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The Toyota RAV4 and the Subaru Forester are competitors in the enormously popular compact crossover SUV segment. While there are multiple strengths of the Forester, the RAV4 provides a key advantage. The 2023 Toyota RAV4 has one big thing that the 2023 Subaru Forester doesn’t offer: a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) with the RAV4 Prime, which provides superb performance and high fuel economy.

Unlike the 2023 Subaru Forester, the 2023 Toyota RAV4 offers a plug-in hybrid with the RAV4 Prime

Red 2023 Toyota RAV4 Prime crossover SUV driving on a road
2023 Toyota RAV4 Prime | Toyota

The 2023 Toyota RAV4 crossover SUV offers a traditional hybrid model, but its standout model is the RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid. A benefit of plug-in hybrids is they can drive on electric-only power for short distances. For the RAV4 Prime, the electric-only driving range is an estimated 42 miles. However, the 2023 Subaru Forester doesn’t offer any type of hybrid. 

While the EV wave moves ahead at full force, plug-in hybrids like the RAV4 are a good alternative for drivers that are not yet ready to make the leap to go all-electric. One of the concerns for EVs is range anxiety. This is the fear of running out of battery power before an electric car can reach a charging station or drive back home. However, the RAV4 Prime doesn’t have this issue. When the battery power runs out, it can just switch to power from the internal combustion engine. 

2023 RAV4 Prime tops the 2023 Forester for performance

Green 2023 Subaru Forester crossover SUV parked on a snowy road
2023 Subaru Forester | Subaru

Another strength of the 2023 Toyota RAV4 Prime crossover SUV is its superb performance. Its plug-in hybrid system features a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors — delivering a total system output of 308 horsepower. In comparison, the output of the 2023 Subaru Forester is much weaker. All Forester models have a 2.5-liter flat-four engine, which produces only 182 horsepower. 

Also, even if opting for the base-level 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine (203 horsepower) or the traditional hybrid (219 horsepower), the RAV4 still has better performance than the Forester

With its powerful plug-in hybrid system, the RAV4 Prime delivers sports car-like acceleration. It can go from 0-60 mph in just 5.5 seconds. In comparison, it takes the Forester at least 8.0 seconds to complete the 0-60 mph sprint. 

Toyota RAV4 Prime has higher fuel economy than the Subaru Forester

Automotive customers primarily get hybrids due to their high fuel economy. And on this front, the 2023 RAV4 Prime, with its plug-in hybrid system, is especially efficient. When in electric-only mode, the RAV4 Prime has an estimated fuel efficiency rating of up to 94 combined MPGe, while it gets up to 38 combined mpg in hybrid mode.

In comparison, the 2023 Forester has an estimated gas mileage of up to 29 combined mpg. Also, the fuel economy of the Forester is lower than the other two powertrain offerings for the RAV4. The RAV4 gets an estimated gas mileage of up to 30 combined mpg for the fully gas-powered model and 40 combined mpg for the traditional hybrid.

Furthermore, the 42-mile electric-only range of the RAV4 Prime is more than the average commuting distance for American drivers. Considering this, for much of the time, RAV4 Prime drivers can use electric-only mode — without the crossover SUV consuming any gasoline. This translates to savings on fuel and fewer stops at gas stations. 

With the RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid, the 2023 Toyota RAV4 has one big thing that the 2023 Subaru Forester doesn’t offer. When trying to figure out which crossover SUV to get, this is a key factor to consider.


How Much Does a Fully Loaded 2023 Toyota RAV4 Cost?