When we think of an SUV, many conjure up images of hitting the highway and leaving the city behind for an exciting adventure in the wilderness, traversing difficult terrain and exploring all the world has to offer. SUVs are your ultimate adventure companion.
Spacious, practical and elevated are just a few reasons why drivers have grown to love them. Manufacturers all over the world have come up with their own version of the crossover SUVs with varying success, such as the Hyundai Tuscon, Kia Sportage and Ford Kuga (now Escape).
Today we will be looking at a diverse trio of the best offerings going around, and some of the most debated: the Toyota RAV4, Subaru Forester, and Skoda Karoq.
Having been around for a while, the Toyota RAV4 and Subaru Forester can be considered the pioneers of the crossover concept. Fun fact: though the RAV4 may be more popular, the first Forester actually came out a few years before the first RAV4. Not to be outdone, the Karoq is a relatively new model to this Skoda SUV class, bursting onto the scene in 2017.
Let’s see how these three mid-size crossovers compare.
The Toyota RAV4 2021 prices range from $31,695 for the basic trim level SUV RAV4 GX (2WD) to $50,275 for the top of the range SUV RAV4 Edge (AWD) (with panoramic Sunroof).
Subaru Forester 2021 prices start from $35,190 for the basic trim level SUV Forester 2.5I (AWD) to $46,490 for the top level SUV Forester Hybrid S (AWD).
Finally, Skoda Karoq 2022 prices range from $34,590 for the basic trim level SUV Karoq 110TSI to $41,290 for the top of the range SUV Karoq 140TSI Sportline (4X4).
On the entry level trims, it’s pretty even, but if at the other end of the scale, the Skoda Karoq Sportline is kindest to your wallet.
All three models come backed with a five year unlimited kilometre warranty, so no worries there.
In the driver seat, the RAV4 has the largest instrument panel that displays the most information. In contrast, the analogue dials in the Skoda Karoq are classy and the instrument panel is easiest to read at a glance.
The RAV4 and Forester are almost tied in having the roomiest second row seating. Passengers in the RAV4 also get treated to the largest windows of the three. Unfortunately physics is against the smaller Skoda SUV, but the Karoq’s interior is filled cleverly with its signature “Simply Clever” solution, including tray tables behind the front seats, and extended mood lighting in the cabin.
With a starting capacity of 580L, the RAV4 has by far the largest boot space. Interestingly when we’re talking Karoq vs Forester (521L vs 509L), the Karoq comes out slightly on top.
Engine and Performance
The RAV4 now has the option of Toyota’s signature petrol-electric hybrid technology, combining the petrol engine with electric power in either 2 wheel drive (2WD) or all wheel drive (AWD). Its most powerful 2.5L petrol engine produces a maximum of 152kW power and 243Nm of torque, with a fuel consumption of 7.5 L/100km.
The Subaru Forester comes with its own Symmetrical AWD. Its largest petrol engine is 2.5L with a maximum power of 136kW and 239Nm torque. A fuel consumption of 7.4 L/100km makes it just as thirsty as the RAV4.
Skoda Karoq’s most powerful version, the Sportline is a 4WD powered by a 2.0L petrol engine capable of producing a maximum of 140kW power and 320Nm in torque. The Karoq delivers its max power at the lower rev range, making it zippy and responsive off the mark and getting you to higher speeds. Fuel economy is the best of the three at 6.9 L/100km.
So the Skoda Karoq’s petrol engine has the best balance between power and fuel economy.
All three models make use of the tried and tested MacPherson strut suspension system to help cushion those knocks and bumps.
All three models are well equipped with some of the latest in modern technology, offering comfort and convenience for everyone inside.
Touch screen infotainment systems are standard across all three models. They allow you to interact and control various functions of the car, including controlling the sat nav and connecting your phone using Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.
You do lose out on quite a bit of screen space in the entry level Forester, being only a 6.5-inch size. In contrast, you get 8-inch screens on all Rav4’s and Karoq’s. You can upgrade this even further in the Skoda with the optional Tech Pack, giving you a more advanced infotainment system on a huge 9.2-inch touch screen.
Heated seats are a hit during colder weather. This feature is available as standard on the higher level variants of the RAV4 and Forester, but only as an option on the top level Karoq Sportline.
Keyless entry with a push-start or starter button ignition has become more commonplace too, and it’s nice to see this convenient feature can be found in all three models.
You can drive with peace of mind, as all three models have received the maximum 5 star ANCAP rating. Equipped with the usual airbags and Isofix anchor points, they all offer the latest in driver assistance technology such as autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, rear cameras, and adaptive cruise control.
Skoda’s Karoq provides a host of optional safety features, such as lane assist, LED headlights, rear traffic alert, and parking assist.
Meanwhile the Forester’s optional safety extras include facial recognition technology, reverse automatic braking, and driver assist.
The RAV4 also comes to play with a pre-collision safety system, road sign assist, and lane departure alerts and tracing systems.
All three models are great cars and worthy mid-size SUVs in their own right. The popular Toyota RAV4 provides a commanding road presence with a comfort and refined ride. It’s got all the features, and its hybrid options will appeal to the eco-conscious person.
The Subaru Forester might not be a particularly elegant beast, but it’s practical, comfortable and very easy to handle. The amount of tech that comes standard with the Forester is also impressive, especially when you look past the entry level variant.
The only shortfall with the Skoda Karoq is its smaller dimensions compared to the other two. However it’s the clever European design and use of the space that sets it apart from others. With trademark Simply Clever features like an air-conditioned glove box and the VarioFlex rear seating system, there’s more than meets the eye. The Karoq is a prime example of versatility and offers the best in European style and handling.
It’s a close call, but since we have to crown a champion, it’s hard to look past the Skoda Karoq in terms of comfort, drive, and technology.