Forester e-Boxer vs RAV4 hybrid

Many may think how Subaru Forester compares to the Toyota RAV4. That is not an easy question to answer. There is a huge amount of attributes and personal preferences. One way to decide just comparing specs of these both cars. But most of us will need to think how to compare these cars. Do you prefer other over other in off roading? Or is other better winter car? In kind of both of the cars are very similar. Still those have their own characteristics and all depends what kind of value you will give for those attributes.

Below is presented few categories, which I believe are most relevant for the decision making. Categories are not in any specific order. Read my comments, then think your own valuation for that specific category. Result might be different from mine but that is the whole point of this blog post. Give the ideas and help you on the decision making.

Acceleration & powertrain

Subaru acceleration from 0 to 100km/h is 11.8 seconds while RAV4 hybrid is 8.1 seconds. There is huge difference in benefit of the RAV4. RAV4 powertrain is more convenient to drive. Merging to highways and overtaking is easier. Numbers don’t lie, right? Take Forester for a test drive and see if everyday performance is enough for you. E-Boxer is capable to overtake slower traffic and merge to highways as well. Only it fits to more relaxed driving style more rather than “active”.

All wheel drive capabilities

This was one of the main things for me. I did not want to jeopardize this capability. We live on the area where is sometimes massive amount of snow. Drive yard is beside a steep hill. So there is a real need for proper AWD and Subaru (if not any other) is known of the superior AWD. On the other hand Toyota’s implementation is different. Car is heavily FWD biased and rear electronic motor is ~50hp. Which helps specially from moving stand still. It does help on lower speeds too but disengages at higher speeds. Unfortunately I don’t have personal experience how i-AWD works during winter but based on my research everyday driving should be absolutely fine with the Toyota too. I have seen some roller test videos where RAV4 hybrid fails badly. Luckily we don’t have those rollers on real world roads, do we?

Outwards visibility

This is where I am absolutely obsessed with the Subaru Forester. If I would name one favorite feature of the car, it would be all around visibility. It just is so good! Windshield is massive and there is so much light coming inside cabin. RAV4 is not that bad but Forester is on it’s own league. This is important factor too. Not just for admiring surrounding nature of the road trips but it is safety feature too. Think about “kamikaze cyclists” coming and you are not able to see that one early enough?

Looks / exterior

Though call and difficult to comment. RAV4 is far more popular car, so it is seen more often driven by other people. Maybe it would be nice to own car that you don’t see that often? Or boxy shape of the Forester might be little more practical?

Platform

Toyota underpins their TNGA platform while Subaru has their new SGP. Both means modular platform, which can be used in other models too. Probably both companies has spent countless hours in research. Subaru is bit more softer and isolates vibrations better. When platform isolates vibrations it transforms to more quiet cabin. If your area have a smooth tarmac to drive, it might not be that important aspect. As both cars have a very good platforms. But if tarmac is rough (as it is in Finland), all what helps quietness is super welcome. As a bonus I would mention turning radius. It is not related to the platform but still worth of mentioning here. Forester turning circle is much smaller making it easier to navigate in tight places.

e-BoxerRAV4 Hybrid
Turning radius10,8 m11,4 m
Power150 hp + 17 hp222 hp
Torque194Nm @ 4000rpm + 65Nm221Nm @3600 – 5000 rpm
Acceleration 0-100km/h11.8 seconds8,1 seconds
Width1815 mm1800 mm
Lenght4625 mm4600 mm
Height1730 mm1685 mm
e-Boxer vs RAV4 Hybrid comparison table

Seats

When I first time sat into the RAV4, my initial impression was that car has a super good front seats. The best Toyota seats I had tested to the date. That happened in local auto show in 2018. In the beginning of the 2019 when I test drove RAV4, I didn’t have that same feeling any more. Forester seats feels to be same level as RAV4. Major difference is that RAV4 has ventilated driver’s seat while Forester has only heating. One of the blog reader reported that even long distance driving goes ease with the e-Boxer. But this as an reminder that consider to check well how seats suits for your body type.

Infotainment

All Japanese manufacturers should take a look at German implementation of the infotainment systems. Toyota should be the first one to take that look. Their Entune 3.0 is just bad. As of writing this it misses Apple Car play, hopefully Toyota owners gets that as an update. At least Android Auto is promised to be delivered as an update. Subaru’s Starlink utilizes TomTom’s navigation system and also includes both Apple Car Play and Android Auto. Screen is also much more smoother to operate. You will look that screen every time you drive the car. It must have some value too, if it needs to be operated daily. Specially this type of “adventure cars”. How convenient it would to plan trip at home computer and then navigate destination using Apple or Android system.

Fuel economy

When I test drove RAV4 at beginning of year 2019. I went through Helsinki city during night time. Average fuel consumption of that trip was 5,5 litres per 100km. Subaru cannot compete here, not even their new hybrid. Official figures says that combined fuel consumption is 8,5 litres per 100km. While city driving is expected to be closer 10 litres. Here is also one other thing to consider. Subarus tank capacity is only 48 litres. So the cruising range is almost double shorter compared to the RAV4.

Interior and trunk

Both are very specious cars. Not much difference here. One thing to add though is that both cars got now air ventilation for the back seat passengers. This was not available on either of the previous generation cars.

Safety features

Both cars earned 5 star ratings from the Euro NCAP. However Swedish auto magazine noticed some problems in RAV4 handling while doing “moose avoidance test”. Toyota reacted to this test few months ago and told that they are updating car software. Subaru has their well recognized EySight system which is one of the best in industry. Both cars have similar safety features but Subaru’s system seems to be more reliable, e.g. in conducting emergency braking. Subaru has also Driver’s Monitoring System, which is similar technology than Apple uses to open phone. Only that Subaru’s system monitors that driver is actually driving car and not e.g. to texting to wife. System is also used to adjust seats, mirrors and air condition to match driver’s preferences.

Brake feel

RAV4 brake has different feel for the driver, since it utilizes electric motor in initial stages when slowing down. At this time, system recharges battery. This is a good thing for fuel economy. Besides it has a different feel, it can behave in very seldom situations bit oddly. E.g. driving over a small hole,while braking at the same time, it is possible that ABS system is bit confused for a while. These experiences are from 4th gen Prius but RAV4 system is similar to that. I have not experienced any similar with any other cars that are equipped with the traditional brakes. This includes new e-Boxer Forester.

Pricing

When reading comments of the new e-Boxer from the local car forum, it feels that there is not much else to discuss. Specially entry level trim levels feels pricy when comparing to RAV4. However when comparing top level trims, prices are surprising close to each other. Not only between these two brands but also Honda seems to be on the same level. Only difference being Mitsubish Outlander PHEV, which has very interesting prices too. Specially if you are looking for plug-in car. But yes, 54 000 EUR (including all possible and mandatory taxes) is awful lot of money. However there might be huge differences on your local markets as blog reader stated (thanks to Andrzej) that e.g. Forester e-Boxer is far more attractive option in Poland compared to RAV4 Hybrid due to the pricing.

Which one to buy Toyota RAV4 Hybrid or Subaru Forester e-Boxer

It really depends what values you weight.To summarize why to choose Subaru Forester e-Boxer. Subaru seems to be a tad ahead in safety. Their AWD systems is one of the leading systems in the segment. Ride is more comfortable. Infotainment system is more advanced. Then who should buy Toyota RAV4 Hybrid? Toyota’s powertrain is miles ahead, it is more economical. So if these characteristics makes better car in your opinion, then RAV4 is your car of choice.

Both are excellent choices. Take them both for a test drive. Keep above categories in mind and make the decision with your personal preferences.

12 comments

  1. As a comment to this remarks can add newest test well known “Top Gear” experts: https://www.topgear.com/car-reviews/subaru/forester-e-boxer. They give only 6 stars on 10 possible to new Forester. It seems to be right. As a excuse for weak result of Subaru we can say, that it is only beginning of development e-boxer hybrid engine system. But it means, that first buyers of this car will be “test rabbits” for Subaru. Good perspective!
    From my personal point of view Forester seems, never the less, rather valuable solution. We are living in rural region close to Warsaw and near Kampinoski National Park. So we can use terrain capabilities of Forester. And also we travel often to close big city with terrible traffic, where hybrid Forester should show some advantages (maybe?). RAV4 seems to be generally better car, but we have not good experiences with last generation of this. We had it for two years and in the same time we use old Volvo XC 90. Each day we compared both cars. It was catastrophe for RAV4. So we sold both cars in the same time. Fantastic Volvo because was 13 years old and Toyota because was overpaid. New model of RAV4 maybe is better, than previous. Design of it is for us awful with it’s still sad nose (but it is question of test). And in Poland new RAV4 is much more expensive than Forester, which cost 39 000 € in top rim. RAV4 cost app. 55 000 €. It make difference.

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    1. I red Topgear article and I must disagree with them. E.g. at the verdict they say “A capable companion, but let down by its pointless hybrid range”. Forester is not meant to drive electric alone very long distances. It is a mild hybrid and electric motor is meant to assist the gasoline engine. However which one is better is really up to personal preferences. Both are excellent cars. So similar but still so different.

      Your price seems to be right for the Forester in Poland. Without taxes Summit (Platinum in Poland) are equally priced. I guess you don’t have any vehicle taxes there? We need to add taxes ridiculous 13 700 euros to get Forester out of the shop!

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  2. It would be perfect for Poles if we don’t have taxation! We pay normal in EU taxes, f.e. 23% VAT and Polish 6% excise tax. Final prise include of course also fees of producer, trader and dealer. Lover praises of Subaru cars are result of Subaru trade policy on varies European markets and lover additional fees, because Subaru cars import to Poland is running by small family company from Kraków (even not from Warsaw). Which is exeptional on Polish market. Normally as the importers are functioning hudge companies run by car producers, with big amount of sales points, plenty of employees and crazy salaries for CEO’s, bord members, directors and personnel. Polish market of new cars is dominated mostely by Toyota and Volkswagen. They employ thousands people. Subaru is on margine with only app. 20 sales points.

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      1. Yes. Right yesterday we became lucky (?) owners of new Subaru Forester. We payed final sellers order and insurance. But we left our car physically at our dealer. We ordered additionally some small tinks like: splash guards, cargo tray and cargo step panel. They have to install it, but it takes few days. Besides we received new winter tires, as a gratis gift from Polish importer, but without wheels. So, we had to ordered them additionally, which is not cheap. We got not typical winter this year – without snow and frost. Current temperatures in Warsaw area are app. 6-9 Celsius degrees (in plus!) and normally we got till 10-20 Celsius degrees in minus. We dream although still on snow winter and we ordered to install winter tires with new costly wheels to our car instead summer tires. First driver’s observations will have hopefully soon in next week. And will share them on Your blog, off course.
        We buy Forester in Comfort trim (in Poland are the some trims like in Germany). Bot, as I write, praises are better (for buyers, off course).
        Now we start to looking for buyer for one of our two smaller cars. Probably we will try to sell my wife’s 5 years old Renault Clio. Wish us luck!

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      2. Great! So good news! Your first experiences and comments are very highly appreciated! Looking forward to hear the next update. I am sure you will be happy with the new Forester hybrid. I checked Subaru.pl and I can see trims Trend, Exclusive, Exclusive Navi and Platinum. Did I check something wrong or do you mean this Exclusive Navi what is coming for you? All these trim levels are a bit hazy across different countries.

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      3. Model names are different, but trims structure is exactly the same. I used German model name equivalent, because Polish Subaru market is so far small and not well known. As well as Polish language.

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      4. So, we got first experiences with new Forester e-boxer after first 600 km. I have to add, that never drove Forester before and not belong to “mad” Foresters fans. But also nor have any prejudgments. I used many cars privately and in the office. Lately for 13 years used Volvo XC 90 and last year hybrid Ford C Max, and naturally will compare Forester to the both of them and cars we tested before we bought it. 
        Forester look like Forester, but his current design is disputable. It has many not necessary shiny outside decorations, which are in contradiction with terrain dedication of this car. Forester looks not so nasty like new RAV4, but is far away from the best designed in class Kodiaq. Visibility from inside is really good. Places for travelers are not bed, average in class. Are quite comfortable and roomy. Driver’s chair electric regulation is acceptable, but without back regulation, which is exceptional in bad sense in the class. Steering wheel is OK. Cockpit instead is overload. Upper screen could be eliminated without any problem. Instead of it Subaru could offer HUD (Honda CRV got it). Main screen gives good information and its quality is not bed. Information system is to complicated. Half of information is not useful. Three ways of access to three screens is crazy.
        Used materials, plastics, textiles etc. are nice and look not cheap (exceptional are outside doorknobs, which seems to be made from cheapest possible plastic). Strange think inside is old style back mirror with simple handy adjustment. All competitors in the class have photochromic mirrors. Foresters sold on American market got also photochromic mirrors. Subaru probably think that Europeans are not wort for it. 
        Suspension is surprisingly very good, close even to Volvo XC90 suspension. In one important point is even better – Volvo didn’t have realy permanent all wheels’ drive. Suspension is trustfully, stable, comfortable and quiet! 
        But engine system is weakest point of Forester e-boxer. With 150 HP of gas engine (in fact 147 HP) and “symbolic” electrical engine is like an elephant on the road. Ford C Max for example has 188 HP in gas engine, 18 kW in electrical engine, and weigh app. 300 kg less. Comparable to Forester is like a panther on the road. The CVT gear box works similar in both cars. Till 100 km/h are quiet, but during acceleration to higher speeds they make rising noise. Hybrid Ford is completely silent till 70 km/h. Forester surprisingly isn’t completely quiet on lower speeds, on electrical drive. Service guy’s told me that it would be probably better after 2000 km. We will see.
        Acceleration of Forester at app.12 sec. till 100 km/h is shame for Subaru company! It is worst result in class. Subaru made big affords to made best in class passive secure car, but seems to forget active security. You should be careful and aware of it. Have to adopt driving style to this limitation.
        Fuel consumption is normal (main hybrid competitors: at RAV4 is app. 30% bigger, at Honda CRV is 20% lower), but fuel tank driving distance is catastrophic! It’s a shame, Forester got only 48 liters’ tank, which gives only app. 500 km ride distance! In fact, due to suggested reasonable running of the car it is only 400 km. distance.
        It should be improved noise reduction. Especially noise from gas engine and wind. Before we decided to buy Forester we had some tests drives with other cars similar class. Currently other producers are making huge efforts to reduce noise inside the cabin. Noise has important influence of this how tired are you during driving especially on longer trips. In our opinion the best results got Ford EDGE. Ford got fantastic noise reduction speakers system. Honda CVR also got it, but not so good. Kodiak try to reduce noise offering laminated windows glass, as an option. Subaru is doing nothing on this area! It’s shame, even in highest trim level with Karman speakers they didn’t offer noise reduction system or at least laminated glas.
        We choose Forester because of important for us advantages: best price in class (in Poland), real all-wheel drive, safeness and reliability, comfortableness for all passengers (we got three children), terrain dedication (we are living on country side) – and so far Forester fulfill this expectations.

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      5. Great comments! Thank you Andrzej! I would like to copy these and update “e-Boxer Experiences” post. If that is okay? Among it, I would add photo or two of your car. If that is possible, please contact me through the Contact page.

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