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Subaru Forester Premium Vs Rav4 XLE (Complete Comparison)

Are you tired of sifting through endless car reviews and not finding the information you need to make an informed decision? Are you struggling to choose between the Subaru Forester Premium and the Toyota Rav4 XLE?

Well, don’t worry, because this comprehensive comparison has got you covered! We’ll dive deep into every aspect of these two popular SUVs, providing you with all the juicy details, examples, and insights you need to make the best decision for your needs.

Stay with us, and you’ll not only learn about the vehicles’ features, but also get a feel for what it’s like to drive and own each one. So buckle up, and let’s get started with our first topic, the exterior design and features.

Exterior Design and Features

When it comes to exterior design, both the Forester Premium and the Rav4 XLE have their unique charm, but they cater to different tastes.

The Subaru Forester Premium offers a rugged and practical look, while the Toyota Rav4 XLE sports a more aggressive, modern design.

Comparison of the overall design aesthetics

  • The Subaru Forester Premium boasts a boxy shape, with a higher roofline, giving it an adventurous and outdoorsy vibe.
  • The Toyota Rav4 XLE embraces a bolder design, with sharp lines and distinctive LED headlights, creating a more contemporary and urban appeal.

Key differences in dimensions and ground clearance

Diving deeper into the dimensions and ground clearance, we’ll see some noticeable differences:

  • The Forester Premium stands tall with a ground clearance of 8.7 inches, making it a great choice for off-roading enthusiasts.
  • The Rav4 XLE is not far behind, featuring a ground clearance of 8.4 inches, still making it a competent off-roader.

However, their dimensions differ in other ways:

Forester Premium182.1 inches71.5 inches67.5 inches
Rav4 XLE180.9 inches73 inches67 inches

The Forester Premium is slightly longer and taller, while the Rav4 XLE is a bit wider, giving it a more aggressive stance.

Headlights and taillights technology

Headlights and taillights are crucial for nighttime visibility and safety. Both vehicles offer advanced technology, but there are some distinctions:

  • The Forester Premium comes with LED Steering Responsive Headlights, which pivot in the direction of the turn, providing better visibility.
  • The Rav4 XLE features fully integrated LED headlights and taillights with a distinctive, modern design.

Roof rails and crossbars availability

Roof rails and crossbars are essential for those who need additional cargo space or love outdoor adventures. Here’s what each model has to offer:

  • The Forester Premium includes raised roof rails and offers optional crossbars, making it easy to mount a roof box or bike rack.
  • The Rav4 XLE also comes with roof rails, but you’ll need to purchase crossbars separately if you want to enhance your cargo carrying capabilities.

Unique exterior features

Each model has some exclusive exterior features that add to their appeal:

  • The Forester Premium sports a panoramic power moonroof and 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels.
  • The Rav4 XLE boasts a power liftgate with a jam protection feature and 17-inch five-spoke silver alloy wheels.

Subaru Forester Vs Toyota Rav4 Interior Comfort and Space

Now that we’ve explored the exteriors, let’s jump into the interior comfort and space of these two fantastic vehicles. After all, the interior is where you’ll be spending most of your time, so it’s crucial to make sure it’s comfortable, spacious, and suits your needs.

Car seat materials and comfort level

Nobody wants to sit on uncomfortable seats during a long drive, so let’s take a peek at what each vehicle offers in terms of seat materials and comfort:

  • The Subaru Forester Premium features premium cloth upholstery that is both durable and comfortable. The front seats are equipped with a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat and heated front seats, ensuring you stay warm and cozy on those chilly days.
  • The Toyota Rav4 XLE offers plush fabric-trimmed seats with an 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat and a 4-way manual adjustable front passenger seat. Heated front seats are available as an option for those who crave extra warmth.

Front and rear passenger space

As you invite friends and family along for the ride, you’ll want to ensure everyone has enough room to stretch out and enjoy the journey.

Here’s how the Forester Premium and Rav4 XLE stack up in terms of front and rear passenger space:

VehicleFront LegroomFront HeadroomRear LegroomRear Headroom
Forester Premium43.3 inches40.2 inches39.4 inches37.7 inches
Rav4 XLE41 inches39.5 inches37.8 inches39.5 inches

The Forester Premium takes the lead in front legroom and rear headroom, while the Rav4 XLE offers a bit more rear legroom and front headroom. Ultimately, both vehicles provide ample space for passengers, but taller folks might appreciate the extra room in the Forester Premium.

Cargo capacity and storage solutions

When it comes to cargo capacity, you want to make sure your vehicle can accommodate everything from groceries to camping gear. Let’s compare what each model has to offer:

  • The Subaru Forester Premium boasts an impressive 31.1 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, which expands to a generous 76.1 cubic feet when the rear seats are folded down. Plus, the wide rear gate opening and low load floor make it easy to load and unload bulky items.
  • The Toyota Rav4 XLE features a slightly smaller cargo area, with 37.6 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 69.8 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down. However, it does offer a handy underfloor storage compartment for additional storage.

Panoramic sunroof comparison

A panoramic sunroof can add a touch of luxury and bring the beauty of the outdoors inside the cabin. Here’s how the two models compare:

  • The Forester Premium comes standard with a large panoramic power moonroof, providing a bright and airy feel to the cabin.
  • The Rav4 XLE offers a standard power tilt/slide moonroof, which is not quite as expansive as the Forester’s but still provides a pleasant open-air experience.

Sound insulation and cabin noise levels

A quiet and serene cabin is vital for a comfortable driving experience. Both vehicles have made efforts to minimize cabin noise, but there are some differences worth noting:

  • The Subaru Forester Premium benefits from a well-insulated cabin and noise-reducing front windows. However, some road noise can still be noticeable, especially on rougher surfaces.
  • The Toyota Rav4 XLE features a quieter cabin thanks to its sound-deadening materials and acoustic windshield, providing a more peaceful and relaxing ride overall.

Infotainment and Connectivity

In today’s hyper-connected world, having an intuitive and feature-rich infotainment system is essential for any vehicle. Let’s dive into the details of the infotainment and connectivity options in the Forester Premium and Rav4 XLE.

Overview of infotainment systems

  • The Subaru Forester Premium is equipped with the SUBARU STARLINK 6.5-inch Multimedia Plus system, featuring a crisp touchscreen display and easy-to-use interface.
  • The Toyota Rav4 XLE comes with the Entune 3.0 Audio Plus system, boasting a slightly larger 8-inch touchscreen and a similarly user-friendly interface.

Smartphone integration and compatibility

Both vehicles offer excellent smartphone integration to ensure you stay connected and entertained on the go:

  • The Forester Premium supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, allowing seamless integration with your smartphone for hands-free calling, texting, and access to your favorite apps.
  • The Rav4 XLE also provides Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, along with Amazon Alexa integration for added convenience.

Audio system and speaker quality

A great audio system can make all the difference in your driving experience. Let’s see what each model has to offer:

  • The Subaru Forester Premium features a 6-speaker audio system that delivers clear and balanced sound, perfect for listening to your favorite tunes on long road trips.
  • The Toyota Rav4 XLE comes with a 6-speaker audio system as well, but it can be upgraded to the optional JBL Premium Audio System with 11 speakers, providing a more immersive and powerful audio experience.

Navigation system features and accuracy

When it comes to navigation, you want a system that’s accurate and reliable. Here’s how the two vehicles stack up:

  • The Forester Premium offers an optional built-in navigation system powered by TomTom, which provides accurate turn-by-turn directions and real-time traffic updates.
  • The Rav4 XLE relies on smartphone-based navigation through Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, which works well for most drivers, but may not be ideal for those who prefer an integrated navigation system.

Voice command capabilities and performance

Voice command functionality is crucial for a safe and distraction-free driving experience. Both vehicles offer voice recognition technology, but there are some key differences:

  • The Forester Premium features a responsive voice command system that allows you to control various functions, such as placing calls, sending texts, and adjusting climate settings.
  • The Rav4 XLE has a similarly capable voice command system, but it also benefits from the integration of Amazon Alexa, offering a more advanced and versatile voice assistant experience.

Safety Features and Ratings

Safety should be a top priority for any vehicle, and both the Subaru Forester Premium and Toyota Rav4 XLE have made significant efforts to ensure their vehicles are as safe as possible.

Let’s explore their safety features and ratings in more detail.

Standard safety features for both models

Both the Forester Premium and Rav4 XLE come equipped with a plethora of standard safety features, including:

  • Anti-lock braking system (ABS)
  • Electronic stability control (ESC)
  • Traction control
  • Tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS)
  • Rearview camera
  • Advanced airbag systems

Advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS)

Driver-assistance systems are becoming increasingly important for modern vehicles, and both the Forester Premium and Rav4 XLE excel in this area:

  • The Forester Premium features Subaru’s EyeSight Driver Assist Technology, which includes adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane departure warning, and lane-keep assist.
  • The Rav4 XLE comes with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, offering a suite of advanced features such as pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, dynamic radar cruise control, and road sign assist.

Additional safety features

Apart from their respective ADAS, both vehicles have some unique safety features that set them apart:

  • The Forester Premium offers optional blind-spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert, which can be invaluable in detecting vehicles approaching from hard-to-see angles.
  • The Rav4 XLE comes standard with blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and hill-start assist, giving it a slight edge in terms of standard safety equipment.

Safety ratings

Safety ratings are crucial in evaluating a vehicle’s overall safety performance. Both the Forester Premium and Rav4 XLE have impressive safety ratings:

  • The Subaru Forester Premium has earned a 5-star overall safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and a Top Safety Pick+ award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
  • The Toyota Rav4 XLE also boasts a 5-star overall safety rating from NHTSA and a Top Safety Pick award from IIHS.

While both vehicles have outstanding safety ratings, the Forester Premium’s Top Safety Pick+ award from IIHS gives it a slight advantage in terms of safety recognition.

Performance and Handling

When it comes to performance and handling, both the Subaru Forester Premium and Toyota Rav4 XLE have a lot to offer. Let’s dive into their engine specifications, fuel efficiency, and handling characteristics.

Engine specifications and power output

  • The Subaru Forester Premium is powered by a 2.5-liter BOXER engine that produces 182 horsepower and 176 lb-ft of torque. The engine is paired with a Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) for smooth and efficient power delivery.
  • The Toyota Rav4 XLE features a 2.5-liter Dynamic Force 4-cylinder engine that generates 203 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. This engine is mated to an 8-speed Direct-Shift Automatic Transmission for quick and precise gear changes.

While the Rav4 XLE has a slightly more powerful engine, both vehicles offer peppy and responsive performance for everyday driving.

Fuel efficiency comparison

Fuel efficiency is a crucial factor for many car buyers, and both vehicles deliver impressive numbers:

  • The Forester Premium achieves an EPA-estimated fuel economy of 26 mpg city and 33 mpg highway.
  • The Rav4 XLE boasts an EPA-estimated fuel economy of 28 mpg city and 35 mpg highway.

The Rav4 XLE takes the lead in fuel efficiency, which may be an important consideration for those who want to save on fuel costs.

All-wheel drive system and off-road capabilities

  • The Subaru Forester Premium comes standard with Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system, providing excellent traction and stability in various road conditions. The Forester Premium also features X-MODE with Hill Descent Control, enhancing its off-road capabilities.
  • The Toyota Rav4 XLE is available with either front-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive. The optional all-wheel-drive system includes Multi-Terrain Select, which allows you to choose between different driving modes for optimal performance in various conditions.

While both vehicles offer competent all-wheel-drive systems, the Forester Premium’s standard all-wheel drive and off-road-oriented features give it an edge for those who enjoy off-road adventures.

Handling and ride quality

Handling and ride quality are essential for a comfortable and enjoyable driving experience:

  • The Forester Premium delivers a smooth and comfortable ride, with well-tuned suspension and responsive steering. Its low center of gravity and symmetrical all-wheel-drive system provide confident handling and stability on twisty roads.
  • The Rav4 XLE also offers a comfortable ride with its well-damped suspension, and its precise steering makes it easy to maneuver in tight spaces. The Rav4 XLE’s handling is agile and composed, thanks to its well-tuned chassis.

Here’s a summary of each vehicle’s performance and handling characteristics in a markdown table:

FeatureForester PremiumRav4 XLE
Engine2.5-liter BOXER, 182 hp, 176 lb-ft torque2.5-liter Dynamic Force, 203 hp, 184 lb-ft torque
TransmissionLineartronic CVT8-speed Direct-Shift Automatic
Fuel Economy (city/hwy)26/33 mpg28/35 mpg
All-Wheel DriveStandardOptional
Off-Road FeaturesX-MODE, Hill Descent ControlMulti-Terrain Select (with AWD)
HandlingSmooth, stable, responsiveAgile, composed, precise

Price and Value

Finally, let’s discuss the pricing and overall value of the Subaru Forester Premium and Toyota Rav4 XLE. While the initial purchase price is essential, it’s also crucial to consider other factors such as resale value and cost of ownership.

Base MSRP comparison

  • The Subaru Forester Premium has a starting MSRP of around $29,695 (excluding destination and handling fees).
  • The Toyota Rav4 XLE has a slightly higher starting MSRP of approximately $31,335 (excluding destination and handling fees).

While the Forester costs less than the Rav4 XLE, both vehicles are competitively priced within the compact SUV segment. You should also keep an eye out for car deals as sometimes there will be offers or incentives from one manufacturer or another.

Resale value and depreciation

Resale value is an essential factor to consider when purchasing a vehicle, as it can significantly impact the total cost of ownership:

  • The Forester Premium is known for its strong resale value, with Subaru vehicles consistently ranking high in terms of depreciation rates.
  • The Rav4 XLE also boasts a solid resale value, with Toyota vehicles being renowned for their reliability and long-lasting performance.

Both vehicles are likely to hold their value well over time, which is a testament to their quality and reputation.

Warranty and maintenance costs

Warranty coverage and maintenance costs can impact the overall value and ownership experience of a vehicle. Here’s a comparison of the warranties and estimated maintenance costs for the Forester Premium and Rav4 XLE:

CoverageForester PremiumRav4 XLE
Basic Warranty3 years/36,000 miles3 years/36,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty5 years/60,000 miles5 years/60,000 miles
Estimated 5-Year Maintenance Costs$4,500 – $5,500$4,200 – $5,200

Both vehicles offer similar warranty coverage and have comparable estimated maintenance costs over five years, making them fairly even in terms of overall value.

Final Advice

The Subaru Forester Premium and Toyota Rav4 XLE are both excellent choices in the compact SUV segment, each offering a unique blend of features, performance, and value. Ultimately, the best choice for you will depend on your specific needs and preferences not just the car rankings.

  • The Subaru Forester Premium might be the better choice for those who prioritize standard all-wheel drive, off-road capabilities, and a roomier cabin. Its higher safety ratings and strong resale value also make it an appealing option.
  • The Toyota Rav4 XLE could be the right fit for drivers who value fuel efficiency, a more powerful engine, and additional standard safety features. Its slightly larger infotainment screen and optional JBL Premium Audio System may also appeal to tech-savvy buyers.

To help you make a more informed decision, let’s recap the pros and cons of each vehicle that affect the car ratings.

Subaru Forester Premium Pros & Cons


  • Standard all-wheel drive
  • Spacious and comfortable interior
  • High safety ratings (IIHS Top Safety Pick+)
  • Off-road capabilities (X-MODE, Hill Descent Control)
  • Strong resale value


  • Lower fuel efficiency compared to the Rav4 XLE
  • Smaller infotainment screen (6.5-inch)
  • Optional navigation system (not standard)

Toyota Rav4 XLE Pros & Cons


  • Better fuel efficiency (28/35 mpg)
  • More powerful engine (203 hp)
  • Larger infotainment screen (8-inch)
  • Optional JBL Premium Audio System
  • Standard blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert


  • All-wheel drive is optional (not standard)
  • Slightly higher starting price
  • Less off-road-oriented features compared to the Forester Premium

To further assist you in making a decision, here’s a markdown table summarizing the key differences between the Forester Premium and Rav4 XLE:

Differences Between Forester Premium and Rav4 XLE:

FeatureForester PremiumRav4 XLE
All-Wheel DriveStandardOptional
Fuel Efficiency (city/hwy)26/33 mpg28/35 mpg
Infotainment Screen Size6.5-inch8-inch
Safety RatingsIIHS Top Safety Pick+IIHS Top Safety Pick
Off-Road FeaturesX-MODE, Hill Descent ControlMulti-Terrain Select (with AWD)
Starting MSRP~$29,695~$31,335

In conclusion, both the Subaru Forester Premium and Toyota Rav4 XLE are fantastic trim levels in the compact SUV market that you will want to take home. The choice ultimately comes down to your personal preferences and driving needs. We recommend test-driving both vehicles and experiencing their features and performance firsthand to determine which one is the perfect match for you.

Remember, when shopping for a new vehicle, it’s essential to remember all the advice on considering factors such as reliability, performance, fuel efficiency, safety features, and overall value. By keeping these aspects in mind and weighing the pros and cons of each SUV model, you’ll be well-equipped to make an informed decision and find the perfect compact model for your lifestyle.

Happy car shopping!