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Toyota offers a highly successful lineup of SUVs, including the compact RAV4 and the midsize Highlander, which are the best-selling models in their respective segments. While the Toyota Highlander has some strong points, there’s a key element about the Toyota RAV4 that many SUV shoppers find appealing. The 2023 Toyota RAV4 has one giant advantage over the 2023 Toyota Highlander: better fuel economy. 

The 2023 Toyota RAV4 gets better fuel economy than the 2023 Toyota Highlander

One of the most significant costs of vehicle ownership is gasoline. This is especially the case for SUVs, which tend to be gas guzzlers. However, the 2023 Toyota RAV4, with its high fuel economy, is an exception, resulting in considerable savings at the pump over the long haul. While the 2023 Toyota Highlander is more efficient than many other midsize SUVs, it doesn’t match the high gas mileage of the RAV4.

First, let’s look at the fully gas-powered models. The RAV4 equipped with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine has an estimated fuel economy of up to 30 combined mpg, compared to 25 combined mpg for the Highlander with the turbo 2.4-liter inline-four engine. 

Both SUVs also offer hybrid models. The RAV4 Hybrid gets an estimated gas mileage of up to 40 combined mpg, compared to 36 combined mpg for the Highlander Hybrid.

The Toyota RAV4 has a plug-in hybrid model with the RAV4 Prime — but the Highlander doesn’t offer one

We didn’t get to the most efficient model in the 2023 Toyota RAV4 lineup: the RAV4 Prime. It features a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) system, which enables the SUV to drive on electric-only power for up to an estimated 42 miles. The RAV4 Prime gets an estimated fuel economy of 94 combined MPGe in electric-only mode and 38 combined mpg in hybrid mode.

The RAV4 Prime is also a good alternative to EVs, for you don’t have to worry about range anxiety. When the electric-only power runs out, the SUV switches to power from the internal combustion engine. 

However, the 2023 Toyota Highlander doesn’t have a plug-in hybrid model. The only other plug-in hybrid model that Toyota currently offers in the United States is the Prius Prime.

Along with its high fuel economy, the RAV4 Prime delivers excellent performance. It boasts a 0-60 mph acceleration time of 5.5 seconds. However, the quickest that the Highlander can complete the 0-60 mph sprint is 7.5 seconds.

Other strengths of the 2023 RAV4 over the 2023 Highlander

The 2023 RAV4 compact SUV has some other strengths over the 2023 Highlander. With its smaller size and tighter turning circle, the RAV4 is more maneuverable than the Highlander. This makes it easier to park, back up, and drive through curves and around corners. 

Additionally, with its higher ground clearance (up to 8.6 inches vs. 8.0 inches), the RAV4 is better for off-road use. It also has off-road models with the TRD Off-Road, Wilderness Edition, and Adventure trims. While the Highlander is a good family SUV for on-road driving, it doesn’t offer an off-road model.

Furthermore, the RAV4 is more affordable. It has a starting price of $27,975 MSRP, compared to $36,420 MSRP for the Highlander.

With its more impressive fuel economy, the 2023 Toyota RAV4 has a giant advantage over the 2023 Toyota Highlander. If you’re deliberating over which SUV to get, then the better gas mileage is an important factor to consider.

Related 2023 Toyota RAV4: Price, Specs, & Features — Best-Selling SUV!

2023 Toyota RAV4: Price, Specs, & Features — Best-Selling SUV!