In 1995, the Toyota RAV4 launched the “cute ute” revolution, followed by the Honda CR-V two years later. Together, both vehicles helped transform the American automotive marketplace. Over half of all new cars sold in the U.S. are crossovers and SUVs.
Today, the compact crossover segment is the most competitive. Taking on the RAV4 and CR-V are the Mazda CX-5, Nissan Rogue, Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Escape, Hyundai Tucson, and Kia Sportage, to name a few.
Despite the onslaught, the RAV4 and CR-V remain at the top of the category (although supply chain-challenged Honda let the Equinox rack up a second-place finish last year). It’s another example of Toyota and Honda nipping at each other’s heels. It’s a long-running battle we’ve covered in other match-ups like Civic vs. Corolla, Pilot vs. Highlander, and Odyssey vs. Sienna.
Keep reading as we compare the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V. We analyzed FIXD owner surveys, government research, manufacturer details, and other vital information to determine the differences. Unsurprisingly, there’s not much that separates the two, especially in more recent years, with both vehicles available in hybrid form.
However, Toyota has a weakness. Its vaunted reputation for dependability (which may not be completely deserved—this is covered later) often makes a used RAV4 more expensive than its CR-V counterpart. Whether you’re shopping for one of these Toyota and Honda crossovers or already drive one, here’s the essential information you need to know.
|Income Bracket||Monthly Financing Cost Range||Cash Purchase Price Range||Toyota RAV4 Years||Honda CR-V Years||Best Model Year:||Why?|
|$5k – $10k||$83 – $125||$3,000 – $4,500||2002||N/A||2002 RAV4||Better engine reliability|
|$10k – $15k||$125 – $187||$4,500 – $6,750||N/A||2006||2006 CR-V||Better engine reliability|
|$15k – $25k||$187 – $312||$6,750 – $11,250||2009||2009||2009 CR-V||Good engine reliability, better value|
|$15k – $25k||$187 – $312||$6,750 – $11,250||2012||2013||2013 CR-V||Excellent engine reliability, better value|
|$25k – $35k||$312 – $437||$11,250 – $15,750||2015||2015||2015 CR-V||Excellent engine reliability|
|$35k – $50k||$437 – $625||$15,750 – $22,500||2018||2018||2018 RAV4||Solid value|
|$50k – $74k||$625 – $925||$22,500 – $33,300||2021||2021||2021 CR-V||Better value|
Before you respond to the “For Sale” ad, check out this How to Buy a Used Car article for a step-by-step checklist.
Price History Comparison | Toyota RAV4 vs. Honda CR-V
Average Market Value – Based on Owners’ Self-Reported Mileages | Toyota RAV4 vs. Honda CR-V
For the average car buyer, price plays a significant role in purchasing. When it comes to sales, data from Kelley Blue Book (KBB) data shows that while the RAV4 and CR-V have similar price ranges over the past 20 years, Toyota consistently edges out Honda for a stronger market value. Importantly, this information only reflects private-party transactions. Expect to pay up to 40% more at a dealer. One way to offset higher retail prices is to shop for an older vehicle or one with higher mileage or less equipment.
Of course, mileage affects market value, which is reflected in the chart. A higher mileage car will be worth less than the equivalent vehicle with less mileage. At the same time, the model year is also part of the equation. A newer car is worth more, which is why we see a steady increase in values for the RAV4 (green) and CR-V (gray) as the model years become more recent.
For example, some of the more significant market value gaps (2011, 2012, and 2016) can be explained by the surveyed CR-Vs from these years having higher average mileage than the respective RAV4s. But this doesn’t address the 2019 and 2020 model years, with the surveyed RAV4s having almost twice the mileage of the CR-V but still being worth more.
This all boils down to the fact that the Toyota RAV4 holds its value better than the Honda CR-V. That’s great news if you’re trading in a RAV4, but it’s not welcome information if one is on your shopping list. So, very budget-conscious shoppers may want to look at CR-Vs as a way of stretching the dollars.
Depreciation vs. Maintenance Expenses
Drive a new car off the lot, and it drops in value by 10%–15%. Yet, depreciation gets even worse. After five years, many cars lose half their worth or more. So, even buying a newer used car can mean taking a depreciation hit. Right now, we’re in unusual market conditions, lessening the effects of depreciation. But, this state of affairs may not last forever.
After 10-12 years, this loss of value lessens tremendously. Savvy car shoppers are readily aware of this. However, marching out and buying any old car isn’t the smartest move. The true hack comes from looking for a vehicle with modest depreciation and reasonable repair costs.
In the case of the RAV4, the 2004-2009 model years represent the “sweet spot” (the box outlined in black). Meanwhile, 2004-2011 are the ideal model years for the CR-V. Yet, a close look at the chart reveals that the CR-V has higher upkeep costs (green), a detail we’ll examine later. In a nutshell, there are more Honda CR-Vs to look for, but you’ll spend more on maintenance and repairs.
But don’t assume every example within these ranges is a smart buy. Learn more by reviewing the best and worst years of the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V. There’s also an at–a–glance summary towards the end of this article.
Reliability Comparison | Toyota RAV4 vs. Honda CR-V
Two ratings are at the core of our look at the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V.
- The FIXD Reliability Score measures the number of check engine lights recorded for a particular model year by installed FIXD sensors. Think of it as an engine reliability score. While every check engine light doesn’t directly translate into reliability concerns (such as a dead battery or loose gas cap), these indicators still provide insight into a car’s dependability.
- The second rating is the Owner Reliability Score. This is a subjective ranking of how surveyed owners feel about their respective vehicle’s dependability. Each owner estimates how capable their car is for trips of different lengths. A vehicle that can handle a cross-country adventure receives the highest score, while a car only suitable for a quick point A to point B trip gets the lowest score.
Both rankings are based on 1 being the lowest, 10 being the highest, and 5 being the average score.
We’ll also point out that both scores seldom align. The FIXD Reliability Score is determined by a definitive number, the frequency of check engine lights. On the other hand, the Owner Reliability Score is opinion-based. Owners tend to have pride in their automobiles, with higher ratings as a result. At a minimum, those with older vehicles are more accepting of check engine lights. For many, it’s the price of owning an aging car.
Ask the average person if they think the RAV4 has a reliable engine, and the answer will likely be a resounding yes. After all, the Toyota brand enjoys an excellent reputation for dependability. However, perceptions and reality are two different things when it comes to what’s under the hood of a RAV4.
The FIXD Reliability Scores show the CR-V trounces the RAV4 for engine dependability. For 15 out of 21 years, the Honda ranks higher. Toyota only manages a top score for one year, while both vehicles tie for five years.
Admittedly, not every check engine light leads to an eye-watering repair bill. Simple issues, like a loose gas cap or faulty battery, can signal trouble. Nonetheless, the stark contrast in ratings (especially between the 2004-2016 model years) is astounding.
But despite the abundance of check engine lights, RAV4 owners love their vehicles—perceptions can be powerful. The favorable attitudes shown in the Owner Reliability Scores explain why the RAV4 has a strong resale value. We also know that those with a RAV4 in the driveaway are forgiving of dashboard warning signals. People love their CR-Vs, too.
Longevity Comparison | Toyota RAV4 vs. Honda CR-V
One thing’s for sure: the RAV4 and CR-V can churn the odometer. 150,000 miles is a notable achievement for several model years. And a few have crossed that impressive 200,000-mile benchmark.
The data for these notable feats comes from FIXD owner surveys, providing vital real-world data. We need to mention that build quality is just one contributor to longevity; rigorous upkeep and safe driving also matter.
2023 Toyota RAV4 vs. Honda CR-V | A Guide to Trim Levels & Optional Features
Trim Levels: Starting Prices
While the RAV4 and CR-V may seem closely matched, Toyota and Honda take very different approaches to building and marketing these crossovers.
In typical Honda fashion, there are only a few CR-V trims for 2023 (five, to be precise). Meanwhile, Toyota offers a dizzying array of 15 RAV4 trims. Clearly, Honda believes fewer choices are the pathway to success, while Toyota takes the opposite approach.
A look at sales data (via carsalesbase.com) shows the results. In 2019 (before pandemic-related manufacturing challenges hit the auto industry), Toyota sold 448,068 RAV4s compared to Honda’s sales of 384,168 CR-Vs. Even in subsequent years, the RAV4 consistently outsold the CR-V.
This battle for dominance in the compact crossover category begins with similar prices for the base trims. Toyota sells the RAV4 LE for $28,275 compared to $28,410 for the Honda CR-V LX. The $135 difference is unlikely to sway buyers.
There appears to be greater price separation as we move further up the respective model range. But the details uncover greater parity. The more premium RAV4 XLE has an MSRP of $29,875 against the $31,060 sticker for the CR-V EX. Yet the Honda includes a moonroof, which costs an extra $1,265 on the XLE.
It’s harder to make further comparisons between the conventional gas-powered editions because there are so few CR-V versions. However, there’s a noticeable gap in the base hybrid trims.
The RAV4 Hybrid LE goes for $31,225, while the CR-V Hybrid Sport stickers at $32,400. That $1,175 is a striking difference, clearly in the Toyota’s favor. But that’s not all. The LE comes standard with all-wheel drive (AWD), a $1,500 option for the Sport. Toyota wins with ease for someone wanting a hybrid compact crossover without many bells and whistles.
Yet, we return to a battle of the equals (almost) when looking at the top-tier hybrids. Toyota sells the RAV4 Hybrid Limited for $39,530, while the CR-V Sport Touring is $430 less at $39,100. Both cars have AWD, with the Honda having leather upholstery (leatherette for the Toyota). The premier RAV4 Hybrid includes ventilated front seats, which is unavailable with the CR-V Hybrid. The answer may come from flipping a coin unless you prefer leather or cooled seats.
Lastly, the RAV4 comes as a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) selling for $43,090 to $46,960. Honda doesn’t sell a PHEV version of the CR-V.
2023 | Toyota RAV4 vs. Honda CR-V | Specifications | Safety, Interior, and Exterior Features
Sizing up the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V involves a look at each vehicle’s specifications. Here’s what you need to know.
The RAV4 and CR-V are classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as small SUVs based on cabin passenger volume and cargo space. Although these cars are similarly sized, there are differences inside. The RAV4’s 99 cubic feet of passenger volume falls short against the 104 cubic feet in the CR-V. It’s not a huge variance, but we’ll see how the interior (and exterior) dimensions compare later.
|2023 Honda CR-V||2023 Toyota RAV4|
|Class||Crossover SUV||Crossover SUV|
|4-Door SUV||LX, EX, Sport Hybrid, EX-L, Sport Touring Hybrid||Hybrid LE, Hybrid XLE, Hybrid Woodland Edition, Hybrid XLE Premium, Hybrid SE, Hybrid XSE, Hybrid Limited LE, XLE, XLE Premium, Adventure, TRD Off-Road, Limited, LE, XLE, XLE Premium, Adventure, TRD Off-Road, Limited|
Engine Options & Specifications:
What’s under the hood exemplifies the different approaches Toyota and Honda take with their compact crossovers. For conventional power, both use a four-cylinder engine, but that’s where the similarities end.
The RAV4 uses a tried-and-true (non-turbo) 2.5-liter engine, while the CR-V relies on a newer 1.5-liter engine supplemented with a turbocharger. It’s an old-school versus new-school contest. The RAV4 delivers 203 horsepower with a 0-60 MPH time of 8.3 seconds, which comes out ahead of the CR-V’s 190 horsepower and 8.7-second 0-60 dash. However, 0.4 seconds is an unlikely reason to favor the Toyota. Nor is fuel economy; both vehicles get similar mileage.
The specifications get a little closer with the hybrid setups. Toyota modifies its trusty 2.5-liter engine, while Honda uses a 2.0-liter four-cylinder. Neither have turbos. Buyers will find that most RAV4 trims provide modestly better fuel economy (41 MPG in the city/38 MPG on the highway) against the CR-V’s 40 city/34 highway. Is this enough of a reason to buy a RAV4 Hybrid over a CR-V Hybrid? That’s up to the buyer.
The RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid has an estimated 40 city/38 highway mileage, but the ace up its sleeve is an all-electric range of 42 miles. We’ll get into more detail about RAV4 and CR-V fuel economy later.
If towing is a priority, the RAV4’s maximum tailoring capacity of 3,500 pounds (varies by trim and configuration) more than doubles what the CR-V is capable of.
Transmission Options & Specifications:
While transmissions aren’t on most car shoppers’ minds, having a basic idea of what’s managing the engine is good. Sticking with its old-school methodology, Toyota uses a traditional eight-speed automatic with the standard gasoline engine. An electronic continuously variable transmission (eCVT) controls the hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions.
Honda continues its leading-edge approach by using a continuously variable transmission (CVT) with the CR-V’s conventional gas engine. The hybrid gets an eCVT. See the “Tech Talk” section below the charts to learn about CVTs and eCVTs.
TECH TALK: CVTs
A continuously variable transmission (CVT) does not use gears like a typical automatic transmission. Instead, it has two pulleys connected by a belt. One pulley connects to the engine, and the other connects to the wheels. The belt transfers the power between the pulleys. This setup allows the pulleys to continuously change positions as needed. The CVT automatically adjusts the pulleys as required, providing smooth and efficient power delivery.
An electronic continuously variable transmission (eCVT) uses electronic controls and electric motors to vary gear ratios instead of a belt and pulley system. Unlike a regular CVT, an eCVT has no physical pulleys or belts—the gear ratio is adjusted seamlessly by controlling the speeds of electric motors and generators. This electronic control allows faster, smoother gear ratio changes compared to a traditional CVT. An eCVT also provides more flexibility, needing less space and having fewer moving parts.
Front-wheel drive is standard equipment for most gas-powered RAV4s and CR-Vs; all-wheel drive (AWD) is optional (and is included with some of the RAV4 trims that are a bit more off-road-oriented).
As mentioned earlier, all RAV4 Hybrids come standard with AWD. The top CR-V Hybrid trim (Sport Touring) only includes this feature. For buyers focused on fuel economy and extra confidence of AWD, the RAV4 Hybrids are compelling options.
|2023 Honda CR-V Wheel Drive||FWD||AWD||RWD|
|Sport Hybrid||S||U (D)|
|Sport Touring Hybrid||S (D)|
|2023 Toyota RAV4 Wheel Drive||FWD||AWD||RWD|
|Hybrid Woodland Edition||E|
|Hybrid XLE Premium||E|
U = Available in upgrade
E = electric on-demand AWD
D = AWD with rear driveline disconnect
NHTSA Safety Ratings
FIXD survey data tells us that the RAV4 and CR-V get used for family transportation—no surprise. In particular, this accounts for 52% of RAV4 owners and 33% of CR-V owners.
Yet, there are secondary tasks that depend on these cars. A third of those with RAV4s also spend time behind the wheel for commuting and long-distance travel. It’s 45% for the CR-V. We call this “lots of driving.”
These activities connect with the importance of safety. While the 2023 RAV4 received a perfect 5 out of 5 rating for overall safety performance in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) testing, the CR-V has yet to be evaluated. This isn’t unusual, considering 2023 marks a new generation for this Honda.
We can’t say with 100% certainty that the new CR-V will have crash test results similar to the previous generation (which matches the RAV4), but it’s a safe bet. More recent Hondas have a solid safety record, and the CR-V shouldn’t be an exception. Honda knows that safety sells.
It’s worth noting that the RAV4 received a 4 in front crash testing (like the 2022 CR-V), but this is notable. Any NHTSA score of at least a 4 should inspire confidence. You’ll also notice that the RAV4 received a 4 in rollover testing (another score duplicated by the 2022 CR-V). It’s a typical result for SUVs and trucks, taller-sitting vehicles.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) takes a somewhat different approach to safety testing. In particular, it focuses on its small frontal overlap crash test, which the organization feels represents a more real-world scenario (a single car running into a fixed object). IIHS also looks at side impact crashes, roof strength, headlight effectiveness, and advanced driver safety technologies (like automatic emergency braking).
While tested vehicles receive a Good, Acceptable, Marginal, or Poor grade, the true measure comes if a car gets a Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ designation. If “Good” is a “B” grade, Top Safety Pick notches things up to an “A-,” and the Top Safety Pick+ signifies an “A+”
While the 2023 RAV4 gets a laudable Top Safety Pick, it’s topped by the Top Safety Pick+ ranking for the 2023 CR-V.
|IIHS Award||Tested Vehicle|
|2023 Honda CR-V||Small SUV/4-door SUV||TOP SAFETY PICK PLUS||2023 Honda CR-V EX-L 4-door 4wd|
|2023 Toyota RAV4||SMALL SUV/4-DOOR SUV||TOP SAFETY PICK||2019 Toyota RAV4 XLE 4-door 4wd|
Airbags & Head Restraints:
Airbags aren’t on most car shoppers’ minds, yet they save thousands of lives each year. As covered earlier, Toyota and Honda know the importance of safety with these bread-and-butter vehicles. Needless to say, the RAV4 and CR-V have an abundance of airbags. This includes knee airbags in the front row (a driver-only unit for the RAV4) that help position the body to minimize injury during an accident. There are also side curtain airbags that deploy across both rows in case of a side-impact collision or rollover.
Neither the RAV4 nor the CR-V come with overhead airbags. This newer technology replaces traditional front-row units (steering wheel and dashboard) with overhead devices. Active head restraints are usually found in specialty and high-end vehicles to minimize whiplash injuries. Mainstream cars like the RAV4 and CR-V don’t usually come equipped with this feature.
Advanced technology features like semi-autonomous driving are available in small doses with the RAV4 and CR-V. You won’t find hands-free driving technology in these crossovers; it’s uncommon in this category (although some high-end versions of the Nissan Rogue come with this upgrade).
But there are high-tech driving aids included with the 2023 RAV4 and CR-V. It starts with adaptive cruise control (ACC), or Dynamic Radar Cruise Control in Toyota-speak. ACC lessens the hassles of stop-and-go highway traffic by automatically slowing down and speeding up the car as needed. You can keep your foot off the accelerator and brake when the system is engaged. However, ACC is not fully autonomous; the driver must hold the steering wheel and remain observant.
Semi-autonomous driving for the RAV4 and CR-V includes lane-keeping assist, which helps drivers keep their cars centered in the lane through gentle steering corrections. Honda’s system runs continuously (although it can be disengaged), while Toyota’s Lane Tracing Assist only operates when adaptive cruise control is active.
Driver Warning Systems & Telematics:
All 2023 RAV4 and CR-V versions come with numerous advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) to minimize or prevent collisions.
This equipment includes forward collision warning (FCW), which signals if a roadway obstruction is detected. Meanwhile, lane departure warning (LDW) alerts a driver who may have veered outside the correct traffic lane. Automatic emergency braking (AEB) is also part of this technology. Sometimes dubbed collision mitigation, the system automatically engages the brakes if an imminent forward collision is detected. AEB incorporates pedestrian detection for the RAV4 and CR-V.
Blind-spot monitoring (BSM) and rear cross-traffic alert (RCTA) are other valuable driving aids but aren’t included with every trim. BSM/RCTA costs extra with the base RAV4 LE, yet is standard on higher trims. Honda, however, is more stingy with these tech goodies. BSM/RCTA isn’t available on the starter CR-V LX and is optional on all trims except the top-tier Sport Touring.
Both vehicles have traffic sign recognition, which displays speed limit and other sign information. But a helpful driver attention monitor is exclusive to the CR-V (and standard on all versions).
Road Visibility Features:
Road visibility features don’t do much to separate the RAV4 and CR-V. All 2023 versions come with LED headlights and automatic high beams. Rearview cameras are also standard equipment (it’s a legal requirement).
However, those who regularly drive in the rain may appreciate that most RAV4 trims can be equipped with rain-sensing windshield wipers, a helpful convenience feature, for sure. These wipers only come with the CR-V Sport Touring. A head-up display (which reflects speed and other key details on the windshield) is an exclusive option for the RAV4 Prime XSE
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity is deal-breaker technology for many car shoppers. It’s also necessary, as half of the states don’t allow drivers to touch their phones while vehicles are in motion. Fortunately, this technology is standard on all 2023 RAV4s and CR-Vs.
However, that’s not the case with heated front seats, another essential for numerous colder-climate drivers. Heated seats are optional or standard on most RAV4 trims (except the gas and hybrid LE and, curiously, the Prime SE). All CR-V editions, except the LX, come with heated front seats.
And speaking of heated seats, some automakers offer this feature through a subscription service. This hasn’t yet happened in the U.S., but in certain countries, BMW offered heated seats for a monthly fee. The advantage is you can shut off the service during warm months, but you’ll need to keep paying (or pay a one-time upfront fee) to activate the heated seats. Recently, BMW announced it was backing away from this practice. Moving forward, the automaker will only charge a subscription for software-based services (like upgraded navigation). Hardware-based features will be part of the vehicle’s initial purchase price.
One industry study shows mixed results for consumer acceptance of features on demand (FoD), with about one-fifth not even being aware of the concept.
Does the CR-V’s larger interior (a five cubic foot difference) offer a significant advantage over the RAV4? In simple terms, yes and no. The most substantial gap is the Honda’s greater rear legroom (41 inches versus 38 inches for the RAV4). The extra three inches could matter for drivers who regularly carry a full load of passengers or have to deal with child car seats. Front and rear hip room is also a tighter squeeze with the RAV4.
The RAV4 does better than the CR-V, with more rear headroom and slightly better cargo space.
Wheels may also be an afterthought for many car buyers. But wheel size can impact ride quality. Larger rims can translate into better traction and cornering but may result in a bumpier ride. Bigger wheels also offer better aesthetics by filling out the wheel wells more completely. This is why the higher the trim, the larger the wheel. Different materials (steel or alloy) and finishes also help separate the wheels among the various trim levels.
One fact of life is that family vehicles are seldom built to stand out. It’s an approach that includes the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V. That means forgetting about bold colors like bright reds or fiery oranges. These cars have the typical white, black, silver, and gray shades. Distinguishing colors are left to muted reds and blues.
Where does the CR-V’s extra rear legroom come from? It’s due to being four inches longer than the RAV4. While this might not matter to most suburban and rural drivers, that extra length could matter to urban dwellers and those who regularly deal with tight parking spaces. Otherwise, both vehicles have near-identical width and height measurements.
The RAV4 does gain the upper hand with modestly better ground clearance (up to 8.6 inches). It’s inconsequential for most owners but valuable when driving off pavement.
Don’t look at warranty coverage to determine which of these compact crossovers is a better option. The RAV4 and CR-V have identical factory safeguards: three years or 36,000 miles of bumper-to-bumper protection and five years or 60,000 miles of powertrain coverage (for the engine, transmission, and drive axles).
Honda does double the air conditioner warranty (to two years or 24,000 miles) and has extended roadside service for three years or 36,000 miles (Toyota provides two years or 25,000 miles of roadside assistance).
|2023 Honda CR-V Factory Warranty Coverage:||2023 Toyota RAV4 Factory Warranty Coverage:|
|Basic warranty:||36 Months/36,000 Miles||36 Months/36,000 Miles|
|Powertrain warranty:||60 Months/60,000 Miles||60 Months/60,000 Miles|
|Corrosion perforation warranty:||60 Months||60 Months|
|Air conditioning warranty:||24 month/24,000 miles||12 Months/12,000 Miles|
|Battery warranty:||64 months/100,000 miles (hybrid battery)||120 months/150,000 miles (Hybrid Battery). Reduction in traction battery capacity for Plug-in Hybrid trims is not covered.|
|Emissions warranty:||Federal: 36 month/36,000 miles,California: 36 months/50,000 miles||Federal: 36 month/36,000 miles (defect), 24 months/24,000 miles (performance)California: 36 months/50,000 miles (performance)|
|Roadside assistance coverage:||36 months/36,000 miles||24 months/25,000 miles|
|Total unique recalls:||1 (recall no: 23V0920000)||1 (recall no. 23V485000)|
There is near unlimited online feedback about the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V. A look at recent Reddit (Reddit: r/whatcarshouldIbuy) comments can provide helpful insight for car shoppers. Here’s a brief summary.
When comparing the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, Redditors highlighted many pros and cons of both popular compact SUVs. The RAV4 earned praise for its “more rugged look and better off-road capabilities,” as well as excellent fuel economy, cargo space, and higher towing capacity.
However, the CR-V certainly had its champions. Positive comments for this Honda focused on a “more comfortable and spacious interior” and “smoother ride and a more upscale cabin.” There was also strong praise for the CR-V’s infotainment system and more user-friendly technology.
One Redditor wisely remarked, “Personal preference plays a significant role in choosing between the two.”
Other frequently discussed factors centered on reliability, resale value, seating comfort, driving experience, and ownership costs. With each vehicle having an equal share of advocates. There was little negative talk. Instead, people discussed what they liked about the RAV4 or CR-V.
Who Should Buy These Cars: The Legacy of The Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V
The earlier discussion of how RAV4 and CR-V owners use their cars is highlighted here. Most time spent behind the wheel is for shuttling family, commuting, and long-distance traveling.
Fortunately, these cars are up to the task. FIXD survey data reveals that these RAV4s and CR-Vs readily hit 150,000 miles or more. Longevity is another strong selling point for these most popular crossovers.
Typical driving duties also coincide with other key characteristics of these vehicles: excellent safety performance and great fuel economy (especially with the hybrids). We’ll examine these factors more closely in the closing sections.
|Frequent Use Categories:||Honda CR-V | How Useful? (Out of 5 Stars)||Toyota RAV4 | How Useful? (Out of 5 Stars)|
|Lots of Driving (travel/long commute)||*****||****|
|Office on Wheels||*||*|
Best & Worst Years | Toyota RAV4 vs. Honda CR-V | 2001-2024
Don’t assume every RAV4 and CR-V model year makes for a great car. Even Toyota and Honda produce the occasional clunker. And, of course, age can take a toll on dependability. We’ve summarized the best and worst of the RAV4 and CR-V.
An older car is the only option for someone with a modest budget. In this situation, the best choices are the 2002 RAV4 or the 2005-2006 Honda CR-V. Naturally, a larger bankroll opens up availability, starting with the 2009 RAV4 and 2008-2010 CR-V.
You’ll notice there are more best years (green) for the CR-V than the RAV4 for the 2010 and older editions. Yet, this flips starting with 2011. Every RAV4 sold since then, except the 2016 model year, gets a thumbs up. It’s more hit-and-miss with newer CR-Vs.
We’ll call attention to the undecided years (yellow) only because there isn’t enough information to give these editions a thumbs up or down.
The battle for new feature bragging rights is evenly matched between the RAV4 and CR-V. Toyota was the first to introduce convenience-oriented equipment like heated front seats and remote start. The RAV4 also got a driver’s memory system and blind-spot monitoring before the CR-V. Meanwhile, chalk-up CR-V wins for having parking sensors, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a rearview camera first.
And each car has a distinct feature yet to appear in the competition. Heated and ventilated front seats are exclusive to the RAV4, while only the CR-V has a power front passenger seat.
When looking at overall averages combining the 2001-2021 years, the typical RAV4 owner spent $588 on maintenance in 2022. CR-V owners shelled out 9% more, or $640. We covered this earlier when looking at the “sweet spot” model years that balance depreciation and upkeep costs.
However, both vehicles have specific model years with above-average ($750+) maintenance and repair costs. In particular, 2003-2004, 2008, 2010, and 2012 are the costlier examples of the RAV4. It’s 2004, 2006-2008, and 2011 for the CR-V. These are details to remember while shopping.
We’ll also note that model year (and build quality) isn’t the sole determiner for upkeep expenses. Each car is treated differently. Some owners will run their cars into the ground with barely a thought about maintenance and repairs (until these become necessary), while others religiously follow manufacturer-recommended service guidelines. That’s something else to consider when checking out a used RAV4 or CR-V.
NHTSA safety scores are another example of how closely the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V align. With a few exceptions, both vehicles have performed well (and similarly) in government crash tests. Toyota stayed ahead from 2001 to 2004, while Honda essentially caught up by 2005. Toyota also achieved better results from 2014-2108, but the differences are negligible as any score above 4 (out of 5) is still a solid result.
You may be curious about what happened in 2011. This is when NHTSA introduced more rigorous testing, requiring automakers to re-engineer the vehicles. Toyota and Honda quickly got to work, ensuring better testing scores in the subsequent years.
The early years of the RAV4 versus CR-V contest were marked by similar fuel economy. 20 MPG or better in the early 21st century was respectable for something, not an economy car. And hitting 25 MPG or better a decade later is equally notable.
Only in 2015 did Honda start to pull ahead, which may explain why Toyota introduced a hybrid version, enabling the RAV4 to cross the magical 30 MPG milestone. And given the never-ending one-upmanship between the RAV4 and CR-V, it’s unsurprising that Honda added a hybrid option in 2020.
Both cars now toy with 40 MPG, thanks to the wonders of hybrid technology. An accomplishment once reserved for tiny economy cars. And because the RAV4 and CR-V have hybrid options, mileage isn’t a clear victory category for either.
- Compare two vehicles, Toyota RAV4 vs Honda CR-V, and provide a comprehensive analysis.
- Gather relevant information and data on both vehicles from reliable sources, such as manufacturer specifications, expert reviews, customer feedback, industry reports, and data sources like manufacturer websites, FIXD App, Kelley Blue Book, FuelEconomy.gov, and NHTSA.
- Collect data on various aspects, including performance, safety features, fuel efficiency, maintenance costs, reliability, owner satisfaction, and market value.
- Identify the key criteria that will be used to evaluate and compare the two vehicles.
- Ensure the criteria cover both objective factors (such as performance metrics, safety ratings, and fuel efficiency) and subjective factors (such as owner satisfaction, comfort, and features).
- Assess the performance of both vehicles based on factors such as acceleration, handling, braking, and overall driving experience.
- Compare engine options, horsepower, torque, transmission options, and any unique performance features.
- Examine the safety features and ratings of both vehicles.
- Evaluate crash test ratings, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), active and passive safety features, and any notable recalls or known issues related to safety.
- Consider both NHTSA safety ratings and IIHS awards for a comprehensive safety assessment.
- Analyze the fuel economy of both vehicles based on EPA mileage estimates.
- Compare their MPG ratings, average full-tank range, and any significant differences in fuel efficiency.
- Assess the average annual maintenance and repair costs for both vehicles.
- Consider data from surveyed owners and other reliable sources, such as FIXD App owner surveys, to determine the overall cost of ownership over time.
- Evaluate the reliability of both vehicles based on owner reports, FIXD App data, and any known issues or recalls.
- Consider factors such as engine reliability, common problems by model year, long-term durability, and owner reliability scores gathered from surveys.
- Consider owner satisfaction by gathering information from forums, online communities (Reddit: r/whatcarshouldIbuy), customer reviews, and owner reliability scores.
- Summarize key factors that owners appreciate and any common complaints or drawbacks mentioned by owners.
- Compare the features and technologies offered by both vehicles.
- Highlight any notable differences in terms of infotainment systems, connectivity options, driver assistance features, interior quality, and available upgrades.
- Assess the market value and depreciation of both vehicles.
- Compare average prices, resale value, and how the vehicles hold their value over time.
- Consider average private-seller valuations from Kelley Blue Book (KBB) for a comprehensive assessment.
- Summarize the findings of the comparison, highlighting the positives and negatives of each vehicle.
- Provide a fair and balanced recommendation based on the comparison, considering factors such as budget, personal preferences, specific needs of the buyer, and the comprehensive analysis conducted.
- KBB Values: Average private-seller valuations as supplied by Kelley Blue Book (KBB), based on a Chevrolet Equinox with typical mileage for that respective model year.
- Fuel Economy: Mileage-per-gallon estimates according to the EPA MPG on Fueleconomy.gov.
- Annual Maintenance/Repairs: Upkeep expenses as reported by surveyed Chevrolet Equinox owners.
- Safety Ratings: Crash test data collected and reported by NHTSA. We average all ratings for each year to come up with a simplified, average safety score. This makes it easier to look at on a graph. We also collected IIHS Awards for this article.
- Vehicle Features: Most or all information gathered on vehicle features were from the manufacturer websites, in this case, Hondacars.com and Toyota.com.
Dave Goldberg is an automotive journalist and lifelong car fanatic. He writes for numerous enthusiast and business outlets and is an ongoing contributor to HotCars.com, one of the most popular car culture websites. When he’s not writing or driving, Dave is either under a hood or asleep. His credentials include a BA in Journalism from The George Washington University.