Face-Off: Honda CR-V vs. Toyota RAV4

The Toyota’s redesign reignites the battle between these compact SUV titans

Front angle showing the Honda CR-V vs Toyota RAV4

The Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 are two of the 10 most popular models among Consumer Reports members, and they’re two of the most researched vehicles on CR.org. These compact SUVs have topped CR’s ratings for decades. In fact, combined, they have claimed 12 CR Top Pick awards since 1997.

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Both of these well-rounded models are family-friendly SUVs that are easy to live with, and they match up closely in price, performance, and standard and available features.

The recent arrival of Toyota’s redesigned RAV4 raises questions: How does it match up with the CR-V? Is one more fuel-efficient than the other?  

To answer those questions, we take an in-depth look at these two SUVs to compare how they fare in CR’s testing and surveys. Then we let you know which one we think is tops.

The Case for the Honda CR-V

Both the CR-V and RAV4 have agile handling, thanks to their responsive steering and restrained body lean. Neither will be confused with the sportier Ford Escape or Mazda CX-5, but they are maneuverable and nimble to drive.

Honda did a very good job limiting the amount of road and wind noise that penetrates the cabin. It’s far quieter inside the CR-V than in the RAV4.

The CR-V has a slight fuel-economy advantage over the RAV4. Its 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, which comes in the EX trim and more expensive versions, returned 28 mpg overall vs. the RAV4's 27 mpg. The turbo engine’s fuel economy ties with the Subaru Forester for the best among compact SUVs, not counting hybrids. As a bonus, the turbo engine is responsive and makes the CR-V quick. The 0-60 mph sprint took just 8.2 seconds, placing it among the top three compact SUVs for that measure.

Honda gave the CR-V an inviting interior in the redesign. Most panels have nice texturing, and there are soft-touch surfaces throughout. We like the climate control system’s large knobs and easy-to-understand buttons.

The EX trim has a comprehensive infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility.

Both SUVs match up closely in terms of visibility and driving position, and the power seats in the EX are very comfortable, with four-way adjustable lumbar support, which is unusual among compact SUVs. But the power lumbar support on the RAV4 XLE, for example, doesn’t adjust for height; it just moves out and in.

The CR-V has an impressive balance of interior room and overall size. Five adults can fit inside comfortably, but it’s also small enough to thread through city streets and tight parking lots. Those five adults also get enough space for a weekend’s worth of luggage. We measured the CR-V’s usable cargo room at 36 cubic feet.

And last, Honda has a slight edge with its roadside assistance/breakdown coverage period: three years or 36,000 miles compared with the RAV4’s two years and unlimited miles.