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Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 or Subaru Forester?



  • dzndzn Posts: 11
    If by MT5 you are referring to a 5-speed manual, my car is actually an automatic.

    Bottom line...which car do you think would be better in snowy conditions

    Honda CRV
    Subaru Outback or Forester
    Toyota Rav 4

    I would be getting an auto-transmission.

    Thanks in advance.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Oh, OK, you mentioned a manual so I thought that's what you had.

    Honda actually lowered the new CR-V, so it has less clearance than the previous model. Still better than regular cars.

    RAV4 I think gets 7.1-7.5" depending on the model, though that information may be outdated. Plus, they offer 3 different rim sizes (16", 17", 18") so I'm not sure if that has an effect on clearance.

    Forester has the most ground clearance and the only full-time AWD system among those 3. Ground clearance is 7.9" for the turbos, 8.1" for the 2.5l base engine.

    I would go with the Forester if that is your criteria. Add snow tires to any one of these and they'd be excellent snow vehicles.
  • dzndzn Posts: 11
    Clearance is not that much of an issue. Traction and maintaining control are the characteristics I am looking for.
    That's why I was interested in the different AWD systems (front/rear power distribution etc) and how well the vehicles would perform in snowy conditions. The fact that the poster had mentioned that the maximum of 30% power distribution to the rear on the CRV made him eliminate that vehicle as an option made me reconsider it as a viable option.
  • tifightertifighter WAPosts: 1,878
    Hey Juice, maybe it's time to drag out the ol' Subaru training video again?

    The Forester with a manual defaults to a 50/50 power split front and rear, which is ideal in my mind. Add the ground clearance and I think it would be the ride of choice for snow. I did drive up a forest road in early winter with mine in about 9 inches of snow. About 3 miles. You could hear the underside drag. I am not saying it was a smart idea, but I made the entire drive without a hang up and I knew the road well. Only other vehicle i saw was a tacoma, and they looked at me like I was from another planet.

    RAV4 would be next for me. It's system is capable of shifting 45% of the power to the rear, and it also has a switch that allows you to lock that 45% to the back up to around 20 mph or so. Also has hill-descent control and hill assist control; cool features I wouldn't mind Subaru adopting...especially HDC. I would worry about Toyota's typically over-intrusive VDC though.

    CR-V is last place for me. Que the said video...

    15.5 XC70 T6 / 16 Soul EV / 17 Toyota 86

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    To be fair that video showed the last generation CR-V. The new one has less clearance, but I'm sure the AWD system was enhanced in some way.

    Also, Subaru didn't show its own weaknesses. While models with VTD or VDC can climb that now infamous ramp, Foresters without VDC cannot (neither can a RAV4 or CR-V). Only the Forester XT Sports automatic could climb it in this class.

    I bet SH-AWD models like the RD-X would also have success on that ramp. BMW had a demo I saw at one of their events where an X5 could climb, so X-Drive probably can, too. And Audi they had on-site could not. Same for a Lexus RX, both failed to climb the same ramp.
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    "The fact that the poster had mentioned that the maximum of 30% power distribution to the rear on the CRV made him eliminate that vehicle as an option made me reconsider it as a viable option."

    Shame about that. That poster is incorrect and ruled out a vehicle based on bogus information. Power distribution to the rear is near 70%. Older CR-Vs went to a 50/50 split, but Honda increased rear torque capacity 20% for 2007.

    While we're at it, Juice made a mistake in describing RT4WD in one of his recent posts, too.

    "CR-V works in a similar manner using a fast-acting Rotary Blade Coupling."

    I suspect he has it confused with the system used on the original Ford Escape/Mazda Tribute. Those two used a rotary blade coupling. (They have since changed to an electric sensor and clutch system.)

    No, the CR-V uses a combination of two activation methods. The primary activation of the system comes from a set of hydraulic pumps, which engage a set of wet clutch packs. That's been the basis of the CR-V's AWD since 1996. A few years back, they added a ball-ramp clutch for faster and smoother operation.

    First, the ball-ramp clutch engages the main clutch packs. This sends "some" torque to the rear immediately. The hydraulic pumps follow up to reinforce the connection and maximize power distribution.

    You can find more details about how RT4WD works at the bottom of this link.
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    Oh yeah, as for which is best in the snow?

    The Forester has the clearance and the AWD to make going forward easiest. However, last I checked only the turbo model had a Stability Control program. So, stopping and maintaining directional control once you do start sliding is going to be more difficult for the average driver.

    What you need is a good combination of basic handling traits, good AWD, good clearance for deep snow, and stability control. Weigh those factors based on the kind of snow you most frequently encounter, but do not place too much weight on any one factor.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Some people turn VSC off in the sand and snow. It isn't always helpful.

    Not saying I wouldn't want it, because I do, but I would want an off switch, at least.


    PS I stand corrected regarding RT4WD, I guess I'm guilty of grouping the part-time systems together :(
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    People will turn off VSA (technically the traction control) if launching from a slick surface, or if you need to "rock" the car out of a rut. However, once you get going, you are far better off with it left on.

    Most vehicles have an on/off button. The CR-V does. Not sure about the RAV4. In the past, Toyota has not given the driver that option, but they've recently changed their tune on the issue.

    p.s. Not a problem. There are so many AWD systems on the market, who can keep up?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    who can keep up?

    The worst part is that manufacturers are making less and less information available about these systems.

    Including the CR-V, IIRC we were trying to get specifics about what improvements they had made and information was pretty scarce up until the launch.

    Same for Subaru, though we assume since they used the VDC name that it's similar to the systems on the H6 Outback and Tribeca.

    Subaru's off switch is shown here:


    The blanks are for options like the heated mirrors, wiper de-icers, etc.
  • pisulinopisulino Posts: 78
    The best one in snow and to climb the super ramp is:

    Suzuki Grand Vitara...(oops sorry is not in the list)
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    They're fun, I went and test drove one. Standard V6, off road potential, etc.

    The engine is a bit buzzy, not just for a V6, and it could use a bit more refinement.

    Still, it's nice to see Suzuki offering something different from the car-based crowd.
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    This is probably the way to go.

    Hopefully, most folks aren't pushing their cars that hard on snow-covered public roads.
  • tifightertifighter WAPosts: 1,878
    I will concede that the Suzuki would be tops in off road potential. When you look over at the prices paid discussion for the Grand Vitara, there are people claiming they are picking up top of the line Luxury V6 4wd models for $18-19k +TTL. Who knows if its true, but if so, that is a heck of a deal. No wonder Suzuki dealers are hard to find...

    15.5 XC70 T6 / 16 Soul EV / 17 Toyota 86

  • blueiedgodblueiedgod Posts: 2,798
    However, last I checked only the turbo model had a Stability Control program. So, stopping and maintaining directional control once you do start sliding is going to be more difficult for the average driver.

    Average driver would go to a snow covered parking lot and learn what the car can and can not do at the beginning of each winter season.

    VSC is not the panacea, it is more of a nuisance.

    "Sometimes you have to turn left to go right" 1953 Hudson Hornet.

    Well, VSC does not let you do that, and having complete control ov the vehicle is atmost important when driving in limited traction condition.
  • smittynycsmittynyc Posts: 291
    VSC is not the panacea, it is more of a nuisance.

    "Sometimes you have to turn left to go right" 1953 Hudson Hornet.

    Well, VSC does not let you do that, and having complete control ov the vehicle is atmost important when driving in limited traction condition.

    I don't think this is a fair characterization. ESC isn't going to wrest control of the vehicle away from you; on the contrary, it'll read your input and help you direct the car exactly where you want to go.

    On the other hand, I think the benefits of ESC are often vastly overstated and overhyped. ESC is of most help to a high-weight, high-center-of-gravity vehicle being driven beyond its limits. Outside of that, the data are pretty murky from what I can tell. I think it's spectacular that lives can be saved by ESC helping to reduce single-vehicle and rollover accidents, but I also think that driver carelessness and impairment lead to a lot of those types of accidents anyway.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Saw that article.

    I'm happy to see the press evaluating the unique characteristics of an AWD system.

    Kudos to Acura for a system that is proactive and send power where it is needed, vs. most others that try to take power away from where it isn't needed (seems backwards, no?).

    Acura really needs a better name for the system, though. SH-AWD just isn't catchy, especially from the people that created VTEC.

    How much ground clearance does an RD-X have? My concern would be high-centering given the low breakover angle and long-ish wheelbase.
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    I'm not one of those people who puts all their faith in statistics, but I do take research conducted in reality over advice from cartoon characters.
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    "Acura really needs a better name for the system, though."

    Ditto that.

    Ground clearance is the big problem for the RDX. For that reason, it would not be my first recommendation for anyone who frequently treks on unplowed roads. I, myself, had difficulties with the town plows leaving a berm at the end of my street.

    While I agree that it is a valid concern, the poster above stated they weren't concerned with that particular problem. That's probably true for many drivers.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Links didn't work, took me to a registration page, and then a blank data page? :confuse:

    Any how, it does not surprise me one bit to see the Forester scoring poorly there, when they say "outgassing" they ain't kidding. We call it Subaru New Car Stench. It was hard to bear for the first couple of weeks.

    Not sure why but the Tribeca and even the Impreza (made in Gunma, Japan, right along side the Forester) score a lot better.

    Solution: if you park in a covered area, crack a window open for the first week or so, let it vent out. :sick:
  • steverstever Posts: 52,572
    I'm going to have to run out and buy a bamboo shift knob!

    (The site is a bit irritating - I pasted into the address bar, skipped the request for info if it flops up, and then pasted ?getrecno=169 or whatever Varmint's last number was for each car to get there).
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    Wonder if it was cached when I did it.

    For anyone else, go to the homepage and select Vehicle Guide near the top. Then you can use any of the search tools.

    Juice, I'm not surprised either. It seems that the newer vehicles all score higher than the older models. I've read news announcements from Mazda and Honda promising to combat the dreaded "new car smell". I'm sure every manufacturer is doing the same thing. The change may simply be implemented with the newer models and still in the works for older designs.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Yet you can buy air fresheners and even aerosol sprays with "New Car Smell". :D
  • n_dimasn_dimas Posts: 2
    So which is the best small SUV for moderate off road conditions - CR-V, RAV, Forester, something else? Why?

    I'm trying to find something with decent gas mileage that can handle average to moderately difficult dirt roads.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,572
    Dirt road? Guess you'll have to define moderately difficult too, lol.

    If it doesn't rain, just about anything with a bit of clearance should work fine. I take my loaded minivan on lots of Forest Service roads here in Idaho but I have a lot of scrapes on my undercarriage and oil pan too. :blush:
  • tifightertifighter WAPosts: 1,878
    Forester - Best ground clearance and proactive awd system. 50/50 power split default for the manual tranny. Some models have limited slip rear. Narrowest, which helps on some roads.

    RAV4 - Reactive awd system but the driver can lock power front and rear at low speed. Has hill descent control and hill assist control, which can be helpful.

    CRV - This would be my last choice for any off road application. Reactive awd with no ability to lock the power split. Lowest ground clearance.

    I'd give this one to Forester. But it depends on what 'moderately difficult' means. If off road is a real priority, the Suzuki Grand Vitara would be worth a look as it is in this size class but has a true low range.

    Better tires would improve all of these little guys. ;)

    15.5 XC70 T6 / 16 Soul EV / 17 Toyota 86

  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    "So which is the best small SUV for moderate off road conditions - CR-V, RAV, Forester, something else?"

    That's a loaded question.

    As our host stated, what you consider moderate may not be the same as what I, or anyone else, might consider moderate. Also, there are many reasons why terrain might be considered difficult.

    If your "dirt road" is difficult because of slick mud or loose sand, I might recommend the Forester. That vehicle is very good with low traction situations. However, if the road is difficult because of sudden rises and falls, I might not recommend the Sube. It has some of the worst approach and departure angles.

    In my experience, any one of these three will handle typical, unimproved dirt roads.
  • n_dimasn_dimas Posts: 2
    Ok - to be more specific, I'm not talking about your typical forest service roads. I'm talking about very poorly maintained forest service or BLM roads with lots of rock and debris, sudden rises and falls, and some pretty sharp angles (from left to right accross the road - in other words, so that the left wheels of the car will be significantly lower than the right wheels while moving forward). I need to be able to access remote wilderness areas in Arizona.

    As for clearance: RAV = 7.5; CR-V = 7.3; Forester = 8.1. So Forester seems the best choice from that perspective. Does it really have such poor approach and departure angles that the RAV would be preferable?
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    Just to be clear, when I wrote that the Forester has some of the worst approach/departure angles, I'm talking about worst in class. Not the worst for any vehicle.

    A quick check puts the RAV4 at the head of the class, with the CR-V a close second. However, the low clearance pretty much ruins any capability the CR-V once had off the beaten path. (I had some fun with my '99 model.)

    RAV4 Approach/Departure = 29.3/25.4
    CR-V Approach/Departure = 29/24
    Forester Approach/Departure = 22.3/20.7

    Given that you may end up traversing over deadfall, rocks, and such, take a close look at the undercarriage of any vehicle you select. "Ground clearance" as measured for publications can be misleading. It is often simply the distance from the ground to the rear differential. However, any of these CUVs may have a chin valance up front that will get ripped off when passing over something only 6" tall. Furthermore, the clearance to the vehicle's sills can be just as important as clearance to the diff.
This discussion has been closed.