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Consumer Reports Says Avoid The Toyota RAV4, Buy A Subaru Forester Instead

Is the 2023 Subaru Forester the best compact SUV you can buy this winter? Consumer Reports says it's one of the best picks for small SUV shoppers and that you should buy it and avoid the Toyota RAV4. Check out the report here before you buy.

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What are the best compact SUVs for shoppers this winter? An updated Consumer Reports (by subscription) ranking of new compact SUVs says you should avoid buying the 2023 Toyota RAV4 and buy the 2023 Subaru Forester instead. CR now ranks the Forester as the #1 of twenty-eight new compact SUVs.

The Forester performed well in CR's road tests, has good reliability, has crucial advanced safety equipment, and performs well in crash tests from the IIHS.

Why should you avoid the 2023 Toyota RAV4?

2024 Toyota RAV4 driving

photo credit: Toyota Motor

Consumer Reports says, "The RAV4 is one of the most popular models on the market. The red-hot small SUV segment draws buyers by being reliable and fuel-efficient. But the recent move to a lower, wider appearance has compromised interior space. Plus, its bland cabin, droning engine noise, and ride comfort that trails the competition has resulted in below-average owner satisfaction in our Annual Auto Surveys."

Why Consumer Reports says the 2023 Subaru Forester is better for compact SUV shoppers than the 2023 Toyota RAV4. 

2024 Subaru Forester is the top CR pick

What does CR say about the Forester compact SUV?

Consumer Reports says, "Subaru has nailed the ideal small SUV configuration, with compact exterior dimensions, a tall roof, and a surprisingly roomy interior. Throw in a fuel-efficient four-cylinder engine, essential safety features, and a standard all-wheel-drive system that out-claws rivals, and the Forester is a true gem. Subaru has honed this package for years, perfecting a model that's easy to recommend. A redesigned Forester goes on sale this spring as a 2025 model."

CR fails to say that the 2023 Subaru Forester is sold out, and you'll be looking at 2024 Forester models now. It's a carry-over model, identical to the 2023 model year.

My take on the Subaru Forester

The Forester is the best pick for active customers using the SUV for more than a commuter vehicle or grocery hauler. The Forester comes with all-wheel-drive on all trim levels, and it's not an expensive option.

Forester has 8.7 inches of ground clearance and X-Mode for improved severe weather traction. Forester also offers a new Wilderness trim level, and the Sport and Wilderness trims offer a dual-function X-Mode with Deep Snow and Deep Mud settings. The Forester is the top pick for customers who live in a cold weather state and will use their vehicle to get further off the grid.

What is the fuel mileage of the Forester?

The 2024 Subaru Forester compact SUV has standard all-wheel drive and an EPA-estimated 29 combined mpg and 26/33 city/highway mpg. The Forester comes with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder Boxer engine.

What is the price of the 2024 Subaru Forester?

All 2024 Forester trim levels increased by $770 in price, including destination and delivery. The Forester comes in six trim levels: The Base Forester starts at $28,190, Premium ($31,390), Sport ($32,960), Limited ($35,070), Wilderness ($36,015), and Touring ($38,490). Pricing includes destination and dealer fees ($1,295).

Should you wait for the 2025 Forester?

The 2025 Forester is completely remodeled and gets significant upgrades. 

Here are the new Forester upgrades at a glance:

  • Sleek, fresh, contemporary interior and exterior design
  • Advanced EyeSight Driver Assist Technology standard on all trims
  • Improved dynamic performance and ride quality from a 10% stiffer chassis
  • Available 11.6-inch Subaru Starlink Multimedia system
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto™ available
  • The debut of kick sensor-activated Hands-Free Power Rear Gate. 

The remodeled sixth-generation 2025 Subaru Forester compact SUV is coming in the spring 2024.

Consumer Reports says to avoid the 2023 Toyota RAV4 and buy the 2024 Subaru Forester instead. Forester is rated CR's best compact SUV because it performed well in CR's road tests, has good reliability, comes with crucial advanced safety equipment, and gets the highest crash scores.

Consumer Reports recently said the 2024 Forester is one of the ten most reliable new vehicles you can buy today

Thanks for reading, everyone. I hope you enjoyed this Subaru Forester vs. Toyota RAV4 report. See you tomorrow for my latest Subaru Report.

For additional articles related to the Subaru Forester, here are a few of my top stories you may enjoy. 

My Must-Read Top Picks

Here are Consumer Reports’ 2024 Cars Reliability Results on YouTube

I am Denis Flierl, a 12-year Torque News senior writer with 20+ years of Subaru and automotive journalism experience. I enjoy bringing you, the Subaru fans and customers, the most up-to-date Subaru news, reviews, and new model information. You'll find the latest Subaru stories on the Subaru page. Follow me on my The Dirty Subaru website, Dirty Subaru blogSubaruReportAll Subaru, WRXSTI, @DenisFlierlFacebook, and Instagram.

I’ve got you covered! - I cover all Subaru all the time - It’s called the “Subaru Report.” Check back daily for my expert Subaru analysis!

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photo credit: Subaru, Toyota 

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Mike (not verified)    December 1, 2023 - 10:40AM

I own both brands, and my next choice will be the Toyota.
You can have Suburu, it doesn't live up to Toyota in my estimation.

Johnny (not verified)    December 2, 2023 - 2:04PM

In reply to by Mike (not verified)

My sister has the rav4 it drives like a tank bumpy small in the inside, As for Subaru they do not honor their own warranties so that is a no-no My last Subaru had transmission issues and they refuse to honor they're own new car we signed up for a lawsuit never deal with Subaru again.the best Subaru ever belt was a '95 legacy after that Subaru went from sugar to s***

Lawson Shelton (not verified)    December 3, 2023 - 5:43AM

In reply to by Mike (not verified)

I have a Rav4 with 95000 miles on it . Still drives as good as the day I bought it. My son had a Suburu needed major engine work. Traded it for a Honda. I am staying with Toyota.

Tom (not verified)    December 3, 2023 - 11:12PM

In reply to by Mike (not verified)

I have a Rav4 hybrid and love it. It has got to be one of the best cars we have ever owned. It replaced our 2013 Prius, that had 180k miles. They gave us a great trade-in value for it. Never had one bit of issue with our Prius.

Z1az (not verified)    December 1, 2023 - 1:49PM

My only issue with Subaru is the long term reliability of the CVT. I own a limited legacy and crosstrek and am less than thrilled with the reliability issues i have faced in the legacy, though thankfully they have been covered under warranty. the crosstrek though has been much more reliable (don't know if the made and assembled in japan is the reason for the difference). However the forester does offer compelling value compared to a Camry or prius (where top trims are close to $38-40k with options) and while AWD will be a option going forward though its no match for X mode. i will certainly consider the 2025 hybrid which has Toyota's hybrid system, hopefully it will have the E-CVT as well. curious about the hybrid mileage.

Alan (not verified)    December 1, 2023 - 2:43PM

New car satisfaction hides the rate of substantial engine and transmission issues Subaru continues to have. Please include that to balance the picture for people who keep cars more than 100k miles.

Sharon Fawley (not verified)    December 1, 2023 - 8:07PM

I have owned one Camry and three Rav 4 s I have had no trouble with any of them. I owned a 20011 2017 now a 2021. I ordered this one the way I wanted it. It has all the luxuries the Subaru has. Pop up rear trunk. Road sense, lights flash when car goes by also when someone walks behind u camera I can go on and in. I got the color I wanted was red. I love my car and will not give it. A Happy person. Have a great holiday!

Lee M (not verified)    December 4, 2023 - 8:55AM

And when will the Forester hybrid be available? Currently own my 4th RAV4, no regrets, $0 in repairs other than routine maintenance.