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If recent automative trends have proven anything, it's that consumers have realized the many benefits that SUVs offer. SUVs seem to be more popular than ever, and Toyota makes several versions to appeal to a variety of drivers. The RAV4 is a capable mid-size model that feels roomy. The C-HR has two rows of seats like the RAV4 does, but it has a more compact frame and some more edgy stylistic elements.
This detailed comparison will give prospective buyers a better idea of whether the RAV4 or the C-HR might be a better fit. The RAV4 comes in six trims, which are the LE, XLE, XLE Premium, Adventure, TRD Off-Road, and Limited, and four of those trims come in hybrid models. The C-HR has only three trims; the LE and XLE are the more basic versions, and the Limited is the premium choice.
Size and Styling
The 2020 Toyota RAV4 is bigger than the C-HR is just about every way. It stands 67 inches tall, is 73 inches wide, and has an overall length of 180.9 inches. In comparison, the C-HR is 61.6 inches tall, 70.7 inches wide, and 172.6 inches long.
This size differential is really clear when examining cargo space, a key component of what makes SUVs so popular. In the C-HR, maximum cargo capacity is 37 cubic feet, and the rear cargo area has a volume of 19.1 cubic feet. In a stark contrast, there is 37.6 cubic feet of storage space in the RAV4, when just looking at the area behind the seating. When the rear seats are lowered, cargo capacity expands to 69.8 cubic feet.
Interestingly, front-row passengers in the C-HR have a bit more leg room than those in the RAV4. Front-row leg room is 43.46 inches in the C-HR compared with the RAV4's 41 inches of leg room. In the back, it's another story. Rear-seat passengers can spread out with 37.8 inches of leg room. The C-HR only provides 31.7 inches of leg room, and this can definitely make things feel cramped for adults and taller children, even on the shortest of rides.
While being modern and elegant, these models have different exterior styles. The RAV4 has a more traditional SUV appearance as it stands tall and looks muscular and athletic. It can either ride on 17-inch, 18-inch, or 19-inch wheels, and it can have LED headlights, fog lights, Daytime Running Lights, and taillights. Some trims have two-tone color schemes, and others have exclusive badging, chrome accents, panoramic moonroofs, and mud guards.
The C-HR is limited to having 17-inch wheels, and this is a clue that the upper range of what the C-HR offers doesn't compare to what the RAV4's features. The C-HR can have LED headlights and fog lights, red garnish on the rear bumper, piano-black B-pillars, and some chrome accents. Noticeably, the C-HR has a unique rear door handle that's hidden in the door frame. It also has a curved roof and some angular features, giving it a slightly futuristic feel. Honestly, this may draw some customers, while turning away others.
Under the hood of the 2020 Toyota C-HR, there's a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. This engine is paired with a continuously variable transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, and there is no all-wheel drive option. There are, however, a few different driving modes. Normal is the mode that most people would use on a regular basis, Sport mode kicks things up a notch in terms of aggressiveness, and ECO is the most energy efficient setting.
With 144 horsepower and 139 pound-feet of torque, the C-HR isn't the quickest vehicle on the roads. It is easy to drive and feels responsive, whether one is on the highway or on city streets. A benefit of driving the C-HR is that it's relatively light on the gas consumption. In the city, it can achieve up to 27 miles per gallon, and on the highway, mileage is estimated to be 31 miles per gallon.
The 2020 RAV4 runs on a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine. This engine is paired with an electric motor in the hybrid versions. Hybrid versions automatically come with electronic on-demand all-wheel drive, and the Adventure and TRD Off-Road have specialized all-wheel-drive systems designed for rugged terrain. Other non-hybrid models come standard with front-wheel drive, but there's the option to get all-wheel drive.
In the non-hybrid RAV4s, there is 203 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. The hybrids can generate 219 net horsepower. This is plenty of power and gives the SUV a more aggressive ride. Unlike the C-HR which is not rated for towing, the RAV4 has been built to accommodate towing cargo. Towing capacity is 1,500 pounds in the lower trims, 1,750 pounds in the hybrid versions, and 3,500 pounds in select trims.
The RAV4 also has Sport, ECO, and Normal driving modes. In addition, some trims have a Multi-Terrain Select function that can optimize performance for driving over mud and sand, rock and dirt, and snow. Further improving how the RAV4 handles are hill start assist control, which the C-HR also has, and active cornering assist.
Hybrid RAV4s are difficult to beat in terms of efficiency. They can earn up to 41 miles per gallon in the city and 38 miles per gallon on the highway. Front-wheel drive SUVs can achieve an estimated 27 miles per gallon in the city and 35 miles per gallon on the highway, which isn't that bad considering all the capability they have. With all-wheel drive RAV4s, mileage drops only a bit, to an estimated 27/34 (city/highway) miles per gallon.
Comfort, Options and Performance
These days, automotive companies know that customers want to be treated to a pleasant ride, and Toyota has certainly built the C-HR and RAV4 with comfort in mind. Drivers will find many features to be convenient.
The C-HR starts out with a dual-zone automatic climate control system and remote keyless entry. Its seats are trimmed in a soft yet durable fabric, and the 60/40 split bench in the back seat has adjustable headrests. Up front, the seats are manually adjustable, and the shift lever is trimmed in leather.
Moving up a trim results in having a leather-trimmed steering wheel, seatback pockets, illuminated vanity mirrors behind the dual sun visors, and push button start with a Smart Key System. The top trim offers leather seats, heated front seats, and a power-adjustable driver's seat.
Infotainment is a big selling point for customers who like to stay entertained and connected. The C-HR has an attractive system, especially given its affordable pricing. It comes standard with an eight-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, smartphone compatibility, and the ability to recognize certain voice commands. SiriusXM Radio can provide people with dozens of radio stations no matter where they travel. On the two higher trims, there's also HD radio. Both systems in the C-HR have six speakers, can access Toyota Connected Services, and provide Wi-Fi access if this feature is activated.
Some similar features are seen in the RAV4, but the RAV4 has many more interior elements than the C-HR has. It starts out with fabric seats, and its mid-level and premium models have a SofTex trim. This isn't the same as leather, but it's definitely sophisticated and easy to care for. Some trims have special accent stitching and embossed seat inserts, and on select models, the power-adjustable driver's seat has a two-position memory function as well as lumbar support. Like the C-HR, heated front seats are standard in higher trims; ventilation is also an option if people prefer to be a little more comfortable in the hotter months. Another option on select RAV4 models is to get heated seats in the back seat.
The RAV4 starts out with a urethane steering wheel, with the mid-level and higher models having leather-trimmed steering wheels. On some trims, the steering wheel can be heated. The dash can have stitched accents to stand out a bit more, and depending on the trim, it could be red, orange, blue, or brown.
Remote keyless entry is standard on the RAV4. Higher trims have Toyota's Smart Key System, which lets people approach their vehicles (with keys somewhere in their pockets or bags) and simply touch the door handles to unlock them. The RAV4 has an available power liftgate that's sure to be appreciated when one has his or her hands full of groceries or anything else.
Numerous storage compartments in the RAV4 can help people stay organized. There's a center console with covered storage compartment, an overhead console with sunglasses storage, and an adjustable deck board in the rear cargo area.
Rather than being limited to having one or two USB media ports, the RAV4 can come with up to five. This way, everyone's devices can stay fully charged. The RAV4's infotainment system comes either with a seven-inch or eight-inch touchscreen, depending on the model selected. While the C-HR keeps the infotainment system somewhat limited, the RAV4 gives people the opportunity to upgrade to a very advanced package. The RAV4 can come with 11JBL speakers, built-in navigation, comprehensive remote services, and wireless charging.
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What's great about these Toyota SUVs is that they come standard with Toyota Safety Sense technology. It includes advanced driver-assist systems that can continually look out for problems, prompt drivers to take action when necessary, and potentially take measures to prevent accidents from occurring.
The safety package in the RAV4 is slightly more comprehensive than the one in the C-HR. Both SUVs have a pre-collision braking system that can detect the presence of pedestrians, Lane-Departure alert that comes with a corrective steering function, automatic high beams, and dynamic cruise control that can adjust speed according to how fast other vehicles are traveling. In the RAV4, there is the addition of lane tracing assist and road sign assist. Lane tracing assist helps the car stay centered in the lane, and road sign assist provides drivers with extra visual cues so they can stay aware of changing speed limits and other information.
Blind spot monitoring is available on the base RAV4s and standard on the others. It's not available on the base model of the C-HR, but it is standard on the higher trims. Blind spot monitoring can keep drivers aware of the presence of other vehicles to their left or right, and it comes with rear cross-traffic alert to hopefully keep people from backing up into a passing vehicle.
The other safety components in these SUVs are fairly standard. They have three-point seatbelts, LATCH tethers, child door locks, and tire pressure monitoring systems. A rearview camera is including on all trims, though it's much more high-tech in the RAV4. The standard camera on the RAV4 can project a path to assist with parking, and higher RAV4 trims can either come with a panoramic backup camera with dynamic gridlines or a bird's eye view camera that can give a 360-degree perspective of what's around the vehicle.
Which Model to Choose?
It's evident that both of these 2020 Toyota SUVs are loaded with features that make them fun to drive, practical in many situations, and reliable over time. While they share several similarities due to being in the same Toyota family, they're also quite distinct from each other.
The Toyota RAV4 is the more high-end model, especially if one of the premium trims is chosen. It has clear advantages over the C-HR in terms of power, size, and available upgrades. The Toyota C-HR doesn't do poorly at all, but it just doesn't hit the mark that the RAV4 sets with its more spacious cabin and larger engine, not to mention the available all-wheel drive. Therefore, the RAV4 is better suited for those who have a lot planned for their vehicles, whether that involves driving a large family on long road trips, carrying all sorts of gear in the back, or going off-roading.
Where the C-HR shines is in affordability. Its base model is priced just above $21,000, a price point that's about $5,000 less than that of the RAV4's base model and will definitely bring in a lot of people to Toyota dealerships. The C-HR may appeal to younger drivers, people who need something versatile for regular commutes and weekend adventures, and anyone who likes the more unique look of the SUV. It offers a great value, especially when considering its advanced safety systems and technological components.