Subaru Forester vs. Toyota RAV4

By

Automotive Editor

Willis is a freelance writer based out of Philadelphia. Born and raised in Colorado, he graduated from Williams College. When he's not writing about cars or the outdoors, he spends his time rock climbing or reading with his two cats.


, Automotive Editor - February 12, 2019

Compact crossovers are the car industry’s new all-around vehicles. Capacious enough to ferry gear or cargo, rugged enough to adventure, and thrifty enough to commute, crossovers unite multiple roles. The Toyota RAV4 helped kick off the crossover craze, but the competition has grown increasingly sharp. The Subaru Forester brings the brand’s practical sensibility and adventure-ready ethos to the mainstream. Both cars are fresh from 2019 redesigns, but which new model wins out?

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

What the Forester Gets Right

The first win for the Forester comes at the bank. At $25,270 after destination fees, a base-spec 2019 Forester is $1,325 cheaper than a 2019 RAV4.

The Forester has long boasted exceptional interior space, and the 2019 version is no exception. The Forester beats out the RAV4 on leg room in both rows. Options for interior storage are plentiful, and the cargo hold is spacious and easy to access.

Despite being cheaper, the Forester keeps up with the RAV4 on features like safety tech, and exceeds it in one key area. All-wheel drive is standard on every Forester, where the RAV4 (and competitors like the Honda CR-V) start with front-wheel drive.

The weather-readiness doesn’t come at the cost of fuel economy. All trims of the Subaru Forester manage an EPA-estimated 26 miles per gallon city, 33 mpg highway, and 29 combined. That’s exceptionally thrifty for an all-wheel-drive powertrain, and it beats or matches every RAV4 except the hybrid.

What the RAV4 Gets Right

The hybrid drivetrain is the RAV4’s trump card over the Forester. As efficient as the Forester may be, it can’t match the RAV4 hybrid’s 39 combined mpg. The hybrid also gets standard all-wheel drive and a power bump thanks to extra electric motors. The bad news? The starting price is close to $29,000.

While it isn't the cheapest crossover on the block, the RAV4 trades on strong standard features and Toyota’s sterling reputation. The range extends all the way up to the glitzy Limited trim, and all models come with two years of scheduled maintenance included.

Oddly enough, the RAV4’s lack of standard all-wheel drive may be an asset in some scenarios. While the Forester isn’t expensive, buyers in sunny climates may not need the all-wheel traction. Especially with the hybrid, the RAV4 offers a more efficiency-focused lineup.

The Fewest Compromises

Crossovers are all about bringing together disparate attributes. Cargo capacity, fuel economy, and practicality often suffer in one way or another when combined into a single vehicle. The Toyota RAV4’s hybrid drivetrain is an asset, but the car requires more sacrifices overall. Chief among these is interior space, followed closely by price.

Our Verdict: Subaru Forester

With standard all-wheel drive, top-notch comfort, modern safety, and surprisingly excellent fuel economy, the Subaru Forester makes it hard to think of reasons not to buy it. It’s ready for mountain adventures or urban commutes, and it’s chock full of value. A contender for the best crossover on the market, the Forester comes closer than ever to the perfect do-it-all car.

Take a closer look at the Subaru Forester »

Take a closer look at the Toyota RAV4 »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

Willis is a freelance writer based out of Philadelphia. Born and raised in Colorado, he graduated from Williams College. When he's not writing about cars or the outdoors, he spends his time rock climbing or reading with his two cats.


Privacy Policy|Terms of Use|Cookie Policy|Disclaimer
COPYRIGHT 1999-2019 MH Sub I, LLC dba CarsDirect.com