Subaru Forester vs. VW Tiguan: Which Is Better?

The Subaru Forester has a leg up on its comparable competitor—the VW Tiguan. Find out why in our Forester vs. Tiguan showdown.
Written by Meaghan Branham
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
When the Subaru Forester and the VW Tiguan go head-to-head, the Forester comes out on top thanks to lower costs, high safety ratings, and easy-to-use tech. If passenger room is a deal breaker though, you may want to give the Tiguan a second look. 
The Forester and Tiguan have a lot in common, so much so that at first glance they might seem to share everything but their price tag. Upon closer inspection of their price, interior comfort, engines, fuel economy, and more, one of these SUVs comes out on top. 
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Subaru Forester vs. VW Tiguan: which is more expensive?

Here’s a look at the difference in every MSRP for each trim level of the Forester and Tiguan, from their base trims up to the highest tier.
Starting MSRP
Starting MSRP
Forester Base
Tiguan S
Forester Premium
Tiguan SE
Forester Sport
Tiguan SE R-Line Black
Forester Limited
Tiguan SEL R-Line
Forester Wilderness
Forester Touring
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Across the board, the Tiguan is more expensive than its Forester counterpart. As you can see, the Forester offers a couple more trim levels than the Tiguan. But even the most expensive model of the Forester costs less than the most expensive Tiguan. 

Ownership costs

Owning a car comes at a cost that adds up to more than just a one-time price tag: it’s a long-term investment. Over the years, maintenance, repairs, fuel, and more, will add up to create the true cost to own your vehicle
According to Edmunds, the five-year true cost to own the base model of the 2022 Subaru Forester is around $33,536. The five-year cost to own the base model of the VW Tiguan, known as the S, is around $37,104. That’s significantly higher than that of the Forester.
So why is the Tiguan’s true cost so much higher than that of the Forester? For a few reasons. The cost to fuel up over the course of five years is significantly more for the Tiguan, and the Tiguan depreciates more rapidly. 
The Tiguan only holds a reliability score of 3.0 out of 5.0 from RepairPal, while the Forester ranks a bit higher at 3.5. Plus,
Volkswagen maintenance costs
will add up faster, at around $730 a year for the Tiguan versus the Forester’s $632. 

Insurance costs

When it comes to the long-term costs of a car most people think of insurance first. This one is a bit of a toss-up when it comes to the Subaru Forester and VW Tiguan. 
The entry-level 2022
Subaru Forester insurance costs
will be around $3,496 for five years, according to Edmunds. The entry-level 2022
Volkswagen Tiguan insurance costs
come in just a bit above that, at $3,695. However, there’s always a chance that owners could secure a better rate with tools like the

Winner: Subaru Forester

Despite the sometimes close calls, the Subaru Forester comes in ahead of the Volkswagen Tiguan when it comes to affordability. When you look at the lower MSRP, the cheaper cost to own, and the comparable insurance rates, there’s no denying that the Forster is more budget-friendly. 
But what else sets these two trailblazers apart? Might that higher cost be worth it for the Tiguan? Let’s dive a little deeper into each model to see what you really get for your money.

Subaru Forester vs. VW Tiguan: In-depth comparison

Body style and size

Let’s start with first impressions: the body and style of each model. While the Forester is a compact SUV with rugged, truck-like styling, the VW Tiguan offers more room as a mid-size SUV and a more elegant design.   
The biggest difference is in the passenger and cargo space, and the Tiguan beats out its competitor. It offers nearly 10 extra cubic feet of base cargo space with all the seats up, and the
Tiguan's third row of seating
is a dealbreaker for those who need room for more than the Forester’s five.
2022 Subaru Forester
2022 Volkswagen Tiguan
105.1 inches
109.9 inches
Passenger volume
111.6 cubic feet
124 cubic feet
Headroom (front/middle/rear)
41.2/N/A/39.6 inches
39.6/39.1/33.8 inches
Legroom (front/middle/rear)
40.2/N/A/39.4 inches
40.2/36.5/27.9 inches
Cargo volume w/seats up
28.9 cubic feet
37.6 cubic feet
Cargo volume w/seats down
74.2 cubic feet
73.4 cubic feet
Ground clearance
8.7 to 9.2 inches
7.6 inches
Base curb weight
3454 lbs
3856 lbs
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MORE: Subaru's best midsize SUV

Engine and performance

But what if your priority is performance? Then you might find yourself at a bit of an impasse. 
The Subaru Forester is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, which gets 182 horsepower and 176 lb-ft of torque
The Tiguan, on the other hand, has a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, but it only outdoes the Forester by a small margin at 184 hp. The Tiguan does take the torque up a notch, coming in at 221 lb-ft
The most significant difference you’ll find is in the drivetrains: All Forester trims come with
Subaru’s standard symmetrical all-wheel drive (AWD)
, while the Tiguan comes equipped with a front-wheel drive. If you want to pay more for the available 4Motion all-wheel-drive system, you can, but that will make the Tiguan’s MSRP even more expensive than the Forester.
Neither of these engines will give you much of a thrill if that’s what you’re looking for. The Forester makes it from 0 to 60 in around eight seconds, and the Tiguan can make it there in around nine. Still, that one second difference might sway you to the Foresters side. 
The Subaru Forester's towing capacity
is tied with the Tiguan—both capable of carrying around 1,500 lb behind them
Overall, you may want to consider this one a draw, and use different criteria to make your final choice between the two. 

Fuel economy

The differences are more apparent between these two when it comes to fuel economy—especially if you opt for the all-wheel drive or higher trims of the Tiguan. 
The Subaru Forester is rated for 26 mpg in the city, 33 mpg on the highway, and 29 mpg combined
If you opt for the standard FWD VW Tiguan, you’ll get 23 mpg in the city, 30 mpg on the highway, and 26 mpg combined. The AWD Tiguan drops one mile for each category with 22 mpg in the city, 29 mpg on the highway, and around 25 mpg combined. The SEL R-Line trim drops yet another mile from each of these numbers.
No matter what version of the Tiguan you end up with, you’ll still be losing when it comes to fuel economy compared to the Forester. 


SUVs aren’t just known for their adventurous spirit, they’re also famous for being just about the coolest version of a family car you can find. That’s why safety ratings are so vital to picking the right ute for you. 
Luckily, both the Forester and the Tiguan impress in this category. The Forester earns a five-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and comes standard with features like automated emergency braking, lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control.
The Tiguan hasn’t been given an overall score by the NHTSA yet. Still, it was rated five stars in their side crash test and four in their rollover test. Every trim comes standard with automated emergency braking and forward collision warning. Lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control are all only available as add-ons or at higher trim levels. 
Both have been recognized as 2022 Top Safety Picks+ from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), a good sign for any family-focused ride. If we have to choose, we’ll give this one to the Forester. On top of its strong overall safety rating, its standard safety features inspire a bit more confidence. 


There are some similarities between technology that make the Forester and Tiguan hard to separate. 
For one, there’s the shared standard 6.5-inch touch screen infotainment system, featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. A WiFi hotspot can be found on both, though it is standard in the Tiguan, and only available on upper trim levels in the Forester
While the Tiguan models come with either an 8.0- or 10.3-inch digital gauge display, some drivers have complained about its difficulty to use, along with similar issues with its infotainment screen. Only upper trim levels of the Tiguan get to enjoy more advanced safety features, as well as a nine-speaker Fender audio system
Because of its more user-friendly tendencies, as well as its more expansive list of standard features, we have to name the Forester the winner in this category

Interior and comfort

Both the Forester and Tiguan have an interior that could be described as comfortable but simple. Base trims of each come with cloth interior, though going up in trims can get you leather (or faux-leather, in the case of the VW) upholstery, a panoramic sunroof, and power-adjustable seats. 
What really pushes the winner into first place here is space: The Tiguan is one of the only in its class to offer a third row of seating, so if you’re looking for room for more than five, this is going to be your best bet. Plus, with seats up, the Tiguan offers 37.6 cubic feet, compared to the Forester’s 28.9 cubes.

Winner: Subaru Forester

It’s a close call, but when it comes to this race, the Subaru Forester narrowly comes in first place. While the Tiguan is a great pick and a worthy competitor, the Forester’s lower cost, better fuel economy, standard safety features, and more accessible tech help it take home the gold.
Of course, there are always exceptions, and your unique needs may be better suited to the Tiguan. For instance, if it's combined passenger space and cargo room you’re looking for, the VW offers more efficiency for a full car by a considerable margin. 

How to save on Subaru insurance costs

Subaru insurance costs
Volkswagen insurance costs
is the only deciding factor left, keep in mind that your rates will depend on more than just the type of car you driver. The Subaru Forester generally costs slightly less to insure than the VW Tiguan, but both could be expensive depending on your location, age, driving record, and more. Turn to
to find the best rate for whatever car you drive!
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