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Subaru Forester vs Toyota RAV4



  • rnw96rnw96 Posts: 2
    Thanks for sharing your experience with the Toyota & Subaru dealers in the NYC area. I've had similar experiences with Toyota dealers.

    The past two weekends, I've visited dealers for the Toyota Rav4, Honda CR-V, and Subaru Forester.

    Originally I had my heart & mind set on the Rav4 Sport with the V6 engine. The problem: the Toyota dealers I've visited have made the buying process so difficult, it gets my blood boiling.

    First, I had a very similar experience as you at *****Westchester Toyota --- avoid them like the plague!*****. Walked in and nobody greeted me. Finally chased down a salesperson and asked him if I can see the Rav4. He said they were sold out, but I could look at two sold vehicles that were in the back. With no directions, my wife, father, and I wandered around and found "the back" on our own. Not much to see with the doors locked, so we come back inside. My salesperson (does he qualify for that title at this stage?) is speaking with someone so I ask an unoccupied salesperson next to him, when they expect the Rav4s back in stock. He refused to answer my question and said I have to talk to the salesperson assigned to me.

    So I wait for my "salesperson" to finish his conversation with someone else. Answer: in about a week. I have to ask if he can notify me when they come in stock. I suggest perhaps taking my name and number. He acknowledges this is a swell idea and proceeds to take them down. I then ask him his name. Again, he follows my lead on this innovative suggestion.

    Needless to say, I haven't heard back from him yet and it's been a week. Believe me, I'm not sitting by the phone.

    The next three Toyota dealers I visited weren't much better. The next one was in the heart of the Bronx and was rundown. They didn't have any Rav V6s, but at least the salesperson was courteous and thought on her own to ask for my name & number. Again, no call back occurred, but at least she went through the motions.

    Next came a Toyota dealership in Bergen County, NJ. Much bigger, nicer, and more professional outfit, but the short story is that even though they had the car on the lot, they wouldn't let me test drive it. I had to make an appointment for next week.

    Finally I went to a Toyota dealer in Queens today. You would have thought that someone was filming a parody of the car dealer experience. The salespeople certainly dressed and acted the part. Sloppy, rude, and pushy. They let me test drive the Rav4, but only on local streets and for less than 10 minutes. Then they spent 25 minutes trying to convince me to place an order today, even though I told them from the outset that I wasn't there to buy that day, but would buy within a couple of weeks. Plus, I wasn't prepared to order a vehicle that could take 6 weeks for delivery without exploring my other options. And I certainly wasn't going to buy after a 7 minute test drive. When I mentioned that I was looking at the Forester too, the salesperson said "What?! Are you 80 years old?" (I'm 31 by the way).

    By comparison, the Honda dealer I visited in Paramus, NJ was completely professional and courteous. The test drive experience was very pleasant and the salesperson did a great job of answering my questions afterwards, without pressure. I would strongly consider buying from her if it wasn't for the fact that the CR-V drove just like the rumors suggest (tin can on wheels). I had read those posts about the strange cup holder/tray and shifter being "deal breakers" and thought the people were crazy. Now, I guess I have to consider myself crazy right along with them.

    At the Forester dealership in Queens, NY, again, the experience was completely courteous. I asked for a test drive and immediately the salesperson brought a car around. We took it for a spin and he encouraged me to take it on the highway. Again, a really nice guy. And since I was really impressed with the feel of the car, he has a chance of getting my experience.

    After evaluating the Rav4 and Forester point-by-point, the pluses and minuses pretty much balance out for me. I know the Rav4s are the hotter, sexier commodity, but I wish Toyota would reserve the attitude for their cars, not their salespeople. They've successfully driven me to an imminent Subaru purchase.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Van Bortel is a no-haggle Subaru dealer in NY. See what their price is like and ask your dealer to beat that price. It makes the negotiation process simpler.

    Good luck, and keep us posted?

  • smittynycsmittynyc Posts: 291

    I hope you can make things work with the Queens dealer. If not, you may want to check out Smith-Cairns in Yonkers or Milea in the Bronx (East Tremont). I bought from Milea and got a very competitive price and enjoyed the experience overall (although I didn't have a trade-in to contend with).

    The problem with Milea is their service department. I can't begin to describe how chaotic and unpleasant it is. I had such a terrible time with my initial oil change that I now go to Town Motors in Englewood (which is phenomenal).

    Good luck with everything.
  • chrisl22chrisl22 Posts: 24
    I really appreciate the help several of you have given me re. my question of Forester, Outback, or Rav4, given the two mile dirt road I negotiate each week. And that I should probably buy new.

    If I decide on an Outback, which engine should I get? I'm conscious (environmentally) about mileage, but the 2.5 Outback seems to have significantly less zip than a 2.5 Forester. I'm disinclined towards turbos because of mileage (although I'm sure they're great engines). My cousin has a turbo Forester and loves it. Is a 3.0 the way I should go if I get an Outback? I just don't want to be struggling at all going up any hills...

    And by the way, I had the same problems trying to look at Ravs in San Jose, California. Twice they've driven me all the way around their lots looking for a 4WD Rav for me to test-drive -- and never found one.

    Thanks in advance.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The Forester is up to 173hp with the base engine, while the Outback now makes 175hp, though the latter is heavier. Both are perfectly adequate, but the lighter Forester does feel zippier to me.

  • jeffmcjeffmc Posts: 1,742
    Outback 3.0R has some nice features over the 2.5i, including what I think is a better transmission - the automatic 5spd SportShift. Other benefits include: upgraded VTD all wheel drive system, tire pressure monitoring sytem, 6disc CD changer, dual zone front climate control, body colored mirrors with turn signals, and rear seat armrest. The downside... it's about $2700 more and gets 19/26 MPG rather than 22/28 (which isn't really a big decrease considering it's 75 more horsepower).

    So if you go with Outback, do you want more goodies and more HP but lower MPG & a higher price, or higher MPG and lower price but less goodies and less horsepower? Personally, I think the 2.5i engine has more than adequate, but not spirited, power. I don't think you'll be struggling up any hills with it. I know the 3.0 has a reputation for smooth, refined power delivery. Drive 'em both & see what you think.

    You can compare details of the different Outback models here:
    And Forester here:
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The 2.5i Limited has a lot of the equipment from the 3.0R model, but I think the 3.0R is a better value because prices get a bit too close.

    Having said that, the real bargain is the 2.5i SE, you get a lot for next to nothing, and the rebate is bigger to make the difference even greater.

  • jeffmcjeffmc Posts: 1,742
    Yup, good point. SE's definitely the most-bang-for-the-buck choice, as far as feature content goes.
  • chrisl22chrisl22 Posts: 24
    The SE and 3.0R both sound good. I'll definitely test-drive them both. One thing about the SE is that it only comes in automatic, and since my 2 mile dirt road is steep in places, I'm wondering if a manual might be better for control of downhill speed (rather than having to brake too much)?

    How is the 3.0R's 5 speed automatic for downhill slowing?

    I have a neighbor who loves his Forester (he drives even further along the dirt road). He says that the one thing he regrets is not having a manual, since the low on his Forester still requires more downhill braking then he'd like.

    You guys are such great help. I haven't ruled out a Forester either, but the Outback's comfort and suspension are enticing me.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Well, you have SportShift, so you can put the automatic in a specific gear and do the same thing.

  • jeffmcjeffmc Posts: 1,742
    Don't know if this simplifies or complicates things, but if you do want manual trans, that rules out the 3.0 models as well - they all come with automatic. On Outback, manual is available only on the base 2.5i or the turbo models.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    They do have manual shift controls on the auto, though.

  • chrisl22chrisl22 Posts: 24
    I drove the 3.0R (only had the LL Bean model on the lot, but same engine) and the 2.5i limited last night. The dealer I went to kept insisting there's not an SE and there was no mention of it in their Outback brochure. The 3.0R was remarkably smooth and solid. I liked it alot, but for me the 2.5i is probably perfectly fine and most likely the way I'll go. What probably tips the balance for me is that 91 octane is recommended for the 3.0 and 87 for 2.5. The salesman said you can probably get away with lower octane in the 3.0. It will only lower performance. But I'm not so convinced. So I'm thinking that between the mpg difference and high octane required, the cost of gas for the 3.0 becomes more significant.
  • chrisl22chrisl22 Posts: 24
    I forgot. Yes, it appears to me that the sport speedshift, even the 4-speed in the 2.5 outback, will do the trick for me in terms of controlling speed downhill on my dirt road.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Cool, sounds like you've pretty much decided, then. Let us know when you pull the trigger.

  • jeffmcjeffmc Posts: 1,742
    There's no mention of the SE in their brochure because it was a model added in November - halfway through the 2006 model production year. I can't find mention of it on or on many dealer sites, but have the dealer look up the model code "6DC", which is the SE's unique code.
    It seems there are not too many of them out there. A quick internet search for Outback 6DC found some in Houston at this link to Gillman Subaru in Houston. There are at least three more on this dealer's website.

    Not sure where you're located, but the SE is also listed on the website for New York's Van Bortel Subaru (#1 volume dealer in US)
  • chrisl22chrisl22 Posts: 24
    I'm in the San Jose area. I emailed for prices, and one local dealer emailed back a $22,500 price (+ fees) for a 2006 2.5i limited. I'll wait to hear from others, but I'm thinking that sounds quite good -- and probably wouldn't get lower in 1-3 months when the 2007's come out? Am I also right that there's no major upgrades coming with the 2007's and that there's no really good reason either to wait for them, or for lower prices on the 2006?
  • chrisl22chrisl22 Posts: 24
    I just noticed that some outbacks have an "ultra-low" emission package, which is desirable to me for environmental reasons. However, does anyone know if there's any power or performance deficit with this package??

    My $22,500 price from a dealer turns out to be a mistake. He gave a base model price. The other prices I'm hearing are mid $25 K.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I believe the PZEV models give up 3hp, at least that was the case for MY2005. You probably will not even notice.

  • lmn908lmn908 Posts: 34
    There is an SE package for the 2.5i Legacy that includes a power drivers seat and sunroof for $500 - almost all seem to come with this package. The SE package for the Outback includes the automatic climate control, CD changer, and Navigation system, and lists for $1500 - a good value if you are interested in the NAV system, considering that NAV is usually about a $2K option by itself. The Outback SE only comes in 2 colors - Seacrest Green and Diamond gray.
  • jeffmcjeffmc Posts: 1,742
    '07 Outback models will see XM radio offered, and an aux. input for iPods/other MP3 players. I suspect there will also be a memory setting on the power driver's seat, since that upgrade has been confirmed for the '07 B9 Tribeca.

    Not sure if it's still accurate, but back in June, a FHI exec said Legacy (and therefore presumably Outback) would receive a "freshening" in 2007. Don't know if he means 2007 model year, or calendar year, and don't know if he's referring specifically to the Japanese market, which usually gets this kind of thing first. See below. Incidentally, Subaru of America later denied that the minivan mentioned in the story would be sold in the US.

    YUZO YAMAGUCHI | Automotive News
    Posted Date: 6/21/05
    TOKYO -- Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. may build a Subaru minivan for sale in global markets, including the United States.
    The seven-seat minivan would offer Subaru features: all-wheel drive and a boxer engine, says Ikuo Mori, chief general manager of Fuji Heavy's overseas sales and marketing division. Fuji owns Subaru.
    "Given our company size, we need to make it a global car," Mori says. He declines to say when the minivan might be ready for the United States.
    Subaru sells four cars in the United States: the Baja, Forester, Impreza and Legacy, and one light truck: the B9 Tribeca.
    In Japan, the minivan would be a replacement for the Subaru Traviq, a rebadged Opel Zafira that General Motors assembled in Thailand. GM stopped building the minivan for Subaru in December, about three years after Fuji Heavy sold it in Japan.
    Last year, Traviq sales here plunged 36.1 percent from a year earlier to 1,847. Fuji Heavy said sales were poor because the minivan lacked Subaru specialties, all-wheel drive and a boxer engine.
    Meanwhile, Mori says the company plans to freshen the Legacy in 2007 and redesign it in 2009. The Legacy is Subaru's best seller in the United States. "

    As far as pricing goes, I don't think it'll go significantly lower on the '06s. The current $2000 rebate is pretty good, and inventory will only drop since the factory has stopped taking orders for '06 models. is a great way to find a target price to use as leverage when you're negotiating. They've got automatic Outback Limiteds starting from about $24,500. Invoice is $27,227, so they're selling for about $2700 below invoice, with the rebate included. A California-spec vehicle would be a couple hundred more, so I think about $24,700 would be as low as you could go.
    Anything up to $25,400 I'd consider a good deal, and wouldn't bite on anything higher. If you get any options, be sure you get those at invoice, as well.

    I think I've used up more than my two cents' worth of advice here. Hope this gives you some ammunition. Good luck! As juice said, let us know how it all turns out.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The SE packages are a steal, you're almost forced to buy them. Same for the Outback Sport SE.

  • muzikgmuzikg Posts: 1
    I just recently test drove both the 06 RAV4 and Subaru Forester. I own a Subaru Outback(96) which despite great repair record in Consumer Reports has been a disappointment. Just over 100,000 miles, the thing began leaking oil from about every gasket in the engine. All told, about $1900.00 in gasket replacement work and this week, I was told the rear cam seal needs replacement ($800.00). When I asked the dealer about the problem, they told me "these thing wear out". It looks like Subaru is using the same engine in the Forester and when I went to drive it, I asked about the oil leaks. The sales guy told me that all cars have oil leaks when they get older and Subaru makes a great engine. I have owned lots of cars and driven most well past 100,000 miles and have never seen such gasket failure.

    So I drove the Forester anyway. Nice car. A little more bumpy than the Outback. The Toyota dealer is next door so after driving the Outback, I went across the lot and drove the Rav4. Similar ride, but the RAV is MUCH quieter on the road. It looks like they are about the same size as far as cargo, etc. The RAV is a bit more expensive and no dealer incentives yet. MPG is about the same, but you can get the RAV in a 2WD version and up the mileage by about 3MPG.

    With my worries about the Subaru engine and the road noise, I bought the 2wd RAV. I will have to do another posting in 10 years to see if the Subaru Dealer "all cars leak oil" statement holds up.....
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    It's unfortunate about your engine, but I think you just had the bad luck of the draw. I wouldn't want a 2wd RAV4 due to the amount of snow, but I do think the value equation goes to the Forester and it's a proven vehicle. The turbo version is a blast. But Toyota offers more luxury amenities in the RAV4.

    The Forester overall has one of the best reliability and safety records. And the RAV4 is a Toyota. FWIW.

    Good luck with your new vehicle.
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    I will have to do another posting in 10 years ...

    Don't wait THAT long! You'll miss all the fun here. :)

    tidester, host
  • jeffmcjeffmc Posts: 1,742
    I don't think 10 years is an unreasonably short time for the seals/gaskets to get brittle/worn - it's not the mileage as much as the age. But I'm no mechanic. *shrug* Have you had any other problems with the car? Just replacing all the seals/gaskets once every 10 years seems pretty reliable to me.

    I'm sure the RAV will be an excellent and reliable vehicle for you. Congrats! They feel quite roomy, especially rear legroom. I have friends who were looking at the new RAV, but were turned off by having to pay extra for side airbags, daytime running lights, roof rack, cargo cover, etc.
  • suvshopper4suvshopper4 Posts: 1,110
    Congrats, and good luck with your new RAV.

    From your EPA mileage talk, it sounds like you got the 2.4 liter engine. That is a strong-pulling 4-cylinder. My gf has it in her '02 Solara, and it is impressive.

    Let us know how you like it.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Congrats on the RAV4.

    For the 99-02 models Subaru offered a 7/100 warranty on the gaskets if you agreed to let them use a coolant conditioner. After 02 the gaskets have been fine. That's reflected in both Consumer Reports (Engine reliability ratings improve) and from what we've observed here on Edmunds.

    We have 5 Subarus in the family and none have ever had leak issues. Sorry 'bout your luck.

  • chrisl22chrisl22 Posts: 24
    After I've been really researching (and driving) new Outbacks and Foresters -- and getting good advice here, a friend of mine is now selling a 2001 Forester for his brother in law that seems to be in very good shape with low miles (53000) and has been well serviced. So I'm thinking of maybe buying this now instead of a new car, for two main reasons: for one thing, what I'd *really* want is a hybrid Subaru, and I'm thinking that this used Forester might nicely tide me over until 2009 or so when Subaru might do something really new. My second reason for maybe buying this 2001 Forester is that since I negotiate a two-mile dirt road every week that is in bad condition sometimes during the winter I wasn't relishing banging/dirtying up a brand new car so quickly.

    So now I have this question: was the 2001 Forester a good vintage? This car's more or less dropped right in front of me in good condition with these low miles. Of course, the price compared to new is very desirable. My friend was asking $12,500 for it, but I could probably get it for something less than that. What do you think?
  • leo2633leo2633 Posts: 589
    I have a 2001 Forester S with the 5 speed manual transmission. They had some clutch problems that Subaru fixed under warranty, as well as a leaking headgasket. I also had one bad rear wheel bearing. These were somewhat common problems with the 2001, as well as a few other years. I also had to replace a coil pack and catalytic converter. With all that, you'd think I'd hate my car, but I really do love it. I currently have 133,000 miles on mine. I'd probably replace it with another 5 speed Forester if I were buying a new car tomorrow, but I anticipate having this car for several more years, and into the 200K mile range.

    Hope this helps.

This discussion has been closed.