RAV 4 vs CRV vs CX-5 vs Forester

I have been conducting some research on which one of these 4 SUVs is best to buy. This is what I have gathered so far and thought it’s important to share it so that anyone looking for a reference point can benefit from it.

Disclaimer: This a one-person research, so I might be biased, some of the figures used may vary, all comparisons are for automatic transmission cars.

Toyota RAV4 (Price Estimate for a 2012: Ksh2.3 Million)

11.5KM/L (Highway) 179hp - 50ltr tank capacity, cheap interior, seat could be better adjustable, good consumption for its size, good stability, reliable car for climbing hills, decent boot space. Easy to maintain. Acceleration: 0-60mph = 8.5 seconds. Ground Clearance: 8.7 inch. Kerb: 1630KG +/-.

Highly reliable
Easy to maintain
Good ground clearance for Kenyan roads

Expensively priced

Honda CRV (Price Estimate for a 2012: Ksh2.3 Million)

12KM/L (Highway) - 190hp, 50ltr tank capacity, moderate interior, uncomfortable than RAV4, good consumption, not as stable, can be used on hills, decent boot space. Not easy to maintain. Acceleration: 0-60mph = 7.5 seconds. Ground Clearance: 6.7 inch. Kerb: 1523KG +/-.

Better interior than Rav4
Better consumption than Rav4
Slightly bigger boot than Rav4

Expensively priced
Expensive to maintain
Less reliable
Less stable
Low ground clearance (comparatively)

Mazda CX-5 (Price Estimate for a 2012: Ksh1.9 Million)

12KM/L (Highway) - 184hp, 55ltr tank capacity, great interior, good consumption better than RAV4, Feels unstable on low-traction surfaces, Decent hill climbing power in “sport” mode, small bootie, Not easy to maintain. Acceleration: 0 - 60 = 6.4 seconds. Ground Clearance: 7.5 inch. Kerb: 1,500KG +/-.

Cheaply priced
Best interior so far
Excellent consumption

Less reliable on low-traction surfaces
Expensive to maintain since Skyactive technology still new in Ke
Good ground clearance but could been better for Ke road situations.

Subaru Forester (Price Estimate for a 2012: Ksh2 Million Non-Turbo & Ksh2.6 Million for Turbo-XT)

11KM/L (Highway) - 170hp (non-turbo) &224 for XT (Turbo), 60ltr tank capacity, average interior, poorer consumption than RAV4, stable than Rav4, can be reliable on hills esp with Turbo, smaller bootspace than Rav4, expensive to maintain. Acceleration: 0 -60 = 8.5 Seconds (non-turbo). 0 -60 = 6 Seconds (Turbo). Ground Clearance: 8.7 inches. Kerb: 1,630KG +/-.

Highly stable
Awesome ground clearance just like RAV4


Poor consumption
Non turbo option is quite weak
Turbo option i.e. XT or STi quite pricey
Expensive to maintain.


The RAV4 (Best Overall) remains the most reliable SUV to this end. It’s cheap to maintain, reasonably powerful, has got a good resale value, a decent kerb weight, and awesome stability at legal speeds, good boot space. That said, it’s relatively slower off-the-blocks (compared to its arch rivals), but unless you’re doing 100 meter dashes, chances are that you’ll not even notice this. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come cheap due to the “Toyota ndio gari” mentality.

Forester (Best Performance if it’s STI or XT) is equally a good car but if you get it, be prepared to fund its drinking habits. Also, you’re better off going for the XT or STi versions of it which don’t come cheap. Like RAV4, its naturally-aspirated version is relatively slow-off-the-blocks. But the car (Forester) is expensive to maintain also. Go for its Turbo version is you’re looking for good overtaking speed and cornering abilities. Avoid the naturally-aspirated (non-turbo) ones better get a CX-5 instead.

The CX-5 (Best for Budget Buyers) is a good car. However, much as it picks fast, it’s less reliable when it’s raining or when driven on loose chirpings or snow for that matter. It’s not as powerful as Forester (XT & STI) and RAV4 uphill unless you flip the “Sport” mode button. That said, it’s the cheapest SUV on this list and has the best interior so far. Its ground clearance is 1.2 inches lower than RAV4 and Forester’s so might not impress in demanding situations, though not poor. Go for it if you’re on a tight budget and don’t mind its low re-sale value.

Lastly, Honda CRV (Best Boot Capacity) seems overpriced to us given its specs. It has the largest boot space in our list so far. Good consumption. Good picking. However, it feels quite light and less stable (than RAV4 & Forester) at fast speeds especially on poorly done roads and ones with loose chirpings. Please note that this sentence is comparative…it does not mean that Honda CRV is a terribly unstable car…but compared to RAV4 & Forester, it feels less stable than the competition in rugged roads which are quite common in Kenya.

Good comparison though hapo kwa pesa umeongeza kiasi
What of Nissan X-Trail and Qashqai?

Go for Cx5… But petrol engine. Not so fast but its the best among those. Stay away from diesel engine

Honda anyday…It definately wins both offroad and in the city.

crv si un reliable, honda ni fool proof baba!

Nimeongeza kweli? Nilitumia zile doo zimequotiwa pale Cheki.co.ke. Of course, you can get better deals with good bargaining skills.

Nothing human-made is fool-proof. CRV is a good car but it doesn’t induce the kind of driving confidence you’d get in a Forester XT or RAV4.

It wins the city battle but it isn’t a sure bet when it comes to driving off road (especially when carrying heavy luggage) due to its relatively low ground clearance.

Those Nissan cars cannot be compared among the big 4 above in my opinion and given the Kenyan road conditions. Xtrail has a relatively weak suspension system, overheats if poorly maintained, doesn’t stun in most situations. It’s cheap for a reason. That said, Nissan has a good car called Nissan Rogue…it’s the only one we’d compare with the 4 above. Unfortunately, we’re yet to see it in Kenya.

The Best 2013 Compact SUVs | The Daily Drive | Consumer Guide®

hata on the above link, they say honda is the best amongst those uve mentioned. its not exciting, but it will take u places . I have been to the mara and back (during a rainy season) with a crv and i came back with nothing more than a broken exhaust.

There’s another league: Vw Tiguan v BMW X3 v Volvo XC60

You are correct. Honda CRV is a really really good car. But my post is comparative. For example, if you drove an RAV4 to the Mara instead, your exhaust could not have broken because Rav4 gives you close to 2 inches of extra ground clearance advantage.

None of those cars beats cx5. none of them even comes close. crv is a slow cart. rav4 wachana na stress. I have experience with all of them.
cx5 turbodiesel 18km/l-20km/l (173HP, 420nm). the only other popular car in the kenyan market with that torque is the toyota landcruiser v8. given the cx5 size, the car launches like a rocket.
cx5 1.82 negotiable. niko nayo kwa yard. not used locally, KCV, silver. this car is the only one worth that money. no brokers, selling to you directly.

Absolutely true, it launches like a rocket. However, it’s light kerbweight makes it less reliable e.g. when being driven fast in cross-winds or other destabilizing situations e.g. snow. Fortunately, we don’t experience any of those in Kenya. Also, it uses Skyativ technology which means if you get an engine issue while upcountry, you’d probably need to wait for several days to find a mechanic who can help you out.

If you like the CX5 go for it, the skyactive engine should not worry you (maybe after years of ownership) unless you abuse it. The same skyactive tech is available across 2013 plus Mazdas (and the way Demios are popular, soon many mechs will be familiar with it). Note that not all CX5s are AWD, if you want an AWD check the chassis number it should have AW in it e.g. DBA-KE5AW-***** this is a 2.5 petrol AWD while DBA-KE5FW-***** is a 2.5 petrol front wheel drive. Personally I would stay away from the Diesel.

skyactive is nothing to worry about. if you dont wory about vtech and vvti/vvtl, then skyactive isnt an issue. it has comparable kerb weight with other cars in the class ant far more stable almost like a subaru if you have driven one.

@kiparangoto What about RAV4…I have gathered that there’s FWD and AWD. How do you tell the difference?

@The Dean of Nairobi CX-5, at its price, represents good value for money. I agree. But just like @kiparangoto has put it, I would be keen to avoid a diesel powered one. Diesel engines, though powerful, are quite demanding to maintain due to the debris found in diesel…especially Kenyan diesel.

Cx5 but not diesel… Hii ingine yote ni kingereza mingi

I am not a fan of Rav4s and don’t know much about them, my opinion is they are overpriced and overrated. Personally, I would pick the Forester XT followed by CX5 2.5 gasoline AWD.

Mimi ni team Suzuki …a true ofroad underdog but as cliche as it sounds Toyota anytime when it comes to reliability