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

Can the newest hybrid SUV beat the category’s stalwart?

Honda CR-V Hybrid and Toyota RAV4 Hybrid review

The Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 are both well-rounded, reliable, and fuel-efficient—that’s why they’re historically among the top-performing compact SUVs and two of the most-searched vehicles on CR.org. They match up closely in price, performance, dimensions, and available equipment. But they differ in personality and proportions.

When the current RAV4 went on sale for the 2019 model year, it was the only compact SUV available with a hybrid powertrain. But in early 2020 Honda introduced a hybrid version of the CR-V. (Ford also reintroduced a hybrid version of its redesigned Escape compact SUV.)


In our previous face-off between the nonhybrid versions of the CR-V and RAV4, the Honda came out on top even though it lost some points for its lack of standard advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). For 2020, the entire CR-V line gained standard ADAS, addressing that deficiency. Meanwhile, the 2020 RAV4 gained standard Android Auto compatibility, and Toyota extended the Hybrid’s battery warranty.

Below you’ll see how these compact hybrid SUVs fare in a face-off. At the end, we’ll crown a winner.

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Honda CR-V Hybrid

The Case for It
For the most part, the CR-V Hybrid has many of the same strengths and weaknesses as the nonhybrid model.

We’re impressed by the CR-V Hybrid’s 35 mpg overall. That’s better than the Ford Escape Hybrid (34 mpg overall) and the smaller Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid (33 mpg overall). But it can’t match the RAV4 Hybrid (see below).

The Honda has relatively responsive handling, on a par with the Toyota but nowhere near the Ford Escape or Mazda CX-5. However, sportiness isn’t the name of the game with a hybrid SUV.

Honda’s work on limiting road and wind noise carries over to the Hybrid. Overall, it’s quieter inside the CR-V hybrid than in the RAV4 hybrid.

The CR-V has impressive braking performance, with short stops on both dry and wet surfaces. The brake pedal has good feedback and is easy to modulate, something that isn’t a given with all hybrids. Overall, the CR-V’s stopping distance from 60 mph on a wet surface is slightly shorter than the RAV4’s on a dry surface. This stands out because tires grip better on dry surfaces, which usually results in shorter stopping distances than on wet surfaces.

The interior is attractive-looking, at least in the EX trims and above. 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. Overall, it’s nicer than the RAV4’s cabin.

The EX trim has a comprehensive infotainment system with a 7-inch touch screen, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. The power seats in the EX are very comfortable, with four-way adjustable lumbar support, which is unusual among compact SUVs. Visibility is also very good.

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