Toyota RAV4 vs Subaru Forester: How Do They Compare?

Are you looking for a new small SUV that will give you enough space to carry everything in your busy life, while also having great safety rankings? The 2018 Toyota RAV4 SUV and the 2018 Subaru Forester are both vehicles that might be the perfect choice for you.

They are similar in many aspects, but what makes these cars stand out from one another? Which of these cars will work best for your needs? You want the best possible car for you and your family, and the choice can be tough.

Fuel Efficiency

With standard engines, both vehicles have similar fuel efficiency. The RAV4 gets an average of 23 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway, while the Forester gets 22 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.

If you’re interested, you can upgrade your new car’s engine. If you want to get better fuel efficiency, especially if you do a lot of driving around town, the hybrid RAV4 is the way to go. It gets an average of 34 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.

The 2018 Forester does not have a hybrid option, though it does have the option of a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which gets 26 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. You can also upgrade to a turbocharged engine that will give you more horsepower and better acceleration. The fuel efficiency with this engine is about the same as the standard Forester model.


One thing that is in every car owner’s mind is safety. You want to make sure you and your loved ones will be safe in case of an accident. Fortunately, both of these vehicles have great overall safety ratings. While the Forester earned a slightly higher score in the passenger-side test, in all other tests, the scores were equal and high.

One thing that makes the RAV4 stand out is that it comes standard with many high-tech safety features. Your new RAV4 will come with a pre-collision system that helps prevent accidents with cars and pedestrians in front of you. The car also has features that help keep you in your lane, automatic high beams to help you drive better at night, and cruise control that adapts to the vehicle in front of you.

All of these features come standard with every RAV4 SUV, but are optional features that you can add on with the Forester.

Another optional feature that Subaru offers is Starlink. This is a paid subscription service that provides you with 24-hour access to safety and security services. You can get help quickly in case of an emergency, such as if you get into an accident or if your vehicle is stolen.


One thing that likely drew you to these models is how much cargo space they offer. You can carry around your kids’ sports equipment, building materials for your new home improvement project, or all your luggage for your vacation without worrying about everything fitting. Plus, you can carry all of your things without feeling like you’re driving a huge truck. But which one gives you the most room?

While both SUVs have a lot of cargo space, the RAV4 has a bit more than the Forester. When the seats are up, it has 38 cubic feet, compared to the Forester at 31. When the seats are down, the RAV4 has 73 cubic feet, compared to the Forester at 68. When looking at space in the car for passengers, the Forester has just a little bit of extra room—103 cubic feet compared to 100 in the RAV4.


These two vehicles do have a lot of similarities and it can make comparing the differences between them a bit overwhelming. Considering the special features that each car can come with makes buying your new vehicle more of a fun experience. You’re going to spend a lot of time in your car, so why not enjoy it?

Both cars come standard with Bluetooth, rearview camera, and a touch-screen system to help with information and music entertainment. But, where you may really have an interest is in the unique features each car can come with, as this is what makes each stand out and make your vehicle feel like your own.

The RAV4 SUV really excels when it comes to interior features. It comes standard with six speakers (compared to the Forester’s four) and voice recognition, so you can control your audio and phone hands-free.

This car has many more potential, optional features to make your vehicle best suited for you. You can get satellite and HD radio to listen to more than just your local radio stations and there’s an option for a push-button starter or a proximity key so that you no longer have to worry about juggling your things to try and find the right key.

Busy people who frequently find themselves holding too many things will also benefit from the addition of a foot-activated power liftgate. This opens your trunk by simply waving your foot under your car’s rear bumper.

If you’re the adventurous type who enjoys occasionally off-road driving, the Forester may be a better choice. It comes standard as an all-wheel drive, while the standard RAV4 is front-wheel drive (upgraded models can come as AWD).

Foresters also have 2.5 inches more ground clearance. If enjoying the sun and stars from within your own car is important, the Forester might appeal to you too. While both cars have the option of including a moonroof, the optional panoramic moonroof in the Forester is almost twice the size as the one in the RAV4.

Another thing to consider is that Toyota will cover your oil changes for free for two years or 25,000 miles if you choose the RAV4.

Of course, these are just some of the many options and benefits that Toyota and Subaru have to offer. Both cars can be upgraded to suit your needs. Both vehicles have a number of models, each with a variety of potential upgrades. Whether you want your car to have a great-looking interior, powerful driving capabilities, or technology to simplify your busy lifestyle, you’re sure to find it in one of these cars.

Are you considering buying one of these models? Which one would make the perfect new SUV for you and your family? Start with a test drive today.

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