The Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V both offer a variety of benefits. Established contenders for best, middle-sized SUV, the final purchase decision will depend on personal preferences and needs. If you value your tech, for example, the RAV4 is likely to be a good option. In contrast, if easy access to the rear seats is a priority, the CR-V may be the better bet.
Read on to discover the highs and lows of each vehicle, giving you the information needed to decide which one is right for you.
Both interiors are well laid out, although the CR-V has the edge when it comes to rear-seat space and comfort. Honda's reputation for high-spec interiors is evident - owners can opt for leather-accented trims, for example. There is also an option for wood-look cabin accents, which contrast with the RAV4's matt black decor.
The RAV4 has some great extras available to enhance interior comfort, including a panoramic sunroof.
When it comes to boot space, the CR-V is set up to allow more storage options: the base of the boot can be elevated if required, making it easier to stow heavy or awkward items. Back doors on the CR-V open to 90 degrees - a bonus for parents who need easy access to car seats.
Both the CR-V and the RAV4 have stylish exteriors with a speedy vibe. In comparison with the 2020 version, the 2021 CR-V has been given a sportier look, complete with a fresh tail fin, new LED headlights and a darker trim. The RAV4 has been lowered and widened slightly for 2021, giving it a sleeker look.
Although few motorists buy an SUV due to its exterior looks, owners of either model are unlikely to be disappointed.
Both models are pretty well matched when it comes to performance. The 1.5l VTEC turbo is the standard engine in six out of the seven CR-V variants. It delivers around 140kw and 240Nm of torque. The RAV4 has a 2.0l petrol engine, delivering 156kw and 198Nm of torque.
The Honda CR-V uses a CVT (continuous variable transmission) gearbox in all models. The Toyota offers a six-speed manual transmission in some models, with the option of a CVT auto transmission in the higher-spec variations.
Reviewers comment that both drive well. The CR-V has slightly lighter handling than the RAV4, which suits some drivers more than others.
Cabin noise is an issue in both models, albeit from different sources. The RAV4's engine can be noisy at higher speeds, whilst the CR-V suffers from significant wind noise.
In terms of fuel consumption, the RAV4 has a slight edge, using around 7.3l/100km of fuel, compared with the CR-V's 7.4l/100km.
In Australia, the RAV4 is available in a hybrid version. The hybrid RAV4 uses 4.7/100km for the 2WD version and 4.8l/100km for the AWD. Unfortunately, although Honda has created a hybrid CR-V, it's not currently available here.
Reliability & Safety
Reliability is always an important consideration in the purchasing decision. Fortunately, user surveys rate both the CR-V and the RAV4 highly.
A recent UK owner survey, from Auto Express, placed the RAV4 twelfth out of seventy-five models for reliability. In the same survey, the CR-V was placed twenty-third out of seventy-five. Honda was rated seventh out of thirty manufacturers for reliability, just one place behind Toyota, in sixth position.
Post-sales feedback indicates that so far there are no major problems with the RAV4 or the CR-V. Both are well-established models with strong track records for consistent performance and dependability.
When it comes to safety, both models are highly rated (ANCAP 5-star grading). Whilst there are differences between the two (the CR-V has front and rear parking sensors, for example, whilst the RAV4 has rear parking sensors and a superior reversing camera), both have everything necessary to keep driver and passengers safe on the road.
Tech is something Toyota does well. The infotainment screen is intuitive to navigate. It also benefits from superior graphics and enhanced responsiveness.
Higher spec RAV4s come with a remote start.
The exterior styling has more presence than the CR-V, which can be a plus point if looks matter.
The inclusion of the Driver Sense package of automated safety features in all but the base spec model ensures the CR-V scores well on safety.
Although the infotainment screen isn't as advanced as that found in the RAV4, the system supports both Apple Car Play and Android Auto. In comparison, the RAV4 supports Apple only.
Rear space is a major advantage of the CR-V, as is the adjustable luggage area.
Why You Should Buy The CR-V
If you're looking for a family car that offers spacious, comfortable travel for a reasonable price, the CR-V is probably going to be the best option. Its superior interior styling (let's face it, how much time do you spend staring at the exterior of your vehicle?) and excellent layout optimises the driving experience.
More room in the back allows teen children or additional adults to travel in comfort. If you're a family that tends to have plenty of luggage, the CR-V can be adjusted to make loading and unloading easier. It's also cheaper (by several thousand dollars) than the RAV4. For cost-conscious buyers, the CR-V represents excellent value.
Why You Should Buy The RAV4
If you tend to use your SUV for solo driving and/or like the experience of driving, the RAV4 could be your ideal SUV. Sportier looks and heavier handling offer a more tempting driving experience, whilst the superior-tech is perfect for a motorist who likes their gadgets.
Little touches like the remote start feature are designed to appeal to the driver, rather than passengers. That's not to say that passengers don't matter: there is certainly sufficient space for adults to travel in comfort in the back. If you're a driver who likes a car to be more than a fuel-efficient plodder that will get you from a to b, the RAV4 could prove to be a great choice.
Having compared the two vehicles, it's clear that both are strong contenders in their class. Although it's fair to say that the CR-V probably does offer better value, the cost difference is only a few thousand dollars, which could be offset over the years by the RAV4's superior fuel efficiency.
The RAV4 also holds its value extremely well, meaning you could recoup some of the initial extra outlay through a competitive resale price. Your aspirations and priorities are probably going to be the deciding factor in whether the RAV4 or the CR-V is going to work best for you.
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