Subaru Forester vs Toyota RAV4: Which SUV is the Safer Option?

If you’re in the market for a compact SUV, safety is likely one of your top priorities. Both the Subaru Forester and Toyota RAV4 are popular choices in this category, but which one is the better option in terms of safety? In this article, we’ll take a close look at the safety features of both vehicles and compare their crash test ratings to help you make an informed decision.

Crash Test Ratings

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are two organizations that conduct crash tests on vehicles and rate them based on their safety performance. Let’s see how the Subaru Forester and Toyota RAV4 stack up in the latest crash test ratings.

IIHS Crash Test Ratings

The IIHS rates vehicles in several categories, including small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraints and seats. The Subaru Forester and Toyota RAV4 both received high ratings in many of these categories, but the Forester came out on top with a rating of ‘Good’ in every category tested. The RAV4 received a rating of ‘Good’ in most categories, but only received an ‘Acceptable’ rating in the small overlap front category, which simulates a collision involving the front corner of the vehicle.

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NHTSA Crash Test Ratings

The NHTSA rates vehicles on a five-star scale based on their performance in front crash, side crash, and rollover tests. Both the Subaru Forester and Toyota RAV4 received an overall rating of five stars, but the Forester achieved slightly higher scores in the front and side crash tests.

Safety Features

Both the Subaru Forester and Toyota RAV4 come with a variety of safety features designed to help prevent accidents and protect passengers in the event of a collision. Some of the features offered by these vehicles include:

  • Airbags: Both the Forester and RAV4 come with front dual-stage airbags, front seat-mounted side impact airbags, side curtain airbags, and driver knee airbags.
  • Collision Avoidance Systems: The Forester offers EyeSight, a driver assist system that includes features like adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and pre-collision braking. The RAV4 features Toyota Safety Sense, which includes similar features like dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert, and pre-collision system with pedestrian detection.
  • Lane Departure Warning: Both vehicles come with lane departure warning systems that alert the driver if they’re drifting out of their lane.

Recalls and Safety Issues

It’s also important to take a look at any safety issues or recalls that either vehicle has experienced. In 2019, the Subaru Forester was recalled due to a potential issue with its airbags. The Toyota RAV4 has had several recent recalls, including one in 2019 for a faulty back-up camera and another in 2020 for an issue with the fuel tank.


When it comes to safety, both the Subaru Forester and Toyota RAV4 are excellent choices for a compact SUV. The Forester comes out slightly ahead in terms of crash test ratings, but both vehicles offer a range of advanced safety features to help prevent accidents and protect passengers. Ultimately, the choice between these two vehicles may come down to personal preference, but you can feel confident knowing that both the Subaru Forester and Toyota RAV4 prioritize safety and have a strong safety record.

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Are the Subaru Forester and Toyota RAV4 both good options for a compact SUV?

Yes, both the Forester and RAV4 are popular choices in the compact SUV category.

Which vehicle received higher crash test ratings?

In the latest IIHS and NHTSA crash test ratings, the Subaru Forester received slightly higher scores than the Toyota RAV4.

Do both vehicles offer advanced safety features?

Yes, both the Forester and RAV4 offer a range of advanced safety features like collision avoidance systems and lane departure warning.

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Peter Banks

With years of experience as a professional mechanic and Subaru specialist, Peter is one of the most respected members of our team. He's written several articles on Subaru maintenance and repair, and his advice and tips are always practical and helpful. When he's not working on cars, he enjoys cooking and trying out new recipes.

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