2020 Honda CR-V vs Toyota RAV4
The 2020 line-up of small SUVs is pretty dense, but there are a few choices that stand out as being at the top of the pack. The 2020 Honda CR-V is a crowd-pleaser, and the 2020 Toyota RAV4 does a lot to keep pace, especially given its tech upgrades for the model year.
In such a loaded pack, how do these two manage to stand out? And just how do they stack up against one another? Does the CR-V trump the RAV4 on power, fuel economy, or safety features - all things that drivers desire?
To be quite honest, these are both good vehicles, but they are a lot different from one another. The CR-V has a standard 1.5-L turbocharged engine that gets up to speed quickly, and there is a ton of space throughout the vehicle (including inside of the cargo area). The handling feels sporty, and the ride feels cozy. The one downside that sticks out like a sore thumb is the finicky touchscreen and its lack of a separate physical turning knob.
The RAV4 has been given a few important updates this model year that help it gain an edge over the competition. It now has standard Android Auto included for smartphone app integration. You get a comfy ride from this vehicle, and the cabin remains quiet throughout. The controls are all easy to use, but the power from the sole engine option is lacking. Also, the front passenger seat is positioned higher than it should be and does not offer a lot of comfort or adjustability.
So, which of these small SUVs is the better buy? Which one has the most value? Read on through to the end of this comparison review. We will tell you how the powertrains stack up on the 2020 Honda CR-V and 2020 Toyota RAV4, as well as their drivability factors and safety features and ratings. In the end, we will let you know which one we think is most worthy of your hard-earned money. Which will it be? It is time to find out.
The 2020 Honda CR-V is powered by a standard 1.5-L turbocharged engine that is paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Together, this powertrain generates a smooth 190 hp and 179 lb-ft of torque. Front-wheel drive (FWD) is standard issue as well, but all-wheel drive (AWD) is available to swap in on any trim level. There is also a hybrid variant that you can get, something which is new for the 2020 line-up.
The 2020 Toyota RAV4 has a somewhat less powerful engine, a 2.5-L 4-cylinder paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission that gets 203 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. Unfortunately, its power delivery just is not as smooth as the CR-V's turbo engine. FWD is standard on all but the Adventure trim level, which gets equipped with AWD. However, AWD is optional on the other trim levels.
Drivability is more than just how a vehicle drives; it involves comfort, interior design, technology, and utility. However, the way these two SUVs drive is an important factor. You want something that will meet - if not exceed - your needs when it comes to how it steers, handles, accelerates, and brakes.
The 2020 Honda CR-V gets a snappy acceleration from the turbo 1.5-L engine, getting from 0 to 60 mph in just about 7.5 seconds - a superb time for a vehicle in this segment. The brakes are superbly easy to control in any braking situation, and they can make a very safe panic stop from 60 mph. You get a great balance of handling and a smooth ride quality. Bumps you encounter mid-corner and all other road irregularities are quickly smoothed out, making it easy to navigate winding mountain roads. The steering is incredibly precise and provides a good amount of road feel as you drive.
As far as the 2020 Toyota RAV4 goes, the 2.5-L engine gets enough power up around town, but when you try to push it on the highway, you will feel some resistance. The RAV4 gets from 0 to 60 mph in a sluggish 9.1 seconds, which trails behind many of its competitors. You also have to deal with some vague steering when you are at the center point, which makes it easy to misjudge your driving inputs. The optional AWD upgrade has rear-axle torque vectoring and advanced traction control with hill descent control and terrain settings that you can choose from, thereby making it a capable off-roader for a vehicle in its class.
The CR-V is packed with comfort, something which Honda typically does well in their vehicles. The driver's seat is cozy enough for people of all sizes, and the back seat is comfy for long rides. The vehicle remains composed while going over all types of surfaces, absorbing bumps so that they do not reverberate throughout the cabin. You will only feel each big bump once, and it is minimalized. There is some wind and tire noise that makes its way into the cabin while driving along the highway. The engine only gets noisy when you press down hard on the gas, but even that noise is minute. The automatic climate control system is the only glitch, as it sometimes fails to maintain the temperature you have it set at.
The RAV4 has a well-tuned suspension that provides a ton of comfort. It does not feel to light and absorbs small to medium sized bumps. The front seats are well-constructed with enough padding, but the seat bottoms border on the flat side when you sit on them for long periods of time. The passenger side lacks adjustability and is placed too high, which makes things awkward for some front seat passengers. The vehicle's cabin is quiet while on the highway except when you hit it hard on the gas for a rush of power. The air flows well, distributing comfortable amounts of air throughout the vents in the cabin.
When it comes to the interior design, both vehicles seem well put-together. The CR-V has wide door openings to the front and rear, so getting in and out is quite easy for most people. The driver's seat and tilting and telescoping steering wheel are highly adjustable, so you can find a good driving position without hassle regardless of your size. The cabin itself is quite cavernous, giving you plenty of space up front, in the rear seats, and in the cargo area. You can easily fit four adults in the cabin.
The RAV4 also has wide enough door opening for easy entry and exit, and the cabin is also roomy. The front passenger seat is the problem though, as we have already mentioned. It is positioned too high, which not only makes it hard to adjust for comfort, but it infringes on rear seat space, especially if you need to put a rear-facing child car seat back there. Taller drivers might also want a bit more adjustability from their seat. On a good note, the controls are easy to use, and outward visibility is vast once you get into a comfy position.
On the tech front, the Honda CR-V offers a lot all bundled into a neat package. Smartphone app integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is standard on all but the base trim level, and every trim gets Bluetooth connectivity and audio streaming. The navigation system's graphics are clear, but the system can still feel a bit clunky. Voice controls are also a bit wonky at times and could use some refinement.
Meanwhile, the RAV4 has a good amount of technology now that Toyota has given it some changes. Smartphone app integration is now standard, the lack of which has been a major gripe for years. The rubber climate control knobs are nice to have as physical ones, but the audio and climate control system controls are kind of awkwardly placed. The touchscreen is too far away from the driver's reach, as is the tuning knob. Also, the graphics feel somewhat outdated but are still easy enough to read, though you have to read them from a distance.
Storage is quite impeccable on the CR-V. There is 39.2 cubic feet of cargo space available with all seats left in place. You can take them down for a total of 75.8 cubes, which is one of the better numbers in this class. The small item storage spaces are also cleverly designed, and the deep center console has a nifty sliding tray that covers up all of your valuables. The LATCH system is easy to access when it comes to the outboard anchors, but the center one is on the ceiling, which obstructs visability out of the rear-view mirror.
The RAV4 has a bit less in the way of utility. It has 37.5 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats in place, and it expands out to 69.8 cubes when you take those seats down. There is a low cargo floor for easy loading, and the LATCH system is easily accessed. The only downside is that the front passenger seat hinders space for rear-facing child car seats.
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Safety is definitely a big deal for both automakers and drivers. You want the utmost in terms of safety, right? That is why Honda packs a ton of safety features into its vehicles with the Honda Sensing driver aid bundle. This gives you lane keep assist, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking. While the features all work pretty well, forward collision warning does sometimes issue faulty warnings.
The RAV packs in a lot of similar features. It has adaptive cruise control that works down to 0 mph, automatic emergency braking, drowsy driver alert, lane tracing assist, lane keep assist, and automatic high beams. For the most part, these features are functional and helpful.
So, how does these vehicles rate in their crash tests? The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (otherwise known as NHTSA) gave the CR-V 5 stars in its overall rating, and only one star was lost on the front barrier passenger side test. The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (which is referred to by its acronym, IIHS) gave the CR-V all "Good" (or "G") ratings on its tests. The RAV4 received 5 stars overall from NHTSA as well but lost a star on each the front barrier driver and passenger side tests. IIHS also gave it "G" marks.
Which Has the Best Value
Obviously, these two small SUVs pack a lot of value into some neat packages. But which one does it better?
The 2020 Honda CR-V gets an EPA rated 30 mpg combined (with 28 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway) and is known for being sensitive to driving style. Realistically, your combined mpg is about 35 in shorter drives but 28 on longer drives. The build quality is truly superb, as the trim inserts mesh well with the interior paneling. The higher trim levels have gorgeous leather seats that look and feel fantastic. The warranty is industry standard, but roadside assistance is included.
The 2020 Toyota RAV4 has an EPA estimated 27-33 mpg combined depending on the trim level and powertrain. 28.6 mpg combined is more like what you will get on a long drive. The interior is well designed, and there are a good amount of physical controls. The optional simulated leather feels plush and has nice stitching that gives it a classy vibe. There is a 2-year/25,000-mile free scheduled maintenance warranty which is definitely helpful.
Overall, though, the CR-V has more value than the RAV4. While the RAV4 has a lot of good features, the powertrain detracts from the vehicle's overall value. The CR-V outperforms it with the turbo 1.5-L, which is just as fuel savvy as the RAV4's sluggish 2.5-L.
Which is Better?
The 2020 Honda CR-V is the better of these two vehicles. The powertrain is far superior, and you will notice this as soon as you take it out on the open road. While the RAV4 shows a lot of improvement from the past model years, it just is not quite enough in the right departments. A few design changes and a better engine would have this SUV competing more sufficiently with the powerhouse people-pleaser 2020 Honda CR-V. For now, though, the CR-V takes the cake.