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2019 Honda HR-V vs Toyota RAV4

2019 Honda HR-V vs Toyota RAV4 - Comparison.
Reviewed & fact checked by
James Murdoch

2019 HR-V vs RAV4 - How do they stack up? Which is Better?

Those who are in the market for a new small SUV will most likely have the 2019 Honda HR-V and Toyota RAV4 on their list of vehicles to test-drive. The HR-V is an extra-small SUV while the RAV4 is a small SUV. So, what does this mean?

Not a whole lot, honestly. Aside from some obvious differences in measurements, a lot of the features equipped on these SUVs are quite similar. And that is not a bad thing. The freshly redesigned RAV4 and the refreshed HR-V are both solid choices when it comes to buying a smaller-sized SUV.

But is one better than the other? Will buyers get a better deal on one over the other? Taking into consideration the mechanical specs, safety, technology, and interior design, this review will compare the 2019 Honda HR-V and Toyota RAV4 and, by the end, declare one the winner.

The Powertrain

A strong pwoertrain can make driving a smaller SUV enjoyable, but an under-powered one can make getting up to speed on high-speed roads a total drag. The 2019 Honda HR-V receives its power from a 1.8-L 4-cylinder engine, which gets paired up with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). This powertrain is able to generate 141 hp and 127 lb-ft of torque.

All five of the HR-V's trim levels (the base LX, Sport, EX, EX-L, and line-topping Touring) come with this powertrain. Front-wheel drive is standard on all trims save for the Touring, which gets all-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is optional on the lower trim levels though.

With this type of engine equipped, drivers should expect to get ample power while driving along flat surfaces. However, uphill pushes are truly a battle. Also, it does take a while for the HR-V to get up to speed. Going from 0 to 60 mph takes roughly 10.4 seconds, which is one of the slowest times for this segment.

As for the 2019 Toyota RAV4, expect to find some differences since this is a slightly bigger vehicle. Toyota totally overhauled the RAV4 for 2019, giving it more power. The new 2.5-L 4-cylinder engine gets 27 hp above the 2018 model, giving it a total of 203 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. An 8-speed automatic transmission comes equipped on all models. Front-wheel drive is standard on every trim level except for the Adventure. The sportier Adventure trim gets all-wheel drive.

Additionally, the Limited and Adventure trims have a tweaked version of the drivetrain that allows for better driving on dirt or snow-covered roads. This is made possible by the tweaked torque-vectoring feature, which sends power back and forth between whichever rear wheel needs it most in the moment. It is certainly a handy feature for those who want to do some light off-roading or who live in places where inclement weather creates frequent road hazards.

That being said, it should be obvious that these two vehicles were built for very different purposes. The HR-V's powertrain makes it nice for scooting about town, but when it comes to highway driving and off-roading, the RAV4's stronger powertrain takes the top spot.


A new vehicle is a major investment, so drivers need to know what they're getting in terms of how the automobile performs in real life. Unfortunately, the HR-V falls short in terms of performance due to its under-powered 1.8-L engine. A more powerful engine would definitely earn the HR-V a much more glowing review since Honda gets almost everything else right on this small crossover SUV.

The HR-V's brakes feel solid thanks to adequate pedal firmness. The HR-V can make a quick panic stop from 60 mph in about 121 feet, which is good for this segment. While the vehicle does not have much zip, the brake system feels really secure.

Steering and handling are excellent. The steering system is just heavy enough for the average driver, and the feedback the driver gets from the steering wheel is best-in-class. The suspension is appropriately tuned for a vehicle in this class, and that shows when the HR-V rounds through curves. Body roll is barely noticeable, and mid-corner bumps get smoothed out with ease.

Toyota's 2019 RAV4 is a bit quicker to accelerate than the HR-V, getting from 0 to 60 mph in about 9.1 seconds. It does take the RAV4 a little bit longer to reach a stop, but not by much. The brakes do not falter during panic stops, maintaining their control and keeping the vehicle tracking straight on.

Steering is the RAV4's downfall. There is a lack of weight, so drivers will put in the wrong amount of effort when trying to round through corners. The effort in the tires and the weight in the steering system just do not sync up. Still, the vehicle handles well enough, feeling balanced in most situations. There is a good amount of road grip from the tires, and all-wheel drive gives that extra sense of security while driving through rain or snow. Also, the Limited and Adventure trims can make off-roading feel easy and fun.

Drivability also includes how the vehicle feels on the inside. Are the seats well-cushioned? Is there any noise that seeps into the cabin? Are the infotainment features easy to use? These factors can make or break a vehicle too.

As far as the HR-V goes, the seats are mostly comfortable. The back seat bottoms feel a bit flat but are not terrible to sit in for short distances. Taller folks might have some trouble adjusting the seats up front since thigh comfort is lacking. The ride is pretty cozy thanks to the broad wheels and well-tuned suspension. The engine, however, gets louder to the point of annoyance when pushed to full throttle. To top it all off, the climate control settings on the touchscreen display are a nuisance to use, even though the airflow feels nice when the right setting is found.

The one flaw inside of the Honda HR-V is the touchscreen. Its interface is far too clunky for most people to feel comfortable using. The upside? Android Auto and Apple CarPlay come standard. Syncing the apps from a smartphone to the HR-V makes for a more user-friendly experience. The vehicle's voice control system does have a moderate learning curve and does not interpret natural speaking with ease. Google Voice and Siri work better.

Cargo space is one of the things drivers love about the HR-V. It has 23.2 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats up, and, when they are taken down, that number maxes out at 55.9 cubic feet. The Magic Seat rear seats flip upward and fold down flat, making it easy to store different items in the cargo area.

The cabin is pretty well-designed, with only a few hard plastic surfaces here and there. The overall quality is decent, and visibility from the cockpit is excellent. The windshield and windows are huge, the roof pillars are slender, and the dash sits low. The wheel is tilt-and-telescoping, which helps the driver find a good position. And adjusting the driver's seat is simple. Additionally, many of the controls are well within the driver's reach.

As for the RAV4? It gives a pleasing ride during long-distance trips. The reclining rear seats are a nice touch and can be appreciated by passengers. The RAV4 does struggle to smooth out some of the bigger bumps it encounters, but it handles small to mid-size ones just fine. The doors are decked with solidly crafted inlays, so exterior noise does not get in. The only thing preventing the RAV4 from having a totally muted cabin is the engine, which tends to sound aggressive. But it's a good thing - it lets drivers know they have something powerful under their control.

Unlike the bulky and confusing controls on the Honda HR-V, the RAV4's controls are smartly designed and laid out in a clear, concise, and ultimately intuitive manner. The climate control system is very user-friendly, and the flow of air through the cabin feels just right. The only thing that does not work as well as it could is the seat heating function. The seats only get modestly warm.

Overall, the cabin itself reeks of creature comforts. The rear seats are comfortable for adults of all sizes, and, with plenty of space, longer-legged folks can stretch out without feeling mushed in. The front passenger seat does feel a little bit too high though, so a shorter adult would fit better up front.

A lot of blind spots have been reduced or eliminated on the RAV4 due to its design. There is enough space between the door mirrors and the front roof pillars to get a good look out. The three-quarter blind spot is also minimized. In fact, it is easy to see around most of the vehicle, which should be reassuring for many drivers.

When it comes to cargo space, the RAV4 gives quite a bit. With all seats in place, there is 37.5 cubic feet available, but that can be boosted up to 69.8 cubes when the seats get folded. Since the seats fold almost completely flat, there is a lot of room for bulky cargo.

Of course, the vehicle's technology needs mentioning. The pitfalls of the infotainment system are the outdated graphics and menu structures. Also, as is the case with other Toyota models, Android Auto is not available. Only iPhone owners will be able to sync their apps to the infotainment system. Otherwise, Android owners are relegated to the treacherous Entune system, which is known for being a royal pain to use.

It is hard to pick a winner here since both vehicles have a lot of pros and a few really big cons. The RAV4 is the better choice for those needing a good off-roader with plenty of cabin and cargo space. However, the HR-V has a more practical design with a lot of decent tech features.

Buying Tip:

To avoid overpaying on a new car, shop prices online first. Get up front pricing before you walk into a dealership. We recommend the following free services; Car Clearance Deals, NADAguides, CarsDirect & & Motortrend.
These free services will offer you the lowest prices and supply you with multiple competing price quotes. You will know the best price before you visit the dealer.


Safety is always a concern, and Toyota and Honda are forever in competition with one another to craft the safest vehicles for their customers. Naturally, both vehicles are loaded with a bunch of standard and optional safety features. They've also been tested for crash and rollover risks.

Starting with the 2019 Toyota RAV4, the list of standard driver aids is rather impressive. Drowsy driver detection, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, automatic high beams, and Lane Tracing Assist (a steering assist feature) are all included in the list of driver aids. All of the features work well, and adaptive cruise control works all the way down to 0 mph, which cannot be said of the adaptive cruise controls found in other vehicles.

With regard to safety ratings, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (also known as the NHTSA) assigned the 2019 RAV4 an overall 5/5 stars. It got 4/5 or 5/5 stars on all of its tests and found a 15.9% risk of a rollover crash, which is decent for this segment.

On the EX trim and above, the 2019 Honda HR-V's list of driver aids consists of adaptive cruise control, lane departure mitigation, lane keep assist, and forward collision mitigation. These features tend to function as expected, save for adaptive cruise control, which allows a little too much room between vehicles regardless of the distance setting.

The NHTSA gave the HR-V 5/5 stars overall, and all tests scored 4/5 or 5/5 stars. Also, the rollover risk was noted as being 15.3%. It is hard to imagine too many scenarios in which the HR-V or the RAV4 would roll over. Smaller SUVs like these tend to have smaller rollover risks than the bigger SUVs due to the way they are constructed.

Overall, both vehicles are considered to be some of the safest for small SUVs. However, the RAV4 has driver aids that work slightly better than those on the HR-V. The RAV4's adaptive cruise control is truly stellar.

Which Has the Best Value?

The 2019 Toyota RAV4 and Honda HR-V both have a lot of value, but it is the RAV4 that comes out on top. The HR-V has a CVT, which is great when it works. However, when CVTs break down, they are even more expensive than regular automatic transmissions to repair. This is something all buyers need to consider when getting any vehicle with a CVT equipped.

The RAV4 also presents as the better off-roading option. It has good enough ground clearance for some moderate off-roading activities, and the Adventure trim has a towing capacity of 3,500 pounds, which is excellent for this type of SUV.

Which is Better?

The HR-V isn't a poor choice by any means, but it lacks some of the RAV4's refinement, especially when it comes to technology. Should Toyota decide to include Android Auto for smartphone app integration in the future, the RAV4 will become even better. Still, right now, it is the better option when compared with the under-powered HR-V.

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