forester may not pack as much muscle under the hood, it will save you more money at the pump. The EPA rates the Forester to return up to 26 mpg city/33 mpg highway. This is an excellent rating for a 4X4 vehicle.

By comparison, Wrangler models equipped with a V6 engine deliver an EPA-estimated 20 mpg city/24 mpg highway. Although the diesel-powered Wrangler is more economical, its 22 mpg city/29 mpg highway rating still ranks below the Forester.

Off-Road Capabilities

The Jeep Wrangler is an extremely skilled off-road machine. It comes standard with a full-time 4X4 system and heavy-duty skid plates. Jeep engineers the Wrangler Rubicon model with even more off-road goodies, including rock protection.

A 4X4 system also comes standard on the Forester. When you need enhanced traction and greater control on challenging terrain, simply activate Subaru’s X-MODE feature. While the Forester will perform extremely well on most off-road trails, the Wrangler is capable of driving deeper into the rough backcountry. Its higher ground clearance and extra protection will come in handy.

Exterior Design

The Jeep Wrangler is among the most adventurous-looking 4X4 SUVs on the market. You’ll immediately recognize the Wrangler’s classic round headlights and signature seven-slot grille. A long list of appearance upgrades are on the Wrangler’s list of options.

While the Forester doesn’t look as rugged as the Wrangler, many drivers appreciate its refined styling. The Forester Sport has an especially eye-catching appearance. Subaru decks it out with exclusive 18-inch alloy wheels and black/orange exterior accents.

What really sets apart the new Wrangler is its detachable roof. On beautiful days in Asheville, you’ll love cruising around town with the top down. Removable doors add to the Wrangler’s fun factor. You won’t find these cool features on the Subaru Forester.

Interior Room

Both of these 4X4 SUVs are spacious enough to accommodate families. Nevertheless, the Forester offers the most overall passenger room. When riding in the Forester’s backseat, passengers will have an extra 1.1 inches of legroom. There’s also noticeably more legroom in the front of the Forester.

When it comes to cargo space, it’s a close match between the Forester and the Wrangler. There’s plenty of room for hiking gear, camping essentials, and other stuff.


The Jeep Wrangler offers a lot of modern features. Jeep’s available Uconnect infotainment system is considered to be one of the automotive industry’s best. Other upgrades include a Wi-Fi hot spot, a nine-speaker Alpine premium sound system, and dual-zone automatic climate control.

In contrast to the Wrangler, the Subaru Forester’s touchscreen interface comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. Wrangler buyers must pay extra for advanced smartphone support. Heated rear seats are also exclusively available on the Forester.


In terms of overall crash protection, the Forester outclasses the Wrangler. It was named an IIHS Top Safety Pick.

Both of these 4X4 SUVs offer valuable accident-avoidance technologies, such as automatic emergency braking and blond-spot monitoring. However, only the Forester offers turn-adapting LED headlights for enhanced visibility at night. Lane-keep assist, rear automatic braking, and advanced driver drowsiness monitoring are also offered on the Forester.


If you’re seeking the most capable 4X4 SUV, the new Jeep Wrangler is your best choice. Drivers seeking a stronger performance will also be happier with the Wrangler. On the other hand, better road handling and enhanced fuel economy make the Subaru Forester a more practical family vehicle. Which SUV fits your lifestyle the best?

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