2021 Honda CR-V vs. 2021 Toyota RAV4: Which Hybrid Is the Real Range Topper?

For buyers that need more space than a car, but don’t want to pay the price of a larger SUV, the compact crossover SUV class is it. Throw in the industry-wide push to electrify everything in sight, and it’s clear to guess that the hybrid compact crossover SUV segment might be the next big thing. Cars.com recently ranked the top trim levels of the 2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid and the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Limited (not to be confused with the plug-in hybrid RAV4 Prime) in a head-to-head competition––let’s see how these popular models compare.

the 2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid on display at an auto show
2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid | Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images

Not everyone is out there ready to splurge on a range topping model. However, the buyers that want the best trim level available will want to get the one that’s actually the best. Last year, Honda sold 323,502 CR-V units. Toyota sold 430,387 RAV4 units in 2020 according to GoodCarBadCar.

Of course, not all of the models sold were hybrids. That said, it’s interesting to see how the hybrid models from these two compact crossover SUV power sellers stack up against each other. CarSalesBase reports that the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV4 are the top two sellers in the small SUV class. So which range-topping hybrid model is actually the best?

“We tested top trim levels of each SUV — a 2021 CR-V Hybrid Touring and a 2021 RAV4 Hybrid Limited — and the two were similarly equipped and priced.”

Cars.com

The 2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid Touring

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The CR-V model Cars.com tested was the 2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid Touring. Equipped with all-wheel drive, the CR-V Hybrid had a sticker price of $37,920. Some features, such as the moonroof and the hands-free rear liftgate are standard on the 2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid Touring are an additional cost on the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Limited.

For that reason, the CR-V Hybrid takes the win for overall value as tested. The Honda CR-V Hybrid also beat out the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid in terms of ride quality. However, Cars.com does report that neither model performed particularly well in this category. The CR-V, with its notably spacious cabin design, edged out the competition for its ability to maintain “better composure over bumps and rough sections of pavement.”

Seat comfort overall was a win for the 2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid Limited as well. Due to the fact that the CR-V offers 2.6 inches of extra rear legroom, it also beat out the RAV4 Hybrid for car-seat accommodations. The CR-V Hybrid also has more flexibility for child safety seat installation with an additional single lower LATCH anchor.

Cars.com comments that the entire head-to head comparison was very close. That said, the Honda CR-V also has superior interior quality. Plus, it offers more in cabin storage options than the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Limited

A ruby red 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Limited | Toyota

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In the Cars.com review, it’s mentioned that the RAV4 Hybrid tester they compared had a few additional accessories. This made the sticker price on the model a bit higher than the CR-V Hybrid at $42,661. That said, Toyota also offers a free maintenance plan that the Honda model doesn’t bring to the table.

Obviously one of the most important points to consider when researching a hybrid model is the fuel economy. The Cars.com team took each compact crossover SUV on a 165-mile drive to test the mileage on various suburban roads and highways; both at low and higher speeds, and in normal drive mode (not eco or electric-only). After the evaluation, the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Limited had a 44.2 MPG average.

The 2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid Touring fell short with an average fuel economy of 40.9. The RAV4 Hybrid model also exceeded the CR-V in terms of steering, handling, and powertrain. The RAV4 uses three electric motors when configured with an all-wheel-drive powertrain. These batteries paired with a 2.5 liter 4-cylinder get up to 219 hp that makes for a punchier, more dynamic driving experience than offered by the 212 hp 2.0 liter combined with an electric generator and lithium-ion battery pack.

The Cars.com team also preferred the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Limited model’s visibility. In addition, the usability of controls and extra USB port gave it the win in the media/tech categories. To top it off, the RAV4 Hybrid also reigned supreme for safety/driver assist features with extras like curve-adaptive headlights, rear automatic emergency braking, and a 360-degree camera system.

Which is the better hybrid compact crossover SUV range-topper?

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Overall, the Cars.com team concluded that the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Limited has a little more to give than the 2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid Touring. The two compact crossover SUV hybrid models tied for cabin noise and cargo space. While the RAV4 officially takes the win here, the two models are both excellent representations of their class, sure to provide virtually any necessary accommodation regardless of which model you choose.