The differences between the 2020 Subaru Forester vs the 2020 Toyota RAV4 are so startling, that there is only one clear winner. Consumer Reports thinks so, and named the Subaru Forester the #1 Compact SUV and a Top 10 Pick for Best All-Wheel Drive SUVs in the snow. Not Toyota. Not Honda. Subaru Forester.  The 2020 Subaru Forester is less expensive, offers All-Wheel-Drive standard, has more room on the inside and has higher safety ratings. Let's dive in to it.

All-Wheel Drive

Subaru is the leader in All-Wheel Drive technology and every Subaru Forester comes with it - standard! Toyota RAV4 comes standard with Front Wheel Drive with a +$1,400 AWD OPTION - making the RAV4 SIGNIFICANTLY more expensive than the Forester. Learn more about Subaru's Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive System and how it ensures outstanding grip in snow, rain, or rough terrain.

Comfort, Space and Visibility

While Subaru embraces the "function vs form" look of the Forester, Toyota RAV4 seems to focus on 'style' over function, at the expense of comfort and visibility. Everybody needs their "space"! The 2020 Subaru Forester passenger volume is 111.9 cu, ft. vs 98.9 cu. ft. for the RAV4.  The Forester also has greater headroom, legroom and shoulder room in both the front and rear.

Of the 2020 Forester...

The Forester builds a lead in comfort and capability, mostly thanks to its brutally efficient shape that prioritizes comfort and not style.  It's boxy shape and cross-trainer looks are a boon to outward vision. The Forester comfortably seats up to five adults with nearly 40 inches of rear seat leg room. The front seats are spacious, with a commanding view ahead, but the rear seat's a coliseum of space for a compact crossover. The Car Connection

"The Subie's cabin feels roomy, airy, and inviting. It's helped by the panoramic sunroof that comes standard on non-base Foresters."
Business Insider

"Forester has personality.  Inside the comfortable cabin, there is enough technology, storage space, and driving assistance to keep everyone happy taking the long way home. Overall, we think the Forester is a smart pick for a small SUV." Edmunds

Of the 2020 RAV4...

Despite the tall ride height, taller riders and drivers may struggle in the RAV4. That fast roofline and chunky shapes extract a toll from interior comfort. Taller riders may want to sit in the back for better head room.
The Car Connection

"We found the (RAV4) to be somewhat disappointing to drive on the road, with an engine that appeared to be outmatched compared to other crossovers in its class and a chassis that delivered plenty of "head toss, gut jiggle, and a fair amount of roll through corners." Motor Trend

"We found the Toyota RAV4 to be shockingly unrefined to drive. 'The 2.5-liter engine is one of the most coarse-sounding four-cylinder engines I've encountered in a long time,' we said in our review. 'Under hard acceleration, the engine buzzes and strains like a poorly executed 20-year-old tuner Honda Civic.' A 5-foot-11 editor brushed up against the headliner while sitting in the driver's seat and others have found that slouching in the front seats isn't just a lifestyle choice." Business Insider

"When we've compared it to the competition, we've found it falls short of the mark set by the class leaders. We're also disappointed with the lack of comfort for the RAV4's front seats." Edmunds


The 2020 Subaru Forester MSRP starts at just $25,505 vs the 2020 Toyota RAV4 (FWD) at $27,070, including destination charges. That's $1,565 less for the Forester - and its got all wheel drive! When you add the $1,400 AWD option for the RAV4, the price difference is ALMOST $3,000!

When comparing prices from manufacturers or getting dealer quotes, ALWAYS make sure the destination charge is included.

Multi-media and connectivity

2020 Forester and RAV4 both offer a multi-media/information display and both support Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and SiriusXM (subscription required). All Subaru Forester models INCLUDE the  SUBARU STARLINK system.

"The Subaru really impressed us with its Starlink infotainment system. It's intuitively designed, attractively rendered, and packed with feature content. The excellence of Starlink puts into sharp relief the lackluster performance of Toyota's Entune system. In fact, the best thing I can say about Entune is that with the Apple CarPlay integration we no longer have to use it." Business Insider

Accident avoidance systems

Both Subaru and Toyota have excellent advanced active safety features, albeit they work differently and offer slightly different feature sets with different name terminology. Subaru's system is called EyeSight Driver Assist Technology and Toyota's is called Toyota Safety Sense. Of the two, only the 2020 Forester received the 2020 IIHS Top Safety Pick + rating while the RAV4 received Top Safety Pick.

CLICK HERE to learn how Subaru's EyeSight Driver Assist Technology has been shown to reduce rear end crashes with injuries by up to 85%.
Call Center Subaru at 888-869-5889
to schedule a test drive. We'll come to you!


Boxer Engine (across the entire product line)

At the heart of every Subaru is the horizontally opposed boxer engine developed to combine balance with power and efficiency. It's the same proven engine design that drives our family cars as well as our high-performance WRX-STi rally cars. 

The advantages include: Low profile, providing lower center of gravity for predictable handling. Produces less vibration than other engine designs.  SUBARU BOXER engines help enhance overall vehicle safety and longevity.
It's no wonder 96% of Forester vehicles sold in the last 10 years are still on the road today! Toyota does not offer the boxer engine.

Forester Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive vs RAV4

Subarus are designed and engineered from the start to be all wheel drive. Notice how the components are aligned in a straight line from the boxer engine --> transmission --> drive train and that both sides are symmetrical. This symmetry is incredibly efficient and provides power to all four wheels all the time for maximum traction, balance and control. Other examples of symmetry include butterflies and airplanes.

The Toyota RAV4 is primarily front wheel drive (FWD) biased that has been re-engineered with an AWD accessory package. With a typical transverse engine, output is rerouted multiple times to get power to the rear wheels. Its AWD often engages AFTER loss of traction is detected.

Is the Subaru Forester a Good SUV?
US News states," Yes, the Subaru Forester is a good 2-row compact SUV. It rides smoothly, and unlike many rivals, the Forester comes standard with all-wheel drive. Inside, this Subaru looks good and incorporates premium materials throughout the cabin. There's plenty of cargo space, and the infotainment system is easy to use. There are plenty of standard driver assistance features as well.
In fact, we named the Forester our 2019 Best Compact SUV for Families because of its superior combination of cargo and passenger space, safety and reliability ratings, positive reviews from automotive journalists, and available family-friendly features."

While both vehicles seem like great choices, only the 2020 Subaru Forester offers more value with a spacious, comfortable interior, standard symmetrical AWD, a lower price tag and the feeling that you are part of something GREAT! Don't take our word for it, schedule a test drive at Center Subaru and decide for yourself.
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