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These SUVs are some of the most successful in their class. They've been around for awhile, and it seems like on any given road at any given time, there's always going to be either a Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4 around.
It makes sense why these models are so popular. They come in a variety of trims so they can appeal to budget-minded consumers as well as those who have sophisticated tastes. They have an ideal amount of interior space, and they're known to be reliable and safe. Either of these would be an excellent choice for a customer in the market for a two-row SUV. This guide will go over how they may differ so that people can more easily decide between the two.
What's interesting is that both SUVs come with the option to get hybrid powertrains. Honda and Toyota make a number of hybrid vehicles, and with these models, they've been able to give their eco-conscious customers something to think about. In the early years of hybrid technology, hybrid powertrains weren't exactly known for being strong and athletic. The industry has really moved forward in this regard, and now, the hybrid CR-V and RAV4 have more horsepower than their non-hybrid counterparts.
The CR-V has four trims, which are the LX, EX, EX-L, and Touring. All four of those trims come standard with a 1.5-liter, four-cylinder engine with a turbocharger. This engine can make 190 horsepower and 179 pound-feet of torque. The EX, EX-L, and Touring trims are available as hybrids. In this case, they would have 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engines and electric motors, and they'd have a total horsepower of 212.
With a traditional engine, the CR-V can earn 28 miles per gallon in the city and 34 miles per gallon on the highway. As one would expect, the hybrid CR-V does much better. It has an estimated fuel economy of 40 miles per gallon in the city and 35 miles per gallon on the highway.
The Toyota RAV4 has the edge when it comes to performance. Its standard engine is a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine, and it comes with 203 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. A non-hybrid model can achieve up to 35 miles per gallon on the highway, which is pretty good. Like the CR-V, it has an estimated city fuel economy of 28 miles per gallon.
With a hybrid system in place, the RAV4 would still have a 2.5-liter engine. Because it has the boost from an electric motor, it has 219 total horsepower. The hybrid RAV4 does even better than the hybrid CR-V does. A RAV4 with the electric motor gets 41 miles per gallon in the city and 38 miles per gallon on the highway.
Some other things to keep in mind are the type of transmission that an SUV has and any other related features. The Honda uses a continuously variable transmission, and drivers can choose Sport mode if they ever want their vehicles to be a little more aggressive. The Idle-Stop function helps to save fuel since it turns off the engine if the vehicle has been stopped for more than a few seconds. Likewise, the Eco Assist System can be useful if someone wants to conserve energy. The top three trims of the CR-V have a convenient remote engine start feature, and all trims have Hill Start Assist so they can hold the brakes when stopped on a hill.
Select trims of the Toyota RAV4 have something similar to Idle-Stop. Toyota calls its program the Stop and Start Engine System. All trims have Hill Start Assist Control, and some have Downhill Assist Control to limit speed when traveling down steep slopes. In a RAV4, there's a drive mode dial that people can use if they ever want to switch from the Normal drive mode. The other options are Sport and Eco. This is very similar to what the Honda CR-V has. Plus, many RAV4 models have remote start.
Toyota has paired the traditional powertrain with a Direct Shift electronically controlled automatic transmission with eight speeds. It has a sequential shift mode in case a driver ever wants to manually shift. The hybrid powertrain has been matched with an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission. It, too, has sequential shift mode.
Both the RAV4 and CR-V are available with either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. With the CR-V, the standard models come standard with front-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive would be available at an additional cost. All three hybrid trims would automatically have all-wheel drive.
Toyota has taken a similar route. It gave all of its hybrids an electronic all-wheel-drive system. With this in place, they would have a drive mode dial with Sport, Eco, Normal, EV, and Trail modes.
In addition, the Adventure and TRD Off-Road have standard all-wheel drive. Their systems are enhanced, and they use a system called Dynamic Torque Vectoring All-Wheel Drive. The TRD Off-Road has a TRD-tuned suspension system, too. All the other trims have available all-wheel drive, but their default configuration is to have front-wheel drive. With all-wheel drive, a RAV4 would have a Multi-Terrain Select dial. It has Normal, Snow, Rock & Dirt, and Mud & Sand drive modes. This is an indicator that they SUV was built to handle rugged conditions.
Some people may plan on using their SUVs for towing small trailers. The non-hybrid RAV4s can be used to tow up to 1,500 pounds. This is exactly the same capability that the CR-V has. A hybrid RAV4 can tow up to 1,750 pounds.
Since the RAV4 has more power, it may be the more exciting one to drive. This is especially true if someone gets the XSE or TRD Off-Road. They have more advanced mechanical components that give them better handling. Still, the CR-V is a pleasure to drive, and though it doesn't have the capability that the RAV4 has, it's not really lacking in any area.
Either model would be simple to park. The CR-V is slightly longer than the RAV4 is. It has an overall length of 182.1 inches, compared with the RAV4's length of 180.9 inches. They have exactly the width as each other, and the RAV4 is less than an inch taller than the CRV is.
The RAV4 has a higher ground clearance. It sits 8.4 inches off the ground. In comparison, a front-wheel-drive CR-V has a ground clearance of 7.8 inches. CR-Vs equipped with all-wheel drive have been lifted a bit, and they sit 8.2 inches off the ground. When traveling over uneven terrain, having this extra height can be important.
Because of its extra length, the CR-V manages to have more interior space than the RAV4 does. It has a generous 40.4 inches of rear-seat leg room. The RAV4 only has 37.8 inches of leg room in its second row, which is still a pretty good number. Up front, space shouldn't be a concern, as both models have about 41 inches of first-row leg room.
Cargo capacity is something that many potential shoppers will be paying close attention to. With their open cabins and rear seats that can be easily folded down, the CR-V and RAV4 have fairly spacious cargo areas. The CR-V has a maximum cargo capacity of 75.8 cubic feet, and the RAV4 has 69.8 cubic feet of space. When the rear seats are upright, the cargo hold in the Honda has a volume of 39.2 cubic feet. This is a little more than the 37.6 cubic feet of volume that the Toyota's rear cargo area has.
In regards to technology, both models can be equipped with an array of advanced components. The top trim of the Honda CR-V has navigation, Honda HD Digital Traffic, wireless charging, and a premium sound system with nine speakers. Like most of the other trims, it has a seven-inch touchscreen, smartphone compatibility, Bluetooth, SiriusXM, HD Radio, and four total USB ports.
The top trim of the Toyota RAV4 is the Limited Hybrid. It has a larger touchscreen that measures eight inches, whereas many of the other trims have seven-inch touchscreens. The Limited Hybrid's infotainment system comes with navigation, 11 JBL speakers, five total USB ports, Bluetooth, smartphone compatibility, and SiriusXM. Wi-Fi capability is available. Every trim of the Toyota RAV4 has Amazon Alexa to make it so easy to look up different kinds of information, just like some may be accustomed to doing with their home devices.
The RAV4 starts out with a seven-inch touchscreen, six speakers, Bluetooth, smartphone compatibility, SiriusXM, and as mentioned above, Amazon Alexa. This is a contrast to what the entry-level LX trim of the CR-V has. It has Bluetooth and Pandora compatibility, but it only has a five-inch LCD screen and four speakers. However, the middle trims of the CR-V have comparable offerings to the infotainment packages on the RAV4.
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In the safety department, both SUVs are highly regarded. Of course, they have all the standard components like the LATCH system, multiple air bags, daytime running lights, and rearview cameras. Plus, they have driver-assist technologies that can continually watch out for issues, warn drivers about possible problems, and help them correct situations before they get worse.
In the Honda CR-V, every trim can warn drivers about potential frontal collisions and when they're veering out of their positions. The SUVs can then apply pressure to the brakes or correct steering, if appropriate. The CR-V also has adaptive cruise control and automatic high beams as standard elements, and most models have blind-spot and rear cross-traffic monitoring.
Toyota calls the RAV4's safety package Toyota Safety Sense 2.0. This is a package that's on par with what the CR-V has. The RAV4 can warn people about imminent frontal collisions and it can alert them when they're drifting to one side or another. If this is the case, the RAV4 would have the ability to slow itself down or adjust its steering in order to stay safe. The RAV4 has adaptive cruise control and automatic high beams as well, and like the CR-V, many trims have blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alert.
The RAV4 has a few things that the CR-V does not. First, every RAV4 has a program called Road Sign Assist. This means that the vehicle can read road signs it comes across and then display that information on the dashboard as a reminder to drivers. Available on select models of the RAV4 is a bird's-eye-view camera system. It provides a 360-degree perspective of how the RAV4 is doing when parking or maneuvering in tight spaces at slow speeds. Finally, the Toyota SUV has an available parking assist system that can help with steering and has automatic braking.
Which Has the Best Value?
The CR-V is a bit more affordable than the RAV4 is. The LX trim of the CR-V has a starting price of $25,350. The LE trim of the RAV4, which is the entry-level model, costs $26,250. With both vehicles, a hybrid powertrain generally costs between $2,500 and $3,000, and all-wheel drive would cost extra, for many trims, as well.
There are 11 total RAV4 trims in comparison with only four for the CR-V. If the hybrid CR-Vs are considered as their own trims, which is what Toyota does, then there would be seven total options. On the high end of the spectrum, the CR-V Hybrid Touring costs $36,350, and the RAV4's Limited Hybrid is priced at $37,330. At the various trim levels in the middle of the lineups, the RAV4 has slightly more to offer in terms of power and technology than the CR-V does, and it's priced accordingly.
In general, the two models have similar exterior features. They can have moonroofs, LED headlights and fog lights, and roof racks, though the RAV4 is the only one with an available two-tone exterior appearance. The RAV4 can also be decked out with chrome or black accents.
It's the same inside the cabin. Select models of the RAV4 may feel more athletic and edgy because of their unique stylings. Both models start out with cloth seats and can have nicer amenities like heated front seats, push-button start, and leather-wrapped steering wheels. The CR-V's top trim has a heated steering wheel, but this is only an option on the RAV4. Also, the CR-V's EX-L and Touring trims have leather upholstery. In the RAV4, the higher trims have a synthetic upholstery called SofTex.
Which is Better?
Overall, the RAV4 and the CR-V have many of the same qualities. They are pretty capable for their size, and they have comfortable seats, relatively large cargo areas, and a lot of available technology.
The differences are evident, though, when examining these SUVs in closer detail. The Toyota RAV4 is the more rugged out of the two models, especially if someone chooses a trim built with tougher mechanical components. It can't be overlooked that the RAV4 has more power and better safety and technology packages.
On the other hand, the Honda CR-V has more interior space, which could be important for some buyers. It has a more refined cabin with its leather seats, and some may prefer its style to that of the RAV4.