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Subaru Vs Toyota – Reliability

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What is worse than being towed? Being towed again! Are you like many others trying to decide on a car you will depend on? This Subaru Vs Toyota – Reliability comparison may just help you settle on a ride!

Unlike many consumables, you can’t just return a car that fails impress you to the dealer and get a refund, no questions asked. This makes getting your car right, the first time very important. Subaru and Toyota brands are so popular in the USA market that they both have manufacturing plants in the country.

Car reliability is not just about your car not stalling, but also has to do with both occurrence and cost regular wearing out repairs, and performance of your car. It is advised more by what you need your car for. What I mean is, if all you need is to get to work and back without surprises, then Toyota is a very reliable choice for you. If on the other hand you are looking for all-weather any terrain outings, safety and durability, then Subaru may be more dependable. For example, if you change the oil and tune up your Toyota regularly as required and use it to just drive around town, it is said to easily last for more than 100,000 miles or 10 to 15 years. Doing the same for Subaru, at probably a higher cost, will see it lasting more than 300,000 miles. Is this then a lifetime?

As we try to establish which of the two brands is more reliable in this Subaru Vs Toyota Reliability comparison, we will also be looking at how to tell a car’s reliability, factors that affect a car’s reliability and how to improve your car’s reliability.

What it means for a car to be reliable

There is no rocket-science involved in this. Reliability just means a car you can depend or rely on to get you to your destination – any time, all the time! We all want a car which, apart from regular maintenance, all we have to consistently do is gas up and go! How then is reliability determined?

The Reliability Index

The UK based reliability index is a universal measure that is computed by taking into account all factors of a repair, cost of parts and failure frequencies. The average or standard reliability index mark is 118. Any car with an index higher than 118, is considered less reliable. In the same light, a car with reliability index less than 118 is very reliable.

Alongside the reliability index, the average cost of repairs is usually considered. This is because 2 important factors affect a car’s reliability: How frequent it needs repairs and the cost of those repairs.

Consumer Surveys

Another good measure of a car’s reliability is its performance in consumer surveys. There are many reliability based surveys, some of which we are going to look as we turn our attention to the Subaru Vs Toyota – Reliability comparison

How does Subaru and Toyota compare in Reliability in Customer Surveys?

Subaru Vs Toyota Reliability : Brand Comparison Table

Comparison Factor
Subaru
Toyota
Reliability Index – Brand
103
58
Cost of Repairs per year
$820
$550
Brand Position – Telegraph
1
10
Brand Position: reliability based survey (What Car?)
2
5
Brand Position:

(Reliabilityindex)

18
4
Brand Position ( Driver Power 2019)
6
10
Customer Satisfaction
91.09%
90.54%

Based of its very low reliability index, Toyota is a very reliable brand, compared to Subaru. Subaru became very popular around 2010. Its reliability unfortunately dipped in 2016. This could be because Subaru has fewer models than competitors like Toyota. A reliability problem in one or more of its model has a big overall impact on the brand reliability index.

Another reason that makes Toyota very popular is its low average cost of repairs. Subaru repair costs are quite high, especially in the UK. One contributing factor is that even though Toyotas are very common on UK roads, Subarus are very few. Their spare parts are therefore hard (compared to Toyota), and their repair shops even harder/fewer.

The time spent of the road is lower for the Toyota than for the Subaru. The fact that Subarus are fewer than Toyotas, as explained above, could be one explanation. The second reason is that Subarus have a unique box engine and the standard all-wheel-drive system. Repairs therefore require a qualified person.

Reliability surveys rely on feedback from customers. They give us mixed rankings for each brand, making it hard to pick a clear winner. Each brand has die-hard fans. In fact, it is said of Subaru clients, that they will buy a Subaru just because it is a Subaru! All the same, as we will see later, Subaru has some good aspects that make their clients overlook their brand’s high repair costs and longer periods off the road.

Comparing Subaru and Toyota Models

Life in the law of averages results in some models in a brand doing better than the brand’s average and some worse. For each of the brands, we will now compare their models’ performance in customer surveys. We will then analyze in detail, a couple models in each brand.

Model Comparison Table

Comparison Factor
Subaru
Toyota
Reliability Index
Forester – 102; Legacy – 112
Rav4 – 94; Corolla – 48
Cost of Repairs
Forester – £955.08 ; Legacy – £762.79
Rav4 – £448.98 ; Corolla – £365.48
Time off the road (hours)
Forester – 3.99; Legacy – 3.39
Rav4 – 2.96; Corolla – 2.20
Models in the top 100 reliable cars in the UK (ReliabilityIndex)
None – probably due to high repair costs as there are few Subarus in the UK
7 Models – Auris, Avensis, Aygo, Corolla, iQ, Prius and Yaris
Driver Power survey – Top 20 reliable models
Outback @ Position 12
Toyota Prius @ Position 1

Toyota C-HR @ Position 19

Consumer Reports – most reliable cars on the market.
Impreza

Forester

Camry
Fuel Consumption (mpg – miles per gallon)
Forester: 26 City; 33 Highway

Legacy: 24-27 City; 32-35 Highway

Rav4: 25-26 City; 33-35 Highway

Corolla: 29-31 City; 36-40 Highway

What are the Models major repair complaints?

Subaru Legacy Vs Toyota Corolla

The Subaru Legacy is well equipped, nicely built and fitted with the standard all-wheel drive. The Toyota Corolla is popular for its reliability and economy. Though appearing bland in design, the Corolla has been around for over 3 decades and is highly reliable.

  • Both models have high repair problems in axle and suspension, electrical, engine and the gear box and very low complaints in the braking systems and steering systems.
  • The Legacy has lesser complaints than the Corolla in the fuel system, electrical, axle and suspension, while the corolla has lesser complaints than the Legacy in air conditioning, cooling and heating system, gearbox and transmission.

Other customer reviews confirm that the legacy is plagued by engine problems, starter motor failure and radiator failure. Likewise, Corolla customers complained about brake problems, faulty fuel pumps, clutch plate problems, starter problems in the cold weather, water pump and suspension problems.

Subaru Forester Vs Toyota Rav4

The Subaru Forester offers the safety of an all-wheel drive without the premium costs of a luxury SUV. In addition to the all-wheel traction, it offers ground clearing for light off-roading. It guarantees complete reliability – but with a higher fuel bill! The Rav4 is said to be practical, easy to own, reliable and well-equipped. Its blend of usability and reliability makes it popular.

  • Both models have high complaints in the axle and suspension, engine and electrical.
  • The Forester has lesser complaints than the Rav4 in the braking system, the cooling and heating system, the gear box, steering system and transmission. Conversely, Rav4 has lesser complaints than Forester in the fuel system, engine, electrical and the cooling/heating system.

In addition to axle and suspension, other customer reviews on the Forester also list major complaints as poor engine idling and breaking of the many small interior parts that the Forester has e.g. cup holders. For the Rav4, water pump failure, gear box problems and failure of the cylinder head gasket are often cited.

Other Factors affecting Reliability

  • Basic Maintenance: Each manufacturer provides a manual that specifies a maintenance schedule for the car’s optimal performance. This maintenance includes checking the brakes and tires, oil changes and the general sprucing up of your car up. In addition, due to wear and tear, some consumables like hoses or fuel filters need to be replaced as needed without waiting for the scheduled maintenance. Otherwise, they would cause a major problem. These come at varying costs.
  • The age of the car: As a car ages, its maintenance costs increase. For example, maintenance costs for a corolla at 5,000 miles is about $121, at 30,000 is about $500 while it is about $700 at 60,000 miles
  • Fuel consumption: Some cars are fuel guzzlers. Others are very economical. Some of the current models like Toyota Rav4 are hybrids. They are electric and just use little gas.
  • How well a car is kept: Diligence in maintaining a car, and driving style also reduces a car’s wear and tear. An aggressive driver, for example is more likely to incur higher maintenance costs.
  • After-sale or dealers benefits: Things like warranties or having a mechanic come to you also help manage costs, etc. For example, you will not pay for any repair if you buy an extended warranty or your car is still under factory warranty.

10 Hacks for improving your car’s reliability

  • Add an oil catch can to filter recirculated oil and capture the oil and junk making their way to the combustion chambers.
  • Replace the factory air filter with a much more efficient performance air filter which in most cases is washable.
  • Get an overflow/expansion tank to catch excess coolant and use a pressurized radiator cap.
  • Change worn-out factory wires and spark plugs to sets of good quality.
  • Use mud flaps to prevent debris on rough terrain from impacting the paint. They hit the mud flap instead
  • Replace your worn-out factory battery with an AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) battery.
  • Upgrade your worn-out factory brake lines with braided brake lines
  • Use an engine block heater to support the engine’s starting in the cold weather.
  • Flush your radiator and engine oil to rid them of all gunk
  • Adopt a gentle driving style.

Conclusion

Subaru owners love its off-road capacity, affordable sports car model and the powertrain engine. However, though rare, its repairs/maintenance costs are high. Toyota owners value its affordability and low repair costs because spare parts are common and cheap to replace. Toyotas are simple, solid and dependable.

Toyota has also had issues with some of its models, a common problem with all manufacturers. So, there you have it. You now know where your heart lies in the Subaru Vs Toyota – Reliability contest.

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Next articleToyota VS Honda – Maintenance Cost
Steven Reilly
Steven Reilly is a qualified mechanic and his passion for cars goes beyond just the technical aspects. He is also an amateur racer and all round car enthusiast. When he is not driving them, he can often be found in his garage under the hood of a rare model. Steven Reilly has lost track of the number of hours he has spent setting up his fine collection of rebuilt models. He believes that cars can provide a constructive and fun opportunity to teach the youth important life skills. In line with this, he is developing a community outreach program, potentially dubbed ‘Cars for change'.

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