2022 Toyota Highlander vs RAV4
Toyota knows how to deliver exactly what consumers want, especially when it comes to getting an SUV. But which of their SUVs is the best one to buy in 2022? There are several different segments to choose from, and what you get will ultimately depend on your primary needs. If you need seats, seats, seats, then the 2022 Toyota Highlander might be just the vehicle for you. But if you need something off-road worthy, the 2022 Toyota RAV4 could be right up your alley.
The 2022 Toyota Highlander has a total of three rows, meaning you can seat up to eight people. But it is a mid-size third-row SUV, not a full-size one like the Toyota Sequoia - and this means that the third row has a little less space than you might need. Cargo space might also feel a bit lacking in the Highlander, but if you're used to driving something smaller, then it might feel quite spacious.
At least the Highlander has a well designed interior full of soft touch surfaces and only minimal plastics. The ride quality oozes comfort, coming off as smooth and compliant no matter the road surface you drive over. The standard V6 engine does a good job of putting out power without compromising on fuel economy. On top of that, there are plenty of driver aids and infotainment features to keep your family safe and entertained.
The smaller 2022 Toyota RAV4 is made for off-roading, especially if you get the TRD Off-Road trim. The RAV4's controls are straightforward, plus there is plenty of space inside of the cabin and in the cargo area. As you drive, the cabin keeps quiet and calm, enhancing your feeling of comfort as you go about your commute. But the RAV4 has some pitfalls, such as a standard engine that takes a smidge too long to accelerate. There is also a sense of vagueness behind the steering system that might not be all that engaging for you.
Is the Highlander going to meet your needs with its extra row of seats? Or is the off-road oriented RAV4 more your speed? It's time to stack them up against each other so that you can make an informed decision before you buy one.
Size and Styling
The 2022 Toyota Highlander is a mid-size third-row SUV that is able to be ordered with second-row captain's chairs if you want easier third-row access. On the exterior of the base trim, you get LED headlights, heated side mirrors, and 18-inch wheels. A height-adjustable power liftgate and fog lights are tacked onto the LE. Opting for the XLE adds a sunroof and roof rails. The sport-oriented XSE gives you 20-inch wheels, special sporty styling elements, a sport-tuned suspension, dual exhaust tips, and exterior trim done in chrome. The Limited upgrades the fog lights and adds a hands-free power liftgate, puddle lights, and sound-reducing front side windows. The line-topping Platinum features adaptive headlights, a panoramic sunroof, and automatic wipers.
Meanwhile, the 2022 Toyota RAV4 is a two-row SUV that can seat five. It gives you more of a crossover design than the Highlander. The LE starts you off with 17-inch wheels and LED headlights. The XLE Premium adds fog lights, a minor raise to the suspension, a sunroof, a power liftgate, and bigger 19-inch wheels. Higher roof rails and fender flares accompany the Adventure trim. The TRD Off-Road adds 18-inch wheels with all-terrain tires, an off-road-tuned suspension, and special black trim. A panoramic sunroof remains optional.
Powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine, the 2022 Toyota Highlander offers you a power output of 295 horsepower and 263 lb-ft of torque. The front wheels receive this power via an eight-speed automatic transmission. There is an option for all-wheel-drive (AWD) on any trim level of your choice. There is also a Highlander Hybrid model available if you want something more fuel efficient.
It only takes 7.5 seconds for the Highlander to reach 60 miles per hour. This makes it one of the quickest vehicles in its segment, especially given its immediate thrust of power. The Highlander's decent fuel economy helps make the engine feel decent, and it cancels out the vehicle's lackluster ride comfort. The Highlander has gotten more adept in regards to its handling, controlling body roll better than it used to. Of course, the optional AWD system - which is torque-vectoring - directs engine power to the rear wheels individually, making the handling balance feel more solid. The Highlander has a good amount of traction when driving across slick road surfaces, but its emergency braking could use some improvements. But, all in all, you don't need to put in much effort for daily driving scenarios.
The Highlander, when outfitted with AWD, is EPA rated for 23 mpg combined. The FWD models get 24 mpg combined. The AWD-equipped Highlander is able to achieve 24-25 mpg combined according to real-world tests, so you should be able to at least meet the EPA estimates. The Highlander Hybrid, which gets an EPA estimated 36 mpg combined, naturally does better with fuel consumption.
Moving on to the 2022 Toyota RAV4, this SUV is powered by a four-cylinder engine that generates 203 horsepower and comes matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive (FWD) is standard on nearly every one of the RAV4's trim levels. However, AWD is optional on all of them - that is, except for the Adventure and the TRD Off-Road, since it comes standard on those trims.
While driving around town, the RAV4 feels confident enough. But the four-cyl's modest amount of power doesn't bode well if you are in a rush. It takes the RAV4 9.1 seconds to reach 60 miles per hour, and there isn't a whole lot of bulk to the vague steering system. This makes it easy to misjudge your inputs You do get rear-axle torque vectoing and advanced traction control with AWD. The AWD system includes hill descent control and selectable terrain settings. Given its high ground clearance, the RAV4 Adventure trim level has above-average off-roading capabilities.
The RAV4 is EPA estimated for 28-30 mpg combined depending on how it is configured. The AWD models, as real-world tests reveal, should be able to get about 28-29 mpg combined, so the estimates seem realistic. There is also a hybrid option available for the RAV4.
Comfort, Options and Performance
Toyota knows how to make a vehicle feel comfortable, as if it is a home away from home. But their competitors do, too, so Toyota has really had to step it up in recent years. If you want a soft enough ride quality, the 2022 Toyota Highlander, delivers it. Its suspension doesn't come off as being floaty when you take it out on the highway, and all sizes of bumps are readily dispatched. If you get the second-row captain's chairs, they feel nearly as plush and cozy as the front seats. However, the Highlander's third-row seats have too-thin cushioning and are really narrow. Wind noise is kept out of the cabin, and engine noise is barely audible.
The Highlander's two front rows of seats offer a lot of space, but the third row is pretty constraining compared to the Highlander's rivals. There is more space available in others. While taller drivers might struggle with the telescoping steering wheel not offering enough extension range, most everyone else should have no trouble finding a comfortable driving position. You can see quite well out of the vehicle, especially given how slender the roof pillars are up front. There is a camera-based rearview mirror; you can load the cargo area up to the ceiling and still get the visibility. You can opt for the available surround-view camera system to give you a full view all around the exterior of the Highlander thanks to the rotating camera.
Toyota's current Highlander generation does quite well with its included technological offerings, showing how far the automaker has come in the last few years. The 8-inch touchscreen display that is standard does pale in comparison to the available 12.3-inch touchscreen, which responds quickly and seems free of glitches. But when there is bright sunlight, you will have a lot of surface reflections that make it hard to see the graphics on the screen. The Platinum trim level comes with a total of five USB charging ports for the first and second rows; the third row unfortunately does not have any USB ports for charging devices.
When you leave the third row of seats upright, you get 16 cubic feet of cargo space. However, this maxes out to 48.4 cubes behind the second row when you fold the third row down. There are plenty of areas to stash your small items, including some shelves built into the dash. You will need to lift the lid of the center armrest if you want to use the wireless charging port located in it. Although you do not get any LATCH anchors in the third row of seats, the ones in the second row are easy to access and use.
Regarding the 2022 Toyota RAV4, its suspension provides is controlled but also soft enough for a good amount of comfort, easily dispatching all manner of bumps. While the bottoms of the front seats could use more padding, the seatbacks are well sculpted for comfort. There isn't a lot of adjustability on the passenger seat, so it can be difficult to find the right seating position. The RAV4 is tranquil at higher speeds until you press down hard on the gas pedal, which causes the engine to groan a bit. The climate system delivers a good amount of air flow, and the forward vents are able to be completely shut if you want them closed.
The front passenger seat might feel like it is set up too high, and you can only adjust it on the Limited or Platinum. At least the rest of the interior feels well constructed. The driver's range offers a lot of adjustments though, and the controls are all laid out smartly with clear and concise labeling to them. The sound system and climate control system are set off to themselves, but everything else seems like it is right where it should be. The touchscreen requires you to reach forward quite a ways, especially if you are trying to reach the tuning knob.
The RAV4's included tech is user-friendly enough. But for being relatively new, the touchscreen's graphics look massively outdated compared to what you see in other vehicles. The sound system does not really stand out that well either. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included on every trim level, which is a good thing since you will need to rely on them instead of Toyota's less-than-impressive Entune system.
You get 37.5 cubic feet with the rear seats left upright inside of the RAV4. When you fold them down, this maxes out to 69.8 cubes. Loading up cargo is simplified a bit due to the low cargo floor. The cockpit inside of the cabin has a ton of handy shelves and bins to stash all of your small items. Having a max towing capacity of 3,500 pounds is superb for a vehicle in this segment, which adds to the RAV4's overall versatility.
Toyota includes the Toyota Safety Sense bundle of advanced driver aids on all of its vehicles since they know how much all of us want to stay safe on the road every day. The 2022 Toyota Highlander is outfitted with the Safety Sense 2.5+ suite of advanced driver aids. This bundles together adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, forward collision mitigation, a lane keep system, and a traffic sign reader. The LE comes with a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert. There are front and rear parking sensors equipped on the Limited trim level. The Platinum gives you a head-up display and adaptive headlights, which will swivel as you turn to illuminate corners even better than the standard headlights.
Of course, the 2022 Toyota RAV4 comes with a similar bundle of advanced driver aids. Like the Highlander, it comes with a lane keep system, automatic high beams, a traffic sign reader, forward collision warning, and adaptive cruise control. While the XLE adds on a blind-spot monitoring system, the surround-view camera system stays on as a purely stand-alone option.
Which Model to Choose?
While the 2022 Toyota Highlander is indeed a great vehicle for its segment, if you don't need that third row, it probably isn't the vehicle for you. The 2022 Toyota RAV4 has a lot of trim level options, including a couple that work well for off-roading adventures. It has a lot of the same standard features that come on the Highlander but offers better fuel economy since it is a smaller and more nimble vehicle. Unfortunately, the standard engine isn't really up to snuff. It feels underpowered and will require a good amount of patience as you try to get it up to speed on the highway. Still, it feels like a well rounded vehicle with a lot of versatility behind it, making it a solid option for a new SUV.