SUVs are so popular nowadays, but some still aren’t great on gas, even popular compact crossovers like the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V. Fortunately, thanks to advances in fuel-saving technology and the rising popularity of hybrid vehicles, gas-guzzling isn’t as big of an issue. Unsurprisingly, Honda and Toyota make two of the most fuel-efficient SUVs, both hybrid versions.
The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is a top-five small SUV with the best gas mileage, U.S. News reports. The 2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid has a high overall score too, but it ranks seventh on the list. So, what makes the RAV4 Hybrid the higher achiever in this close race?
The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid has a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors capable of 219 hp. It also has all-wheel drive and a smooth-shifting continuously variable transmission. But it can create considerable noise at higher speeds. Most critics agree the RAV4 Hybrid has awesome acceleration for an SUV, a comfortable ride, and balanced handling.
The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is EPA-rated for 41/38 mpg city/highway. Car and Driver found that the EPA’s gas estimate ratings were close to real-world driving. During 0-to-60-mph testing, the RAV4 Hybrid was even quicker than its gas-operated sibling.
The interior doesn’t look any different from a regular RAV4. It’s spacious enough for all riders and boasts upscale-looking materials. The gas-powered RAV4 has slightly more cargo space, but Car and Driver still had no problem stowing 10 suitcases behind the hybrid’s second row. The infotainment system comes loaded with smartphone connectivity (plus Amazon Alexa support), a Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth, and SiriusXM Satellite Radio.
The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid also boasts a full suite of driver’s aids, with essentials like automatic emergency braking. The base-model RAV4 Hybrid starts at $28,500, while a fully loaded trim costs at least $37,030. Luxury options like a panoramic sunroof and a JBL sound system inflate the price.
The 2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid
The Honda CR-V Hybrid has a smaller engine than the RAV4 Hybrid, but 212 hp is powerful enough. It also comes equipped with all-wheel drive and a CVT like its Toyota rival. The CR-V Hybrid’s suspension rides smoothly over uneven pavement, and active noise cancellation mutes any CVT buzzing.
The CR-V Hybrid also has a few fun extra features, like paddles on the steering wheel to adjust its braking force. Fuel efficiency — only average by class standards, at 40/35 mpg city/highway — isn’t as great as the RAV4 Hybrid’s.
The cabin is unchanged compared to a regular Honda CR-V, and there’s plenty of stretch-out space for second-row riders. Maximum cargo space is on par with the RAV4 Hybrid, though there’s slightly less room behind the second row. The Honda CR-V Hybrid offers a nice collection of standard tech, but many critics hate the infotainment system. Basic functions are buried under needlessly complicated menus, and the system crawls to respond to user inputs.
The Honda CR-V Hybrid doesn’t provide as much safety tech as the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, but it still has important collision prevention features. The base-model CR-V Hybrid, starting at $30,560, has a slightly higher asking price than its Toyota competitor. However, at $36,350, the CR-V Hybrid’s top-of-the-line Touring trim is slightly cheaper than a decked-out RAV4 Limited.
The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid takes the lead
The RAV4 Hybrid boasts better gas mileage than the CR-V Hybrid, placing the Toyota higher on U.S. News‘ list. It also has a more user-friendly infotainment system and extra safety features for a lower price.
Despite its shortcomings, the Honda CR-V Hybrid isn’t a bad compact crossover by any means. It has a good predicted reliability rating and offers a more peaceful ride than the RAV4 Hybrid.