The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Struggles Against the Honda CR-V

The battle between the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V used to be a lot closer. Both of these compact SUVs have been battling to be the first place option on a variety of the best SUV lists. However, the 2021 Toyota RAV4 hasn’t been able to keep up this year. 

Is the 2021 Toyota RAV4 or Honda CR-V better?

This is a subjective question. Generally, those who buy vehicles have different needs to fulfill. For example, some families prioritize cargo space over passenger space and some families need a three-row SUV instead of a compact option. The Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 may not stack up exactly like apples to apples.

However, based on rankings, the Honda CR-V is kicking the 2021 Toyota RAV4’s booty. Let’s take a look at U.S. News. Based on their list of the best compact SUVs for 2020 and 2021, the 2021 Honda CR-V comes in first place while the 2021 Toyota RAV4 is tied in 6th place. 

A 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid XLE driving down a road
The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid in action | Photo via Toyota

No matter what type of list or competition that you look at, sixth place feels way behind first place. If you’re lucky, you will get a participation ribbon for sixth place. So why does U.S News give the CR-V gold while the RAV4 only gets a ribbon? 

Also, please note that the hybrid models were not compared by U.S.News.

The 2021 Honda CR-V vs. the Toyota RAV4 

The 2021 Honda CR-V has a slight price advantage. However, both options are a little expensive for the class. The CR-V begins around $25,350, while the loaded Touring trim starts around $33,650. The RAV4 begins around $26,050, and with the TRD off-roading model, the price climbs to about $35,780. 

But the RAV4 has a peppier engine. It has a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 203 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. It can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in about 8.4 seconds. The CR-V has a 1.5-liter turbo-four engine with 190 hp and 179 lb-ft of torque. It can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 9.3 seconds. 

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Both SUVs have a similar fuel economy. The RAV4 gets an estimated 28 mpg in the city and up to 35 mpg on the highway. The CR-V gets about 28 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. Drivers probably won’t notice a difference between the two. 

The Honda CR-V wins the ride quality category because the Toyota RAV4 has a more firm ride with a little engine noise compared to the CR-V. But the RAV4 TRD trim increases the ground clearance and adds off-roading amenities that may improve the ride quality. 

RAV4 and CR-V features 

The Honda CR-V takes the cake for cargo space. While both options have above-average cargo space for the class, the Honda CR-V offers more. With the CR-V, there are 39.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row with up to 75.8 cubic feet total. In the RAV4, there are 37.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row with up to 69.8 cubic feet total. 

2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid
2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid | Honda

Also, the 2021 CR-V is noted for being more comfortable than the RAV4. The seats are more supportive, and the CR-V offers more leg space for backseat passengers.

Plus, the CR-V is praised for having a more upscale interior quality. It has soft-touch materials on most surfaces, while the RAV4 has hard plastics. This information is still coming directly from U.S.News and upgrading from the base trim can improve interior quality on both rides.

Each trim level was considered. Both options start with cloth upholstery, but the CR-V can be up-fitted to leather upholstery while the RAV4 only offers synthetic leather upholstery. Both SUVs include heated seats and tons of comfort-enhancing amenities too.

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 is an IIHS top safety pick, but the Honda CR-V hasn’t been tested yet. Both vehicles feature forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and more. But at the end of the day, the Honda CR-V checks more boxes than the RAV4.