I'm looking to get a crossover SUV and I have limited my choices between a Rav4 V6 4WD (2010-2012) and a Subaru Forester 2.5X (2012-2013, 2014+). I've been doing my research and although the Subaru Forester has the full-time AWD system, the cars have issues with oil consumption (FB25 engine), loud wind noise, slow heating issues (2014+), etc... It seems that the RAV4 V6 is a bit more reliable.
My wife and I will be sharing this car, and she will eventually have full use of the car in 2 years or so whenever we decide to get a second car. She doesn't really drive as my current car is a manual car and she cannot drive manual, so we are looking to get the RAV4 as her first car and I have a few questions for current owners
1. My wife is fairly petite - she is 5'3. Is the RAV4 comfortable and easy to drive for shorter drivers? How is the visibility?
2. How is the safety of the SUV? If anyone unfortunately had an accident in the RAV4 (hope everyone is safe and healthy), how did you find the safety of the SUV?
3. Any issues to be aware of when looking at the RAV? I read that I should listen for the transmission whine, anything else?
4. How does the RAV4 handle in rain/winter conditions, especially on the highway? Does the backend try to fishtail on corners or if the tires hit slush? Does it feel stable and controllable?
5. In my area (Ontario, Canada) the sports version is a bit more expensive than the limited. From what I read on the forum, the difference is only the struts/shocks and I can change the limited shocks/struts to the sport version. Can anyone confirm if this is all that is required? I would prefer a stiffer suspension.
5b. I read that I can lower the car with H&R springs, but what struts/shocks should I use if I decide to lower the car to avoid the bumpiness caused by lowering the car? I've read that I should use eibach sport shocks/struts, but I cannot find anything like this for the RAV4. I plan on getting the UR sway bars and strut brace as well.
6. I plan on doing the JDM HID conversion following the guide posted by a member (veliksam). Are there any other alternatives or is this still the recommend way?
Thanks for looking and helping answer some of my questions.