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Subaru Forester vs Toyota RAV4

kecckecc Posts: 2
edited April 7 in Subaru
In the past 23 years I have owned just two cars, both hatchbacks, a '78 Corolla for 189,000+ miles and currently a '90 Prizm now at 207,000+ miles. I intend to buy a new car before the next New England winter. I have narrowed it down to the Forester or RAV4. In the test drive I thought the Forester had better acceleration, a major concern since my commute entails entering the 70 mph highway traffic from a stop. Both have good reliability and safety ratings ... neither has the fuel efficiency I currently have ... and on other aspects they seem to be evenly split. If I'm going to spend $20,000+ I want to make a good decision. What advice can you give me?


  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,661
    They're both good, as you know.

    The Forester "is" a car, so it does meet all the car safety and crash requirements. The Rav4 is considered a multi-purpose vehicle, which is not required to meet those tougher car standards. For example, the rear bumper of the Rav4 would never pass the car bumper test. Its rear bumper is really a joke. Actually the rear mounted spare tire is the bumper, and when that gets hit, expect huge rear end damage and repair costs.

    I would think the Forester, because it has a larger engine, is better able to deal with full loads better than the Rav4.

    I like the "looks" of the Rav4 better, but the Forester "works" better, IMO.

    For what it's worth, there will be an all-new Forester arriving here next February or March.

  • tincup47tincup47 Posts: 1,508
    The Forester. I felt it drove better than the RAV4 or the CRV. It also felt more solid IMO. Have 25,000 miles on our 01 S and have not regretted the decision for a minute.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Karen: I drove both way back when they came out and chose the Forester.

    The RAV4 seemed a bit small and didn't have enough pep, but other than that I liked it. At the time the warranty was 3/36, though now it's longer, and the new one also has more power. Still no rear bumper, so if you chose it just make sure to buy the accessory bumper to have some protection.

    But I have no regrets, the Forester has been great. I'm averaging over 25mpg overall, and it's been on the beach, farm, and a few orchards. I have used the roof rack extensively, and I could not live without it. I've also towed and hauled pretty big payloads.

    It's never let me down in 3 years and 39k miles. In fact, it's very likely that our next car with be another Subaru. If the WRX were a little bigger, the wife would own one now. Guess I have to wait for a Legacy turbo.

  • suvshopper4suvshopper4 Posts: 1,110
    kecc: I bought the '01 RAV4, and have no regrets.

    I find the power adequate - not great, but adequate, and cruising 70 mph is easy and quiet. The larger Forester engine would probably be better from standing starts.

    If you are going to have adults riding in the back seats, be sure to carefully check out both vehicles on this score.

    NHTSA rollover tests are not yet in for the RAV. My fingers are crossed.

    Both manufacturers are above average for durability, reliability, resale value, etc.

    Mileage: I'm getting 26.8 mpUSg, 50/50 suburbs/hwy, with auto trans.

    Almost 9,000 miles, and no problems to date.

    I doubt you would go wrong with either choice.

    Good luck.
  • suvshopper4suvshopper4 Posts: 1,110
    Update on my post #5:

    I just checked their site again- NHTSA has rated the '01 RAV4 at 3 stars (both FWD and 4WD) for the rollover test, the same as the Forester and many other SUV's. None were rated higher, a few were lower., then look for 'rollover resistance ratings' then 'rated vehicle details'.
    I have now uncrossed my fingers.

  • alpha01alpha01 Posts: 4,747
    that rollover test is a calculation, not any dyanmic examination of a vehicles resistance (or lack thereof) to rolling over in every day driving. useless IMO.
  • suvshopper4suvshopper4 Posts: 1,110
    Do you know of a better rollover test, one you consider to be accurate?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Actually, it's not just a calculation. They put the vehicles on a ramp and then incline them until two wheels tip off the ground.

    It is just a static measurement, and I agree a dynamic one would be far more useful.

  • rneselrnesel Posts: 5
    For what it's worth...Recently conducted my own "unofficial" stability test on both the RAV4 and the Forester. Had fully expected to buy the RAV4 til I tried gentle, on-street swerving during the test drive...felt a definite, somewhat unnerving rocking motion. The 2001 model did better than the 1999. Tried the same thing in the Forester and it felt solid.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The Click and Clack (sp?) guys mentioned the RAV4 felt succeptible to cross winds, similar to your impression.

    At the limit, though, the tires give. It would seem pretty difficult to actually roll one.

  • suvshopper4suvshopper4 Posts: 1,110
    The Tappet Brothers comment (that I read) about the RAV in a crosswind was for the previous generation RAV. I don't know if Click and Clack have reviewed the new RAV yet.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Good point. That's true.

  • kenskens Posts: 5,869

    The Forester feel's more solid when "swerving" because it has a lower center of gravity. The Forester uses a boxer engine that, unlike the inline-4 used in the RAV4, lies low in the engine bay.

  • scape2scape2 Posts: 4,119
    I drove both. A Forester L and a RAV4 L. Both pretty much optioned the same. Forester would have been my choice between these 2. RAV4 was buzzy and did not have the power the Forester had. Interior was also very cheap in my opinion.
  • mpgmanmpgman Posts: 723
    I've noticed that the entire Subaru line has frameless window glass, meaning that the door glass doesn't ride in a track on either side of the door frame. The old hardtops used to come that way. I've always been concerned that this set up is more prone to wind noise, seal drying, and is easier to break into using a hangar. Any thoughts out there on this or do you consider it a non-issue?
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,661
    We've got two Subies, a '96 Impreza Outback and an '01 Forester. It's never been a problem with either vehicle.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Look closely at the way they seal - there are actually two seals. If the outer seal leaks, there is a 2nd inner seal to catch any water or wind.

    I have a 1300psi pressure washer and use that to wash my car. It never leaks, not a drop. My Miata does, but it's because of the soft top, not the frameless doors (which it also has).

    Frameless windows are used on lots of high-end cars, like the priciest Mercedes and BMW coupes. The doors are lighter, and allow for thin pillars and better visibility.

    C&D measures noise at 70mph, and in several comparisons with small SUVs, the Forester has always been the quietest or tied for the quietest.

  • kecckecc Posts: 2
    ... you helped me make my decision to purchase a Forester. I started this discussion line last July, bought a red Forester with the black trim at the end of August, and been happily driving it ever since. It was a difficult decision as I've been very satisfied with Toyota engines over the past 23 years, but this time around Subaru was my choice based on road stability and carrying capacity. I truly appreciate your advice.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Congrats, Karen. Join us for our live chat tonight, 9pm eastern. Or hop over to the Subaru Crew topics under Owners Clubs and introduce yourself to everyone. :-)

  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,687
    are usually quieter that framed ones, because the wind gets into the frames and then has to travel around them, generating additional resistance.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

This discussion has been closed.