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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,


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 :nerd


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. :smile
 

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Well, we came from a Forester, albeit a 2001 model, but when I test drove the V6 RAV4 I HAD to have one. It's just so exhilarating to drive a nondescript everyday car that's quicker and faster than the '68 Barracuda 340S I had years ago - and get almost 3X the fuel mileage.

By comparison the Forester was just another run-of-the-mill car. Sure it had full time AWD but that meant either buying four new tires when one got ruined so as not to damage the expensive viscous coupling, or as I did, try to find used ones to match the others. Then after I sold it to a friend I ended up replacing the head gaskets, a real fun (and free) job at only 100,000 miles. At least that tipped me off to the standard Subaru head gasket weakness so when I helped my niece find her 2007 Outback we got $1,300 off because they were starting to leak, again at 100K.

I haven't measured her lately but my wife, the primary driver, probably isn't more than an inch taller than yours and she has no seating issues. When I drive, or more accurately before I get in, I have to move the seat back and tilt it back.
She likes the power saying, "It goes so easy!" Same thing she said back with the Barracuda. Actually that may be an issue as some members think the gas pedal is too touchy. I had her test drive a used V6 from the dealer before I did my full East Coast search for ours. For me it's perfect except when the wifey's riding shotgun. Then I have to be very careful.

I'm not into carving corners with the RAV4 like I'm in the dirt with my DRZ-400 or might do a little more when I'm alone in my Accord or 1800s, but the RAV4 seem rock steady in any weather on any road. It can be pushed to slide sideways in snow but unless you think you're a rally driver it behaves itself.

I'd suggest getting a Base or Limited for the best ride. Then you can "upgrade" it with springs and shocks - and take them off when it becomes hers and she tells you to.
 

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The rear end definitely does not like to slide out. Traction control is quite aggressive. There is a lake just one block from my house where we used to take cars to slip and slide away. Can't do that anymore now that I have the RAV4. Of course, good Winter tires are always helpful.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Hi Dr. Dyno and pico,


Thanks a lot for the answers. While browsing the forums, I was entertaining the idea of looking at the I4 but the 4-speed transmission is not as modern (not that the 5-speed in the V6 is) and I think the extra gear will be better on long highway drives. I plan on keeping the RAV4 until it falls apart, so better to get the V6 for future proofing.


Initially I was worried that the RAV4 might not be as capable in sticky weather situations due to it being on-demand AWD especially for the wife who hasn't driven in the winter yet, but honestly, with good winter tires, it shouldn't matter.


Dr. Dyno, how does your wife find the visibility out of the vehicle?


I am interested in hearing from members with the H&R springs to see what shocks/struts they recommend and what they think of the drive compared to a sports?


Thanks for all the information :)
 

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The primary driver of my RAV is 5-ft even and she loves the visibility. Especially ride height compared to a sedan. We did add an aftermarket back-up camera just because a lot of kids in the neighborhood and has a small blind spot as with most vehicles. We came from a long line of Camry and would never go back, and the visibility has a lot to do with it. I believe several studies show the SUV class is also safer than sedans. The 09-12 RAVs were a top IIHS safety pick when they were built, but were not subjected to one of the new tests (small front overlap collisions) so no way to tell for sure how they would score.

The V6 is superior in most ways except fuel mileage if you are primarily driving around town. I have the 4-speed I4 and consider it quite capable, even on long trips. But the V6 would really shine there. At the time of our purchase, we got a screaming good deal on a nearly new 2009 I4 ($10,000 less than the V6), but now at used rates the price differential is not as great. So it would be a good time to look!

The AWD winter traction is simply awesome with good snow tires. We are avid skiers and smile during snow driving. For overall value, I think you are barking up the right tree looking for a gen 4.3 V6-- and good you are aware about the possible tranny whine as a factor to check and consider. If you are a driving enthusiast, the V6 would be a great choice and has a kind of cult following here, a very knowledgable and helpful support group.
 

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Dr. Dyno, how does your wife find the visibility out of the vehicle?
Just came back from a trip to town and noticed altho she sets the seat too far forward for me I don't change her height setting. And it isn't at it's highest so she must be okay with the visibility.
 

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I had a 2007 Sport V6, traded it in for a 2012 Sport V6. Only issue with it was the cams were needing replacement as I got the dreaded slap on cold starts. It was about. 162,000 KM when I traded it in. Still miss that vehicle. Replaced a leaky oil line (not an issue in the 2012) and a alternator (it had a squeaky bearing but could not just get the bearing part so I replaced the whole thing with a reman).

2012, no issues. The V6 still pulls strong. I did test drive the I4 when I bought my 2007 but it was not enough for me. I felt it was weak. I do a lot of road trips as well as out door activities like skiing and mountain biking. Having that extra power to haul my gear and my friends around is definitely good to have. Only downside, as mentioned here is the gas consumption in the city. I average 16l/100km

I have driven both extensively in the snow and ice. Both have performed well without issues. I have Blizzaks on there and it has traction all day long. Deep snow, slush, ice, etc, it does it all. We had a good dump of snow here in BC and I had zero issues getting around. You can get it sideways if you really want to but traction control does take over and kill the fun a bit.

Visibility is good. I can't comment for the height part but I am 5ft 7.5" and I can see clearly in all aspects.

I definitely would recommend the vehicle. The sport is a harsher ride. Shocks are stiff but I don't mind. The vehicle is easy to work on and so far, I've been doing a lot of the fixes at home (brakes, oil line, oil changes, etc). It is definitely a very low cost maintenance vehicle for me.
 

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Suggest that you check out the dealer situation. We had a Subaru Forester from new and had lots of trouble with it. The dealer with the best service department was stopped from selling Subarus and so stopped servicing them. The other two area dealers had incompetent service departments, and when something was defective the part had to be ordered from Japan. Was my wife's car and she became so disgusted that when it developed a clutch problem she immediately traded it in for a new Honda CR-V. No problems with the Honda or Honda service.
 

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Since she will be sharing the car the stiff suspension that you like may be total hatred for her. The '06-'12 models are a bit loud with road/tire noise and the Sport suspension is brutal to me. None of them have a Cadillac ride but I found the Sport unacceptable under any conditions so chose wisely.

My gal is 5'2" and she has no problem driving or seeing out of her '08 Base V-6. I'm a fat ass at 6' and 275 but my '08 Limited also has comfortable front seats and no vision issues. I find the back seat tolerable but not very comfortable for me.

Your choice of a '10+ model is wise as they have a few extras and less issues than the '06-'08 models. Ours are both front wheel drive.

The V-6 is divine and extremely responsive to the pedal on the right. It puts out considerably more forward motion than one would expect.....at any speed. It can also get respectable highway mileage, I got 28.9 on one full highway trip with the air on, 25-26 MPG is common. City MPG depends on the city size, traffic, and length of drive time. I generally get 19-20 she gets 16-17.
 

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Suggest that you check out the dealer situation. We had a Subaru Forester from new and had lots of trouble with it. The dealer with the best service department was stopped from selling Subarus and so stopped servicing them. The other two area dealers had incompetent service departments, and when something was defective the part had to be ordered from Japan. Was my wife's car and she became so disgusted that when it developed a clutch problem she immediately traded it in for a new Honda CR-V. No problems with the Honda or Honda service.
How bout that....your Subaru Forester experience pretty much mirrors my wife's. But some people love em.:confused:
 

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How bout that....your Subaru Forester experience pretty much mirrors my wife's. But some people love em.:confused:

Well, Subarus are rather popular here (lots more of them than 4th gen RAVs) and the nearest dealer is about two hours away - either our wives had unusually defect-prone examples, Subaru's towing services are doing great business, or our local mechanics are doing great business in repairing out-of-warranty Subies!
:confused:
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks a lot for the answers. As I am selling my current car to get this car for the wife, we have some time to discuss what she really wants. Although I say it is the wife's car, I will be the primary driver as she works from home, but she will inherit it whenever we have the space for a second car (probably 3 years) and she will drive it whenever possible to get used to and comfortable with driving.
 

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Stay away from the Subarus if you can, they're a hit and miss as to which ones burn oil, but it's definitely a big issue.

From experience... My wife loves her RAV4, best decision we ever made, she went from a Vibe to the 08 RAV4 V6 Ltd and completely loves it. On my end I love the V6 power on demand and how quick the vehicle is, as well as how easy it can be on fuel, I needed a vehicle that can tow a small boat, and this was the best choice for us, best size and easy drive-ability for her, and best all around performer for me without having to go with a 4Runner or FJ Cruiser (which was what I wanted but she considered too large for her driving).

I'd suggest picking up a 2011-2012 model with the V6, after that you only have a 4cyl and no V6 option, I would go for the Sport model next time, not too happy with the JBL system in the Limited, as i'm an audiophile and like to have the option to upgrade easily.
 

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Well, we came from a Forester, albeit a 2001 model, but when I test drove the V6 RAV4 I HAD to have one. It's just so exhilarating to drive a nondescript everyday car that's quicker and faster than the '68 Barracuda 340S I had years ago - and get almost 3X the fuel mileage.

By comparison the Forester was just another run-of-the-mill car. Sure it had full time AWD but that meant either buying four new tires when one got ruined so as not to damage the expensive viscous coupling, or as I did, try to find used ones to match the others. Then after I sold it to a friend I ended up replacing the head gaskets, a real fun (and free) job at only 100,000 miles. At least that tipped me off to the standard Subaru head gasket weakness so when I helped my niece find her 2007 Outback we got $1,300 off because they were starting to leak, again at 100K.

I haven't measured her lately but my wife, the primary driver, probably isn't more than an inch taller than yours and she has no seating issues. When I drive, or more accurately before I get in, I have to move the seat back and tilt it back.
She likes the power saying, "It goes so easy!" Same thing she said back with the Barracuda. Actually that may be an issue as some members think the gas pedal is too touchy. I had her test drive a used V6 from the dealer before I did my full East Coast search for ours. For me it's perfect except when the wifey's riding shotgun. Then I have to be very careful.

I'm not into carving corners with the RAV4 like I'm in the dirt with my DRZ-400 or might do a little more when I'm alone in my Accord or 1800s, but the RAV4 seem rock steady in any weather on any road. It can be pushed to slide sideways in snow but unless you think you're a rally driver it behaves itself.

I'd suggest getting a Base or Limited for the best ride. Then you can "upgrade" it with springs and shocks - and take them off when it becomes hers and she tells you to.
I have a similar journey coming from a 2000 Subie Legacy wagon. It was on its third (3) head gaskets at 140,000 miles when wrecked. A blessing really as head gasket issue is big on the 2.5L Boxer engines. I replaced it with the Rav4 V6 because the power to cost ratio was phenomenal on such a versatile compact SUV/tall wagon body style. I don't fancy buying premium gas for the turbo Subie to get similar but lower power output. Yes, the Subie full time AWD is technically better than the Rav4. The Rav4 AWD performed well enough for most street/highway/rapid acceleration application that it's not taking much of a back seat to the high maintenance Subie AWD. As Dr. Dyno said, it really sux when you go in for a tire puncture repairs, and come out $1,200 poorer with 4 new tires on the Subie. I did that again with my Rav4 Sport (SAP) when one of the original run-flat tires was punctured. I replaced the run-flats with 4 conventional tires and a CAA (AAA) towing club membership. Harsh ride from the run-flats was reduced to a nice firm ride that I am really happy with.

Being in Canada, getting parts and services to convert from non-Sport to Sport could be very expensive and with limited parts availability/choices. I would advise getting the latest ('12) Sport V6 model you can, and start your mods from that platform. For even more rear end control, you can swap out the rear coil springs to the heavier duty progressive rate rear springs from the 3rd row seat equipped model. To improve the harsh ride, change the run-flat tires over to conventional tires if you purchased the Sport Appearance Package (SAP) model (no spare wheel hanging on rear door). Non SAP models (base, Sport, Limited) all have conventional tires so no need to change unless you really wanted to upgrade. I've always liked firm riding vehicles and this is the route I took.

Enjoy the mighty V6 as it's pretty much a dying breed on compact SUV. The V6+AWD will put you quickly in front of the SUV pack if you let the loud pedal do a little squawking :thumbs_up:
 

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I have a similar journey coming from a 2000 Subie Legacy wagon. It was on its third (3) head gaskets at 140,000 miles when wrecked. A blessing really as head gasket issue is big on the 2.5L Boxer engines. I replaced it with the Rav4 V6 because the power to cost ratio was phenomenal on such a versatile compact SUV/tall wagon body style. I don't fancy buying premium gas for the turbo Subie to get similar but lower power output. Yes, the Subie full time AWD is technically better than the Rav4. The Rav4 AWD performed well enough for most street/highway/rapid acceleration application that it's not taking much of a back seat to the high maintenance Subie AWD. As Dr. Dyno said, it really sux when you go in for a tire puncture repairs, and come out $1,200 poorer with 4 new tires on the Subie. I did that again with my Rav4 Sport (SAP) when one of the original run-flat tires was punctured. I replaced the run-flats with 4 conventional tires and a CAA (AAA) towing club membership. Harsh ride from the run-flats was reduced to a nice firm ride that I am really happy with.

Being in Canada, getting parts and services to convert from non-Sport to Sport could be very expensive and with limited parts availability/choices. I would advise getting the latest ('12) Sport V6 model you can, and start your mods from that platform. For even more rear end control, you can swap out the rear coil springs to the heavier duty progressive rate rear springs from the 3rd row seat equipped model. To improve the harsh ride, change the run-flat tires over to conventional tires if you purchased the Sport Appearance Package (SAP) model (no spare wheel hanging on rear door). Non SAP models (base, Sport, Limited) all have conventional tires so no need to change unless you really wanted to upgrade. I've always liked firm riding vehicles and this is the route I took.

Enjoy the mighty V6 as it's pretty much a dying breed on compact SUV. The V6+AWD will put you quickly in front of the SUV pack if you let the loud pedal do a little squawking :thumbs_up:
As you are from the GTA, how is your gas mileage in the V6? Do you do mostly highway or city? Searching the forum and seeing some replies, some members get 16L/100km which is quite poor. It makes my 2.0T A4 look fuel efficient. Wondering what type of mileage you are getting?
 

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As you are from the GTA, how is your gas mileage in the V6? Do you do mostly highway or city? Searching the forum and seeing some replies, some members get 16L/100km which is quite poor. It makes my 2.0T A4 look fuel efficient. Wondering what type of mileage you are getting?
My overall average for the past 6 years is around 12L/100Km, at around 60% city and 40% highway. The vehicle is lightly loaded for the most times.

It entirely depends on your driving habits. If your average trips are short distance (10Km total or less round trip) the car would never reaches the 'warm' efficient operating temperature. This is still true if you did 10Km at 120Km/Hr speed each way for 20Km total distance. That kind of day-to-day driving will get you 13-16L/100Km in mostly city driving plus short highway hops. On long highway trip (over 100Km) the average is around 10-12L/100Km at 120Km/Hr with heat or AC uses. If you like jackrabbiting away from the light, expect 16L/100Km with more frequent trips to the gas pump. Constantly carrying full capacity load of passengers and cargo also increases fuel usage. The 4-cyl. Rav4 gets slightly better city gas mileage but same or poorer highway rating. The V6 shines for long distant highway travel or quick acceleration.

On the highway sticking to 110Km/Hr or less with cruise control you will likely get 9.5L/100Km in the summer. The trucky shape is horribly non aerodynamic once speed creeps over 110Km/Hr and gas mileage suffers exponentially. Your A4 is super aerodynamic compared to the Rav4 trucklet that sits like a brick in the wind. However, the ground clearance allows my Rav4 to travel many snowy side streets that left a lot of performance German sedans stuck after a 'heavy GTA snowfall' of 6" or more. The cargo carrying capacity is phenomenal comparing to almost any sedan and even some mid-size SUVs. If good gas mileage is your major concern, AWD & tall SUV style should NOT be part of your selection criteria. A station wagon will do way better on gas as it's lower but equally roomy. You're only missing the tall viewing position that's central to SUV. Check out the new Golf Sport wagon Allroad at the auto show . . . .
 
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