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.