Consumer Reports Picks the Best Compact SUV: 2022 Toyota RAV4 or 2022 Subaru Forester

The SUV market was built on the back of models like the Toyota RAV4 and the Subaru Forester. Crossovers and compact SUVs, like Kudzoo in the south, have taken over completely. Hell, Sedans are getting phased out faster than laser discs. The point is that these models carry a lot of weight and, as such, are deeply significant models for how much they have shaped the automotive industry over the last 20 years. Now, we will see which little giant is supreme. Consumer Reports has picked the best Compact SUV. Will it be the 2022 Toyota RAV4 or the 2022 Subaru Forester? 

A light blue 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness compact SUV model parked on a forest trail bathed in sunlight
2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness | Subaru of America, Inc.

The 2022 Subaru Forester and 2022 Toyota RAV4 face off

As far as sales figures go, Consumer Reports makes it very clear which of the two sells more units. Although you probably don’t need me to tell you, it’s the Toyota. Selling cars is what Toyota does. In fact, the Toyota RAV4 sold over 430,000 units in 2021, making it the best-selling SUV in the U.S. for five years running. 

If Toyota is Coldplay – massively popular, good quality, but a bit mainstream – then the Subaru Forester is the Red Hot Chilli Peppers– a bit weirder, way cooler, but much more nuanced and measured. There is plenty of reason to like both Coldplay and RHCP, but the fans of these two bands know exactly what side they land on. 

So while the Toyota RAV4 is selling out stadiums, the Subaru Forester is sitting in the back of a coffee shop working on the next record to define a generation. Ok, I think I have taken this metaphor far past anything informative or helpful. Let’s move on. 

Why is the 2022 Subaru Forester so popular? 

Consumer Reports' best new SUVs under $30,000 include this Subaru Forester
The 2022 Subaru Forester SUV | Subaru

Every aspect of the Subaru Forester feels intentional, not just to make it generally appealing, but instead intentional in making it a very useful SUV. The Forester has massive windows to increase viability, tons of headroom, comfortable seats, and arguably the most famous AWD system in the world. 

The 2022 Subaru Forester not only has tons of room, badass off-road chops, and years of branding that make people feel outdoorsy and cool, but it also gets 28 mpg. In this economy? You have to give it up for that. Most importantly for many buyers, the 2022 Subaru Forester is one of the safest vehicles on the road. Subaru’s EyesSight safety suite comes standard on all Foresters, offering more safety features than almost anything on the market. This system, paired with an excellent crash test rating from the NHTSA, makes the Forester one of the best compact SUVs, period. 

Ultimately, these points are all valid, but the Toyota RAV4 can match and even beat some of these aspects. However, the Forester Wilderness Edition is one place the RAV4 doesn’t quite compete. 

For all its practicality, reliability, and safety, the Forester is boring. It just is; it’s ok. That is until the Wilderness Edition hit. From the added bodywork, special paint schemes, and the anodized gold accents throughout the car, the Wilderness Edition managed to make the Forester exciting. I off-roaded in the ice and snow in upstate New York with the Wilderness Editon, and it was remarkable. No, you aren’t likely going to crawl many boulders in the Forester, but it can run trails with the best of them. 

What makes the 2022 Toyota RAV4 so special? 

Front angle view of the popular 2022 Toyota RAV4 crossover SUV, the best-selling car in the world
2022 Toyota RAV4 | Toyota

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Consumer Reports is a big fan of both the Subaru and the Toyota. Competing for the best compact SUV is a tough fight for these highly rated SUVs. 

The Toyota RAV4 comes out swinging with one of the coolest powertrains in the game. CR says Toyota offers 2-years or 25,000 miles worth of free maintenance. Subaru offers nothing of the sort. Unlike we have come to expect from Toyota, CR notes that the RAV4 isn’t as reliable as we might expect. All that new tech comes at the price of sophistication. 

Also, unlike the Forester, the Toyota comes with two different hybrid options; a regular hybrid and the plug-in hybrid from the Toyota RAV4 Prime. The regular hybrid pulls down 37 mpg while the PHEV gets 40 miles of electric range and then 34 mpg after that. It is a phenomenal gas saver. 

The Prime is considerably more expensive than the hybrid and gas-powered RAV4. More importantly to the task at hand, the RAV4 PHEV is considerably more expensive than the top trim Forester. 

Besides fuel economy, the biggest thing the RAV4 offers over the Forester is performance. The RAV4 PHEV is snappy, sharp, and agile. Previous models weren’t known for sharp handling or crisp acceleration, but Toyota has changed that with the new models. 

So which is the best Compact SUV; the 2022 Subaru Forester or the 2022 Toyota RAV4? 

Consumer Reports says that the Forester is the easy choice between these two compact SUVs. I think I would agree. Despite the RAV4’s many high points, the overall package is still a bit lacking. The reliability issues and increased price tag don’t make for a great combo. Meanwhile, Consumer Reports calls the 2022 Subaru Forester “refined and roomier, has better visibility, and even gets 1 mpg more than the standard RAV4.”

Ultimately, CR believes the lower price, similar set of safety features, gas mileage, and the addition of the Wilderness Edition, will result in more people being satisfied with their purchase than if they went with the RAV4.

RELATED: 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness Review, Pricing, and Specs