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2019 Subaru Forester

Starting Price: $25,270 | Price Yours

Above Average: Standard AWD and EyeSight, huge interior, excellent safety and resale numbers, real off-road ability, superior outward visibility

Below Average: Styling doesn’t look all that different than the previous model, average acceleration, rear windows don’t roll all the way down

Consensus: A quirky-looking family favorite, providing excellent year-round driving confidence, a roomy interior and top marks in the areas of safety, resale and fuel economy.

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2019 Toyota RAV4

Starting Price: $26,545 | Price Yours

Above Average: Horsepower, standard rear-seat air vents, multi-mode terrain settings on AWD models, standard Toyota Safety Sense P, hybrid option, 8-speed automatic

Below Average: Doesn’t offer Android Auto, some trims priced higher than similarly equipped competitors

Consensus: Toyota’s long-time sales champ ups its game this year, with rugged new styling, more interior room, a long list of standard safety features and an expanded model range including four hybrid trims.


The Subaru Forester has been remade for 2019. Slightly larger and riding on Subaru’s new Global Platform, it retains many of the previous generation’s attributes with some noticeable improvements in the areas of quietness, comfort and fuel efficiency. The Forester offers an amazing feature set for the money. Standard equipment includes the EyeSight collision avoidance system, Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A new Sport model adds Si-Drive and paddle shifters, but without the previous generation’s turbocharged engine, it’s little more than window dressing. The Forester’s roomy interior and high roof make it ideal for tall occupants, and its massive glass greenhouse provides excellent 360-degree visibility. A generous 8.7 inches of ground clearance allows the Forester to tackle light off-road situations, as does its X-Mode traction management system. With its 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine, the Forester isn’t exactly quick, but it can keep up with most other SUVs in this class. Despite its standard all-wheel drive, the Forester earns impressive fuel-economy figures of 26 mpg city and 33 mpg highway. However, while dogs may love Subarus, small- to medium-size pups probably won’t be thrilled with rear windows that don’t roll all the way down.

The Toyota RAV4 is also all-new this year, with a larger footprint, more horsepower, and rugged good looks. The standard 2.5-liter engine puts out 203 horsepower, more than most competitors’ base engines. The hybrid version produces even more power and is now positioned as the performance model in the lineup. A new Adventure grade appeals to those who like to go off-roading, with standard AWD, Dynamic Torque Vectoring, and Rear Driveline Disconnect for improved fuel economy. Inside, the RAV4 wows with its rear-seat legroom and massive cargo hold, but the interior color palate remains a bit underwhelming, as do some of the hard-touch surfaces. Base and mid-level models are not as well equipped as those of some competitors and can get expensive when features like navigation, heated seats and power lumbar support are added. The RAV4 drives like a car, with an acceptable amount of lean and roll during hard cornering. The 8-speed automatic is a nice reprieve from a sea of CVTs and actually returns a one-mpg better average fuel-economy rating than the less-powerful Subaru Forester. As the RAV4 is a Toyota, we expect it to attain excellent marks for resale, reliability and safety.

Subaru Forester Advantages

Advantages for the Forester include standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, more front- and rear-seat legroom, better visibility, standard all-wheel drive, more desirable features on lower trims, tighter turning circle, price and better ground clearance.

Toyota RAV4 Advantages

The Toyota RAV4 bests the Forester with a bigger cargo bay, smoother ride, standard rear-seat air vents, more horsepower, choice of front- or all-wheel drive, a hybrid powertrain option and an available wireless cellphone charging pad.

Similarities

The Forester and RAV4 are both new for 2019, and we expect both to hold above average resale, reliability and safety scores. Both come standard with advanced driver assists and both can tackle light off-road trails if need be. Both offer big back seats, a wide cargo area and an available power liftgate, although the RAV4’s power liftgate includes a foot activation feature not offered on the Forester.

Final Recommendation

While both the RAV4 and Forester are certain to be good values over time, we think for the money the Forester is the way to go. Even the most basic trim costs less than its RAV4 equivalent, and offers more standard features including AWD and Apple CarPlay, not to mention Android Auto, which the Toyota doesn’t offer. The Forester also has a nicer interior, more legroom front and rear, and better visibility.

  2019 Subaru Forester 2019 Toyota RAV4
Popular Powertrains    
Engine 2.5-liter flat-4 2.5-liter I4
Horsepower 182 hp @ 5,800 rpm 203 hp @ 6,600 rpm
Torque 176 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm 184 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm
Transmission Continuously Variable Automatic, 8-spd
Fuel Economy 29 mpg (26 city/33 hwy) 30 mpg (26 city/35 hwy)
Also Available   AWD, hybrid
Specs    
Warranty 3 years/36,000 miles 3 years/36,000 miles
NHTSA Overall Safety Rating N/A N/A
Max Seating Capacity 5 5
Wheelbase 105.1 inches 105.9 inches
Overall Length 182.1 inches 180.9 inches
Width 71.5 inches 73.0 inches
Height 67.5 inches 67.0 inches
Turning Diameter 35.4 feet 36.1 feet
Headroom, Front 41.2 inches 39.5 inches
Headroom, Rear 39.6 inches 39.5 inches
Legroom, Front 43.3 inches 41.0 inches
Legroom, Rear 39.4 inches 37.8 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 58.2 inches 57.8 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 57.2 inches 56.4 inches
EPA Passenger Volume 111.9 cu. ft. 98.9 cu. ft.
EPA Cargo Volume 33.0 cu. ft. 37.6 cu. ft.
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