2022 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Hybrid v Subaru Forester 2.5i-S comparison

Both the Subaru Forester and Toyota RAV4 helped blaze the mid-size SUV trail more than two decades ago, but which is the better of the two in 2022?

If you’ve got $50,000 to spend on a medium-sized SUV, you’ve got a variety of options to choose from. Lucky you. Well, it appears like that on paper. But with long production delays affecting popular models such as the Toyota RAV4, other options become increasingly attractive.

It’s the kind of situation where you might forgo a 12-month wait on a hybrid-powered Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Hybrid for an alternative like the Subaru Forester 2.5i-S. Though that Forester specification doesn’t select the like-for-like hybrid powertrain as the Toyota, it does pack flagship-specification kit into its more affordable price (compared to the Toyota).

In any case, our experiences with the Forester Hybrid is underwhelming. Its battery is too small to be useful resulting in marginal benefit over a petrol-only Forester which is, by far, the pick of the Forester engine options. It’s a far cry from the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid which the market cannot seem to get enough of, anyway.

Which is why we’ve paired a top-spec Forester 2.5i-S with the Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Hybrid. For around the $50,000 mark, you can have yourself in two high-specification versions of popular mid-size SUVs, each bringing their own pros and cons to the battle.

Which is the ultimate victor in this petrol-only plays hybrid comparison? Let’s delve further.

The 2022 Toyota RAV4 is one of the most in-demand cars available on the Australian market.

If you want the frugal hybrid version – like our test car – then expect to wait up to 12 months for the privilege. When supply and demand hit an untenable threshold, this is the result, but is this problem one of simply not enough supply, or is the Toyota RAV4 that good of a car?

That’s what we plan to find out today. So before that, let’s recap on the wildly complex and diverse Australian Toyota RAV4 range. Given this review relates to a 2022 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, we’ll focus on the petrol-electric versions for this review.

Of which, there are many. The cheapest in the range is the 2022 Toyota RAV4 GX Hybrid front-wheel drive priced from $36,900 before on-roads or around $41,700 drive-away, depending on location.

It uses a 131kW/221Nm 2.5-litre petrol engine alongside a front-mounted electric motor to generate a combined 160kW of power. If you prefer all-wheel drive, then the cost increases to $39,900 before on-roads or $44,800 on the road.

Both front-wheel drive and all-wheel-drive cars use the 131kW/221Nm 2.5-litre petrol engine, but the latter versions introduce a third electric motor on the back axle to create an ‘on-demand’ system. All-wheel-drive models also make an extra 3kW – or 163kW combined in total – and cost $3000 extra.

Next in the hierarchy is what Drive sees as the sweet spot in the range, the Toyota RAV4 GXL Hybrid. Priced from $40,450 list/$45,400 drive-away as a front-wheel-drive hybrid, it’s also offered in all-wheel drive for the same $3000 extra.

Extras coming on top of the RAV4 GX Hybrid include a fancier-looking grille and bumper on the outside, and a vinyl-wrapped steering wheel, better cloth trim, and auto-dimming rear-view mirror on the inside, just as some examples.

Up from here lies the Toyota RAV4 XSE – a hybrid-exclusive and new variant for 2022. It adds the dramatic visual cues as seen on our RAV4 Cruiser test car but is light on the equipment extras, meaning it’s more of a vanity-led style pack than anything else. It’s priced from $43,250/$47,500 on the road.

However, if you like your superficial design to actually come with added features and technology, Toyota will still take your money. Up from here lies our test car, the 2022 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Hybrid, and another, the Toyota RAV4 Edge Hybrid – something new for 2022.

The pair can be had from $50,800 and $57,500 respectively drive-away, and come with things like a sunroof, JBL premium audio system, and in the case of the RAV4 Edge, something called “hard-wearing SofTex seats”. Aside from the oxymoron, it means they’re clad in an animal product free trim that’s instead been designed to look just like the hide of a dead cow.

Previously, the Toyota RAV4 Edge was pitched as a ‘lifestyle’ model aimed at light off-roading, which meant a petrol-only powertrain. However, Toyota has come to its senses by adding an all-wheel hybrid after realising that most people still prefer to use less fuel even when feeling adventurous.

It means our Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Hybrid test car is no longer the most expensive and best-equipped hybrid in the range. It also means the RAV4 Cruiser Hybrid is the last stop for two-wheel-drive hybrid models, as it comes in both front- and all-wheel drive for $50,800/$54,000 respectively drive-away.

Get a great deal today

Interested in one of these cars? Complete your details and we’ll connect you to our team.

Let’s discover whether the 2022 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Hybrid 2WD is worth the wait.

It’s still strange to see a flagship Subaru Forester without a turbocharged flat-four.

In the 1990s, the brand was one of the first to cotton on to the idea of a small, light-duty, off-road-capable crossover wagon, or proto-SUV, if you will.

Not only that, but Subaru continued to trail-blaze the SUV segment for over 20 years since, and always with a turbocharged leader up top. The current, fifth-generation Subaru Forester arrived in 2018 – sans turbo power – and late last year it was facelifted and upgraded for Australia.

Before you ask, no, a turbo model was not added, but the brand is still thinking about it globally. Before we get to assessing our top-of-the-range 2022 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S press car, however, let’s take a quick look at the wider range.

The 2022 Subaru Forester 2.5i kicks things off as the entry-level model priced from $37,890 before on-roads. Standard features include Subaru’s excellent EyeSight driver assist suite with adaptive cruise control, automatic braking, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert.

Power comes from a 2.5-litre naturally aspirated flat-four-cylinder engine with 136kW/239Nm, like all non-hybrid 2.0-litre-powered Foresters in the range.

Next up is the 2022 Subaru Forester 2.5i-L and Hybrid L pairing. Although featuring the same upgrades over the base model like premium cloth trim, reverse automatic braking and front-view camera, the pair differ in terms of driveline. The regular 2022 Subaru Forester 2.5i-L costs $40,290, and the 2.0-litre Hybrid L $43,290.

After those two, you’ll come across the 2022 Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium and Forester 2.5i Sport. Priced from $43,090 and $44,840 respectively, equipment tricks like native satellite navigation, electric front seats with one-touch electric-folding rear seats, and a power tailgate come for the cash.

And lastly is our test car, the 2022 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S. It’s the range flagship costing $46,340 before on-roads, and comes as a 2.0-litre hybrid for $49,290.

Our car is the non-hybrid 2.5-litre model with the same 136kW/239Nm output as per the rest of the regular range. It’s the only Subaru Forester to get leather trim, a fancy Harman Kardon premium stereo, and silver design highlights inside and out.

Let’s see what the top-spec Forester is like inside and to drive.

Key details 2022 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Hybrid 2022 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S
Price (MSRP) $45,750 plus on-road costs $46,340
Colour of test car Saturn Blue Horizon Blue pearl
Options Metallic paint – $675 None
Price as tested $46,425 plus on-road costs $46,340 plus on-road costs

Although not the most stylish inside, jumping behind the wheel reveals just what you’d expect from a Toyota: traditional, utilitarian and well-considered.

The dashboard is a simple affair, with a dominant theme of shallow-grained black plastic, lashings of silver trim around the gearshifter, and some artful faux stitching for style’s sake. I know austerity isn’t a bad thing, but some colour or a greater selection of materials would not go astray inside a Toyota RAV4 Cruiser.

The fundamentals are right-on, however. The driver’s seat is comfortable, electrically adjustable with lumbar support, and now both heated and ventilated for the first time. The latter is a great addition to Australian market cars, as without it the sticky summers will make the artificial seat trim equally so.

From the driver’s pew you gain a fantastic vantage point out with huge pieces of glass – and small triangle windows in its doors – meaning you can see down and outside close to the car. It also makes parking in tight confines easier and helps lift its inherent safety overall.

Another thing staring back at you from the driver’s seat is a rather traditional-looking instrument cluster. Whereas most brands have moved to fully digital displays, Toyota still drags its knuckles by offering three ‘analogue’ gauges alongside a 7.0-inch digital display.

While the screen is a nice addition, it’s too small to compare to others in the same class. The pointless and old-school gauges also take up a lot of space to tell you not much – like the efficiency gauge, which is way too big physically for the job it has to do.

Remember when I called the cabin traditional? Although the technology is inexpensive and out there, and the design playbook is written on how to add digital displays to a car’s interior, Toyota still persists with old-fashioned – just like its climate-control knobs and buttons.

Although novelty and fun-sized like the token economy gauge in the instrument panel I just mentioned, they actually serve a purpose. Interacting with the vehicle’s climate-control system is easy when you’re driving, and turning those rubber-lined temperature dials is a slight tactile treat.

Other ergonomic prowess can be seen in a wireless charging pad located logically where you’d throw your phone anyway, a neat electric handbrake placed aside the gear shifter, and a huge storage pit just behind it – complete with a pair of large bottle holders.

It’s a smartly designed cabin that has acres of storage all over the place, like the fancy handrail under the dashboard that’s both deep and long enough to store at least five iPhones side-by-side.

Over in the second row, space is on par for the class. Sitting in the back behind front seats adjusted for someone 183cm tall (me), I found there to be acceptable levels of knee and foot room, and my upper body left with an adequate seatback to get comfy with.

The back seats are quite flat and squishy, so those who prefer some contouring for their lower back will feel short-changed. A benefit of being flat means child seats slot in nicely.

A pair of slimline Britax Graphene convertible child seats slotted in nicely forward-facing, and when rearward-facing didn’t call for the front seats to be moved forward. Aside from two air vents, two USB ports and two cupholders, it’s a relatively simple and spacious affair overall.

Over in the cargo area, space varies between 542–580L depending on where you have the two-level boot floor sitting. At 580L, the space is absolutely massive and will happily gobble up a huge shop from Woolies alongside your favourite stroller, handbag, and whatever umbrella rolls around your boot.

The first thing you notice inside a 2022 Subaru Forester is how good the visibility is.

Not only can you rotate your noggin a full 360 degrees for uninterrupted views outside the car, but also the low cut of the window line and higher-than-average seating position mean you can also peer down and out close to the car.

It makes the car fantastic to use in crowded, shared driveways, either in apartment towers or small housing complexes. Once you’ve marvelled at the large glasshouse, you can settle into the rest of the cabin.

The interior design is inoffensive, simple and traditional. Whereas nearly everyone else has moved to semi- or fully digital instrument clusters, Subaru still makes do with a good old-fashioned pair of analogue dials flanked by a small centre screen.

It’s still perfectly legible and easy to use, but does look slightly old hat against others in the class. Another old-school element is the steering wheel, as its array of 20 buttons (including the horn) again looks and feels dated.

Aside from some of their design, it’s ergonomic and easy to use, so you be the judge of whether you like them or not. The rest of the cabin is well put together and fairly well considered, with cupholders and large storage spaces, foam-backed vinyl trim over the lower sections of the centre console for your knees to bash against, and excellent tactile buttons for its climate-control system.

However, things like locating the USB port for smartphone integration in an open-air cubby under the stereo means your cables are always on show, always messy, and always interfering with the automatic shifter.

That is unless you buy a shorter cable, but you’re still left with the ugliness. It’s silly when there’s a fantastic armrest console to relocate these ports and hide everything instead – that already has a 12-volt power outlet.

Aside from that, both screens in the front are easy to use and clear to read. The seats are comfy albeit a little flat, the leather trim looks and feels decent enough for the money, and the driver’s pew has two-position memory and electric adjustment but no lumbar support.

Over in the second row, space is fantastic for the class of vehicle. At 183cm tall personally, and sitting behind my own driving position, I found all of my limbs free from crashing into hard plastic.

You could just about fit three adults reasonably comfortably across the back, too, given the flat nature of the rear seat bench. I fitted a Britax Graphene Convertible child seat and found the cabin to be conducive to its fitment both forward and rearward facing.

Even my tall Infasecure Rally booster seat – suitable for kids under four still – passed the test. Its overly tall and safe headrest did not foul on the roof line like it does in other, more style-led medium SUVs with swoopy coupe-inspired roof lines.

Other nifty tricks in the back include a pair of stacked storage pockets, two USB charging ports, air vents, and once more fantastically large door pockets that’ll gobble up a water bottle with ease.

If you prefer coffee, there are also two cupholders in the fold-down armrest just in case. Behind all the action sits a decent-sized boot with 498L of storage with all five seats in play.

That’s a great size for the class, and helped by the Forester’s oddly tall roof height. You’ll find your kid’s favourite scooter alongside a huge monthly grocery shop no worries, or alternatively fold the seat down and get a road bike in the back without much fuss too.

With the seats folded, there’s 1740L to play with to the roof height, making the space versatile and good for moving large or bulky items.

2022 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Hybrid 2022 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S
Seats Five Five
Boot volume 580L seats up 498L seats up
Length 4600mm 4640mm
Width 1855mm 1815mm
Height 1685mm 1730mm
Wheelbase 2690mm 2670mm

Infotainment and Connectivity

All 2022 Toyota RAV4s feature the same 8.0-inch infotainment system with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity coming alongside DAB+ radio.

Aside from the small screen, its overall design screams early 2000s. No less than eight silver buttons and two knobs surround the display, which further makes the screen look small and old.

The software also looks and feels daggy, which doesn’t help the cabin’s presentation. Even understanding that Toyota is the traditionalist of the automotive motoring world, it could do a better job here.

Some in the same segment feature sleek 10-inch displays and others excellent infotainment controllers, which both make the Toyota feel basic. Other technologies on board include wireless phone charging and a JBL nine-speaker stereo too.

The sound system is good enough for the package, with the echoey and atmospheric mood from U.N.K.L.E’s Psyence Fiction captured okay, and the tinny brightness from Oasis’s Morning Glory well represented too.

However, when tasked with busy electronica or heavily distorted guitar, the mix can become muddy.

Infotainment inside the 2022 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S is handled by an 8.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, native navigation and digital radio broadcasting. Although 85 per cent of the way there in terms of connectivity – just missing wireless smartphone mirroring – the screen size is small compared to today’s standards.

Plenty others in the segment sport 10-inch-plus units and with more modern software interfaces akin to your Apple iPhone. Despite the daggy graphics, Subaru’s system is easy to use and understand, and remains legible in all conditions.

Being a top-tier Forester 2.5i-S model, you also receive an eight-speaker Harman Kardon stereo with a dedicated amplifier too. Even with the fancy branding, it did disappoint this reviewer’s ears a bit.

Tunes like Blood by Australian outfit The Middle East sounded compressed and restrained, whereas Black Sabbath’s Planet Caravan wasn’t convincingly vibrant or staged appropriately. It’s good, but not as good as other premium-branded audio systems in similar-style cars.

The 2022 Toyota RAV4 range scored a five-star ANCAP result having been tested back in 2019.

It did well in two areas in particular: adult occupant protection (93 per cent) and child occupant protection (89 per cent).

Across the range the 2022 Toyota RAV4 features plenty of advanced driver assist systems. They include Toyota Safety Sense with lane-keeping assist and departure alert, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and daytime cyclist detection, speed sign recognition, adaptive cruise control, and auto high beams.

There’s also blind-spot monitoring, trailer sway control, and front and rear parking sensors. On top of the decent safety package all Toyota RAV4s have, the Cruiser model also benefits from a 360-degree-view parking camera. 

As expected, the 2022 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S wears a five-star ANCAP safety rating having been tested in 2019.

It scored well for adult occupant protection with a 94 per cent result, but fell down slightly for safety assist systems, where overall it earned 78 per cent.

However, that’s across the range, and the whole range does not benefit from the same levels of advanced driver assist systems (ADAS).

As our test car is a top-of-the-range model, it gets everything from forward-and-reverse-functioning auto emergency braking, rear cross-traffic alert, cameras on the front and sides of the vehicle, and lane-keeping assist with semi-autonomous mode, just to name a few.

It’s well equipped and will certainly keep your family safe.

At a glance 2022 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Hybrid 2022 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S
ANCAP rating & year tested Five stars (tested 2019) Five stars (tested 2019)
Safety report ANCAP report ANCAP report

As a recap, our 2022 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser is a front-wheel-drive hybrid version that costs $45,750 before on-road costs. It sits in between the regular petrol-powered Toyota RAV4 Cruiser for $42,250 and an all-wheel-drive hybrid version for $48,750, both before on-roads.

In terms of value for money, it’s impressive. No others in the segment offer the same highly efficient closed-loop hybrid system that sees fuel consumption as low as 5.0L/100km on the daily grind.

The closest pick is the 2022 Subaru Forester Hybrid S for $47,190 before on-road costs, but it is not as sophisticated or as efficient as the Toyota. This is why we’ve chosen the stronger 2.5i-S specification ($46,340 before on-road costs) to go up against the RAV4 in this comparison.

In terms of maintenance costs, Toyota expects you to return a RAV4 Cruiser every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever comes first. Services are capped at $230 a pop for the first five years, meaning three years cost $690 and five years $1150.

That makes the Toyota RAV4 light on the hip pocket once you’ve stumped up the cash to buy one.

Toyota claims the RAV4 Hybrid 2WD uses 4.7 litres per 100 kilometres in combined cycle testing. In mixed use on test, we recorded a close-to-claim 5.0L/100km.

In terms of outright purchase price, the segment is bulging with competition.

There are Mazda CX-5s, Mitsubishi Outlanders, and Kia Sportages as rivals, but the Toyota RAV4 Cruiser we have in this comparison is the natural-born rival. It’s a great option and a previous Drive Car of the Year winner.

Servicing a Subaru is a little pricey, with the first three years costing $342.29, $591.72, $343.89 or $1277. Years four and five cost $794.17 and $350.31 respectively, meaning five years of ownership costs a hefty $2422.

At a glance 2022 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Hybrid (2WD) 2022 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S
Warranty Five years / unlimited km Five years / unlimited km
Service intervals 12 months or 15,000km 12 months or 10,000km
Servicing costs $690 (3 years), $1150 (5 years) $1277 (3 years), $2422 (5 years)
Fuel cons. (claimed) 4.7L/100km 7.4L/100km
Fuel cons. (on test) 5.0L/100km 7.5L/100km
Fuel type 91-octane Regular Unleaded 95-octane premium unleaded
Fuel tank size 55L 65L

The best thing about the 2022 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Hybrid is that you don’t even notice it is one while driving.

Toyota has spent well over two decades refining its closed-loop hybrid powertrain and it clearly shows. Upon start-up, it’ll remain silent and indicate it’s time to go, with the first few metres of most journeys being a silent and all-electric affair.

If you have the heater maxed or other ancillaries on, it will determine whether the 131kW/221Nm petrol 2.5-litre four-cylinder fires up, but if it does, you probably won’t notice over the radio anyway.

It sparks up quiet and unobtrusively, which is half this car’s secret. It’s calibrated really well, and that’s to help you save fuel (and money). The electric engine in Eco mode will do the heavy lifting wherever it can, meaning stop-start traffic scenarios are where Toyota’s hybrid system best performs.

Out on the open road, it’ll assist to reduce load on the engine, but is probably less successful at doing this. Ironically, I saw my fuel consumption drop a little from 5.2L/100km to 5.0L/100km after a couple of long and arduous grinds in Sydney traffic.

Aside from acting frugally, the 2022 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser’s 160kW combined power output means it’s actually quite peppy. If you jam the throttle, you’ll get a mixed response depending on whether the petrol engine was fired up or not.

Either way, once it is, the continuously variable transmission will do its thing and flare as it accelerates. The performance isn’t breathtaking, nor is it delivered in a way that’s exhilarating, but there’s enough mumbo to help you manage the odd ‘left-lane ends’ scenario.

It’s not underpowered either, and had no trouble fitting in as a family car in our little family of three, plus a dog.

Around town, the 2022 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser rides really well. It’s a standout point, with its soft suspension tune returning great bump absorption. The large 18-inch wheels of the Toyota RAV4 Cruiser is the only thing with bothers, as some low-speed unsettledness is probably caused by their introduction to be frank.

It’s a small point, and I’m sure you prefer the way they look anyway. The steering feels surprisingly meaty for a Toyota, which means in reality it’s just about right. The Toyota Corolla and Yaris pair feature far lighter steering, which I know can be divisive to some drivers.

Out on country roads, you’ll get the odd sensation of rolling and pitching as the speed increases, but both of those will be appreciated by some drivers too. It’s not offensive either when it happens, and if anything will help a novice driver stay alert.

The worst part of the whole experience is tyre noise, however, as it’s clear that Toyota has been stingy with sound-deadening material around the wheel wells. Sections of coarse-chip freeway resulted in the stereo’s volume needing to be lifted, and the same goes for voices too – it was easy to detect when the conversation became drowned out as the road surface changed.

Other than that, it’s a hard-to-fault experience behind the wheel.

Like its styling, the 2022 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S is just as humble and honest to drive.

Firing up the car greets you with its signature, high-revving boxer-engine cold start, and it rumbles as it drives away. Endearing nature aside, the powertrain is actually quite the surprise, as even with the traditionally lossy CVT auto it feels anything but underpowered.

It’s peppy on the roll, accelerates briskly enough from a standing start, and maintains those good traits through the hilly Southern Highlands district of New South Wales, even after being fully loaded with supplies from Bunnings.

A wheelbarrow, timber and potting mix in tow, it had no problem conducting (legal) right-lane overtakes and generally keeping good pace. The ride comfort is great, too, with its overall ride and handling mix leaning more toward touring and relaxation.

It’ll wobble and feel top-heavy when pushed through a faster bend closer to the limit, but it’s inoffensive and conservative up there at the end.

At regular speeds – and in reality – it’s really good, offering great mid-corner bump absorption and the ability to remain composed on mediocre roads at speed.

Subaru nailed the balance of ride and handling here, trading the useless upper echelons of its handling capability for the comfort and bliss it offers 99 per cent of the time in everyday scenarios.

Given some car brands have this balance upside-down, with the Forester you end up on the right side of the deal, at least for a family SUV. The CVT transmission also surprised against expectation, as Subaru is now well-vested in the elastic stretchy gearbox.

It mimics a regular torque-converter auto quite well around town, with faux and stepped-feeling gear changes giving you the impression it’s no different from your last car. It’s only when you mash the throttle that you get the car whirring at single RPM as the gearbox does its thing, but even then it doesn’t feel as stretchy and lossy as older CVTs tended to.

It’s a great partner for the 2.5-litre boxer four engine, and helps get the best from the naturally aspirated motor with its power band located in the middle-to-high region of its rev counter (tachometer).

Other things that influence your comfort levels inside include the visibility and vantage point it provides, the light-ish but direct-enough steering, and how frugal it is overall.

It used 7.5L/100km over the nine-day vehicle loan, just 0.1L over the official combined claim of 7.4L/100km. It’s nice knowing the theory and reality marry up, especially as fuel prices are going to be steadily increasing for the foreseeable future.

Key details 2022 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Hybrid (2WD) 2022 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S
Engine 2.5-litre four-cylinder hybrid petrol 2.5-litre flat-four-cylinder petrol
Power 131kW @5700 rpm petrol
88kW electric
160kW combined
136kW @ 5800rpm
Torque 221Nm @ 3600–5200rpm petrol
202Nm electric
239Nm @ 4400rpm
Drive type Front-wheel drive All-wheel drive
Transmission CVT automatic CVT automatic
Power to weight ratio 94.1kW/t 86kW/t
Weight 1700kg 1576kg
Tow rating 480kg braked, 480kg unbraked 1800kg braked, 750kg unbraked
Turning circle 11.0m 10.8m

If this comparison was fought out between the hybrid Subaru Forester and the Toyota RAV4, it would be no contest. The Subaru Forester Hybrid simply needs a bit more development in order to compete among the best.

But as we’ve got a more conventional boxer engine under the bonnet of the 2.5i-S, this medium SUV fight is a little fairer. Let’s start from the top.

With regard to interiors, both cars feature simple, utilitarian cabins fit-out with premium equipment. Though the Subaru’s cabin deserves praise for outright space and an expansive glasshouse, it does feel a little old hat with a lack of large digital display within the instrument cluster and a suite of clumsy buttons on the steering wheel.

The Toyota might not feature a screen-filled interior in comparison, but it does present a little more modern with a more minimalistic approach. Storage space is great in both cars, but it’s the open, at-hand cubbies of the RAV4 which serve the front seat passengers better.

In the second row, the Subaru takes a clear win thanks to that spacious and tall body. Passengers not only feel comfier with more room, but the lighter cabin ambience is equally appreciated.

Both cars feature full suites of active safety kit, with appropriate five-star ANCAP ratings, but its innovations such as the Subaru EyeSight which make the car feel more “on the ball” regarding keeping you safe.

Each fighter in this comparison is comparable regarding outright purchase cost, but running costs are kept far lower with the Toyota after the fact. Subaru manages to claw back some points with its 12 months of roadside assistance (where Toyota gets none), but it’s no match for the Toyota’s after-sales package.

In the driving stakes both products feel as though they punch above their weight. The Toyota might claim outright points for combined power outputs, but there is no feeling of the Subaru being underpowered in comparison.

The Subaru arguably has the better mix of ride and handling, with the Toyota going for outright plush ride quality and bump absorption.

Even though the hybrid of the Toyota is more fuel efficient (5.0L/100km compares to the Subaru’s 7.5L/100km), the Subaru isn’t blown out of the water and stays very close to Subaru’s own claimed consumption.

In the end, there’s a reason why so many flock to Toyota’s RAV4 Hybrid. It is a stellar product featuring an industry-standard powertrain and competes strongly on the one area which will likely trump all: value.

With the Toyota you do get a more modern, nicer feeling interior, and cheaper running costs to see you into the future.

The Subaru is a strong alternative for those unwilling to wait for a RAV4, but the wait is ultimately worth it.


Doors & Seats




Power & Torque











2022 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S Wagon

Doors & Seats

5 Doors, 5 Seats

Power & Torque

136 kW, 239 Nm


7 Speed, Auto (CVT)


All Wheel Drive


Petrol (91), 7.4L/100KM

Overall Ratings

Drive’s Pick

2022 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Wagon

8.5/ 10

8.5/ 10

2022 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S Wagon

8.0/ 10

8.0/ 10

Ratings Breakdown

2022 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Wagon
2022 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S Wagon
Ride Quality
2022 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Wagon
2022 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S Wagon
Handling & Dynamics
2022 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Wagon
2022 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S Wagon
Driver Technology
2022 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Wagon
2022 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S Wagon
Interior Comfort + Packaging
2022 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Wagon
2022 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S Wagon
2022 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Wagon
2022 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S Wagon
Infotainment & Connectivity
2022 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Wagon
2022 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S Wagon
Fuel Efficiency
2022 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Wagon
2022 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S Wagon
2022 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Wagon
2022 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S Wagon
Fit for Purpose
2022 Toyota RAV4 Cruiser Wagon
2022 Subaru Forester 2.5i-S Wagon

After more than a decade working in the product planning and marketing departments of brands like Kia, Subaru and Peugeot, Justin Narayan returned to being a motoring writer – the very first job he held in the industry.

Read more about Justin Narayan LinkIcon

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: