Toyota RAV4 plug-in vs. Subaru Forester e-Boxer

Quite ridiculous comparison, one may think! Why to compare plug-in car to mild hybrid. They are from a different world. Which is partially true. But they do have a lot in common too except the electrification. RAV4 and Forester are similarly sized and both can be used outside of paved roads too.

I got a very nice opportunity to make this blog post in a collaboration with blog, which is dedicated fully to electric and plug-in cars. Blog is written in Finnish, so I highly recommend you check the site with the help of Google Translator in case Finnish is not your first or even second language.

RAV4 fuel consumption

This is probably the hottest topic when speaking of RAV4 plug-in car. It is capable of driving 65km without consuming fuel at all. If the hybrid battery is empty, the car will behave just like a regular hybrid.

Sari from blog suggested that let’s take a 18km test drive with both cars and see which car has the lowest fuel consumption. I accepted the challenge of course! Would the winner be RAV4 or the e-Boxer? I guess everyone has their own idea how this challenge would end.

Sari told me that she tried to drive RAV4’s battery as empty as possible to give a fair competition. With a full battery end result would be quite obvious. I was driving my Forester and Sari had her press car from Toyota Finland.

Test route was very interesting and winding indeed. Narrow road with lots of up and downhills. Made me think that I need to film that route some day. First part of the route was quite demanding and Forester showed 9 litres figures. As the journey continued and the route came a bit more easier and there were some downhills as well consumption dropped significantly.

After driving 18 km, we returned to the starting spot and compared results. RAV4 plug-in hybrid consumption was 6,0 litres per 100km and Forester e-Boxer 6,6 litres per 100km on exactly the same route. Outside temperature was -1 Celsius degrees during the test.

Sari was surprised that e-Boxer had such low fuel consumption and I was shocked by the RAV4’s performance. Bear in mind that the RAV4 battery was empty on purpose.

There are many reasons why the difference was quite low indeed. RAV4 weighs over 100kg more than Forester. Toyota has an Atkinson based petrol engine, which is more efficient than Otto based boxer used by Subaru. Toyota’s electric motors are more powerful than 16hp electric motor in Subaru. So there are differences between these two but at the end the result was surprisingly close to each other. Of course if you use a plug-in as you should, i.e. charge the battery full and then drive, results would be totally different. But nice test to compare what the consumption is when Toyota’s battery is not fully charged.

RAV4 and Forester interior

Based on Sari’s comments Subaru’s infotainment is more integrated to the dash than it is in Toyota. I agree with her. Toyota’s screen is somewhat outdated looking with it’s “standing tablet” style. Also Sari noted that Subaru feels much quieter and a bit American style of car. American style car means more comfort. Although I noted that RAV4 did have studded winter tires. So it explains some of the difference in the interior noise. Although I believe that Subaru is indeed quieter of these two.

RAV4 and Forester trunk space

First of all. Both cars had the electric tailgate. Toyota opens gate slower compared to Subaru. We did not measure gate opening time but I would estimate Subaru to be many seconds faster. In terms of size both trunks had similar size but Toyota’s floor appeared to be at a higher level. Making it just tid smaller and maybe a bit more difficult to lift heavy items inside. E.g. full size baby strollers could be a good example of this type of item. Another option could be also that I need to go to the gym, which is a bit problematic nowadays.


There is a place and time for both of these cars. Depending what you are looking for it might be that RAV4 suits your needs best. If you look at a powerful SUV with an extremely low fuel consumption (assuming that you have the opportunity to charge a car) Toyota is your choice.

I can understand why you have chosen a Subaru

However Sari from said that she can understand why I have chosen Subaru. It can offer comfort and confidence that is missing from Toyota. Not sure about this but for a moment it felt that a Tesla driver liked e-Boxer! Tesla is Sari’s daily car, when she is not testing other press cars.


  1. Good post! I just these days was choosing between these two ( or three, i also looked at the Toyota Hybrid, non plug-in) but the Toyota was more expensive, and the plug-in was way to expensive. Also, it seem like the road behaviour and AWD was superior in the Forester. Toyota seem to be a great car though and the fuel consumption is lower. Calculating i have to drive impossible many kilometers to justify the 15.000 eur extra for the plug-in car I also went with the Forester.

    Liked by 1 person

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