2022 Toyota RAV4 vs. 2022 Subaru Forester: Compare Crossover SUVs

May 6, 2022

When the pavement stops and the gravel begins, which crossover SUV are you going to want to be in, the 2022 Toyota RAV4 or the 2022 Subaru Forester?

2022 Toyota RAV4 vs. 2022 Subaru Forester: Compare Crossover SUVs

2022 Toyota RAV4 vs. 2022 Subaru Forester: Compare Crossover SUVs

On paper, and in reality, these two fierce crossover SUV competitors stack up to be nearly equal in many ways. With the 2022 Subaru Forester’s TCC Rating of 6.8 out of 10 inching ahead of the 2022 Toyota RAV4’s rating of 6.7, it’s nearly tit-for-tat. When it comes time to sign on the dotted line there can only be one.

2022 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

2022 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

2022 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

2022 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

2022 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

2022 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

If we go on visual appeal alone, the answer is the RAV4. With the latest generation adopting a chunky SUV-like appearance, the RAV4 now looks like the 4Runner’s baby brother despite its car-based platform. For 2022 it received a slight design refresh along with updated headlights. The blunt front and rear ends, SUV profile, and sharp creases all look attractive if you’re into classic SUV proportions.

2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness

2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness

2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness

2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness

2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness

2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness

The Subaru Forester underwent a refresh for 2022 as well, and it came out looking like the automotive equivalent of a hiking boot. The new Wilderness model with its 9.2 inches of ground clearance, extra body cladding, and black wheels only amplify the hiking shoe motif. The front end now has a pinched look, while out back the taillights look like lobster claws grabbing at the tailgate.

2022 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

2022 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

The RAV4 is full of hard plastics inside, but the simple design wins us over with a function over form setup. Real buttons, knobs, and switches rule the day here. The audio system and climate control knobs all feature a rubber sheath making them easy to operate with wet or gloved hands. Base models have a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but most models now feature a larger 9.0-inch display. The displays feel slightly low resolution and the interfaces are clunky for 2022.

2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness

2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness

The Forester’s interior features wash-and-wear materials that are more durable than the RAV4’s. Wilderness models double-down with water-repellent material that doesn’t have the sticky feeling of marine-grade vinyl. Base models make do with a less-than-impressive 6.5-inch touchscreen while upper trim models feature an 8.0-inch touchscreen.

2022 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

2022 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Toyota wins in the powertrain department. But the RAV4’s base 203-hp 2.5-liter inline-4 and 8-speed automatic is loud, buzzy, and underpowered, though it comes with standard all-wheel drive. The 219-hp hybrid makes more sense with its smoother, quieter, power delivery and instant torque off the line from the electric motor. The 302-hp Prime plug-in hybrid model is the most efficient, powerful, and quickest RAV4 and starts at less than $40,000 as it’s. That would be our pick, if we could find one.

2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness

2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness

Subaru can not compete in the powertrain department. Foresters are powered by a loud 2.5-liter boxer-4 with 182 hp sent to all four wheels through a continuously variable transmission. It’s not terribly pleasant, but it gets the job done.

2022 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

2022 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Most RAV4s have EPA fuel economy ratings of 27 mpg city, 35 highway, and 30 combined, which line up just above the Forester’s 26 city, 33 highway, and 29 combined ratings. But the RAV4 Hybrid blows by the Subaru with ratings of 41/38/40 while the Prime gets scored up to 42 miles of electric-only driving and a 94 MPGe for overall efficiency.

2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness

2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness

2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness

2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness

2022 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

2022 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

2022 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

2022 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Both the RAV4 and Forester have seating for up to five people, but the interior of the Forester feels roomier and more open thanks to larger pieces of glass around the cabin and better packaging. The Forester features wider, slightly taller, door openings that make egress and ingress easier. The RAV4’s seats could use better padding and head room could cramp 6-footers, especially on models with the available sunroof. Those in back of the Forester will find up to 40 inches of leg room, which is 3.0 inches more than rear seat passengers in the RAV4.

The NHTSA gave both the RAV4 and Forester five stars overall, but the IIHS only named the Subaru a Top Safety Pick+. The updated 2022 RAV4 hasn’t been fully crash tested by the IIHS, yet. Both models feature standard automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and active lane control while blind-spot monitors are an option. But the Subaru’s safety systems chirp and beep and flash alerts constantly like an annoying nanny. It’s hyper aggressive to a fault.

The RAV4 costs $27,740 and includes 17-inch wheels, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. But we would option up to the $30,000 Hybrid to get better fuel economy and a smoother powertrain. The base Prime plug-in at $40,000 strikes us as a deal, if one can be found and had at sticker price, but load up the RAV4 Prime and it can nearly touch $50,000.

Subaru prices the Forester below the RAV4 at $26,320, and it is nearly a mirror feature set with 17-inch wheels and a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. We’d option up for the $30,000 Premium model to get niceties such as a power driver seat and heated front seats. A loaded Forester Touring only hits $36,420.

Updated crash test scores could swing our TCC Rating in favor of the RAV4, but for now the Forester has the edge. We’d park either in our garage, with the Subaru as a better value. But the RAV4 Hybrid, or Prime plug-in hybrid, are more efficient, nicer to look at, and nicer to drive. Either electrified RAV4 would be our choice.

Summary

6.8
Expert Rating
The 2022 Subaru Forester rains value down on crossover-SUV drivers, and safety’s a very close second.
6.7
Expert Rating
The 2022 Toyota RAV4 lives up to its meat-and-potatoes hype, but the Prime serves up green-car red meat.

Styling

6.0
Expert Rating
Subaru’s tweaked the wagon with a fresh grille and a more pronounced front end.
Read More
8.0
Expert Rating
The RAV4 taps rugged details and angles for a ready-to-rumble look.
Read More

Performance

6.0
Expert Rating
Like the bigger Outback, the Subaru Forester can tackle almost any road.
Read More
5.0
Expert Rating
It covers all the bases, but RAV4 Primes swing for the bleachers.
Read More

Comfort & Quality

8.0
Expert Rating
The Forester crams more room into a smaller space than you’d imagine.
Read More
6.0
Expert Rating
The RAV4’s adventurous shape trims back some utility.
Read More

Safety

9.0
Expert Rating
Safety is second nature in the 2022 Forester.
Read More
8.0
Expert Rating
The numbers are in, and they’re good—enough.
Read More

Features

7.0
Expert Rating
The Forester remains an exceptional value.
Read More
8.0
Expert Rating
The RAV4 offers great value—but the Prime would make us splurge.
Read More

Fuel Economy

5.0
Expert Rating
Wilderness models drop the Forester’s EPA numbers.
Read More
5.0
Expert Rating
Get the RAV4 Prime for max efficiency—if you can find one.
Read More

MSRP

from $25,895
from $26,975

Invoice

from $24,387
from $25,223

Fuel Economy - Combined City and Highway

29
30

Engine

Regular Unleaded H-4, 2.5 L
Regular Unleaded I-4, 2.5 L

Drivetrain

All Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
Front Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
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