2021 Subaru Forester vs. 2021 Toyota RAV4: Which Compact SUV Did Consumer Reports Choose?

With so many choices to consider, shopping for a new compact SUV can be overwhelming. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be, especially if you find yourself considering options such as the 2021 Subaru Forester and the 2021 Toyota RAV4. In fact, Consumer Reports recently compared these two options and chose the best compact SUV of the two. Let’s find out which model Consumer Reports recommends.

2021 Subaru Forester vs. 2021 Toyota RAV4: Which compact SUV did better in road tests?

A red 2021 Subaru Forester compact SUV driving down an empty tree-lined street
2021 Subaru Forester | Subaru

Now, the 2021 Subaru Forester did do better in road tests than the 2021 Toyota RAV4. While Consumer Reports gave the RAV4 a 72 overall score in road tests, it gave the Subaru Forester a 90 overall score in road tests. There’s no denying that’s a sizeable difference.

According to Consumer Reports, however, there are plenty of reasons why it gave the 2021 Subaru Forester a higher score than its Toyota competition. Although the RAV4 benefits from improved handling, it’s the Subaru Forester that’s responsive around corners and steady even on bumpy roads.

Now, while Consumer Reports did give the Subaru Forester a higher score in its road tests, the RAV4 does have the edge when it comes to available powertrains. Unlike the Subaru Forester, this year’s new RAV4 is available as a hybrid and plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle.

2021 Subaru Forester vs. 2021 Toyota RAV4: Which compact SUV is more reliable?

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Next, let’s talk about reliability. The good news is that the 2021 Subaru Forester earned a Very Good predicted reliability rating. Such a high rating isn’t all that unusual for this compact SUV, either. In fact, more often than not, Consumer Reports has given the Subaru Forester either a Very Good or an Excellent reliability rating.

As for the 2021 Toyota RAV4? Unfortunately, this year’s new model did earn a lower reliability rating than its Subaru competition. Such a low score isn’t all that uncommon for the RAV4, either. As a matter of fact, the RAV4 hasn’t been able to land an Excellent reliability rating since the 2018 model. 

2021 Subaru Forester vs. 2021 Toyota RAV4: Safety features that inspire confidence

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These compact SUVs offer no shortage of safety features. Opt for the 2021 Toyota RAV4, and you can expect confidence-inspiring safety features like a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alerts with steering assist, lane tracing assist, full-speed range dynamic radar cruise control, and road sign assist. With so many safety features to its name, it’s no surprise that the IIHS recognized this year’s RAV4 as a Top Safety Pick. 

The 2021 Subaru Forester comes standard with a slew of safety features, too, including a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alerts with steering assist, lane tracing assist, full-speed range dynamic radar cruise control, and road sign assist. As for how the IIHS rated the Subaru Forester? Well, it awarded the Forester with its highest safety honor as a Top Safety Pick+ for the 2021 model year.

2021 Subaru Forester vs. 2021 Toyota RAV4: This compact SUV has the better interior

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Although the 2021 Toyota RAV4 offers up plenty of headroom, its interior could be better. In fact, according to Consumer Reports, its rugged styling hurts rear visibility. It also hurts the compact SUV’s cargo capacity. Consumer Reports added that its higher ground clearance and lower roofline also make it hard to get into and out of both the front and rear seats.

The 2021 Subaru Forester boasts plenty of headroom too. Rear seats are also pretty comfortable and offer up plenty of foot room. Consumer Reports added that this year’s model features nicely contoured seatbacks that provide lots of support even for longer drives. Perhaps the only downside to the Forester’s interior is its silver plastic trim. According to Consumer Reports, it does make the interior look a tad “low-rent.”

How to choose the best new compact SUV for your driving needs

When it comes down to it, Consumer Reports says you can’t go wrong with the 2021 Subaru Forester. While the Toyota RAV4 does have plenty to offer, it’s the Subaru Forester that has the edge when it comes to road-test scores, safety ratings, reliability, and interior comfort. But does that mean it’s the right fit for you? Not necessarily. To choose the best new compact SUV for your needs, we recommend taking both of these models out for a test drive.