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Subaru Forester vs Toyota RAV4



  • kavoomkavoom Posts: 181
    Short of a full 4WD, they are substantially better than anything else. The Australians swear by them. Their AWD is different than others as in it's AWD all the time. There.

    I've been off road "as you described" and my Forester's have been great.

    They are not, however, heavy duty off road. If you are worried, there are modifications starting with the pretty inexpensive differential protector (bout a hundred bucks) and under plates that can further enhance your experience.

    Try if you want to ask serious questions.
  • thecatthecat Posts: 535
    One of the things that caught my attention when I was shopping for a vehicle back in 98-99 was a review by consumer reports on the Forester. They tested a variety of "SUV's" and were amazed at, and subsequently selected as the top pick, the Forester. One comment that I remember was "it did amazingly well in deep mud and soft sand". That was a 98' review and the AWD system has been improved since then. Most notably adding a limited slip rear.

    I can tell you I drove mine through some ridiculous stuff and never got stuck. Just don't high center it .. and you're fine. Drove mine on the beach near Ocean City MD in very soft sand with a little air let out of the tires .. and some absolutely absurdly deep snow .. did fine.
    - hutch
  • dstew1dstew1 Posts: 275
    The Forester is a blast in the dirt and light mud; just don't take it rock-crawling and you'll be ok. As far as water crossings, anything under a foot or so and you should be fine, as long as you know what you're doing. Also, two tires companies are starting to make off-road oriented tires in sizes that will fit the Forester now; the General Grabber AT 2 and Yokohama Geolander A/T-S.

    If you want some detailed answers w/pictures, head over to subaruforester dot org or offroadsubarus dot com (sorry, but it's generally been a no-no to paste links to other forums on this message board). Both of those are great sources of information and everyone is usually extremely helpful and friendly.

  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    I've got the largest size plastic kennel and I'm pretty sure it will fit sideways with both seats up. However, the fit's so tight that you can't open the kennel door so Fido can get in or out. Lengthwise, you have to have both seats down because the strut towers intrude from the sides.

  • I see that this thread has been going on for a very long time. However my question is the very one that started it all. I am looking at the Foresster vs the Rav 4 and am very torn as to which is the better vehiclke. I am coming from a minivan so downsizing for sure, but we no longer have the need to haul kids back and forth to college.
    I would like a small SUV, love the Tribeca and Murano but they seem too big and too pricey. So we have so far narrowed it to the rav and the Foresster.
    Can anyone who has recently gone through all this give me a better idea of the cars and which and why they chose it?

    I have to make a decison in the next week or so as for right now I am car less. My beloved minivan saved my life in a car accident a few weeks ago. So for now I am begging for rides everywhere I need to go.

    Thanks so much~Happy Dad's Day.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    Have you driven the cars? Here are some observations:

    1. AWD on Subaru is awesome. Better than Toyotas.
    2. Forester is noiser than RAV4.
    3. Forester and RAV4 have 4 speed transmissions, except for the V6 on the RAV4, which has a 5 speed.
    4. Forester XT is a hoot to drive and fast as all get go, lack of a fifth gear compared to the RAV4 V6 will result in worse gas mileage. Forester can be had with a manual transmission if that is your bent.
    5. IMO, the Subie handles far and away better than the RAV4. More confident and surefooted.
    6. Sunroof is awesome on Forester.
    7. Subaru Forester has been getting good crash grades for years.
    8. The RAV4 options are more upscale than the Subaru.
    9. Unless you need 7 seats in the RAV4, there should be plenty of room in both cars. RAV4 back seats are diminutive.

    Good luck.
  • thecatthecat Posts: 535
    I've owned them both .. a 99 Forester S and a 06 RAV4 V6. They're very different vehicles and I liked them both. I would have purchased another Forester but wanted more back seat room and the ability to tow a 3500 lb trailer. You got good advice from the previous poster .. go drive them both. Nobody can say what's best for you like you can. Make your selection and don't look back. You really can't go wrong with either vehicle.
    - hutch
  • Jerseymom,

    I just went thought this. We bought A forester brand new in 2001 and just sold it. The forester was very reliable, likable, comfortable and was probably the best car buying decision we had made to date. Recently we had a baby, the subaru was pushing 100,000 miles with no trouble but the subaru has one serious flaw with kids; the backseat is not deep enough! These car seats take up a lot of room. The only way to fit a rear facing car seat in a subie is to put it in the middle of the back seat and have it intrude between the two front seats. I did a TON a research and tried out the RAV$ - we have been delighted so far. This car allows you to put the car seat directly behind a front seat with plenty of rear leg room and front room. I think the Rav4 has 38.3 inches in the back seat vs, 33.7 for the subie. In general the car is much roomier. Also, the V6 is not offered in the subie and gets only 1 mile per gallon less than the 4 cylinder. If the rear seat room issue is not a factor, than buy which ever you like better; you can't go wrong. But I suspect from your name you have kids, so I'd get the rav4.

  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    "Also, the V6 is not offered in the subie and gets only 1 mile per gallon less than the 4 cylinder."

    Don't need a V6 with the turbo.
  • Sidious or anyone who has an answer~for that matter,
    Thanks for your input. It means alot. While I don't have any car seats in my life right now~the leg room in general is I'm gathering you purchased the limited? That is what we are thinking of as when our family is all together~our son visiting, he is 6ft tall and with the ability to move the seats back, I think there would be enough leg room.
    One other question; Does having the full spare bother you in any way? I love the idea that the rear opens like a door rather than a van door as I have a very bad back, thus we are also going for the lumbar support. I have heard you can either get or it comes with a hard shell that is lockable to prevent theft or damage?
    Thanks again. My family is leaning towards the RAV, now I just have to test drive them one more time and make a decision.
  • Wow~I just saw the other replies. Thanks to all of you who replied so far. I have not test driven them yet, but will this week. We went last Saturday to look, sit in them talk to the salespeople, etc. I was recently in an accident and just started driving this past Sunday morning.
    Now we will go back to test drive after researching to see what seems to fit better for me.
    I'm coming from a Windstar Mininvan which I loved, (We had purchased it for moving the kids back and forth to college and for aging parents as well)it that saved my life. So, I'm sure I will have to adjust to the smaller size with either car. But for some reson the Rav seems a bit higher? maybe my imagination?
    Thanks again.
  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    But for some reson the Rav seems a bit higher?

    No the driving position is higher in the RAV4. So you have a slightly better view of the road (good) but then you also have a higher center of gravity (bad).

  • We bought the Sport - in between the base and Limited. Wife really likes the Flint Nica color, only available on Sport. I was not a fan of the sideways as opposed to the upwards lifting rear door on the subaru, but now that I have it, I don't mind it. I also hated the idea of the rear tire hanging off the back, but again now that I have it, it does not bother me. I'm 6'1," back seat leg room fine when seat in front set for my height. Simply shocked by the rear leg room.
    I believe the cover for the rear spare tire depends on the trim level you get; base, sport or limited. The sport comes with a hard case that has a elastic sort of grip om the back of the tire. Sounds lame but actually works quite well. I think the limited may have some sort of clamps, but does not actually lock to my knowledge.
  • The back seat of the new RAV4 is larger than the subaru BY FAR.
  • The turbo is a tremendous performer, no question. I was pretty stunned by the acceleration the one time I drove one. I'm not a turbo fan, don't like the delay. This is just my preference though. Also, no premium gas needed in Toyota. Don't get me wrong; I loved my 2001 Subaru forester. I was disgusted that subaru did not have a new vehicle that met my needs, I would have bought another without hesitation. I don't understand why subie makes the outback, legacy and forester all with the same size rear seat. If the rear seat size is not an issue, I would recommend a forester without hesitation. That said, now that I own the Rav4, I think its a better vehicle. This probably isn't fair though, its a newer design. when the new forester comes out, I'll probably think thats even better.
  • thecatthecat Posts: 535
    The spare tire cover on the Limited is a hard shell with a clamp. The way it's designed, you can't (or would have a very hard time) release the clamp with the rear hatch door closed. No, it doesn't lock but if you can't get to the release mechanisim ... it's all the same. Nothing is thieft proof. If they want it, they're going to get it. I was recently told by a service guy at the dealer, that wheel locks only stop you from changing a flat easily .. they don't stop thieves. He's probably right.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    I understand. I don't have to haul around car seats and babies. While neither back seat is cavernous, the size of the Forester just suits my needs. It's small enough to be a very tight handling vehicle, given what it is in the first place. The handling of the Rav4 is just okay in my opinion, something to consider when looking at these two vehicles.
  • Thanks everyone. We saw a RAV on the road today (I was going with my daughter somewhere~I'm still not driving, I know I have got to get going on that) The RAV really looked sharp on the road and my 21 y.o even appproved!
    But for me~especially now, safety and comfort is first and foremost.
    The back seat is a sometimes issue. We only go out all together in one car once in a while now that the kids are older. But since my son is tall, I wanted to make sure he would be comfortable~thanks for the info on how the back seat feels.
    Mostly the car will be for me and then Hubby on w/e's and for when he skis in the wintertime. But during the week I only go to the gym, grocery shop, doctor appts, etc. Usual errand stuff. I am a low mileage driver~my lifesaving minivan was almost 7 years old and had 32K miles on it.
    One other question that came up today~is the back door able to be ordered with opening to the left or right? Or does it just open to the left? We could have sworn we saw one that had the tire on the left side which would mena the door would open to the right, right???
    Need to get these decisions made. And thanks to all of you this site is really helping!
  • cbmortoncbmorton Posts: 252
    The back door on the RAV4 only opens one way - it swings out to the right.
  • p0926p0926 Posts: 4,423
    For many people, the number one short-coming of the Forester is its rear seat room. You could actually equate the Forester with a 2-door coupe, it works fine for transporting kids, occasionally takings co-workers to lunch, or adult family members on short trips but if you regularly haul 3 or 4 adults then you'll want something bigger. Another thing the Forester has in common with a coupe is its handling ;) (at least compared to most other SUVs/CUVs)

    One other frequently over looked fact, the Forester's combined front & rear legroom is actually pretty good. So unless you're a tall driver and need the front seat all the way back, there should be sufficient rear legroom for most passengers.

  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,910
    One other frequently over looked fact, the Forester's combined front & rear legroom is actually pretty good. So unless you're a tall driver and need the front seat all the way back, there should be sufficient rear legroom for most passengers.

    I have noticed that as well - the front seat rails have quite a bit of travel, so if the occupants of the front seats take more than their share, it leaves almost none for those in the back seat.

    Granted, I prefer a far less... casual... seating position than many drivers, but I am 6' and have no problem placing a child seat directly behind me. That stated, I do think rear leg room is cramped - more so on the new models. I never felt it was a problem on the first generation Forester or Outback.
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • Jersey Mom,

    I assume all the doors open the same way. In any case, mine opens to the right.
  • The clamp on the Limited's hard shell is on the bottom, and can not be opened unless the rear door is swung out to where the tire is past the edge of the bumper. So the answer is that as long as the rear door is locked, the spare tire isn't going anywere. Of course this is all contingent upon 'locks being made for honest men', but that's pretty much the way with any spare tire.
  • Thanks for the answers on the rear door on the RAV4. It's a nice option for me to have it open that way as I have physical limitations and the over the head lifting doors have always been an issue for me.
    So, do those of you that have a RAV 4 like them and are glad you made the decision to buy it? We are test driving tomm. I think.
  • jeffmcjeffmc Posts: 1,742
    Have you tried the rear liftgate on the Forester? It's aluminum, very light weight. Little effort to open and close. If you do much parking in the city, the Forester's gate is handy because you don't have to walk around it when it's open, and you can still open it if someone parks close behind you. (Hey, it also makes a nice shelter when you're loading & unloading stuff in the rain!) :)
  • xwesxxwesx Fairbanks, AlaskaPosts: 10,910
    Hey, it also makes a nice shelter when you're loading & unloading stuff in the rain!

    Just watch out for the puddle that forms in the license plate tray. I doused myself a couple times with my old Outback. :surprise:
    2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2008 and 2013 Subaru Forester(s), 1969 Chevrolet C20 Pickup, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250 Pickup
  • jeffmcjeffmc Posts: 1,742
    LOL! Bet that made for a cold surprise.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I found that when my daughter moved into a booster seat the Forester was better.

    Room is tight with some bigger baby seats, but with boosters it raises the kids up so they actually have more room from their legs to the floor.

    I think a Forester is fine for 2 kids, more than that and you should get something bigger.
  • jeffmcjeffmc Posts: 1,742
    2 kids would be OK if one was in a booster, and the booster was installed behind the driver. I can't see a big car seat (especially rear facing!) behind the driver... driving position would be just too uncomfortable scrunched forward.

    Or it may be OK if the car seats are smaller. My experience has been with the big Britax seats.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    We had EvenFlo on-my-way seats and the rear facing would juuuuust fit in the middle. It made it easier to install if you slid one of the front seats forward, but then you could move it back.
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