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Subaru Forester Vs. Toyota RAV4 - Check Out CR's Top Pick Now

Which is best for compact SUV shoppers, the 2023 Subaru Forester or the 2023 Toyota RAV4? Check which one Consumer Reports likes the best.

What are the best compact SUVs for shoppers this summer? An updated Consumer Reports (by subscription) head-to-head ranking of the Toyota RAV4 vs. Subaru Forester SUVs says the 2023 Forester is your best pick this summer. 

CR ranks the Forester as the #1 of twenty-four new compact SUVs and scores the Toyota RAV4 #13 of twenty-four new compact SUVs.

2023 Subaru Forester is CR's top pick  

The Toyota RAV4 is the top-selling compact SUV, but is it the best? Consumer Reports say no.

The case against the RAV4.

Consumer Reports says, “We summed up the RAV4 in our road test by saying it set a high standard with each generation—until now. And there are several reasons it has fallen in our Ratings.”

CR does not like the 2023 Toyota RAV4  

“The driving experience is unpleasant, partly because the engine is noisy, emitting a gravelly wail unleashed when drivers accelerate hard. In normal driving, it has an annoying drone.”

“Plus, while the RAV4 is numerically quick in our tests, it doesn’t feel very sprightly in everyday driving because a lot of the power appears only when the gas pedal has been pressed hard, which unleashes that wail.”

“While the transmission quickly responds when it has to drop a gear or two, those shifts (down and up) sometimes come with a bump.”

What does CR say about the Subaru Forester?

CR says, “Despite the engine’s 12 horsepower bump in power (now up to 182), the Forester is not only slower than the RAV4 in our acceleration tests but also slower than the previous version.” 

“Still, it’s quick enough to pass and merge on the highway without worry. The CVT makes its presence known with a pronounced buzz during acceleration.”

“The Forester also falls short in cabin refinement. While the redesign made the interior more attractive-looking, some interior materials feel flimsy, there are odd gaps between panels in our tested car, and the silver plastic trim around the gear selector looks a bit low-rent. The 2022 freshening didn’t address the interior in any measurable way.”

The bottom line:

CR says, “The RAV4 isn’t a bad SUV, but it’s fallen toward the bottom of our recommended compact SUVs. The Forester is the easy choice between these two compact SUVs. It’s more refined and roomier, has better visibility, and gets one mpg more than the RAV4. Both have above-average reliability, but the RAV4’s owner satisfaction rating is below average; the Forester’s is above average. Advantage: Subaru.”

What is the price of the 2023 Subaru Forester?

The 2023 Forester comes in six trim levels; The Base Forester starts at $27,620, Premium ($30,620), Sport ($32,190), Limited ($34,300), Wilderness ($35,245), and Touring ($37,720). Pricing includes dealer fees ($1,225).

Our take:

The Subaru Forester needs a turbocharged engine upgrade to address the power deficiency. The Subaru Forester Wilderness is the trim level that should get the 2.4-liter Subaru turbocharged engine. The next-generation Forester could get a turbo upgrade, but Subaru has not announced anything yet. 

Wait for the 2024 Subaru Forester. If everything goes as expected, the compact SUV will be redesigned in the second half of 2023 and be available as a 2024 model. The anticipated 2024 Forester release date in the U.S. is about four to six months away, in the fall or winter of 2023. 

However, the 2023 Subaru Forester is the top pick over the 2024 Toyota RAV4 by Consumer Reports this summer for customers who do not want to wait for the next-generation models.

You Might Also Like: Subaru's Standard AWD Models Vs. New Wilderness - Why Do You Need The Upgrades?

Denis Flierl brings over thirty years of combined auto industry and automotive journalism experience to Torque News readers. He is an accredited Rocky Mountain Automotive Press (RMAP) member. The last twelve years have been spent with Torque News, covering Subaru vehicles and the latest news. Check back daily for his expert Subaru analysis. You'll find the latest stories on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

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Photo credit: Subaru, Toyota


Rand (not verified)    July 9, 2023 - 5:06PM

I wanted to buy a Subaru Forester Hybrid but was told buy the dealer that they wouldn’t be available in Canada, outside of Quebec, for at least another 2 years. I went with a 2023 Toyota Rav 4 Limited Hybrid. I have NOT found any deficiencies in performance, drivability or creature comforts. As a person who has moderate tinnitus, I find the ride, both in the city and on the highway, remarkably quiet compared to my 2014 Kia Sorento. Fuel economy has been stellar.