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2006-2012 Toyota RAV4 vs. 2007-2011 Honda CR-V: Which Is Better?

Editor’s note: You may want to read more of Autotrader’s model vs. model comparison car reviews as well as the 2012 Toyota RAV4 review and the 2007-2010 Honda CR-V used car video review on Autotrader’s YouTube channel.

 

There are lots of reasons why you might be interested in a used compact SUV, including practicality, visibility and affordability. You can get all of these in two of the top used compact SUVs on the market, the 2006-2012 Toyota RAV4 and the 2007-2011 Honda CR-V. But which one is better? And which one should you get? We’ve created a close comparison of the RAV4 and the CR-V to help you answer those questions. But first, let’s cover the basics of both models.

2012 Toyota RAV-4

2006-2012 Toyota RAV4: The Basics

The 2006-2012 RAV4 marked the beginning of the SUV’s third generation. Offered in base-level RAV4, Sport or Limited trims, this generation of the vehicle offered a major size increase over its predecessor, along with two newly available features you couldn’t get in any CR-V: a V6 engine and a third-row seat.

Neither option was especially popular, though, and Toyota stopped offering both items when the fourth-generation RAV4 debuted for the 2013 model year. Standard features on all RAV4 models from this period included side-curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, cruise control and full power accessories with keyless entry.

2011 Honda CR-V

2007-2011 Honda CR-V: The Basics

The 2007-2011 Honda CR-V also represented the model’s third generation. Available in LX, EX or EX-L trims, CR-V models from this period offered front- or all-wheel drive along with a standard 4-cylinder engine and 2-row seating, just like their predecessors. Standard safety features included an anti-skid system, anti-lock brakes and side-curtain airbags, while options included leather upholstery, a power sunroof and dual-zone automatic climate control.

2012 Toyota RAV-4   2011 Honda CR-V

Reliability

According to reliability experts at Consumer Reports, early versions of the third-generation RAV4 — specifically 2006, 2007 and 2008 models — offered only average reliability. That score improved dramatically beginning in 2009 and increased to well above average by 2010. The CR-V, on the other hand, never had an "average" period, offering above average reliability from its original debut in 2007. The result: while both the RAV4 and the CR-V are likely to offer remarkable dependability, the CR-V will likely outshine early versions of the RAV4.

2012 Toyota RAV-4   2011 Honda CR-V

Fuel Economy

The 2007-2011 CR-V offered only one engine: a 166-horsepower 2.4-liter 4-cylinder mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy reached as high as 20 miles per gallon in the city and 27 mpg on the highway.

Meanwhile, the 2006-2012 RAV4 touted two engine options. Most RAV4s used the base engine, also a 166-hp 2.4-liter 4-cylinder, which returned up to 21 mpg city/27 mpg hwy. But drivers who wanted more performance could upgrade to a 3.5-liter V6 that touted 269 hp, an amazing amount for a compact crossover. Surprisingly, fuel economy was barely affected by the huge power increase: V6-powered RAV4 models topped out at 19 mpg city/27 mpg hwy.

The result? Regardless of whether you get a CR-V, a 4-cylinder RAV4 or a V6 RAV4, you’ll probably get about 20 mpg city/27 mpg hwy. Neither model offers any major advantage here.

2012 Toyota RAV-4   2011 Honda CR-V

Safety

In crash testing carried out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the CR-V and RAV4 both earned 5-star front- and side-impact scores. That figure that drops to 4 stars in the rollover category, likely due to the SUVs’ relatively high centers of gravity. Meanwhile, both the RAV4 and CR-V earned strong scores on tests carried out by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, though each model stopped short of the firm’s top Good rating in the roof-strength test.

As for safety features, both the CR-V and RAV4 offer everything you might need, including side-curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes and traction control. With that said, the RAV4 didn’t offer a backup camera until the 2009 model year, while the CR-V offered it from its launch in 2007. Although that gives the Honda a leg up in terms of safety, it’s too slight to matter, so we think this category is a toss-up.

2012 Toyota RAV-4 interior   2011 Honda CR-V interior

Technology

By today’s standards, neither the CR-V nor the RAV4 is particularly advanced when it comes to gadgets and technology. At the time, though, both models were highly competitive. Each offered impressive features like a navigation system, a premium sound system, dual-zone automatic climate control and heated front seats.

Indeed, while you won’t find any of today’s cutting-edge features in either the RAV4 or the CR-V, both models come equipped with exactly what you’d expect given their decreasing prices and advancing ages. With that said, once again, neither the RAV4 nor the CR-V offers a major advantage over the other.

2012 Toyota RAV-4   2011 Honda CR-V

Value

At the moment, there are more than 5,200 different 2006-2012 RAV4 models on Autotrader, with an average price of $14,800. Meanwhile, there are just over 5,000 different 2007-2011 CR-V models, with an average price of $14,200. Limiting our search to only 2007-2011 (when the two SUVs overlap) gives the RAV4 a slight advantage, bringing its average asking price down to $13,800.

Couple that advantage with the RAV4’s two unique selling points, a V6 engine and available third-row seating, and we think the Toyota offers a slightly better value than the CR-V. That’s especially true of 2009-2012 models, which boast the strongest Consumer Reports scores.

Autotrader’s Advice

There’s a reason why so many shoppers choose the 2006-2012 Toyota RAV4 and the 2007-2011 Honda CR-V. Both models are reliable, efficient, well-equipped and reasonably priced, making them great choices for used-car shoppers. We think the RAV4 offers a slight advantage due to its lower pricing, increased cargo space and available 3-row seating and V6 engine, but we could quickly change our minds if the right CR-V came along at the right price.

Find a Used Toyota RAV4 for sale

Find a Used Honda CR-V for sale

 
Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More

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