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2021 Honda HR-V vs Toyota RAV4

2021 Honda HR-V vs Toyota RAV4

2021 HR-V vs RAV4 - How do they stack up? Which is Better?

Putting up the HR-V against the RAV4 makes for a showdown between two popular and well-established companies. Their long-term successes in the market must mean that Honda and Toyota are doing something right.

The 2021 versions of the HR-V and RAV4 have been made with modern consumers in mind, and despite the growing SUV market, they're going to be at the top of many buyer's lists. These vehicles have much to offer as it relates to capability, size, and convenience. They can also be equipped with an impressive amount of technology. This overview will go over how they may differ so that a prospective buyer can have an easier time choosing between the two.

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The Powertrain

The HR-V uses a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. This engine gives it 141 horsepower and 127 pound-feet of torque. With this amount of capability, this SUV might not thrill performance-minded drivers, but it can certainly get the job done for the average driver in most situations.

Beefing up the HR-V is an available all-wheel-drive system. It allows for power to be sent to all four wheels instead of just the front two. As a result, all-wheel drive can result in enhanced traction. In very slippery conditions, it may be necessary to have in order to drive safely.

Honda has matched the engine with a continuously variable transmission. It has a Sport mode to make the driving experience more exciting. Three out of the four available HR-V trims have paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel so that drivers can easily shift gears whenever they want to.

Compared with what the HR-V can do, the Toyota RAV4 is the much stronger vehicle. The standard engine on a RAV4 is a 2.5-liter version that can generate 203 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. It has Sport, Eco, and Normal modes in case people are in the mood for a different driving experience. It's paired with a Direct Shift eight-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission that has sequential shift mode. Sequential shift mode is somewhat similar to manual shifting, and while it can be utilized at any time, some people may never end up using it at all.

The other option on the RAV4 is a hybrid powertrain that uses an electric motor and a 2.5-liter engine. Since there are two quality components working together to provide the SUV with power, there is an impressive amount of capability. A hybrid RAV4 has a net horsepower of 219, so this is even better than what a non-hybrid can do. The hybrid powertrain uses an electronically controlled continuously variable transmission, and it also has sequential shift mode.

If someone selects a hybrid RAV4, it'll automatically come with electronic on-demand all-wheel drive. The traditional RAV4s can either have front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.

However, it's not as straightforward as it may seem at first. Some trims have a higher quality all-wheel drive system called Dynamic Torque Vectoring AWD, and it comes with a rear driveline disconnect. With this type of system, the Toyota would be better equipped to handle challenging terrain. In addition, select non-hybrid RAV4s come standard with all-wheel drive. These are going to be more durable models that would appeal to customers who have plans for heading off the beaten path. If a RAV4 has all-wheel drive, it would have a Multi-Terrain Select dial that allows the driver to choose from Normal, Mud and Sand, Rock and Dirt, or Snow modes.

As one would imagine, the RAV4 has the greater towing capacity. It can tow up to 1,500 or 1,750 pounds, depending on whether it has the standard or hybrid powertrain. It's actually not recommended that the HR-V be used to tow. If absolutely necessary, it could potentially tow a small trailer. Some in the industry estimate that it could tow about 1,000 pounds.

In terms of fuel efficiency, the RAV4 is going to be the winner because it has the hybrid option. A hybrid RAV4 can earn up to 41 miles per gallon in the city and 38 miles per gallon on the highway. A non-hybrid still does fairly well in this regard, as it can achieve up to 27 miles per gallon in the city and 35 miles per gallon on the highway.

This is comparable to what a Honda HR-V can do, which is 28 miles per gallon in the city and 34 miles per gallon on the highway. If someone in an HR-V ever wants to be more efficient, there's an Eco Assist function that can be utilized. This would be similar to the Eco mode on the RAV4.


It's great that both SUVs have Hill Start Assist. With this program, pressure on the brakes can be maintained while the driver switches from the brake to the gas pedal. It can be used to prevent the vehicle from rolling backwards after being stopped on a hill, facing upwards.

The Honda HR-V has another nice feature, which is Active Noise Cancellation. It gives the cabin a more peaceful feel. Instead of taking that route, Toyota decided to give each one of its RAV4s Active Cornering Assist so that they have improved handling. Sometimes, it's the little things that can attract attention from potential buyers, so these are two important elements to keep in mind.

Out of the two models, the RAV4 feels more athletic. It helps that several of its trims have sport-tuned suspensions. This, combined with the fact that some trims have standard all-wheel drive, contributes to the idea that the RAV4 is the more rugged choice.

Neither model would be difficult to park, but the HR-V is certainly the more compact. It is 170.4 inches long, about 70 inches wide, and approximately 63 inches tall. If it has front-wheel drive, it has a ground clearance of 7.3 inches. With all-wheel drive, ground clearance is 6.7 inches.

The RAV4 is more than ten inches longer than the HR-V is. It's wider and slightly taller as well. Plus, it has a ground clearance of 8.4 inches, so it feels even bigger.

This translates into the RAV4 having more interior space. It has 41 inches of leg room in the front and 37.8 inches in the second row. Its rear cargo area has a volume of 37.6 cubic feet, and this can be expanded to nearly 70 cubic feet by lowering the rear seats down.

Maximum cargo capacity in the HR-V is less than 60 cubic feet. When the rear seats are in their proper positions, there's a capacity of 24.3 cubic feet. This is going to be a noticeable difference in comparison to what the RAV4 has to offer. However, the HR-V has a generously sized second row. It has 39.3 inches of leg room in its second row, and up front, there is 41.2 inches of leg room.

Many people shopping for new SUVs are going to be interested in their technology packages. In the Toyota RAV4, there could either be a seven- or eight-inch touchscreen. Either way, there would be Bluetooth, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa, and SiriusXM. Making the infotainment system even better are the five available USB ports and available navigation. On lower trims, there are six speakers, and on higher trims, there could be 11 JBL speakers to enhance the audio quality.

Four speakers, Bluetooth, and a five-inch LCD screen are found in lowest trim of the Honda HR-V. Some people might be okay with not having smartphone connectivity, but many modern consumers will definitely be looking for something more. If that's the case, then any of the remaining trims would meet those expectations. They have seven-inch touchscreens with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, HondaLink, and Pandora compatibility. The top two trims have SiriusXM and HD Radio, along with six-speaker sound systems.

Buying Tip:

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The two companies have different names for their safety packages. Honda uses the term Honda Sensing, and Toyota has put together a package called Toyota Safety Sense 2.0.

Honda Sensing driver-assist technologies include adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with collision mitigation braking, road departure mitigation, lane keeping, and lane departure warning. The HR-V can actively work to prevent frontal collisions as well as accidents resulting from drivers veering out of position.

There's a catch, though. These features are only found on the top two trims of the HR-V. In addition, those top trims have automatic high beams and Honda LaneWatch, which is a type of blind spot monitoring system.

The big contrast is that all trims of the RAV4 have driver-assist technologies. They have all of the elements that have just been described in the HR-V, along with pedestrian detection and road sign assist. With road sign assist, drivers can be reminded of changing speed limits and/or upcoming traffic patterns. A higher trim of the RAV4 could be enhanced with a 360-degree camera and parking assist with automatic braking. Most trims have blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

Which Has the Best Value?

So far, it seems like the RAV4 has been the better option if someone is interested in capability, size, and technology. One way in which the HR-V can stand out is in regards to pricing. Its entry-level LX trim only costs $21,220. This makes it very hard to pass up, especially if someone is on a limited budget. The base model of the RAV4 is the LE, and it has a starting price of $26,250. This difference of more than $5,000 will be an important factor as shoppers decide between the two SUVs.

The other trims of the Honda HR-V are the Sport ($23,170), EX ($24,420), and EX-L ($26,020). At each level, some notable upgrades are found. To review, the Sport is the trim in which the HR-V benefits from having a touchscreen and smartphone compatibility, and the EX is the level at which driver-assist systems become standard. The EX-L has some higher end amenities, such as heated front seats, leather upholstery, an automatic-dimming rearview mirror, and a leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel.

There are 11 total RAV4 trims, so there's too many to individually list and describe. Some of those trims are hybrids, which cost about $2,500 more than their non-hybrid counterparts. There are some unique RAV4 trims that have their own style, like the Adventure, TRD Off-Road, and XSE Hybrid. The top trims are the Limited ($34,780) and Limited Hybrid ($37,330).

When looking at the premium trims of each model, the discrepancy in pricing gets larger. The Limited Hybrid is almost in a different category than the HR-V EX-L is, as it's more than $10,000 more expensive.

Is it worth it? Well, the Limited Hybrid has a height-adjustable power liftgate, available rain-sensing wipers, navigation and a high-quality sound system, a 360-degree camera, ambient lighting, and a digital rearview mirror. It can have heated and ventilated front seats, though the standard set-up would be to have heating elements only. Also available is a heated steering wheel.

Interestingly, the RAV4 doesn't come with leather seats. Besides fabric, the only other upholstery choice is SofTex, which is a synthetic leather. Leather seats are found in the top trim of the HR-V.

Which is Better?

These SUVs are going to appeal to different customers. Those who want vehicles with more power and interior space are definitely going to prefer the Toyota RAV4. Those who prefer affordable and compact vehicles with decent-sized cabins are going to lean towards the HR-V.

The HR-V does have a more edgy vibe, with some strong exterior lines and vertically oriented rear-door handles. Its main advantage is its affordability, but having available all-wheel drive, a spacious second row, and certain advanced technology components will help it attract attention.

As a more traditional and rugged SUV, the Toyota RAV4 has a strong following already. Toyota makes it in so many trims so that this model can please a variety of drivers. It's a great vehicle to drive if people want a spacious cargo area, a capable engine, and many high-tech components.

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