Tips, Tricks & Trends

Forget the 2021 Honda CR-V, Buy a 2021 Toyota RAV4 Instead

If you’re about to pull the trigger on a compact SUV, chances are you’re in between two of the best sellers. The 2021 Honda CR-V and the 2021 Toyota RAV4 are two segment favorites. According to CarSalesBase, these two SUVs alone sold over 830,000 units in the U.S. in 2019. Despite being a segment favorite for many years, the 2021 Honda CR-V can’t keep up with the 2021 Toyota RAV4. The Toyota offers better value, more powerful engine options, greater trim level variety.

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 offers more for less

The Rav4 is Toyota's family crossover, with a favorable safety rating, an efficient engine, and a reasonable price, it is a major seller for the brand.
Toyota Rav4 | Toyota USA

Let’s start with one of the most important factors that determine a new car purchase, price. In this regard, the 2021 Honda CR-V is off to an early lead. The 2021 CR-V has a starting price of $25,350. In contrast, the 2021 Toyota RAV4 has a higher starting price of $26,050.

However, despite having a lower base price, the CR-V lacks some basic standard equipment. For starters, the CR-V comes standard with a five-inch infotainment screen. In contrast, the Toyota RAV4 comes standard with a seven-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. If you want those systems, you’ll have to opt for the CR-V EX, which starts at $27,860.

If you want a fuel-efficient hybrid model, you’ll have to opt for the Honda CR-V Hybrid EX and its $30,560 base price. The Toyota RAV4 offers a hybrid option even in the base trim level. You’ll only have to pay $28,500 for the base hybrid model. If you want all-wheel drive, it’ll cost you an extra $1,500 in the CR-V while the RAV4 offers it for $975.

The Honda CR-V has a weaker and louder engine than the Toyota RAV4

A sharp, gray 2020 Honda CR-V Touring model parked in the city.
2020 Honda CR-V Touring | Honda

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Although you won’t be taking either of the compact SUVs to a track anytime soon, a bit of extra power can make a major difference on a daily drive. As standard, the 2021 Honda CR-V is powered by a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine developing 190 hp. The 2021 Toyota RAV4, on the other hand, is powered by a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter naturally aspirated engine. Despite a lack of a turbocharger, the RAV4’s engine develops 203 hp.

Aside from raw power, the CR-V has to make do with a continuously variable transmission. In contrast, the RAV4 features an eight-speed automatic transmission. The drawback of the CVT is is that it lacks the set gears an automatic transmission has. As a result, the variable configuration causes the engine to rev higher more often. That extra noise permeates into the cabin and raises in-cabin noise.

The CR-V offers greater interior options

2020 Toyota RAV4 Off Road in the desert on a trail with the bike on the roof rack
2020 Toyota RAV4 Off Road | Toyota

If you’re looking for a daily driver SUV, the Honda CR-V’s trim levels are more than enough. However, the Toyota RAV4 has the added benefit of wearing multiple hats. Unlike the CR-V, the RAV4 offers greater variety with the likes of the off-road-focused Aventure and TRD Off-Road trim levels. The result is that the RAV4 doesn’t just offer a luxury-focused version for a higher price.

These trim levels aren’t just aesthetics, either. For example, the TRD-Pro offers off-roading tires, chunky styling, and a revised suspension. The result is that your RAV4 isn’t limited to just working on-road.

Both are great options

Regardless of which compact SUV steals your heart, both are great options. While there are a few differentiators, both ofter similar safety equipment, excellent crash safety ratings, and comparable fuel economy. As a result, it is obvious why both models are such big sellers.