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2018 Honda CR-V vs. 2018 Toyota RAV4: Which Is Better?

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Chris O'Neill August 2018
  • The 2018 Honda CR-V starts at $24,450; 2018 Toyota RAV4 starts at $24,660.

  • The CR-V was all new for 2017.

  • The RAV4 will be all new for the 2019 model year.

Last year in the United States, the Toyota RAV4 sold 407,594 units, making it the number-one-selling non-truck passenger vehicle in the United States. The Honda CR-V wasn't far behind, selling 377,895 units, making it the seventh best-selling vehicle in the United States. Based on sales volume alone, it would seem that the RAV4 is the more compelling option, but in reality, it's never this simple. Below, we'll look at the major differences between the 2018 Toyota RAV and the 2018 Honda CR-V.

Basic Specs

The RAV4 was last fully redesigned for the 2013 model year and received an update for the 2016 model year. While the RAV4 will be all-new for the 2019 model year, this comparison will focus on the 2018 model. The current RAV4 offers a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine making 176 horsepower and 172 lb-ft of torque. A hybrid model is available, which pairs that same engine with a hybrid system that increases its overall output to 194 hp and 206 lb-ft of torque. The Hybrid also brings about a considerable fuel economy gain. As far as the regular powertrain goes, front-wheel-drive-equipped RAV4s earn 26 miles per gallon combined, while all-wheel-drive-equipped RAV4s earn either 24 or 25 mpg in combined driving. The Hybrid, which is only available with all-wheel drive, increases this figure to 32 mpg overall, quite the increase given that only it carries a small price premium over the non-hybrid model.

The CR-V was all-new for the 2017 model year. While the CR-V doesn't offer a hybrid model, it's available with two different engines. Entry-level LX models come with a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder making 184 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque, good for 28 mpg combined with front wheel drive, or 27 mpg combined when equipped with all-wheel drive. EX, EX-L and Touring models offer a turbocharged 1.5-liter 4-cylinder turbo making 190 hp and 179 lb-ft of torque. While hardly an improvement over the power output of the non-turbo powerplant, the 1.5-liter turbo offers a slight fuel economy improvement, earning 30 mpg combined when paired with front-wheel drive, or 29 mpg combined with all-wheel drive.

Reliability

RAV4 and CR-V buyers should see above average reliability. Both Toyota and Honda are known for building some of the highest quality vehicles in the industry, which contributes to the high resale value of the RAV4 and CR-V.

Space

Both the RAV4 and CR-V seat five people in all configurations; neither offers a third row to U.S. customers. That said, neither is low on space inside, with both offering ample cargo room on par with the other vehicles in their segment.

The 2018 RAV4 offers 39.8 inches of front seat headroom and 42.6 inches or front seat legroom. In the rear, the RAV4 offers 38.9 inches of headroom and 37.2 inches of legroom.

The CR-V has similar dimensions up front, with 40.1 inches of headroom and 41.3 inches of legroom. Back seat passengers are given 39.2 inches of headroom and 40.4 inches of legroom. Altogether, the RAV4 offers an additional inch of front seat legroom, while the CR-V offers an additional inch in the rear.

The CR-V offers slightly more cargo room than the RAV4. With the second row still up, the CR-V offers 39 cu ft. to the RAV4's 38. Fold the rear seats and the gap widens slightly, with the CR-V offering 76 cu ft. and the RAV4 offering 73.

Interior Design & Technology

Inside, the CR-V offers heated seats, power seats, a heated steering wheel, and a digital instrument cluster. The CR-V's rearview camera offers three different view angles. A power liftgate and leather interior are offered on EX-L and Touring models. On the Touring model, the tailgate can be opened by waving your foot under the bumper while the key is in your pocket; a convenient feature when your hands are full. This feature is also present on the RAV4.

Like the CR-V, the RAV4 offers heated seats, power seats and a heated steering wheel, but it does not offer a digital instrument cluster, instead offering a rectangular LCD screen between two traditional gauges. Hybrid models get a unique gauge displaying battery and efficiency information. The RAV4 offers leather seats starting on the SE trim level. Also like the CR-V, the RAV4 offers a power, foot-activated liftgate on upper trim levels.

The CR-V's interior scores high marks for its stylish design and high quality materials. The RAV4's interior, while offering the high quality construction you'd expect from a Toyota, feels a bit busy, and certain touch points and materials are just so-so. Overall, the tech and interior design in the CR-V feels more modern than that in the RAV4, indicative of the RAV4's older overall design.

Infotainment

The RAV4 comes standard with a 6.1-in touch screen infotainment system, while a 7-in unit is optional. Buyers of the 2018 RAV4 are forced to make due with Toyota's Entune infotainment system, which is rather dated, uninspired and overall clunky to use. New 2019 models will likely offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The CR-V offers a 5-in touchscreen on LX models and a 7-in touchscreen starting with EX models. The 7-in screen earns criticism for its lack of physical buttons, save for a volume dial. What it does offer, though, is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, giving it a leg up on the RAV4 in this regard.

Neither vehicles offer 4G LTE or Wi-Fi capability, although these features seem to be the exception rather than the norm in this category.

Safety

Both the 2018 CR-V and RAV4 have been awarded Top Safety Pick designations from the third-party Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Both receive generally good scores across the board, although the RAV4 fared rather poorly in the passenger side small front overlap test. Both vehicles also get good marks for their collision avoidance technology.

Speaking of that technology, both the CR-V and RAV4 are offered with driver assistance safety features, although the RAV4 offers slightly more overall tech, some of which comes standard. The RAV4 offers as standard adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, forward-collision warning, front automated emergency braking, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist. Additionally, buyers can opt for front and rear parking sensors along with blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.

While not available on base LX models, Honda includes its suite of driver assistance tech on all CR-Vs starting with the EX trim level. This consists of adaptive cruise control, front automated emergency braking, automatic high beams, blind spot monitoring, forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist and rear cross-traffic monitoring. Front and rear parking sensors are not offered on the CR-V.

Autotrader's Advice

The 2018 Honda CR-V is an overall newer vehicle than the 2018 Toyota RAV4, and this is clear in its design and available infotainment technology. Additionally, the CR-V offers slightly more cargo space. That said, the RAV4 offers more options that change the driving experience, including SE models that come with a sport suspension, the Adventure trim level which preps the vehicle, slightly, for off-road exploits and the Hybrid model, which offers great fuel savings at a very reasonable cost. Still, in an apples-to-apples comparison of the mainstream, volume-selling models, the CR-V is likely the better buy due to its overall newness. Expect this comparison to be turned on its head, though, with the introduction of the all-new RAV4 for 2019.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2018 Honda CR-V vs. 2018 Toyota RAV4: Which Is Better? - Autotrader