Subaru Forester vs. Toyota RAV4

July 9, 2014

Crossover SUVs are all the rage these days, providing families with the space of a full-size SUV and the handling of a smaller vehicle. The most popular models are sporty, tech-savvy and versatile. The Subaru Forester and Toyota RAV4 are both top contenders this year, thanks to the RAV4's solid redesign and the Forester's flexible demeanor.

See a side-by-side comparison of the Forester & RAV4 >>

But which model is the best multipurpose pick for today's multitasking family?

What the Subaru Forester Gets Right

The sturdy Forester has been a crowd-pleaser for years, and with good reason. Outdoorsy folk appreciate its stable handling, ample storage space and available roof racks for bikes and kayaks. It can easily go off the beaten path, equipped with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder, manual transmission, standard all-wheel drive and available turbocharged engine. The base model can be upgraded to Limited, Premium, or Touring trim levels.

Highway drivers appreciate the Forester's comfortable interior, excellent sound system and range of tech options, including standard Bluetooth and smartphone connectivity for all trim levels. Upgrade packages provide niceties such as a panoramic sunroof, leather upholstery and a subwoofer. The Forester's safety features also continue to impress.

What the Toyota RAV4 Gets Right

The RAV4's 2013 redesign brought a host of pleasing modifications. Its streamlined exterior and improved interior materials continue to help it compete with its stylish peers. It isn't as well-known for its off-road attitude, but the RAV4 is capable of handling some forest adventures, should the need arise. All trim levels have a 2.5L 4-cylinder engine mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission, with front or all-wheel drive.

Base models come with iPhone and Bluetooth connectivity, rearview camera, and 17-inch steel wheels. Upgrading to the XLE or Premium bring tempting features such as a sunroof, push-button start, and leather-wrapped steering wheel. Handling is pleasingly steady, and safety features are top notch, as always.

Which is the Better Multitasker?

The Forester is just as comfortable winding down a dirt road as it is ferrying passengers from home to work to the grocery store and back again. Its roomy cabin and easy maneuverability make it an excellent choice for the average family seeking a little adventure, whether it's found on the pavement or in the woods.

Our Verdict: The Subaru Forester

Both the Forester and the RAV4 have a lot to offer, but the Forester wins our vote for most versatile crossover.

Take a closer look at the Subaru Forester >>

Take a closer look at the Toyota RAV4 >>