Popular Crossover Comparison: Honda CR-V Vs. Toyota RAV4

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America's favorite SUVs are better than ever before.

Ignoring pickup trucks for a moment, do you know what America's best-selling passenger vehicle was last year? It may not surprise you, but it was the Toyota RAV4. Buyers just can't get enough of the Japanese SUV and it's easy to see why. The extensive lineup offers great value (prices start at $26,975), there are hybrid models to choose from, and, depending on your budget, varying levels of tech and luxury - small wonder the company shifted 407,739 examples last year.

But if the RAV4 is the bride, the Honda CR-V is undoubtedly the bridesmaid. The outgoing model was undeniably a good car but, compared to the sharp-suited Toyota, it was lacking in the style and excitement department. Still, that didn't stop 361,271 people from buying one last year. Now, however, there's an all-new model and it's looking to close the sales gap with its fellow Japanese rival. Now better than ever before, does the CR-V have what it takes to dethrone the reigning champ?

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Design: Upmarket Style At Wholesale Prices

Both the new CR-V and RAV4 are a far cry from their staid predecessors. The Japanese duo looks suitably upmarket, lending both the presence that buyers crave in this segment. Now bigger than before, the CR-V bears a resemblance to the chunkier Passport and appears more aggressive thanks to a blunt front facia and a more imposing grille. EX, EX-L, and Sport models receive 18-inch wheels as standard while the range-topping Sport Touring receives larger 19-inch items.

Round back, you'll find the CR-V has adopted a far classier look; the traditional taillights have a hint of Volvo about them. Depending on your desired trim level, the CR-V's appearance changes slightly. The EX and EX-L are more traditional and feature chrome trim around the grille, for example. Sport and Sport Touring models are more rugged in their overall look and come standard with several sporty accouterments. LED headlights are now standard fitment.

The RAV4 has become a staple on American roads. Being such a common sight, the good looks are often forgotten. As with its rival, the overall look of the Toyota is determined by the trim. Adventure and TRD models receive a sportier-looking grille treatment, for example. Both are handsome and, in terms of styling, we'd say they're closely matched.

Front Angle View Honda
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2019-2022 Toyota RAV4 Three Quarter Rear Right Side View Toyota

Interior: Paragons Of Practicality

While we can't comment on the CR-V's perceived build quality, Honda says it's built the cabin with high-quality materials. The outgoing model felt reassuringly solid, so we expect the newcomer to feel the same. The RAV4's cockpit feels remarkably sturdy in its construction, but the dashboard is now starting to look a bit dated in terms of design. The new CR-V looks far more modern and upmarket.

Cloth upholstery is standard on the CR-V EX and Sport, but the EX-L and Sport Touring derivatives receive leather as standard. Other amenities include a power-adjustable driver's seat, a full suite of driver assistance features, and a seven-inch infotainment screen. Plusher models receive a nine-inch screen and a four-way adjustable powered front passenger seat. Practicality is quite impressive. The biggest CR-V yet boasts 36.3 cubic feet of trunk space but folding the 60/40 split-folding rear bench affords even more room, with 76.5 cubes up for grabs.

The RAV4 strikes back with equally decent standard specification. The base model LE may not gain power front seating but does, at least, receive Toyota's Safety Sense 2.0 and a seven-inch touchscreen. For not much more, the XLE adds 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, and several other nice-to-haves. In terms of practicality, the RAV4 trumps the Honda's trunk space (37.5 cu ft) but falls short when it comes to total cargo space, with 69.8 cu ft at your disposal. It's close, but it looks like the Honda comes out on top in this category.

Dashboard Honda
2019-2022 Toyota RAV4 Dashboard Toyota
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2019-2022 Toyota RAV4 Back Seats Toyota

Powertrains: Nothing To Shout About

The 2023 Honda CR-V will be made available with two engine options for now. The EX and EX-L are powered by a refined version of the existing turbocharged 1.5-liter four-pot. 190 horsepower and 179 lb-ft of torque won't provide mind-bending performance, but it should be adequate for most people's needs. Honda says they've fitted new turbochargers to reduce emissions and sharpen engine responses. The base engine is mated to a CVT which has also been revised for improved refinement and smoothness.

The Sport and Sport Touring are powered by a fourth-generation hybrid system mated to a 2.0-liter four-cylinder. The engine and twin-motor setup produce a combined 204 hp and 247 lb-ft, which should give the Hybrid derivative some added punch. There are no gas mileage or performance figures yet, but we're hoping Honda has something more powerful waiting in the wings; Toyota's RAV4 Prime offers incredible performance in this class.

Speaking of the Prime, Toyota's range-topper utilizes a plug-in hybrid setup that proffers 302 horsepower and an enticing 0 to 60 mph time of 5.7 seconds. Impressive that may be, but it's the potential for 94 MPGe will certainly pique the interests of prospective buyers. The base RAV4 has more grunt than the 1.5-liter CR-V, with 203 hp on tap, but it needs to be revved harder to achieve its peak torque of 184 lb-ft. It boasts a far more desirable eight-speed automatic gearbox. The Hybrid models are also more muscular than their Honda counterparts, with 219 hp up for grabs.

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Front View Toyota
CarBuzz / Ian Wright
Toyota

Pricing And Verdict: Kings Of Value

The CR-V and RAV4 have always represented stellar value for money in this segment. As mentioned, the Toyota has a quite an appealing starting MSRP which, again, puts the remarkable sales success into perspective. Pricing for the Honda has not been announced as yet, but we don't expect the new model to stray far from the current pricing. For reference, the 2022 CR-V range kicks off at $26,800 (the Hybrid is slightly more, at $32,010).

Honda's new CR-V does trail behind in one regard. There are fewer trim choices and variations for buyers to choose from, and the engines (despite the updates) can't quite match the RAV4 in terms of power. However, the rugged styling, bigger interior, and more upmarket cabin may lure some out of the Toyota fold. It looks to be a very close race, but it seems that Honda has finally outclassed its fiercest rival - especially if the pricing remains appealing.

CarBuzz / Ian Wright
2019-2022 Toyota RAV4 Three Quarter Front Right Side View In Motion Toyota
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2019-2022 Toyota RAV4 Three Quarter Rear Left Side View Toyota
Central Console Honda
2019-2022 Toyota RAV4 Infotainment System Toyota

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