The market for smaller SUVs is certainly crowded. Not only does nearly every automaker offer one, but several offer more than one. For example, Toyota offers the Corolla Cross, RAV4, and the C-HR. The C-HR is a small and slow option best avoided if you have the budget for something else. If you’re narrowing your choices down to a Corolla Cross or a RAV4, Consumer Reports recommends you go with the Corolla Cross.
What Consumer Reports likes about the Toyota Corolla Cross
The Corolla Cross is a relatively new entry into the small SUV space. It’s an SUV version of the perennially popular Corolla sedan and similar in many ways. While its Consumer Reports scores don’t set it head and shoulders above the segment, reviewers did evaluate it more positively than the RAV4.
Consumer Reports gave the Corolla Cross a 68 out of 100 overall, driven by a road test score of 67. It’s underpowered by some measures with a 169 hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. But the Corolla Cross is quite fuel-efficient with a combined 28 mpg and accelerates quicker than many others in its class, getting to 60 mph in 9.3 seconds. The Cross also has excellent access and visibility. Its technology and advanced safety features are easy to use and capable.
The vehicle also earned predicted reliability and owner satisfaction scores of 3 out of 5. The reliability score is based on the last three years’ average and Toyota’s general track record. While there isn’t a breakdown of what drove down the Corolla Cross’ score, the road test noted the SUV’s cabin noise, mediocre handling, and uncomfortable seating. Combined with the low-reliability score and possibility of pricey repairs, it’s understandable why Consumer Reports did not score the Corolla Cross higher.
What the RAV4 brings to the table
Though the Toyota RAV4 is Consumer Reports recommended pick in the compact SUV market, it scored lower than the Corolla Cross with a 65 out of 100. However, the RAV4 is not markedly worse than the Corolla Cross. In fact, it scored higher on its road test with 72 out of 100, and reviewers praised its powertrain, performance, and handling.
The RAV4 offers a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine producing 203 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. It also produces noise that reduces the cabin’s comfort, as do the noticeable shifts from its eight-speed transmission. But where the RAV4 lost more points was in the interior styling, which feels cheap relative to its competitors. Pillars create blind spots, and the rear seats are cramped as well.
The RAV4’s predicted reliability and owner satisfaction scores matched the Corolla Cross’s. Those scores stem from previous RAV4 scores, and previous models were noted for power equipment, body integrity, brakes, and fuel system issues. The predicted owner satisfaction levels are most depressed by Consumer Reports’ assessment of the RAV4’s value. While it holds its resale value reasonably well, new owners may be disappointed by some of the RAV4’s flaws.
Why you won’t go wrong with a RAV4
But the RAV4 is more than the sum of its flaws. Indeed, its performance is a high point. It can hit 60 mph in 8.3 seconds, which is fast compared to other compact SUVs. The combined fuel economy is 27 mpg, which is also respectable. And the RAV4 handles confidently, even when cornering or braking sharply.
Despite the overuse of plastics inside, the interior is complemented by easy-to-use and accessible tech. The standard infotainment system is 7 inches, although a 9-inch version is available. The base also comes with a six-speaker audio system that can be upgraded to an 800-watt, 11-speaker version. Those are just a few of the amenities available at higher-level trims.
The RAV4 is a solid choice, despite Consumer Reports’ lower score. The RAV4 is neck and neck with the Corolla Cross. For many prospective buyers, it may come down to size. The Cross is your pick if you’re looking for the smaller and slightly better model. But if you need a larger Toyota, the RAV4 won’t disappoint.