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Subaru Forester vs Toyota RAV4



  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Not bad, but I'd recommend 2003 or later. They wheel bearings got a new design and have been more robust. In 2002 the gasket material was revised and those have also been better.

    Your 2001 would be covered under the 8/100 gasket warranty as long as it has the coolant conditioner (which is free at the dealer), so that's OK.

    So the only trouble spot would be the wheel bearings.

  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    Sheesh! You guys make the 2001s sound like real lemons. Yes SOME 2001 Foresters had wheel bearing, clutch or head gasket issues but by no means did they all have problems. In fact, I'm pretty sure that CR lists the 2001s as a good used car buy.


    P.S. That price seems a little high
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Good point, Frank, we just wanted to be thorough.

    Actually CR lists the Forester as a used car Best Bet, meaning any model from any year is recommended by them.

    Same for the RAV4.

  • pretzelbpretzelb Posts: 64
    I'm shocked you found the road noise higher with the RAV4 over the Forester. I found the Forester to be very quiet when compared to the RAV4. I will concede that maybe road noise is better but to be honest the 4c engine on the RAV4 was so loud I couldn't tell anything about the road noise. I punched both on the highway to test what it would be like to try and pass someone and the RAV4 just appeared to scream at me.

    I'm still on the fence as to which to get but I thought the noise was less of an issue with the Forester.
  • pretzelbpretzelb Posts: 64
    After lurking for a while someone pointed tme to this thread (wish I had seen it early). Since I need some therapy right now I thought I'd post some ramblings.

    After reviewing a few SUVs to replace my 96 2d Explorer, I narrowed it down to the RAV4 and Forester. Right now I think I'm going to go with the Forester.

    It's a very hard decision though because I think the "smarter" choice is the RAV4. Here in Texas, Subaru isn't that popular. In fact, it's hard to spot any on the road. From what I read the Subaru line is good quality but they just don't sell well here. Toyota on the other hand, well it's just about as universal as Honda. So from a stand point of going with the car that has more support (dealerships and repairs and familiarity) and popularity any Toyota will beat a Subaru.

    But my driving experience, while good for both, was just too much fun with the Forester. Everytime I drove it I laughed at how fast it accelerated and how well it cornered. And this is with the non-turbo mind you. The 4c RAV4 was plenty fast too, and it handled very well, but it was more truck like and the Forester was more car like, which is kind of to be expected.

    Price isn't so much an issue for me since I can get both for a fixed amount over invoice from the fleet department's arrangement with my credit union. I much prefer the interior of the RAV4 (the stereo on the base RAV4 was amazing) but it's hard to get past that experience of laughing with the Forester. Plus I tell myself that I can buy an aftermarket stereo and get the windows tinted and be just fine. I do worry that I won't have the space I'm used to and from now on I will have to think before I buy something to make sure it does fit in my car.

    I will probably change my mind again but I really need to make a decision this month since both my registration and inspection are due. No real point to this post, just wanted to see what came out when I started to write my thoughts and see how they looked. ;)
  • kumarikumari Posts: 72
    I was in EXACTLY the same boat as you a few months ago. Drove a truck-based SUV for 11 years (Mazda Navaho - same car as the Explorer Sport). My former cars had all been sports cars, so I was ready to get rid of the truck that I hated from the day I bought it! (Got it for the doggies - car-based SUV's weren't available when I bought my truck.)

    Test drove the RAV-4 (4 cyl only - the 6 wasn't out yet), Honda CRV, Mitsubishi small SUV (forgot what it's called) and the BMW X3. Like the RAV-4 and Forester the best ---- THEN drove the Forester XT and it completely blew me away! The RAV is a very nice car, but it didn't corner as well as the Forester (lower center of gravity) and I personally hated the busy double-decker dashboard. The RAV only came with a standard sunroof and the Forester's sunroof is GIGANTIC - like driving a convertible. The Forester also has a rear hatch that opens "UP", not sideways, like a door. This came in mighty handy when I was unloading heavy cases of water curbside for my mother. If I had bought the RAV, I would have had to close the door each time, or walk completely around the car several times to unload. I can't imagine trying to get in the rear of the RAV if someone parks on top of you at the rear!! I also test-drove the 4 and 6 cylinder Toyota Highlanders and thought the 6 cylinder was a VERY nice ride (and had a hatch which opens upward). They had several that were available as "certified" used cars with full warranties - very clean and nice - perhaps another option for you if you need the cargo space and want to continue to ride high, like in the Explorer.

    I LOVE my Forester turbo! Plus, Subaru appears to be more negotiable than Toyota on their prices (got mine for more than $2000 under invoice), but you must consider the proximity of the dealership to your home. In my neck of the woods, Subaru and Toyota are located within a few blocks of each other. I would have also checked out KIA, Hyundai and Saturn, but the dealerships were far away from my home. Also, by the time you add on all the goodies to Toyota that Subaru includes in their Premium package or XT turbo model, the Toyota costs a lot more than you would think. Get all the brochures and go over them at home, marking the things you like/need. It made my choice much easier. The web-based programs on the car sites are not really accurate at this, so I had to do it the old-fashioned way.

    Hope this helps!

  • pretzelbpretzelb Posts: 64
    I am probably the only Subaru shopper who has not driven a turbo. Part of me is afraid I'll like it too much but since I find the base engine fast I'm not sure I even need it. It actually works in my favor since I know I'd be happy with either the base Forester or the base 4c RAV4 and I can avoid a lot of features and price creep with adding things here and there. After this is all over I may try to test drive a turbo just to see what the fuss is about.

    I have at least committed to the best apples to apples I can with these two and limited myself to the base Forester and a base 4c 4wd RAV4. Pricing comes out close with my credit union deal (though I begin to wonder if I could beat that with some haggling at Subaru) but the RAV4 seems a bit ahead on base looks and features.

    Thinking about during a morning jog I keep coming back to this being an unfair comparison. It's almost like trying to compare a pickup to a 4d sedan - they are almost totally different vehicles. Both are great but the main difference is all size related. The RAV4 has more passenger and cargo room and a better view of the road. The Forester handles better mostly because of what it gives up in inside room and elevation.

    In the end the thought that the Subaru dealers are not close by (yet - one might be coming near me) almost tips the scales. This is about as silly as letting the stereo tip the scales since you really shouldn't expect either car to require a lot of time in the shop. This is how I drive myself crazy and why I only buy cars every 10 years!! :D
  • kumarikumari Posts: 72
    I have no doubt you'll get a better price on a base Forester than on the RAV-4, but only if you deal quickly. Subaru is giving promo prices on the Forester all over the country. You may even be able to get one for under $19,000. Check out and then use those prices to negotiate a price in your area. I find that I'm not really missing the extra large cargo space of the Explorer and I love having a great-handling car. I guess it depends how often you really need to schlep that much stuff around! Also, since you're used to a top opening rear door, I don't think you're gonna like the RAV-4's side opening rear door.

    I know what you're going through and commiserate - I, too, only get cars every 10-15 years or so! I love my Subaru, but I'm sure the Toyota is a great car as well - especially if you need more cargo space. Don't rule out the Highlander - it has a rear door which opens up and is more like what you are used to AND has more cargo room than the RAV.

    Good luck!


    P.S. probably not a good idea for you to drive the Turbo - I got hooked!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I like the idea of no-haggle prices.

    You might also find some dealers that offer that, for instance in MD I use, and they have both Subaru and Toyota franchises.

    Funny thing is, they have a location in Gaithersburg where they are back to back! Drive both and decide right there, on the spot, with prices known up front.

    Good luck choosing, either way.

  • monobomonobo Posts: 10
    I was split between the RAV4 and the Forester. I looked at Hondas, Mitsubishi, Hyundai, Toyota and Pontiac. I narrowed it down to the two above. I was leaning towards the Forester until my neighbor told me it was synonymous with being Gay. I goggled it and found lots of articles that said the same thing. I just put a deposit on a RAV4. Look into this if it matters to you. If it does not be comfortable with guys flirting with you.
  • steverstever YooperlandPosts: 39,961
    Funny, has reviewed a lot of cars, but no Subarus yet (oops, guess the B9 is a truck/SUV there). Note that their data pages are powered by, so heaven forbid what people think of us posting on here. :shades:

    That site also lists Toyota as a gay friendly brand btw.

    Steve, Host

    Need help navigating? - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

  • slazengerslazenger Posts: 99
    I was leaning towards the Forester until my neighbor told me it was synonymous with being Gay.

    Which part of the country are you from? FWIW you have put down deposit on a chick car ;) Just to be safe, you might want to consider GM/Ford v8, 4x4 truck so that gays don't hit on you.
  • tazerelitazereli Posts: 241
    Well...that has to be the most asinine thing ive ever heard of. My wife and I have a Forestor (2002) and i'll tell you one thing. I wouldn't trade it for any Boreyota in my lifetime. Ive driven pretty much all recent Yota's and all I want to do is go to sleep. Not one, (except the MR2 and Celica) holds a candle to the forester's handling, character, and AWD system. Not that the celica and MR2 matter any more since Toyota killed the only 2 models with a pulse.

    Just my $.02.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The above post is right, the demographic data has RAV4 owners as overwhelmingly female. I guess you'll have to have a sex change operation. LOL :D

    Who cares what other people think? Is that really your primary criteria for vehicle selection?

    Martina did a commercial for the Forester, so it has been associated with Lesbians. Who cares?

    Perhaps you should join the Dodge boys that sponsor the neanderthal Lingerie Bowl. :sick:

  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    This really doesn't deserve a response but I couldn't resist ;)

    Actually it's not the Forester but Subarus in general that have a reputation for being popular with the gay & lesbian community. Possibly because if this, Subaru used Martina Navratilova as their spokesperson for a time. Subaru has also been known to advertise in gay oriented publications (not sure about Toyota).

    In addition to the above, the following are also commonly held beliefs about Subaru owners:

    a. Subaru owners are generally well educated with their demographics skewed towards the technical professions (I.e. engineers, teachers, etc.)

    b. Subaru owners like to be different (no not that way) and value function over form.

    c. Subaru owners also value performance, reliability and utility.

    d. Subaru owners appreciate the active safety benefits provided by full-time AWD and the best-in-class (Forester) crash test scores.

    e. Subaru owners are more physically active than the general population and enjoy outdoor pursuits.

    f. Subaru owners are more likely to be dog owners.

    As for me, while admittedly I’m an out-loving dog-owning computer geek who enjoys the power, utility and reliability of my Forester XT… I’m also secure enough that I don’t worry that someone might presume my sexual preference based solely on the vehicle I drive :P

  • jeffmcjeffmc Posts: 1,742
    Subarus are also extremely popular with folks in Australia and New Zealand. Wouldn't want to be seen driving a Subie and have someone think you're one of "those" people... you know, from the "other hemisphere", or something.
    *roll eyes*

    Being a hetero Outback and Legacy owner, I can say my Subaru ownership has never brought me any same-sex advances in 15 years of ownership. Of course, maybe I just ain't so pretty. :P

    Any hetero Forester owners here noticed any increased same-sex flirting?
  • prosaprosa Posts: 280
    In addition to the above, the following are also commonly held beliefs about Subaru owners:

    a. Subaru owners are generally well educated with their demographics skewed towards the technical professions (I.e. engineers, teachers, etc.)
    b. Subaru owners like to be different (no not that way) and value function over form.
    c. Subaru owners also value performance, reliability and utility.
    d. Subaru owners appreciate the active safety benefits provided by full-time AWD and the best-in-class (Forester) crash test scores.
    e. Subaru owners are more physically active than the general population and enjoy outdoor pursuits.
    f. Subaru owners are more likely to be dog owners.

    Note, however, that (a) and (e) also tend to be associated with gays and lesbians. What we might have is a chicken-and-egg situation. In other words, it's not that gay people like Subarus per se, but rather that a high percentage of gay people have certain characteristics that are associated with Subaru ownership, be one gay or straight.
  • driver56driver56 Posts: 408
    Maybe your neighbor is gay, or at least homophobic, or both. Actually, I believe that gays prefer convertibles, which of-course, would leave out the Forester.
    I know a gay man that drives a Porsche. I certainly wouldn't drive a Porsche.
    Up in this neck of the woods, there does seem to be a lot of middle-aged women driving Foresters that look like they just might be lesbian.
    It certainly makes one think.

    p.s. I would have gone with the Subaru.
    A middle aged happily married Caucasian male heterosexual
  • dstew1dstew1 Posts: 275
    I'm a 26, straight, and drive a Forester XT. A gay friend used to rib me for driving "the lesbian mobile" - he stopped when I mashed it once on an interstate on-ramp with him riding shotgun.

    As for stereotypes, he drives a 4x4 Nissan Frontier; the old, ugly body style. Ick. If we're playing stereotypes, I don't think it gets any less gay than that.

    I'm not naive enough to believe that what you drive doesn't make a statement about your personality, because in most cases it does. That said, I'd never drive a Mustang, a Charger, or really anything flashy that will garner unwanted attention. Nor will I drive an Expedition, Yukon, or any other big sport ute that drives like a tank and gets high numbers in the gallons per mile category.

    I drive a Subaru based on performance, safety, reliability, utility, with style coming in somewhere at the bottom of my concerns. Foresters have a quirky look to them, but maybe I do too. I much prefer my 06 FXT to the bulkiness of the new RAV4. If we're being honest I often catch myself calling my car "sexy" when I walk outside and spot it in a parking lot.

    (judge for yourself)

    As it happens, I am a college grad, work in research, enjoy the outdoors, and own a dog. ;)

  • kumarikumari Posts: 72
    I read this post and just HAVE to laugh. I live 10 minutes from West Hollywood, California - one of the gayest cities the world. I think it has the #2 largest gay population on the West Coast (after San Francisco). Gotta say, I don't know one gay person who owns a Subaru! The gay guys I know (and their friends) who drive an SUV-type vehicle seem to drive truck-based "macho" SUV's (i.e., X-terra, Forerunner, Explorer, Range Rover, Yukon, Suburban - especially if they ski) or luxury SUV's such as the Lincoln, Cadillac or Mercedes. The other cars they seem to favor are Mercedes and Lexus and Acura Sedans or sports cars. The Lesbians I know are into the Lexus SUV and the BMW sedans. BTW, the gay guys who live across the street from me just bought a new TOYOTA Camry sedan and a new Lexus MADE BY TOYOTA Coupe. Their old cars were a BMW 5 series sedan and a Lexus sedan. Their Lesbian buddies who were over on Sunday drive a Volvo station wagon. The Subaru/Gay connection is just bogus and ridiculous!

    From what I've noted (and now I'm noticing Subaru cars and drivers because I just bought one), the Subaru drivers are very into organic, healthy foods (evidenced by the number of them in the Whole Foods Markets parking lot) and outdoor activities and dogs. Kinda like ME!! My neighborhood (which is populated by yuppie families and singles - almost everyone has a graduate degree) has quite a few Subaru's that I never noticed 'til I bought one - and also a lot of Volvo station wagons. You can't find an American car for miles (which I don't think is a "good thing"). My 77 year old mother and 88 year old uncle both drive American cars.

    Samantha :shades:

    P.S. whomever said the RAV-4 is a "chick-car" was absolutely right. I don't know one guy who drives it!! The RAV-4 is like the Volkswagon Golf Cabiolet - such a CHICK car!! The only guys I knew who drove them were gay! Maybe that'll change with the V-6 version. But, what do I know? LOl I only live in California - the state with two of the largest gay populatons in the world!
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