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Toyota RAV4 vs Subaru Forester: Which SUV Should You Go For?

Shopping for an SUV can be a pretty daunting task, especially if you’re torn between the 2021 Toyota RAV4 and the 2021 Subaru Forester. Both are family-friendly crossovers with plenty of passenger and cargo space, and they are packed with amazing infotainment features, too!

While the Subaru Forester comes with incredible cargo capacity and is more affordable than the Toyota RAV4, the Toyota RAV4 comes with innovative safety features, better base fuel economy ratings, and much better predicted reliability rating.

Given these two amazing options, which do you think will offer more bang for your buck? That’s a pretty tough choice to make, but we’re here to help.

Let’s compare the two compact crossovers so you can decide which one suits you better.

Interior Quality

While you will never confuse both the Toyota RAV4 and Subaru Forester for luxury cars with their hard plastic interior surfaces, you can trust that the materials in both crossovers are stylish and durable. They also have seat five on standard cloth upholstery, heated front seats, and a heated steering wheel. If you’re not happy with any of those, you can expect better interior quality in their higher trims!

Interior Features

If you travel far distances often, you will be glad to know that both the Subaru Forester and Toyota RAV4 come standard with a touch-screen infotainment system, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, USB input, and satellite radio. Unfortunately, the Forester can only go that far. The RAV4 has a much longer list of infotainment features, including a Wi-Fi hotspot, Amazon Alexa, and six separate speakers. RAV4 also features innovative tech like lane trace assist for safe driving!


Since you’re paying a fortune for your SUV, it doesn’t make sense picking one that can’t keep up with your desired speed. That is why when it comes to acceleration, the Toyota RAV4 comes out on top. While the Subaru Forester only comes with a 182-horsepower four-cylinder engine, RAV4 comes with a 203-horsepower four-cylinder—meaning it is capable of producing more power and has a much better power-to-weight ratio than the other. As you test drive both SUVs, you will also find that the Forester’s powertrain responds slowly at times, while the RAV4 can accelerate up to speed without a hitch.

Fuel Economy

When you buy an SUV, you don’t only consider the cost of the SUV itself but the cost of running it for the long term—which includes fuel use. Well, you might be glad to know that the RAV4 gets better mileage than the Forester, but that’s not all about it. When it’s equipped with front-wheel drive, the Toyota RAV4 gets 28 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. When equipped with all-wheel drive, it ranges from 25 to 27 mpg in the city and 32 to 34 mpg on the highway. On the other hand, the Subaru Forester comes standard with 26 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. That makes it look like fuel economy is about even on these two, right? But then again, the RAV4 is the winner in this category since it gets better mileage in its base trim with front-wheel drive.


The choice between the two SUVs becomes even tougher when we talk about safety. Well, both the Subaru Forester and the Toyota RAV4 are great choices if you’re thinking about the safety of your family, but your choice will depend on what safety features you want for your SUV. Both vehicles have an overall rating and side crash test score of five out of five stars and a rollover rating of four stars in the National Highway Traffic and Safety Institute (NHTSA) testing, but the RAV4 fell a little short in the frontal crash test—which the Subaru Forester aced by the way—with only four stars. When it comes to awards, both vehicles also have something to brag about with the 2021 RAV4 being the 2020 Top Safety Pick awardee of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the 2021 Forester being the 2020 Top Safety Pick+ awardee. While the RAV4 looks a little behind here, it actually comes with more standard yet cutting-edge safety features, including lane trace assist and a lot more. Let’s just say that when it comes to safety, this matchup is a tie.


While both the Subaru Forester and Toyota RAV4 clearly have something awesome to put on the table, this head-to-head comparison shows that RAV4 nabs the win overall. From the interior features, acceleration, to safety, this SUV wins by a nose. Well, you will never go wrong with either vehicle, but the Toyota RAV4 looks to offer better value for your money in the long run.