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GMC Acadia, Hyundai Santa Fe, Ford Taurus X, Toyota RAV4, Nissan Rogue, Honda Accord Crosstour, Dodge Journey, Car Buying, Car Comparisons, SUV
#6915 of 7355 RAV4 v. CRV v. Forester Post Test-Drives
Jul 29, 2009 (2:00 pm)
For what it's worth...
My wife and I are going to get one of these three (RAV4 / Forester/ CRV) by the end of the year.
We test drove all three yesterday and today after having thoroughly looked at and test-driven the CRV & RAV4 in March 2008. Took our five-year-old daughter along, too. We drove each car by ourselves with no salesman for an hour each.
Not interested in the Forester XT (turbo) model... not comfortable with long-term performance and temperament of turbos. Regular Forester model in premium trim is boxy and feels cheap inside even after massive revamp this past year (esp plastic used on dash and doors.) Engine labors when accelerating on even small hills. You sit low. Neither of us were impressed. Massive sunroof though. Full marks for that. Otherwise... blech. Unattractive car. I just don't understand the Cult of Subaru.
CRV... wife liked it a lot. Handles nimbly. V4 engine labors on acceleration upon hills and on entering freeways and accelerating to pass. Road noise and engine noise prominent above 50 mph. Same observations I made driving the same CRV in 2008.
We looked at the top-line CRV trim with leather seats and power everything. Rear visibility fine; side visibility on driver's side when turning to look before passing is OK but not nearly as good as our present Acura CL. We like the open floor without the transmission conduit between the front seats.
However, what's with the toy shifter on the dashboard partially obscuring the rear-window defrost button when car is in PARK? Bizarre.
RAV4... Wins hands down. Here's why... the V4 we tested v. the CRV is a 2.5 liter v. the CRV's 2.4 liter. It yields 179 hp v. 166 hp for the CRV. It also has 172 ft-lbs of torque v. 161 for the CRV. The CRV is also slightly heavier (30 lbs) than the RAV4.
The incremental increase in power for the RAV4 means it can take steep hills easily without laboring. We tested both in the same hilly neighborhood. No comparison. Even my wife noticed how much more easily the RAV handled the acceleration and climb.
And yet the 4-cyl RAV4 gets better mileage.
Also, the CRV air conditioning is noticably weaker than the RAV4's. This is a common observation we're noticed in owner reviews. We live in D.C. where it is scorching this time of year. We drove both cars on 90-degree sunny days after the cars had been sitting on the back lot for hours. With similar dark interior leather the RAV4 cooled down much faster than the CRV.
In addition, it's the little ergonomic things...
RAV4 has normal shifter in between front seats. Feels substantial. Has a tiptronic feature to downshift from 4th to 3rd gears with a flick of the finger. CRV's shifter, as noted above, is a farce.
RAV4 power mirror controls are right next to the cargo box at your fingertips next to shifter. CRV has them on the dash at the far left, partially obscured by steering wheel. You have to lean forward to access them.
Emergency brake on RAV4 is at driver's right hand, as it is on manual cars. CRV's requires you to find it with your left foot near the floor. Annoying.
RAV4 rear seats fold down with just a touch on a lever as you stand at the back hatch. In CRV you have to lean forward through the cargo area to pull the cords (and get your trousers dirty rubbing against the bumper as you lean in the back) or you have to walk around to the back door and lean into the cabin.
CRV's rear seats need to fold forward (down) and then forward again to collapse flush into the floor of the car. RAV4's fold forward once and they're flush with the cargo area floor.
Per Consumer Repts the RAV4 has 38.5 cu.ft. of cargo space. The CRV (partly because of it's tapered back end) has only 25.5 cu.ft. That's 50% more cargo space for the RAV, which is incredible in a car that gets better mileage than the CRV and has just as much legroom in the front and back seats.
The RAV4 cabin feels roomier. The visibility through the windshield and to the sides of the driver is noticeably better and feels airier than the CRV. Perhaps the CRV pillars angle down a bit more, which reduces the aspect ration through which you view the road. Anyway, both my wife and I noticed this. Also, the RAV4 has better visibility to the side and back when the driver turns to pass.
And it's the cosmetic differences (a matter of taste, of course)...
The CRV has a plastic faux-brushed-metal finish on some of the surfaces that is harsh. The other plastic on the door handles is shiny and made me feel as though I were on the set of on of the "Alien" films. The outlines of the tach and speedometer is in shiny silver plastic that looks tacky. The black-on-silver readouts for the odometer,etc... feels a bit harsh.
The RAV4 is not exactly luxuriously appointed on the dash but the the faux-brushed metal plastic is tastefully done and unobtrusive. The outlines of the tach and speedometer is in matte finish plastic that is subtle and tasteful, not garish like the CRV. The several tones of plastic on the doors and dash work well... they aren't polished walnut but this isn't a Lexus. They work and they're not annoying. And the black-on-amber digital readouts feel warm, though in direct sunlight the dash clock is harder to read than the CRV's.
The RAV4 side-opening hatch seems to be a deal-breaker for some people. Not for us. I'm baffled why Toyota continues to market this car in the US with such a daft feature like the hatch. Honda fixed this with the latest CRV redesign a few years ago. Still, I don't find that the spare impairs rear visibility while driving to any meaningful extent. My wife and I also don't have to load the car while parallel parked very often (if ever) so that's not a big issue.
As far as color schemes go, the CRV's are more subtle and interesting. However, that's minor. Let's be blunt... the CRV is designed and marketed for women. The RAV4 isn't. However, my wife clearly prefers the RAV4 because of the points I've mentioned. As for me, I am clearly happier with the RAV4.
Many people will say the differences are a matter of taste. Some are; however, most of the items I have mentioned here are objective differences that make the RAV4 superior to the RAV4. 18 months ago the 4-cyl RAV4 had the same anemic performance on hills as the CRV. We would have gone with a V6 RAV4 costing much more. After the increase in hp and torque last year, however, the V4 RAV4 is clearly a great buy.
In conclusion, the RAV4 wins easily over the other two. It's not even close. My wife and I have been lifelong Honda/Acura owners. She was ready to buy the CRV yesterday. However, after 20 minutes in the RAV4 this morning she volunteered that it was clearly the better car.
It's all over but the buying...
Hope this helps some people. And to all those contributors to these forums.. thanks. You have really helped us.
#6916 of 7355 Re: RAV4 v. CRV v. Forester Post Test-Drives [abbotsbury]
Jul 29, 2009 (6:40 pm)
Nice comprehensive review. Did you also consider any of the following competitors? Why or why not?
Nissan Rogue or Murano
Hyundai Santa Fe
How about the 2010 redesigns?
#6917 of 7355 Re: SUV comparisons [ateixeira]
Jul 29, 2009 (7:13 pm)
Regarding the Forester, I'm not buying a turbo. Too much added complexity. Love the idea but not willing to take on the potential for more expensive repairs. Also, I've been spoiled by smooth V6 engines for the past 16 years so I'm not looking at 4 cyl equipped models from anyone. My wife's car has a 4 banger and while it's adequate it is far from a ride I find emotionally satisfying. Ditto the ride in virtually every other 4 cyl equipped vehicle I've ever driven or rode in for the past 20 years.
And my current car takes premium. I've noticed the price gap between regular and premium growing. It used to be 16-20 cents a gallon, now it's 20-30+. I didn't mind paying the extra for premium when I bought my car but I grow less tolerant of it over time.
Final strike: Dealer network. Subaru is just barely represented in the area with 2 dealers within about 30 miles of my home in the Chicago suburbs. To compare, Mitsu has 7 dealers within 30 miles.
While fuel economy matters, it isn't everything. I work from home 3-4 days a week currently so my annual mileage is down to something around 7K a year. All other things being equal I'll lean towards the more efficient vehicles but it isn't the #1 factor. Which is another nod towards a good V6; I'll take the extra 60-100HP in exchange for 1-2MPG any day of the week.
Seeing that the 2nd row seats on the Equinox doesn't fold flat, it's dropping in position on my list. I will still drive it to compare but I'm doubtful it'll prove a winner.
GM has done tall highway gearing in the past so I wouldn't be surprised if that's the case in the 'nox. It works, so I won't knock it, but I wonder how well it'll stay in the tall gear with a full load or while towing.
Anyway, we're still looking but are definitely taking our time. Since I don't have a $4500 "clunker" to trade in the finances bear closer scrutiny. And my employer is in the real estate industry so there's the minor issue of long term job stability. We may not buy until year-end.
#6918 of 7355 Re: SUV comparisons [ateixeira]
Jul 30, 2009 (9:09 am)
Having said that 32 mpg is great for trips. Must be super-tall gearing. Sounds good to me. I wonder if real-world mileage will be that good, to be honest.
Not exactly just the tall gearing. There is an "Eco" button that must be pushed to achieve that EPA rating of 32 MPG. With it off the EPA rating drops to 31 MPG. I haven't figured out if it stays on when you shut the vehicle down and start it back up though. That could make a big difference in what people actually get.
Here is a somewhat better explanation of the "Eco" button.
#6919 of 7355 Re: RAV4 v. CRV v. Forester Post Test-Drives [abbotsbury]
Jul 30, 2009 (9:18 am)
It's not just Subaru Cultists that like the new Forester, it won Motor Trend SUV of the year, comparos in Automobile, MotorWeek Driver's Choice best small utility, and the XT model is Consumer Reports highest scoring small SUV as well. Forester won over the press, big time.
An early congrats on the RAV4. What color?
#6920 of 7355 Re: SUV comparisons [fushigi]
Jul 30, 2009 (9:24 am)
I hear you, same thing here, premium is an extra 30 cents or so per.
We got the PZEV 2.5i X Limited model. For some strange reason, the PZEV Forester actually makes 5 horses MORE than the non-PZEV. Plus it's probably the lightest model in its class, so power/weight ratio is probably the best among the base 4 banger engines for the class.
I'd like to say I did it for the environment but the truth is I'll take the 175hp version of the engine.
If you like sixes check out the new Outback 3.6l H6 models, EPA is 18/25 and they're smooth and powerful (same engine as the Tribeca in a lighter package). Plus it's actually tuned for 87 octane, the press materials say even the power outputs are rated with cheap gas.
Toyota's 3.5l V6 is a great engine but I do wish they would let Subaru engineers tune their automatic transmissions. Toyota owns a portion of Subaru now.
#6921 of 7355 Re: SUV comparisons [ateixeira]
Jul 30, 2009 (12:02 pm)
As I would equip it the Outback is just a bit too expensive. A 2010 with V6, the better stereo, moonroof, NO nav comes in at $33-34K+ (Limited-Premium). That's around $6K more that the Outlander loaded w/everything but nav. That's TMV - rebates for both (no rebate on the Subie). Using Invoice prices for both narrows the gap but it's still over $4K more.
I'll grant the better fuel economy in the Subaru but it'd take a lot of years to earn back the higher price. And during those years, the Mitsu would have more warranty coverage.
#6922 of 7355 Re: SUV comparisons [fushigi]
Jul 30, 2009 (5:35 pm)
Re: the cost of premium fuel, too much?
Let's say you drive your vehicle for a total of 160,000 miles over the next 10 years. That means an average of 16,000 miles per year. At a combined average of 22 MPG (which is what I get in the F-XT), that means you will consume 727 gallons of gas, per year. If the price difference between 87 and 91 AKI is roughly 30c, then that means it will only cost you $218/year extra, in fuel.
Is that too much?
The turbo's are very reliable on these machines. If you head to some of the Subaru enthusiast websites, you'd be hard pressed to find an OEM turbo failure.
#6923 of 7355 Re: SUV comparisons [fushigi]
Jul 31, 2009 (9:03 am)
Careful, though. 2 things to consider:
1. Will Mistubishi be around to honor that warranty? They were down 42% last month and some analysts are suggested they should leave the US market:
Will they be strong enough to survive for 10 years, the length of that warranty? Something has to change.
2. Resale value. Subaru shines here. The residual for a Forester on a 3 year lease is 59% even with 45,000 miles. With 12k miles per year it's in the 60s, which is class best. ALG also gives them 5 stars:
Outlander gets 3 stars, but think about it - if Mitsubishi bails out of the US, your residual will plunge immediately. ALG dropped residuals on Chryslers by 8% the minute they went in to bankruptcy.
So that's one risk if you keep it a long time (warranty), another if you don't (residual).
If they give you big enough discounts to make the Outlander a bargain it may not even matter to you. $6 grand is $6 grand. You may get that much less when you sell it, but you won't have to pay the cost up front either.
Mitsu is hurting, though, so there's no way they can sustain a business here in the US giving away their cars.
Subaru is financially strong - sales are only off 0.8% this year, #1 among manufacturers. Plus IMHO the Outback is a lot nicer (in a higher price class so it should be).
#6924 of 7355 Re: RAV4 v. CRV v. Forester Post Test-Drives [ateixeira]
Aug 01, 2009 (8:49 am)
I noticed that (raves in the press.) Baffles me. I took the car on very hilly, windy roads. It handles well but, again, the acceleration on inclines is sluggish and loud. And, BTW, this was a 2010 we were driving. Sluggish incline acceleration is a substantial pet peeve of mine.
Frankly, I simply don't understand the rave auto press reviews. It's certainly a dramatic improvement, in terms of interior appointment, on the former Forester model but we weren't taken with it. Perhaps the turbo delivers far better performance. In any event, my cousin has an Impreza and his feelings about it are "meh." I was predisposed to like the Outback and Forester. Zero-for-two on that count. For the money RAV4 and CRV deliver more room for the same (or fewer) $.