Skip to Content

Toyota Rav4 Prime Vs Subaru Forester (Main Differences)

*This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Contents show

Are you tired of sifting through endless articles to find the perfect SUV? Well, buckle up, because we’re about to dive deep into the main differences between two of the most popular models on the market: the Toyota RAV4 Prime and the Subaru Forester.

If you’ve got your sights set on one of these gems, you’ll want to stick around for the car ratings. We’ll be exploring everything from performance and off-road capabilities to pricing and consumer reviews to help you decide which car to take home with you.

So, having trouble deciding between the deals on the RAV4 Prime and the Forester? We’ve got your back!

Performance and Powertrain

Comparison of engine types and horsepower

The RAV4 Prime and the Forester are both driven by different engines. While the RAV4 Prime is powered by a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine combined with two electric motors, the Forester relies on a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder Boxer engine.

The RAV4 Prime’s combined system output is an impressive 302 horsepower, making it a peppy choice for those who crave power. On the other hand, the Forester offers a modest 182 horsepower, but it’s no slouch when it comes to smooth driving experiences.

Transmission system differences

  • Toyota RAV4 Prime: Electronically Controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (ECVT)
  • Subaru Forester: Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)

The RAV4 Prime’s ECVT seamlessly switches between power sources, ensuring optimal efficiency and performance. The Forester’s Lineartronic CVT, on the other hand, provides a smooth and fuel-efficient ride.

Subaru Forester Vs Toyota Rav4 Prime Fuel efficiency and EPA ratings

With the RAV4 Prime being a plug-in hybrid, it’s no surprise that it boasts stellar fuel efficiency. The RAV4 Prime achieves 94 MPGe combined (miles per gallon equivalent) and has an all-electric range of 42 miles.

The Forester, while not as efficient as its rival, still manages to deliver a commendable 26 MPG city / 33 MPG highway.

Acceleration and top speed

If speed is what you’re after, the RAV4 Prime’s got you covered. It can sprint from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.7 seconds, whereas the Forester takes a more leisurely 8.5 seconds to reach the same milestone.

As for top speed, the RAV4 Prime clocks in at 135 mph, while the Forester maxes out at 118 mph.

Towing capacity

If you’re planning to haul some cargo, the RAV4 Prime’s got the upper hand. With a towing capacity of 2,500 lbs, it’s quite capable of handling a small trailer. The Forester, on the other hand, can tow up to 1,500 lbs.

Off-Road Capabilities

All-wheel drive car systems

When it comes to tackling the great outdoors, both the RAV4 Prime and Subaru’s Forester boast all-wheel drive (AWD) systems. The RAV4 Prime features the Electronic On-Demand AWD, while the Forester comes equipped with Subaru’s signature Symmetrical AWD.

Both systems provide excellent traction, but the Forester’s Symmetrical AWD is renowned for its superior balance and stability on uneven terrain.

Ground clearance and approach/departure angles

SpecificationRAV4 PrimeForester
Ground Clearance8.1 inches8.7 inches
Approach Angle18.9°23.0°
Departure Angle23.0°25.0°

As you can see, the Forester has a slight edge over the RAV4 Prime in terms of ground clearance and approach/departure angles. It’s these little differences that make the Forester a great companion for those off-the-beaten-path adventures.

Off-road features and technologies

The RAV4 Prime and Forester both come packed with features to make off-roading a breeze.

The RAV4 Prime offers Multi-Terrain Select, which allows drivers to choose from various modes for different terrains, while the Forester boasts X-MODE, which optimizes the engine, transmission, and AWD system for maximum traction on slippery surfaces.

Suspension systems

Both SUVs utilize a MacPherson strut front suspension and a double-wishbone rear suspension, which help provide a comfortable ride on rough terrain.

However, the Forester is known for its long-travel suspension, giving it that extra bit of cushioning and making it a preferred choice for off-road enthusiasts.

Tire options and suitability for off-road driving

The RAV4 Prime and Forester come with all-season tires as standard, but there are plenty of aftermarket options available for those looking to tackle more challenging terrain.

The Forester, in particular, has a reputation for being highly compatible with a variety of off-road tire choices, making it even more of a trailblazer.

Interior Comfort and Space

Seating capacity and legroom

Both the RAV4 Prime and the Forester can comfortably seat up to five passengers.

When I first slid into the driver’s seat of each vehicle, I immediately noticed that the Forester offers more legroom in both the front and rear rows. In the RAV4 Prime, I felt a tad more confined, but it was by no means uncomfortable.

Cargo space and versatility

Now, if you’re anything like me, you’re always looking for extra storage space, and both these SUVs deliver. The RAV4 Prime offers 33.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, and when they’re folded down, that number jumps to an impressive 63.2 cubic feet.

The Forester, however, has a slight advantage, with 35.4 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats and a whopping 76.1 cubic feet when they’re folded down.

Interior materials and build quality

When it comes to build quality, both cars exude a sense of craftsmanship. The RAV4 Prime’s interior is adorned with soft-touch materials and stylish accents, while the Forester’s cabin feels more rugged and practical.

It’s really a matter of personal preference, but I can’t help but be drawn to the cozy atmosphere of the RAV4 Prime.

Comfort features and options

As for comfort features, both SUVs come equipped with a host of options to keep you cozy on those long drives. Some of the highlights include:

  • RAV4 Prime: Heated front seats, ventilated front seats (optional), heated rear seats (optional), and dual-zone automatic climate control
  • Forester: Heated front seats, heated rear seats (optional), ventilated front seats (optional), and dual-zone automatic climate control

Noise levels and insulation

When it comes to cabin quietness, both the RAV4 Prime and the Forester cars do an admirable job of keeping road and wind noise at bay. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the RAV4 Prime’s hybrid powertrain operates in near silence, making for an incredibly serene ride.

The Forester’s Boxer engine is a bit more audible, but it’s by no means obtrusive. So, if you’re someone who cherishes peace and quiet on the road, you can’t go wrong with either option.

Technology and Infotainment

Comparison of infotainment systems

The RAV4 Prime and the Forester both offer intuitive infotainment systems designed to keep you entertained and informed on the go.

The RAV4 Prime features Toyota’s Entune system with a responsive 8-inch touchscreen, while the Forester comes with Subaru’s Starlink system, which offers either a 6.5-inch or an optional 8-inch touchscreen. Both systems are user-friendly and packed with features, but the RAV4 Prime’s Entune system feels slightly more polished and snappy.

Smartphone integration and connectivity

Both SUVs offer seamless smartphone integration, thanks to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Additionally, they come with multiple USB ports and Bluetooth connectivity, making it a breeze to stay connected with your devices.

Audio systems and sound quality

As an audiophile, I was delighted to find that both vehicles offer premium audio systems. The RAV4 Prime comes with an available JBL Premium Audio system featuring 11 speakers, while the Forester offers an optional Harman Kardon Premium Audio system with 9 speakers.

Both systems deliver crisp, immersive sound, making it hard to choose a favorite.

Navigation and real-time traffic information

When it comes to navigation, both the RAV4 Prime and the Forester have got you covered. The RAV4 Prime offers an available Dynamic Navigation system with real-time traffic information, while the Forester features a built-in navigation system in higher trims with real-time traffic updates.

Whichever SUV you choose, you’ll never have to worry about getting lost again.

Voice command and gesture control features

Both SUVs offer standard voice command features, allowing you to control various functions without lifting a finger. The RAV4 Prime’s voice recognition system is particularly impressive, responding to commands quickly and accurately.

The Forester’s system is functional but can occasionally be a tad finicky. Nevertheless, both options make it easy to stay focused on the road while staying in control of your vehicle’s features.

Safety and Driver-Assistance Features

Standard safety features for both models

Toyota and Subaru have a reputation for building safe vehicles, and the RAV4 Prime and Forester are no exceptions. Both SUVs come standard with a suite of advanced safety features, including:

  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Lane departure warning
  • Lane-keep assist

Advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS)

The RAV4 Prime boasts Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.0 suite, which includes additional features like Road Sign Assist and Lane Tracing Assist. The Forester, on the other hand, is equipped with Subaru’s EyeSight Driver Assist Technology, which features Advanced Adaptive Cruise Control with Lane Centering.

Both systems are designed to keep you and your passengers safe on the road, but the RAV4 Prime’s Safety Sense 2.0 feels slightly more comprehensive.

Crash test ratings and safety scores

Both the RAV4 Prime and the Forester have received top marks from safety organizations such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

The RAV4 Prime scored a 5-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA and was named a Top Safety Pick+ by the IIHS. The Forester also achieved a 5-star rating from the NHTSA and proudly wears the Top Safety Pick+ title from the IIHS.

So, rest assured that both SUVs will provide you with the standard of safety you deserve while cruising down the highway.

Safety features for child passengers

For those of you with little ones, both the RAV4 Prime and the Forester are well-equipped to keep your precious cargo safe. They come with LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) systems and plenty of rear-seat space to accommodate child safety seats.

Plus, the rear doors feature child safety locks, ensuring that your kids can’t accidentally open the doors while the vehicle is in motion.

Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert

Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert systems are essential for safe maneuvering, and both the RAV4 Prime and the Forester offer these features as standard or optional, depending on the trim level.

So, no matter which SUV you end up choosing, you’ll have an extra set of “eyes” to help you navigate tricky situations on the road.

Pricing and Trim Levels

Base prices for each model

Now, let’s talk numbers. The RAV4 Prime starts at a base price of around $41,590, while the standard Forester begins at a more budget-friendly $26,495. Keep in mind that these prices can vary depending on the trim level and additional options you choose.

B. Available trim levels for each model

Both SUVs offer multiple trim levels to cater to various needs and budgets. The RAV4 Prime comes in two trims: SE and XSE, with the XSE offering more luxurious features and options.

The Forester, on the other hand, boasts five trims: Base, Premium, Sport, Limited, and Touring, giving you plenty of choices to find the perfect fit.

Cost of ownership and maintenance

As for the cost of ownership, the RAV4 Prime’s hybrid powertrain can save you money on fuel in the long run, while the Forester is known for its low maintenance costs and longevity.

Both Toyota and Subaru offer competitive warranty packages to ensure you’re covered in case of any unexpected issues.

Incentives and rebates

When purchasing a new vehicle, it’s always wise to explore available incentives and rebates. The RAV4 Prime, being a plug-in hybrid, may qualify for federal tax credits and other state-specific incentives, making it an even more enticing option.

The Forester, while not eligible for these specific incentives, may still be subject to dealer-specific discounts and promotions.

Resale value and depreciation

Both Toyota and Subaru vehicles are known for holding their value well over time, and the RAV4 Prime and Forester are no exceptions.

These SUVs have consistently ranked high in terms of resale value, ensuring that your investment will remain a solid one even if you decide to sell down the road.

Consumer Reviews and Owner Satisfaction

Reliability ratings

Both the RAV4 Prime and the Forester have received high marks for standard reliability from sources like J.D. Power and Consumer Reports. Owners report that these SUVs are dependable and well-built, giving you the confidence to tackle any journey.

Owner satisfaction surveys

When it comes to owner satisfaction, both SUVs have their fair share of fans. Many RAV4 Prime owners rave about the vehicle’s fuel efficiency, smooth ride, and stylish design. Forester owners, on the other hand, often praise its off-road capabilities, spacious interior, and practicality.

Of course, there are always a few naysayers, but the general consensus is that both the RAV4 Prime and the Forester are solid choices for those in the market for a capable and comfortable SUV.

Common praises and complaints

To give you a better idea of what owners love and dislike about these vehicles, let’s dive into some common praises and complaints:

RAV4 Prime:

  • Praises: Fuel efficiency, refined ride, sleek design
  • Complaints: Limited availability, higher price tag, not as off-road capable as competitors


  • Praises: Off-road prowess, spacious interior, value for money
  • Complaints: Less refined ride, slightly dated infotainment system, not as fuel-efficient as some competitors

Is a RAV4 Prime Worth It?

So, after going through all the juicy details of the Toyota RAV4 Prime, you might be wondering: is it worth the extra cash? Well, my friend, let’s break it down and see if this swanky SUV is worth the investment.

Fuel efficiency and long-term savings

One of the most significant selling points of the RAV4 Prime is its impressive standard fuel efficiency, thanks to its plug-in hybrid powertrain. In the long run, this could translate into substantial savings on gas, especially if you have a daily commute or love taking road trips.

With 42 miles of range on the plug-in portion and then a combined 38MPG after you run out of “plug-in power” you will be saved tons of money on fuel. This is especially true if you don’t drive more than 40 miles round trip most of the time.

So, if you’re eco-conscious or simply looking to cut down on fuel costs, the RAV4 Prime is a no-brainer.

Comfort, style, and luxury

Let’s not forget about the RAV4 Prime’s sleek design and luxurious features. This SUV is a head-turner, both inside and out.

With its refined ride and high-quality materials, you’ll be cruising in comfort and style. If you’re someone who appreciates the finer things in life, the RAV4 Prime might just be worth the splurge.

Cutting-edge technology

As we’ve discussed earlier, the RAV4 Prime comes packed with the latest technology, including Toyota’s Entune infotainment system, Safety Sense 2.0, and a host of other cutting-edge features.

If you’re a tech enthusiast or simply want to stay ahead of the curve, the RAV4 Prime could be a worthwhile investment.

Resale value and reliability

Toyota vehicles have a reputation for being reliable and holding their value well over time. With the RAV4 Prime, you can rest assured that your investment will remain solid even if you decide to sell in the future. That’s always a plus, right?

Weighing the pros and cons

So, is the RAV4 Prime worth it? Like with any major purchase, it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons and consider your personal priorities. If fuel efficiency, cutting-edge technology, and luxury features are important to you, then the RAV4 Prime might be worth the extra cost.

However, if you’re more budget-conscious or prioritize off-road capabilities and interior space, then the Subaru Forester or another SUV might be a better fit.

At the end of the day, only you can decide whether the RAV4 Prime is the right choice for you. But one thing’s for sure: if you do decide to take the plunge, you’ll be driving one heck of an impressive vehicle!

Recommendation for potential buyers

So, now that we’ve gone through all the nitty-gritty details, which SUV should you choose? Well, ultimately, that decision will come down to your personal preferences and priorities.

If you’re looking for a fuel-efficient, stylish, and comfortable ride with a touch of luxury, the RAV4 Prime might be right up your alley. On the other hand, if off-road capabilities, interior space, and value for money are your top concerns, the Forester could be your perfect match.

Whichever vehicle you decide on, one thing is for sure: you’ll be getting behind the wheel of a dependable, well-rounded SUV that’s ready to tackle whatever adventures you have in store. So, buckle up and get ready for the ride of your life!

That wraps up our comprehensive ratings of the Toyota RAV4 Prime and the Subaru Forester. I hope this guide and reviews of each part of these cars have helped you gain a clearer understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each vehicle.

Most importantly, I hope the advice has made your decision-making process a little bit easier. Happy car shopping!