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Shopping for a new SUV can make for a pretty tedious endeavor, especially if you’re trying to choose between the 2021 Subaru Forester and the 2021 Toyota RAV4. Both SUVs have plenty to offer, making it somewhat challenging to suss out which would be best for you. Fortunately, we’re here to help.

2021 Toyota RAV4 driving
2021 Toyota RAV4 | Toyota

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 has a more potent engine; it’s available as a hybrid too

There are a couple of crucial differences between the 2021 Toyota RAV4 and the Subaru Forester. First things first, the RAV4 is faster than its Subaru competition. Driven by a 203-hp 2.5-liter I4 engine, the RAV4 can quickly outpace the Forester and its 182-hp engine.

That’s not all either. Unlike the Subaru Forester, this year’s new RAV4 is also available as a hybrid or a plug-in hybrid. Car and Driver reports that if you qualify for the $7500 electric-vehicle tax credit, then the RAV4 plug-in hybrid, also known as the RAV4 Prime, is a no-brainer. 

But the 2021 Subaru Forester is standard with all-wheel drive

Much like other Subaru models among this year’s lineup, the 2021 Subaru Forester comes standard with all-wheel drive. This system, along with the Forester’s 8.7 inches of ground clearance, make this year’s Subaru Forester an excellent option for those that often find themselves driving on varied terrain.

The 2021 Toyota RAV4, on the other hand, does not come standard with all-wheel drive. Instead, the RAV4 is standard with front-wheel drive. It is available with all-wheel drive, but it does require a costly upgrade. While a Subaru Forester will run you about $24,795 to start, a RAV4 equipped with all-wheel drive will cost you at least $27,350.

Safety is paramount behind the wheel of these SUVs

The Subaru Forester and the RAV4 do have one thing in common. Both were designed with safety at the forefront. Standard on every Forester model is EyeSight Driver Assist Technology, which Subaru says has reduced rear-end crashes with injuries by up to 85%. The Toyota RAV4 is also standard with an all-encompassing safety system, Toyota Safety Sense 2.0.

Both vehicles fare pretty well when it comes to safety ratings too. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awarded the 2021 Subaru Forester with a five-star overall safety rating. The Toyota RAV4 also earned itself a five-star overall safety rating.

Can the RAV4 beat the Subaru Forester’s strong resale value?

The Subaru Forester is known for its resale value. In fact, it has the ‘Best Resale Value in its class for 2020,’ according to Kelley Blue Book. According to ALG, last year’s model retains its value better than any other vehicle in its class too, which bodes pretty well for this year’s model.

Unfortunately for Toyota shoppers, while the RAV4 will hold its value, in the end, it can’t beat the Subaru Forester’s strong resale value.

Which of these SUVs is the right pick for you?

Choosing between these two SUVs means having a clear understanding of what you’re looking for in your next car. If you want standard all-wheel drive and a vehicle that holds its value over time, choose the Subaru Forester. If you want a car that’s available as a hybrid or plug-in and don’t mind paying extra for all-wheel drive, then the Toyota RAV4 might be the right fit for you. In the end, though, you really can’t go wrong with either of these vehicles.


The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime Has a Better Range Than Advertised