When choosing an SUV, many people rightly feel they can’t go wrong with a Toyota. The brand boasts one of the highest reliability ratings, and it consistently makes affordable and safe vehicles that drivers and families love. So if you’re in the market for one of the automaker’s SUVs but can’t decide which to choose, know that two popular crossovers are the Toyota Highlander and RAV4.
Let’s take a closer look at these two models to see which might be right for you.
The 2021 Toyota RAV4
The brand’s best-selling SUV is the Toyota RAV4 compact crossover. It has long been a staple in American driveways thanks to its reasonable price, low maintenance costs, good gas mileage, and high safety ratings. With an athletic yet refined aesthetic, the 2021 model looks fantastic inside and out.
Under the hood, the Toyota RAV4 packs a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine capable of producing 203 hp. It also gets a respectable 35 mpg on the highway and can tow up to 1,500 pounds.
The interior comes standard with cloth seats, but you can upgrade to synthetic leather seat coverings at higher trim levels. The Toyota RAV4 also comes standard with a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration.
The base-model RAV4 starts at $26,050, and the most expensive trim starts at $35,780.
The 2021 Toyota Highlander
The 2021 Toyota Highlander midsize crossover boasts more towing power, better acceleration, and more advanced interior and safety features than the RAV4.
On the outside, the Highlander looks a bit boxier and lower-slung than the RAV4. But the larger SUV also offers more power. It comes with a 295 hp V6 engine, which packs a noticeable punch compared to the RAV4’s standard 208-hp four-cylinder. The bigger sibling can also tow up to 5,000 pounds — over three times the weight the RAV4 can pull. Gas mileage — 29 mpg on the highway — falls slightly behind the RAV4’s, but that’s to be expected for a substantially larger vehicle with a more powerful engine.
Inside the Toyota Highlander, you’ll also find more storage and seating space. The infotainment system comes standard with an 8.0-inch touchscreen plus many of the RAV4’s tech features. You can also choose from many more interior options than you can with the RAV4, including leather trim, giving the Highlander an edge for customizability.
But the 2021 Toyota Highlander’s starting MSRP is nearly $9,000 more than the RAV4’s. Starting prices range from $34,810 for the base model to $46,965 for the top trim.
Why is the RAV4 more popular?
The 2021 Toyota RAV4 has always enjoyed popularity, and the past year has been no exception. Good Car Bad Car shows the RAV4’s sales numbers are double that of Good Car Bad Car‘s numbers for the Highlander.
Regardless, the 2021 Toyota Highlander boasts better reliability ratings than the RAV4, U.S. News reports. However, the Highlander’s sticker price is significantly higher than the RAV4’s, which probably accounts for the wide gap in sales between the two.
Overall, though, both crossovers bear the reliable Toyota badge. So whichever one you choose, expect a dependable vehicle for years to come.