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Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 or Subaru Forester?

pogs2006pogs2006 Posts: 26
edited April 2014 in Honda
What do you guys think about the 2006 Toyota Limited Rav 4, 2006 XS Subaru Forester and the 2006 EX Honda CRV?

I am debating the extra size of the CRV and Rav4, but the Rav4 has been redesigned for 2006. However, I like the power of the Forester and the fact that it has a real bumper on the back. Also, I don't think it has the side curtain air bags like the CRV. The Toyota for some reason forces you to upgrade to the top engine for the side-curtain airbags.

I have a 70 lb dog and a baby on the way. Do you think the extra room in the CRV or Rav 4 wins over the Forester?

How about the safety factor of the side-curtain air bags in the CRV or the best AWD system in the Forester?

Geez, so many choices. Lets hear from drivers of all vehicles.



  • I loved the Forester, but the RAV4 felt like it was going to rollover on some turns.

    The Honda just felt better.

    Philip :shades:
  • sky23213sky23213 Posts: 300
    One thing you may need to definitely consider is the rear seat leg room. U mentioned a baby on the way - it means there'll always be someone sitting by the car seat to attend to the little one. So you want to make sure that some one is comfortable enough. Rear seat space was one of the things that made us choose the CR-V. I'm sure the new RAV4 is at least a little bigger, but then to get all those airbags u need to upgrade I think. Or suffer that subtle form of extortion called "convenience packages". Honda doesn't do that to u - just 3 trims, loaded, anything else u could get from the dealer or nicely discounted from H&A.
    Good Luck!
  • Those three vehicles you mention are all GOOD vehicles. When I was on the market, those were also the choices I considered. Finally I go with the V because when it comes to safety, it's un-negotiable especially you will put your baby in the back seat. Besides you know Honda stands behind it. Good luck and let us know which one you end up buying. :)
  • mcdawggmcdawgg Posts: 1,680
    New Rav is MUCH bigger, and you don't have to "upgrade" or get the bigger engine to get side air bags.

    This is from the prices paid section by hazletone:
    we got a BASE RAV4 with and MSRP of 22,851(side curtiain bags, tint, alarm and some other stuff we didn't care about) for $21400
  • prosaprosa Posts: 280
    The Forester's side air bags are seat-mounted, but protect the occupants' head areas very well - it got a high rating in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's (very demanding) side impact test. What the Forester does not have is a particularly roomy back seat, so if that's important to you it might not be the best choice.
    My suggestion is to hold off making a decision until you've test-driven all three.
  • Unfortunately in Canada, only the front and side airbags are standard for the rear seat. The side-curtain airbags for the rear seat only comes with the V6 version. Why they wouldn't add it as optional to all lines, is beyond me. People like me in their mid-thirties with a small family will definitey take that into consideration when choosing a vehicle. After all, why should I upgrade to the bigger engine with my wife and kid in the vehicle. When my wife or myself are sitting in the back seat with the baby, I am thinking the CRV's side-curtain airbags would be much safer.
  • I was in the car market very recently looking at both the Honda and Toyota. I wound-up ordering an 06 Rav4 I4 4x2 Limited with airbags, moonroof, upgraded stereo, and daytime running lights. Here's why I chose the Rav: I needed a vehicle with high reliability, good gas mileage, extra storage and the ability to tow if needed. Both CR-V and Rav have these qualities and have the features that were important to me: alloy wheels, moonroof, tilt-telescopic steering wheel, at least 6 speakers, audio controls on steering wheel, airbags, and a 1500lb towing capacity with the I4. What the CR-v has going for it is that most of those features are standard on the EX, but the Rav 1-up's it in a few catagories. The Rav has more cargo room, in part thanx to it's fold flat seats, rather than CR-V's tumble seats. The Rav has more power, better fuel efficiency, and a larger gas tank. This is very important to me, seeing as how I drive 600 miles a week. Yes, the CR-V has a 5-speed auto trans, but my test drive of the Rav had me doing 80mph at only 2800rpm; only 200rpm more than my 04 Accord I4 with a 5-speed auto. Then there's the looks: The only pretty CR-V is the Special Edition, with it's painted bumpers and hard-cover spare. Both the EX and SE force you to get AWD with the poorer gas mileage. All trims of Rav have painted bumpers and at least a half hard-cover spare. Yes, Toyota forces you to buy options and packages to get the CR-V and Rav4 on a level playing field, but I was able to get the Rav with all the options I wanted at 900 under msrp quite easily, even though quantities are limited right now.
  • We were just in the same decision process. We eliminated the Honda because of the safety/rollover issue. I wanted the RAV4, until we sat in the rear seats. Not the third row, which is unusable, but the second row. They are flat uncomfortable, and would be torture on any trip.

    The Forester is comfortable, quick, and safe. It has full-time AWD, which neither the Honda nor the Toyota have. We need a snow car, and that gives Forester the edge.

    Plus, heated windshield wipers and heated mirrors. You won't believe how convenient the heated wipers are when you have bad weather.
  • phisherphisher Posts: 175
    I am also considering those three but leaning towards the crv. Both the forester and rav4 have little leg room for an adult with the front seat in a comfortable position for me(6'5") and with a baby on the way like another person said, You or your significant other will be back there on longer rides or when fussy. A second draw back to the rav4 is that unlike the crv the back window doesn't open. So the only way in is with the back door that swings open. Normally not a problem until you have to load the groceries and some one parked right behind you. Any way you go with these 3 I'm sure you'll be happy. Just test drive all three with you driving and your significant other in back for half and then switch on the way back to the dealer and see which one fits best.
  • thecatthecat Posts: 535
    I've owned 2 of the 3 and am getting ready to purchase the 3rd. These 3 vehicles are frequently cross shopped and I don't think you can go wrong with any of them. Each has it's high points and trade offs.

    The Forester is a very nimble, has a low center of gravity and is a solid feeling car. You can get an amazing amount of cargo in the back with the seats folded. It has always scored at the top in crash test safety .. in particular frontal and side impact. All time AWD which is helpful in all driving conditions. I put 200k on it .. never had a moment of trouble and my ex is still driving it. The down side is that the back seat is not as roomy as the others and although it's looks grew on me it isn't a head turner.

    The CRV is very roomy but IMHO feels a little cheap. It has Honda resale value and reliability. The V also possesses excellent versatility. The side impact tests have not been as good as the Forester. The bottom line for me was .. it's boring and the rear end is butt ugly although that's very subjective.

    The RAV has yet to be safety tested so any opinion would be just that. The Limited is very nice inside and quite comfortable. To me it feels more "up scale". The v6 raises the bar in this class. However, the limited is 2k more than the EX-CRV.

    Drive all 3 and pick one and don't look back.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 4,098
    All three brands build fine vehicles.

    Ride:Toyota builds vehicles that emphasize ride over handling. Honda builds vehicles that emphasize handling over ride quality. I prefer Honda engineering myself.

    Ergomonics: The CR-V has the capability of moving between the front and rear seats without exiting the vehicle, which can be handy in incliment weather if one needs to get back to the rug-rats in the rear seat.

    I also like the CR-V rear legroom - 39 inches with the rear seat slid backwards. Once can get almost 40 cu feet of stuff behind the rear seats if you slide the rear seat all the way forward (36 inches of legroom in that configuration).

    As for AWD, if that is critical, the Subaru is the best system in my opinion. However I have used the Honda RT4WD in many bad road conditions, including deep mud, 4" of fording water, and snow, without any problems.

    The bottom line is to take the baby seat to the dealer and do a test drive, then pick the one that fits your budget and preferrences. When pricing, I would add all available safety features to the vehicle (Honda already includes everything, but you will need to add to the RAV-4 to get to the same standard - not sure about the Subie).
  • kumarikumari Posts: 72
    I cross-test-drove all three of these cars and decided on the Forester XT Limited which comes with a special dark interior, leather seats and the GIGANTIC sunroof (it's practically a convertible!). It also has that extra turbo power for maneuvering out of tight spots when necessary. I was reallly planning on buying a Honda CRV, but thought it was cheaply appointed (especially that tacky fold-down cup-holder "thing" between the two front seats) and drove like a tin can on wheels, but I guess it depends what you're used to. Hated it. I personally thought that the RAV-4 was a much nicer car and it also came with a special dark interior if you get the sport version. Those light-colored carpets and velour seats can get pretty filthy pretty fast with kids and dogs in the car. Someone in a parking lot was showing me her Toyota and it was absolutely filthy inside for a two year old car!

    The back seat room in the Forester is supposed to be non-existant, but that's not a problem for me.

    Personally, if I were in your shoes, I'd get the Toyota Highlander - you can get one that is "certified" pre-owned from a Toyota dealership and it comes with a great warranty and will still be cheaper than a brand new RAV-4 or CR-V. If I had a baby to consider, it would be my first choice. Rides nicely, beautifully appointed and has PLENTY of back seat and cargo space! I could have bought the deluxe version with leather and everything for $21,000 and it was a 2004, I think. Just a beautiful small SUV and the mileage is not that much less than the RAV-4. They make it in a 4 and 6 cylinder. I drove both and if power's not your thing, the 4 would suffice.

    The Honda Pilot is probably a similar model, but after seeing the CR-V, I was really not impressed with the Honda product. I thought it was very pricey for what you get. I liked the Toyota cars much better, but that's just me. There are other wagons available - I think VW makes one, so if you don't care about the 4WD or AWD, you may want to consider them as well. I need the height in the cargo area to accomodate dog crates. I'm coming down from a standard size (and gas guzzling) SUV that I've owned for over 10 years.

    If you don't already know, Consumer Reports Magazine rated all the small SUVs and the Subaru Forester came in as #1, the Honda CR-V was #2. The Forester was also the #1 rated small SUV in Car &Driver Magazine as well. And, I read somewhere that it's the only vehicle in it's class to get a 5-star safety rating. Of course, the Highlander and Pilot are in a different size class. It really sounds to me like you need a larger SUV. With a baby and dog, there won't be a lot of room for cargo if you take a trip somewhere.

    Funny, the only reason I even WENT to the Subaru dealership was because I saw it while driving to the Honda dealership. The Forester was the first car I test drove and it spoiled me. I wanted a small SUV crossed with a sports car, but I didn't think it existed, so the Subaru Forester Turbo fits the bill for me. It's like a convertible, sports car and SUV all rolled into one.

    Good luck with whichever car you choose. They are all good cars.

  • blueiedgodblueiedgod Posts: 2,798
    Back in 2002 I considered a Subaru, but the engine was too rough. Last year, I looked at Forester again, but the vibrations that transfer through the shifter and the steering wheel are unacceptable to me.

    There was a video someone on the internet of a guy balancing a quater on a running K24 engine (CR-V engine). That would not work in the Forester.

    I maybe a perfectionist, but I gave up the 260 HP Forester XT over 160 HP CR-V, but with an engine that you don't know even on, unless you stab the throttle. I like the sophistication Honda gives you over Subaru.

    Forester has longer shift throws, even in the sporty XT, than the CR-V, and the shifter is a little bit rougher going into the gears on the Forester. I am sure the 260 HP would have been nice, but not in a car that drives you crazy with terrible engine vibration.
  • thecatthecat Posts: 535
    Maybe if you had done your homework you wouldn't have come to this conclusion. You're comparing apples and oranges. The boxer engine is inherently well balanced and smooth. Turbo charged engines (like the XT) however typically run a little rough at idle. Subaru uses a "tumble generator" to help deal with this problem. It does improve the idle issue but doesn't eliminate it. You can't have everything. Getting 260 hp out of a 2.5 liter engine is pretty impressive. If you had checked out the non turbo version you would have found a very smooth idle + more hp than the honda.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 4,098
    "Maybe if you had done your homework you wouldn't have come to this conclusion. "

    They didn't have the Turbo when I cross shopped the Forester, but I wouldn't have bought it anyway. The base engine had plenty of power, but that backseat just seemed too small for me in the Subie.

    Turbo requires premium fuel, right?

    Oddly enough, the "little tray" between the front seats was a selling point for me in the CR-V - the wife could move to the rear seats without exiting the vehicle.

    Toyota Highlander was too expensive for me, and I prefer a taught ride to the Toyota soft ride.
  • kumarikumari Posts: 72
    Thank you for explaining a possible reason for that fold-down tray in between the front seats in the CRV! I truly could not think of a reason for it and just thought it looked so cheesy, plus if one of my dogs jumped on it, it would break immediately! The Highlander is a more expensive car, but you can find nice used ones and the Toyota used car warranty is exceptional. Personally I don't buy new cars unless I absolutely have to - A used auto trans Forester XT Limited is impossible to find - I've been looking for over two months now.

    It's important to note that I'm getting the auto trans, not the 5 speed. I didn't think the base model in the Forester with the automatic had enough power for me, it would have been fine in the 5-speed. That's why I'm getting the Turbo even though it uses premium fuel (which SUCKS). I think the rest of you are driving 5-speeds which really makes a difference.

    I also only drive about 3000 miles per year. Also, that side opening door in the Honda and Toyota gives me pause. At least the Honda has a rear window which opens up, but I can still imagine problems loading cargo if someone parks too close to you at the curb. I'm used to a hatch that opens up - it just seems inconvenient to have to walk around the rear door every time you want to load something. It opens the wrong way - it should be hinged on the opposite side.

    Anyway, I've put in my 2 cents now. I'm thinkin' the orginal posters have enough info now to make their decision.

  • Some people have posted wrong or misleading safety info.

    1. Someone said the CRV did not do well in the side impact tests. That's not correct. In fact the CRV is one of the very few cars that has been tested and received the highest scores (either 5 stars or good rating) in both the NHTSA's fornt and side impact tests, and the IIHS's front and side impact tests (and done well in all the subcategories of the IIHS test). Furthermore if you look at the details of the Forester's test, you'll find that for a side impact, the results for the drivers pelvis and leg were only acceptable. I know I'm a bit of a safety freak, but I wouldn't want to take a chance with my wife's pelvis being crushed in an accident, especially if she were pregnant. Also the rear seat passenger only scored acceptable for head protection. I'm sorry but for me if I had 2 kids, acceptable just wouldn't cut it for head protection for my children.

    Needless to say you have to be really careful with the IIHS ratings. They will rate a car good, even though it has some bad scores for things like head and pelvis protecion.

    I know not everyone is as extreme as me, but it's good to at least have the info.

    here is the we address of the details of the subaru crash test.

  • blueiedgodblueiedgod Posts: 2,798
    Maybe if you had done your homework you wouldn't have come to this conclusion. You're comparing apples and oranges. The boxer engine is inherently well balanced and smooth. Turbo charged engines (like the XT) however typically run a little rough at idle. Subaru uses a "tumble generator" to help deal with this problem. It does improve the idle issue but doesn't eliminate it. You can't have everything. Getting 260 hp out of a 2.5 liter engine is pretty impressive. If you had checked out the non turbo version you would have found a very smooth idle + more hp than the honda.

    I did test drive the non-turbo version, and it had the same vibrations transferring through the shifter and the steering column. It was OK at idle, but it got worse as the RPM's went up. But, if I were getting the Forester, I would have gotten the turbo version, because power is addicting.

    As a matter of fact, I drove the Impreza as well, and it had the same engine vibration. Someone driving automatic may not notice it as they don't grab the shifter as often as someone who shifts his own gears, but at the end of the test drive my right hand felt like it was resting on a vibrating massaging chair. You know you get that feeling of numbness and such. I know I should not be resting my hand on the shifter, but.... ahhh... I like to be connected? lol.
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    "Maybe if you had done your homework you wouldn't have come to this conclusion. You're comparing apples and oranges. The boxer engine is inherently well balanced and smooth."

    I suppose if you consider Subaru's press packet valid research material. Subaru has never been known for having smooth engines. Lots of things to like about Subies (safety, handling, AWD, features, etc.). I like the 2.5 for it's flexible powerband and it's low center of gravity. But smoothness would have to be a very recent development.
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,788
    I have to agree. I've noticed at idle, my '06 2.5 WRX has a slightly lumpy idle. It's no biggie however, as once off idle that disaapears, and it is very smooth running through the gears or at cruising.

  • drive62drive62 Posts: 637
    You only drive 3000 miles a year and the rear door opening is a concern? Not sure why unless every one of those miles involve loading and unloading something from the rear.

    Also, how exactly do you have to "walk around the rear door every time you wan to load something"? You exit the driver's door, you walk to the back of the vehicle and the handle is on the driver's side. Can't figure out what you mean unless you are exiting from the passenger seat.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 4,098
    "Also, that side opening door in the Honda and Toyota gives me pause. At least the Honda has a rear window which opens up, but I can still imagine problems loading cargo if someone parks too close to you at the curb."

    You get used to it. I think it has to do with the spare tire being on the door - difficult to lift up.

    Did you know there is a water tight large wheel well under the cargo floor?
  • kumarikumari Posts: 72
    Thanks for the info re: the wheel well. Now, I remember being told that at the dealership. Unfortunately, the Honda is still not for me. I also HATED the location of the parking brake and the trans shifter (this was on the auto). The fold-down thingy console cupholder is also a deal-breaker for me, but I can see where it may have some use for others. The side-opening door is a HUGE issue - as someone above aptly noted, I may only drive 3000 miles a year; but I'm ALWAYS schlepping cargo, groceries, home building materials, dogs, etc. Many a time, I've had to tie the rear door down because the cargo didn't fit all the way. You can't do that with a side-opening rear door!

    The only other cars in this price range that I liked were the RAV-4 and the Mitsubishi Outlander, but the Mitsubishi dealership shows signs of closing down in my area, so that's a deal breaker for me as well. I also hated the double-decker dashboard of the RAV-4, it was just too busy for me. And, it also has the side-opening rear door.

    The only things I didn't like about the Subaru was the ugly (but necessary) hood scoop on the hood of the Forester XT and the wells of the rear wheels intruding into the cargo area. I loved the interior, handling, appointments, etc. I thought I was all set to buy, then I started reading (on these boards) about wind and engine noise and problems with brake rotors and warping sunroofs, and a bunch of other stuff. To me, the Subaru was the quietest car I've EVER driven! They let me take a demo out by myself for an hour. I couldn't even tell it was turned on! Yet, everyone here complains about the noise. I can't imagine!

  • I have noticed the wind noise being a bit louder in the Forester compared to the CRV too. That could be a bit tiresome after an hour or two on the highway.

    I am considering the Rav4 now, but the first years kinks need to be worked out. I would like to hear of all the issues from new Rav4 drivers.

    That is the reason I may end up going with the CRV.

    Decisions, decisions,
  • blueiedgodblueiedgod Posts: 2,798
    The side-opening door is a HUGE issue - as someone above aptly noted, I may only drive 3000 miles a year; but I'm ALWAYS schlepping cargo, groceries, home building materials, dogs, etc. Many a time, I've had to tie the rear door down because the cargo didn't fit all the way. You can't do that with a side-opening rear door!

    You pop the hatch window and let it stick out the window, while the rest fo your cargo is secured behind the locked door. Seems like a better solution than having the whole tailgate open, and let the lose items roll out of the vehicle as you accelerate.

    I know because I brought a 26 foot ladder from Home depot in the CR-V.

    But now that I have a roof rack, I just tie things to the roof rack. Like replacement windows that did not fit in the car (106x54)
  • dstew1dstew1 Posts: 275
    You can significantly reduce the Forester wind noise by taking off the crossbars when you're not using them (which for most drivers is probably most of the time). They only take about 5 minutes to take off or put back on, and without the air swirling around up there, it's not quite so noisy.

    Did the CRV you test drove have rails on the roof? If not, that may be one factor in why it sounded quieter.
  • Yes, it did have roof rails. It was teh SE version of the CRV. In Canada, they are offering the SE, EX and EXL. Basically the SE is the most basic but they threw together a options package that included all the most popular options for the final year of that design/model. It includes the side-step bars, roof rack, fog lights and front and back shields or whatever they are called. To protect against stones and things like that.

    The wind noise seemed to be coming more from the front cabin part of the car as my passenger and I were test driving the car. We test drove both cars back to back. The dealerships were less than a minute away from each other. So our test drives would give us the best impression.

    Recently we test drove the 06 Rav4 and the 06 CRV on the same day and we noticed that the engin seemed a bit noisier in the RAV4. However, I can't be certain, as both engines were a bit noisy. I guess this class of vehicle isn't expected to be luxury quiet like a lexus or bmw. There were some positives in the new Rav4, being the sliding back seats, heated front lower portion of the wind shield where the wipers sit with a push of a button and floor storage compartments in the back.

    However, the first year model and some other things I would have changed, such as the spare on the back. Speaking of which, I don't understand why they couldn't store the spare underneath in the back. The styling is nice, except for that ugly tire on the back.
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