2019 Subaru Forester vs. 2019 Toyota 4Runner TRD Off-Road: Which Is Best On and Off the Road?

2019 Subaru Forester vs. 2019 Toyota 4Runner TRD Off-Road: Which Is Best On and Off the Road?

That’s Calvin Kim. CALVIN KIM: And that’s
Travis Langness. TRAVIS LANGNESS:
What I’ve done today is brought out the all-new
Subaru Forester for testing. Basically, the
Subaru Forester was one of the original crossovers,
and it’s still pulling off all the same tricks. It does all the SUV stuff,
but with more comfort and tech along the way. What did you bring
to compete with it? CALVIN KIM: I brought
out the Toyota 4Runner. It’s an old school SUV– body-on-frame construction,
solid rear axle. But on top of that, it seats
five, carries a lot of stuff, and you can tow with it. You could say it’s the
ultimate adventure vehicle. TRAVIS LANGNESS: While that
may be true in people’s minds, I think the Subaru can
go most of the places that your 4Runner can. And I think it’ll be
better for the days in between those adventures. But let’s put them to
the test, head to head, and see which one
comes out on top. CALVIN KIM: Do it. Before any adventure,
you got to pack. TRAVIS LANGNESS: So we brought
all the camping gear we own, and we’ll see which rig
can hold more of it. CALVIN KIM: Let’s do it. Wow. It all fit with room to spare. TRAVIS LANGNESS: Yeah. Let’s take it all out and
see what the Subaru does. These one-touch
folding seats are nice. The 4Runner doesn’t have that. CALVIN KIM: Yeah,
so I guess it fits. TRAVIS LANGNESS: Kind of. I mean, you can’t see
out the rear view mirror. And when we had it
loaded in the 4Runner, there was room to spare. But it’s all in there. CALVIN KIM: You know what? I’ll take this one then. Ugh. Let’s hit the road. TRAVIS LANGNESS: For
more videos like this, subscribe to the
Edmunds YouTube channel. And now we’re going to hit the
road, head for the mountains. [MUSIC PLAYING] CALVIN KIM: Let’s get one
thing out of the way first. If you like to argue
about 31s or 33s fitting under your fenders,
get out of here. Go back to T4R.org and argue
about transfer box gear ratios or something. This video is about regular
people doing the 9 to 5, Monday through Friday. And maybe once or twice a
month, getting the family out and enjoying nature. The Toyota 4Runner started
out life based on a truck. It has body-on-frame
construction, a solid rear axle,
and beefy suspension. And this model is
absolutely no different. Some people may think of it as
a utilitarian crossover type vehicle, and they’re wrong. It’s still a truck. And one of the compromises
to its truck-based design is in its handling. Now this 4Runner is equipped
with beefy all-terrain tires. And while I’m sure they
work great off road, they’re not ideal on the road. For one thing, they
make a lot of noise. And when you push them at all,
especially through cornering, they howl. The steering itself
is very light, but you don’t get a lot of feel. The 4.0 liter V6 engine on
front makes 270 horsepower, which is pretty good. But then it’s made it to a
5-speed transmission that’s very sluggish. When you’re going up hills
or you’re fully loaded, it likes to hung around. It’ll downshift frequently
from fifth to fourth to third. And frankly, it’s annoying. On initial application,
the 4Runner’s brakes are light and squishy. There’s not much going on. But then they get grabby
the harder and deeper you get into it. But most importantly is you’re
going to notice the nosedive. I think Toyota
could’ve done better. One area where this old
design truly excels in is in its utility. Three adults can fit in
the back seat, no problem. Fold those seats down, and
you get a gigantic cargo area with a flat load floor. You still need more cargo
than that, you crazy hoarder? This thing will
tow 5,000 pounds. Suck it, crossover. The 4Runner is a lot more
expensive than a Forester, but you’d never know it
when you look inside. There’s a lot of hard
plastics, synthetics. Yeah, sure, there’s
some soft touchpoints. And frankly, the seats
are comfortable enough for all-day driving. But they’re not heated, and the
Subaru gets heated back seats. Toyota didn’t prioritize
technology inside the 4Runner. For one thing, there
are no driver’s aids– no blind spot detection,
no adaptive cruise control. You only get a rear view camera. And then there’s infotainment. Toyota’s entering system can be
found throughout their lineup. And to use some of their
higher-end functions, you got to download an
app onto your smartphone, pair it up, sign
in to an account, sign in to more accounts–
it’s frustrating, and frankly, we’re not fans. But we are fans of Toyota’s
off-road technology. Now there’s a lot of
acronyms involved, but all we need to
know is, it allows you to off-road like a pro. TRAVIS LANGNESS: Now that we’ve
been on the road for a while, let’s take a look at the
inside of the Subaru Forester. And let’s talk about why we
brought this particular car. This one, the Touring
model, is topped out. It’s the most expensive
one you can get, and it’s about $35,000. And that’s the same price
as a base SR5 4Runner. And even the 4Runner we have
here, though, that’s more, isn’t as nice as this
Subaru is on the inside. I mean, you’ve got leather
seats, heated front and second row. You’ve got Apple CarPlay and
Android Auto as standard. This infotainment interface
is so much nicer– way better graphics,
way easier to use. And you get Subaru’s
EyeSight system, which has a lot of
cool tech features. You’ve got adaptive cruise
control, blind spot monitoring, and lane keep assist. And you get Subaru’s
driver-focused system. There’s a camera–
an infrared system– looking at me to tell whether
or not I’m paying attention to the road– whether I’m getting drowsy. It has real audible
and visual alerts that keep me aware of what’s
going on in front of me, and whether or not
I should pull over and take a nap– have
a little bit of a rest. For on-road comfort,
this one’s a winner too. It’s got nice, comfortable
seats, good seating position, plenty of leg room in
the front and the rear. And basically, a really
quiet, comfortable highway ride that translates
to the city too. It doesn’t beat you
up over potholes. And if you’re taking it on
a long road trip, I mean, there’s no doubt this
is the one to go with. One of the benefits of
driving a crossover instead of a body-on-frame SUV is
you get much better handling. Coming up these mountain
roads, yeah sure, this Forester’s no sports car. But it’s definitely
more enjoyable to drive. It’s lighter, and it feels
more agile around corners. It doesn’t have a
lot of that body roll that’s typically associated
with a big SUV like the 4Runner. Now there is a downside
to this Forester that’s pretty significant,
and that’s in power. And that 4Runner has
almost 100 horsepower more than this Forester,
so, clearly, this isn’t going to be the one
you’re going to tow with. But the upside is fuel economy. The Forester gets much better
fuel economy– city, highway, and combined. And really, when you’re
going in between adventures– when you’re driving hundreds
of miles to get to a mountain road– it’s going to cost you a
lot less cash to get there if you’re driving one of these. When we hit the trail
tomorrow, the 4Runner– yeah, it’s going to have
a little bit easier time. But I still have a lot of
confidence in the Subaru– X-MODE, all-wheel drive,
plenty of ground clearance. And honestly, I’m excited to
see how far this thing can go. [MUSIC PLAYING] TRAVIS LANGNESS: So we’re all
done with the on-road stuff and made it up to the
campsite here on the mountain. I had a good time
in the Forester. How was your ride
up in the 4Runner? CALVIN KIM: The
4Runner did just fine. I mean, I sure could’ve used
some of the creature comforts in the Forester though. But I’m really looking forward
to seeing how well it does off the road tomorrow. TRAVIS LANGNESS:
Yeah, I mean, we’re going to camp out tonight, get
an early start in the morning. And I’m looking forward
to hitting the trails as soon as we can. [MUSIC PLAYING] TRAVIS LANGNESS: We
packed up our camp and started out onto
the trail to see what these vehicles could do. The Forester has 8.7
inches of ground clearance, which is more than enough to
clear most off-road obstacles. It also has all-wheel drive
and Subaru’s X-MODE software, both of which manage
wheel spin and traction to keep you moving
forward in the dirt, sand, the mud, or even deep snow. And the Subaru’s
unibody construction means better handling,
a better ride, and its space-efficient
design allows me to fill it with all my camping gear. The Forester is built for
these kinds of adventures. CALVIN KIM: When the
pavement fades away and the going gets dirty,
the 4Runner starts to shine. This is its element. And all the compromises
that we mentioned on the road become irrelevant. And the ability
to shift into 4Lo let you go places the
Subaru couldn’t even dream of reaching. Yeah, the Subaru can hang
on these backcountry trails and will probably
satisfy most people looking for an adventure. But for those of you who want to
really get off the beaten path, there is no discussion. The 4Runner is
virtually unstoppable. If you want to know more
about these capabilities, click the link in
the top-right corner. Let’s see what you
get for your money. Well, you get
Multi-Terrain Select. Multi-Terrain Select adjusts the
speed of each individual wheel so that you have traction over
varied surfaces like rocks, moguls, and sand. But the real deal is
in with this right here, which is Crawl Control. Crawl Control even takes
care of the acceleration part– the throttle. Think of it as off-road
cruise control. And when you combine it with
the built-in locking rear differential and kinematic
dynamic suspension system, or KDSS– the Toyota’s hydraulic sway-bar
articulation enhancement system– it’s an amazing system
that allows anyone to tackle the toughest
terrains with ease. That’s just something
the Subaru can’t do. All right, I’m now
in the Forester. Let’s put the X-MODE in
dirt and see what it’ll do. The important thing is
to try to keep the body level to allow the traction
control system to do as much work as you can, but– ugh. Yeah, I don’t think it’s
going to do it though. Yeah, I don’t want to go
much farther than this. [MUSIC PLAYING] TRAVIS LANGNESS: So
we’re coming back down the backside
of the mountain. We got through all
the hard stuff. And honestly, I wouldn’t
have been able to talk to you if that was the section I
was driving through now. We’re on the easy kind of
flat downhill bits here. And I’m super surprised at
how capable this Subaru is. There were several sections– rocks, jagged portions,
things getting real close to the edge– and a lot of articulation that
I didn’t think this Subaru was going to be able to
do when we got to them. It hung a leg or
two up in the air. It definitely felt
almost vertical at times. But it made it down unscathed. And what that tells me is
that a vehicle like this is totally adventure-friendly. Sure, you’re not going
to crawl up a sheer rock face at 50 degrees. But for most of the
stuff that I like to do– getting out into the wilderness,
off the beaten path– this is great. CALVIN KIM: So we just got done
with the more difficult part of the trail, and we’re on
relatively flatter ground. As to be expected, the 4Runner
didn’t even break a sweat. It can get out of situations
that are mind-bogglingly difficult. Having said that,
you do lose out on a lot of on-road
comfort and stability. And the reality is, I
think most people spend their time on the road
more than on the trail. So that’s going to be a
compromise that you’re going to have to make. TRAVIS LANGNESS: I
seem to be a lot more comfortable than Calvin. I mean, basically, this car
is absorbing the bumps better. And I’m not bouncing
around as much on the inside of the cabin, nor
am I worried about all my stuff in the back hopping up
and over and hitting me in the back of the head. CALVIN KIM: But either way you
go, the 4Runner is definitely a fun and adventurous vehicle. TRAVIS LANGNESS: This
off-road stuff is great, and the Forester is great at it. Honestly, I wasn’t very
confident in certain spots, especially the big
rock ruts and things where it sticks a rear
wheel way up in the air, and times when it feels like
it’s vertically going down the face of a mountain. But once you get to these
bouncy, bumpy sections, the Subaru is more comfortable. And it made it
down all that other stuff I was talking about
completely unscathed. Sure, it’s dirty and
dusty, but hey, that’s what we came out
here for, right? CALVIN KIM: So what
did we find out? TRAVIS LANGNESS: Well, after
all that on-road stuff and all the off-road stuff coming down
this mountain, 95% of the time, I would rather live
with the Subaru. Sure, the 4Runner is better
in those small case scenarios when you’re going over
those rock gardens, and stuff gets really hairy. But this one is more
comfortable on road. It’s got more equipment
for the money, and it’s less expensive
than that 4Runner. CALVIN KIM: You know what? I’m a body-on-frame
traditionalist, and I love the 4Runner. I love its adventuresome
and fun nature. I love its durability. But I got to say, if
we’re asking the question, has the crossover
caught up to the SUV? I think the Forester
is proof that it has. TRAVIS LANGNESS: I agree. For more information
on these vehicles, or any of their competitors,
visit Edmunds.com to find your perfect car. Let us know what you
think about this video. And be sure to click Subscribe. You can also find us on
Instagram and Facebook.

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. Subaru has good and bad like the 4Runner. I f I buy the Subaru I would get a manual transmission for sure. Their automatic transmissions are not that great. You also need to be near a Subaru dealer and they can be hard to find. If you live in places like Kentucky, Georgia, Ill, Kansas, Indiana and a lit of places like that you can have a hard time finding a dealership. This is important because parts and labor are higher for a Subaru than a Toyota. That's only logical because Subaru sells far fewer vehicles and has far fewer dealerships. Your going to pay for work to be done on them as well. To change the spark plugs on our Forester took an hour and a half if I was lucky. I have been a mechanic for 26 years now and I definitely like working on our Tacoma's and 4Runners MUCH more than the Subaru.
    The Subaru does have a really nice highway ride. If you live in a place like Colorado I can see you being very happy with it as a family car to get you past the snow. They have done a great job with the all wheel drive system for sure. We go off-road a lot and the stuff they were showing is a joke! Most people do more than kinda-tuff dirt roads. ha A Subaru would never keep up with us off road. It's ground clearance is far to low. And that's what I love about my 4Runner. I love going off road on the weekends! I LOVE that it has the stick for four wheel drive and not some electronic switch. I love that it has a key-start and not some electric push button start. That's just more electronic crap you have to worry about messing up and I don't want it!


  3. Comparing a solid rear axle,body on frame, real auto tranny, stronger suspension, manual transfer case to anybody,cvt, d d

  4. 4Runner destroys that Subaru in every way. 4Runner is the best SUV ever made, besides the LandCruiser lol, also the TRD OffRoad trim that your using in this test doesn’t come stock with All Terrain tires. The TRDPRO trim comes with All Terrain tires. And btw it’s confirmed 2020 4Runners all come standard with Apple CarPlay and All of Toyota’s Safety features standard.

  5. the suspension range of the 4 runner is better, but did they take off traction control and try a little harder ? it looked like, if they took the right path, subi would have done it as well… I've off roaded with my 2011 santa fe and I believe I could of done that, as long as I don't bottom out… tires make a big difference..

  6. I have been a mechanic for 15 years. You simply cannot compare a 4Runner to any Subaru. The 4Runner will be more reliable, and off road capable. The resale value of the 4Runner is also significantly higher.

  7. Rented a 2019 forest premium from a dealer. Had 1100 miles on it. Drove it five hundred miles in one day. It was terrible. My 2016 legacy premium was way more comfortable, better traveling on a highway, quieter, and the seat was very narrow on the forester. The buckle also dug into my right hip terribly.

  8. Возьмите Субару Форестер до 2007 года на механической коробке,с понижающим рядом передач, с задним редуктором LSD,сделайте лифтинг и обуйте его в нормальные колеса.Оптимально Японской сборки с правым рулем.И где тогда будет ваша Тойота?

  9. I'd love a 4runner if I could afford it, but I am happy to say that this video made me feel better about my Crosstrek. Thanks!

  10. Wrong comparison. Forester should be compared to the CRV or RAV4. Subaru doesn’t really have anything to compare to theT4R. Pilot could be something worth comparing to the T4R though, as a cross over.

  11. Easy enough my wife and I have one of each although slightly different models (2019 Sport and 2016 Trail) and, yes there is a lot of overlap. I prefer the Subaru in snow and probably mud as it often corrects before I have a chance to react, but where clearance is king you really need a vehicle that you climb up into to enter. The Subaru is not comparable to the most others in it's on-road class as Subaru is the only one that has true full time four wheel drive.

  12. Let's be honest. Those who are the " family adventurous types " will chose the Subaru. Simplest reason, the 4Runner is a death trap with it's poor crash rating compare to the Subaru top safety +, proved by iihs crash test.
    Those who are hardcore offroader, that spend most of the time offroad. The 4Runner is the only big SUV you want for it. That Subaru is no match, simply because it lacks the right axle and power for it.

  13. Your 4Runner looks suspiciously like the Toyota Fortuner sold overseas and this car has a BAD BAD,reputation of FLIPPING on dirt roads even at average speed.
    Edit: Tar roads included.

  14. Tires make the biggest difference yet given least mention.

    Sure the 4Runner will still beat out the Forester off-road but, slap on some decent tires and Forester will climb that hill too

  15. 11:07 If you want off-road with the forester?, change the tires; look a RAV4 for it test, but don't use the 4runner. Both are so good SUV, but in your level.

  16. I owned a 4runner for 4 years, then I had to move to a city for work and, with a lot of sadness, I traded it in for a Crosstrek….I wake up every day so so so so so sad and wondering what my 4runner is doing today.

    Subaru will be good for you if you never loved a 4runner.

    AND these dudes are so silly: while camping, they totally ignored the fact if how comfy it is to sleep in 4runner compared to the grocery-getter.

  17. how many climbers does it take to screw in a light bulb??

    none, climbers only screw in 4runners~

    (aka Subarus don't even have sex appeal)

  18. Toyota is getting lazy with the 4 runner. 5 Speed transmission ? C’mon now. That’s ancient. Need to upgrade !!! People aren’t going to keep buying , especially with new competitors like the ford bronco.

  19. My Subaru Forester is great. It's ground clearance and how it rides is enough to get through the off roading I've gone through with ease. No I ain't going uphill rock climbing, who the hell thinks everyone needs that capability. Sure it'll be cool, but all the other that the Subaru has better just makes it win by a lot

  20. Wouldn't a RAV 4 be the Toyota equivalent to the Forester?
    Seriously, are you kidding?
    These two are not at all in the same segment.

  21. I absolutely love Toyota off road capability, but my wife’s ascent is awesome on the trail, with a spotter I was impressed by the rocks that suv was crawling over.

  22. I own a 4runner 4WD. But if I was getting a new vehicle today, I'd get the Forester or similar class vehicle. I don't do crazy off roading, even though I live in a rural mountain area. Cargo space is nice to have, but MPG and overall cost of ownership trumps any advantage a runner or truck has to offer.

  23. Let's be honest; better tires would have made a big difference on the Subaru. It doesn't matter how good your AWD system is, if none of your tires are biting the ground. Traction matters more than all of the fancy controls. That's why even my old Suburban does well on the trails: It has the right tires.

  24. The 4Runner is nice, but I’d rather have the Forester because it’s better on the road, and it’s capable off-road to a pretty good extent.

  25. So the 4Runner’s steering is light and with no feel? Weird, because the Land Cruiser Prado’s steering is insanely heavy. It’s like a Toyota didn’t hear of power steering in 2009.

  26. I don't think anyone is cross shopping a Subaru Forester with a Toyota 4runner. 4runner owners are there for the OHV trails while Forester owners are just trying to get to their campsite or hiking trail.

  27. To many car guys say to many things. Their is an assessment here. The outcome is always personal preference.
    The 4runner is by far superior. I wouldn't take the Subaru threw mustard ground rd lol last time I was there 2 got stuck. Drove the 4RUNNER from sc to mi and back great family trip truck. Handling and power was wonderful. I felt safe. The family calls it a baby tank. They love it.
    The 4RUNNER comes with links built in to strap stuff down in the back interior also.

  28. I own both. They are very different vehicles and I like them both for what they are. If I had to get rid of one of them, it would be the Forester. I really dislike how intrusive the "nannies" are. I'm still not comfortable with the CVT either. I hear more bad than good about them. It will most likely never see anything off road or doing anything very stressful so I'm hoping it will be OK. The one thing I love is the adaptive cruise control. I wish the 4Runner had that. The better gas mileage is nice too but for my tastes, I like the Forester but I love the 4Runner. I'm a truck guy I guess.

  29. The RAV4 is due a serious upgrade, the engine with the old fashioned 5 speed transmission is really lacking in power, driveability and mpg, against more modern rivals from my experience of driving long distances in various rental SUV models. We also found the front seats of the RAV4 TRD really uncomfortable after a 100 miles or so. However comparing a RAV4 to a Forester is a strange notion, I don't see them as competitors.

  30. As a owner of a Outback, I would love to see the rubber skidplate after that ride. I took mine on a far less adventurous trip and mine is trashed. There is no protection for the pan at all on these.

  31. As somebody who was legitimately cross shopping a truck, 4runner, and a crossover this was an interesting test.

    I ended up with a Forester due to being able to do everything I would want to do in a 4runner and get 10 more mpg. The test isn't completely invalid due to being different demographics.

  32. The Asian guy is such a bad actor that I can picture his mouth moving in Asian with an English voice over like in terrible karate movies.

  33. Normal people ??? Because i have expectation from a vehicle I am not normal ? Ok, gotcha. I guess that is the result of having a less than manly man doing the review. You might want to eat more red meat and hit the gym.
    Why is the normal man driving the wimpy vehicle ?

  34. The 4runner has been wimped down for girl city boys. Every 4runner should come from the factory with a rear locker. They both use the breaks to slow wheel spin which is ok for a little snow on a city street. Toyota forgets that some of us want an off road vehicle so we are forced to add lockers ourselves. I won’t ever buy a new 4runner. I will buy a used 4 runner that is 3 or 4 years old and buy what it needs with the money I saved. I hate ford trucks but the come from the factory with a rear locker. The new ranger comes with front and rear lockers and it goes places the tocoma only wishes it could go. Toyota needs to get their head out if their ass and build capable vehicles again but they won’t, none of you are telling toyota that you want a real offroad vehicle. You are happy with soccer mom suvs

  35. I test drove alot of 4Runners. I went with the 2020 Subaru Outback Onyx XT a few days ago. Although it wasn't cheap either, I got ALOT more for my money it's not even close, and it feels like a luxury overlander when I drive it to work. P.S. It's turbocharged.

  36. What you're not comparing especially when it comes to cost is longevity and low maintenance. I had a 2008 4Runner with 160,000 kms that never needed any maintenance other than oil changes and lube. That's right the brakes not only did not need servicing like lubing the sliders and all that but went the entire 160,000kms and still passed the safety at time of sale. My friends Forester for instance was constantly in for brake maintenance every 45K and even needed the engine replaced under warranty. The 4Runner saved me thousands of dollars over the Subaru while only costing a little more in fuel and never missed a beat and nothing needed replacement, not even a light bulb.

  37. Forester is affordable, great interior, Harman kardon sound system is great, apple car play.
    4 Runner holds there value, expensive, outdated interior, poor sounding system, no apple car play

  38. I think u know nothing about Subaru or u are fun of Toyota… When u try to climb on hill Subaru's tyres are spinning so u didn't use x-mode… And Toyota can't beat Subaru on awd…

  39. You chickened out with the Subaru on that little mound of dirt. You shoulda kept going. TFLC got it over that hump once they learned from user how to do it and their car did not have Xmode.

  40. Take the $5000 you save with the top of the line Subaru and slap on some beefier off-road tires and suspension and you're good to go.

  41. This is a ridiculous comparison. The vehicles are no where near in the same class. If you are looking to buy a 4runner, a forester should not even be on your radar and vice versa. Its like saying "I can't afford a GTR so I will get the next best thing.. A Ford Focus. Lame review.

  42. So many haters here. I can understand why they'd be confused at first as to why compare these 2 vehicles. But after reading some comments and putting some thought into it, it's not rocket science. First of all there are a few commenters who have both vehicles. Second of all I was in the exact position of trying to decide between these two vehicles. It all came down to a matter of experience and preference for me. Thank you for this video. It helped me a lot.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *