Two of the best-selling small SUVs on the market today are the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV4. The CR-V is currently Edmunds' top-ranked small SUV. The Toyota RAV4, meanwhile, is redesigned for 2019 with new looks and new technology features. Both offer a comfortable ride quality, lots of available options and impressive fuel economy. But which one will be the better choice for you? We compare them to find out.
On the highway and in the city, the Honda CR-V scores high for ride quality. It drives over bumps and potholes smoothly, yet it is still composed when going around turns. The CR-V's seats, in both the front and the back, have comfortable cushions and adequate lumbar support. You can do long road trips in a CR-V, no problem.
The RAV4 is impressive in the comfort category, too. But there are some drawbacks. Depending on the size of the driver, the seats can become pretty uncomfortable after a few hours. The ride quality is good with the RAV4 as well, but the Honda is a bit smoother over broken city streets.
The CR-V and the RAV4 are very similar when it comes to exterior and interior dimensions. There isn't a clear winner here, but the Honda's interior has more movable, slidable and clever storage solutions for your small personal items. Folding down the rear seats provides up to 75.8 cubic feet in the CR-V and 69.8 cubic feet in the RAV4.
Headroom and legroom in both vehicles are impressive. The CR-V and the RAV4 can fit four adults without issues. And in a bind, a fifth can even be squeezed into the center backseat position without much compromise.
FUEL ECONOMY AND POWER
The CR-V has two available engines: a base 2.4-liter non-turbocharged four-cylinder (184 horsepower) or a turbocharged 1.5-liter engine (190 horsepower). We prefer the turbocharged engine for its higher fuel economy and improved acceleration. With front-wheel drive, the 2.4-liter CR-V engine is rated at 28 mpg combined (26 city/32 highway). The turbocharged engine gets 30 mpg combined (28 city/34 highway).
All RAV4s use a non-turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 203 horsepower. It's more powerful than either of the CR-V engines, but real-world acceleration is a bit slower than the CR-V with its turbocharged engine. The front-wheel-drive RAV4's EPA-estimated fuel economy is 30 mpg combined (26 city/35 highway).
There is something the RAV4 has that the CR-V does not: a hybrid variant. The RAV4 Hybrid costs more but offers more power and dramatically improved fuel efficiency at an EPA-estimated 39 mpg combined (41 city/37 highway). It also comes standard with all-wheel drive.
Both vehicles are well-equipped with much of the modern technology you'd expect. The materials quality and construction, especially on higher trim levels, are more upscale in the CR-V.
As for infotainment, Apple CarPlay is standard in the RAV4. You have to upgrade to the CR-V EX (just above the base LX trim level) for CarPlay compatibility. The EX, however, offers Android Auto connectivity as well, which is a feature that isn't available on the RAV4 at any trim level.
For safety, both cars feature all of the latest driver aids, including adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, and forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking. On the RAV4, those features are standard on all trim levels. On the CR-V, only the EX trim and above get them as standard.
How much do you have to pay for all this? A base RAV4 LE with the features listed above has an MSRP of $26,595, while a bare-bones Honda CR-V LX is $25,935. (Both prices include the destination fee.) And at the top of their respective ranges, it's a similar story, with a RAV4 Limited priced at $35,995 and a CR-V Touring, both with all-wheel drive, at $35,195.
EDMUNDS SAYS: The Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 are excellent choices for a small SUV. They are both comfortable, quiet and reasonably priced. The Honda edges out the Toyota in several categories, ultimately making the CR-V our choice between the two. But the RAV4 Hybrid might win you over if fuel economy is a priority.