Who says you can’t have it all when you get behind the wheel? There’s been an epic shift in the automotive industry over the last few decades. Vehicles equipped with manual windows and door locks, standard airbags, and convenience features like cigarette lighters paved the way for modern conveniences like one-touch sunroofs, hands-free liftgates, advanced driver-assist features, voice recognition, and Wi-Fi capability. This is exactly what we find leading the market of compact SUVs when we compare the best-selling 2021 Toyota RAV4 vs 2021 Honda CR-V.
Whether you’re a Toyota fan or a Honda loyalist, there’s no question that the RAV4 and the CR-V are the two most capable compact SUVs on the road. The 2021 RAV4 is priced at $26,150 and offers an average fuel economy of 28 MPG in the city and 35 MPG on the highway. The CR-V comes incredibly close to these stats, with a starting MSRP of $25,350 and an average fuel rating of 28 MPG in the city and 34 MPG on the highway. So, where do the models differ, and who has the advantage – Toyota or Honda? There’s only one way to find out!
What’s Under the Hood
With Honda getting its start building engines and motorcycles in Japan, it’s no surprise that the engine under the hood of the CR-V is a solid performer for its class. The 2021 CR-V comes standard with a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and continuously variable transmission that delivers 190 horsepower and 179 lb-ft of torque. While this power is already notable for a compact SUV, Toyota ups the ante with a standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine in the 2021 RAV4. Paired with a superior 8-speed automatic transmission, the 2.5-liter delivers 203 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque, pushing the RAV4 ahead of the CR-V in this race to the finish line.
Trims and Pricing
Toyota once again takes the lead in the category of trim levels and pricing. The 2021 RAV4 is available in six trims beginning with the base LE model that starts at $26,150 and ending with the adventure-ready TRD Off-Road that starts at $35,880. Each trim level offers a progressive suite of features building on the LE’s standard features, including the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 suite, LED headlights, a one-year trial of Toyota’s Safety Connect, and compatibility with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Amazon Alexa. From there, the trims add features like Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, a power tilt and slide moonroof, premium audio, and navigation.
The 2021 CR-V is available in only four trims, beginning with the LX at $25,350 and culminating with the Touring at $33,650. While the CR-V is a bit less expensive than the RAV4, that is because it comes with fewer features. For example, LED headlights are not standard until the top trim, and even Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are unavailable on the base trim. This large difference in trim options and standard feature makes the 2021 RAV4 well worth the small increase in price.
Connectivity and Convenience
When looking at the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V trims, there are notable differences in the connectivity and convenience features. The 2021 Honda CR-V offers drivers a basic 5-inch LCD screen on the LX trim, while the other three trims offer a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system complete with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. Drivers must upgrade to the CR-V Touring to enjoy turn-by-turn satellite-linked navigation, a 9-speaker premium audio system, and wireless smartphone charging.
On the other hand, Toyota gives drivers a standard 7-in touchscreen infotainment system right out of the gate on the LE base model. The RAV4 also comes standard with Wi-Fi capability as well as a free trial to Toyota’s Safety Connect across every trim level. Additional connectivity features include Bluetooth and satellite radio as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. On several of the higher trims, drivers can further upgrade the RAV4’s connectivity and tech features to a larger 8-inch display that boasts dynamic navigation and a premium sound system. Finally, Toyota offers an incredible 11-speaker JBL sound system that completely overwhelms Honda’s top audio option.
Both Toyota and Honda are committed to giving drivers the most advanced safety and driver-assist features available. This commitment is reflected in the Honda Sensing Suite and the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0, both of which come standard on the CR-V and the RAV4. However, one outperforms the other by offering a few more features that are designed to give drivers more confidence behind the wheel.
The Honda Sensing Suite comes standard on the CR-V and includes technology like Lane Keeping Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow, Road Departure Mitigation, and Collision Mitigation Braking. Honda gives drivers even more advanced safety features on trims like the EX, EX-L, and Touring by adding a Blind-Spot Information System with Cross-Traffic Monitoring. While this addition is impressive, it doesn’t quite meet what Toyota offers on the 2021 RAV4.
The RAV4 comes standard with Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.0 suite that includes similar technology to the Honda CR-V like Toyota’s Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, and Lane Tracing Assist. Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.0 exceeds Honda’s safety suite by adding Road Sign Assist and making Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert available on even the base trim. The higher trims bring even more features, such as Front and Rear Parking Assist with Automatic Braking.
Peace of Mind: Warranties and Repair
If the Toyota RAV4 wasn’t already leading the race against the Honda CR-V, then it certainly would when it comes to offering drivers peace of mind. Every new Toyota comes with ToyotaCare, which is a 2-year or 25,000-mile maintenance plan that also includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The maintenance plan is a complimentary service that offers more than maintenance reminders. Toyota-trained technicians will oversee oil and oil filter changes, tire rotations, multi-point inspections, and fuel-level checks. The roadside assistance service includes winching, towing, tire service, emergency fuel delivery, lockout protection, and battery jump-starts.
Drivers who purchase a Honda CR-V beyond the base LX trim receive access to the HondaLink connected services. This service allows drivers to connect their vehicle to an app on their smartphone to schedule service appointments, download vehicle guides, manage recall notifications, and access 24-hour roadside service. Unlike the ToyotaCare program, roadside assistance and maintenance for the CR-V is not complimentary.
The RAV4 Races to the Finish Line
Both the 2021 Toyota RAV4 and the 2021 Honda CR-V are outstanding options in the compact SUV market, and their incredible popularity reflects that fact. But with any race, there has to be a winner, and, in this case, the 2021 Toyota RAV4 undeniably takes the lead. From its impressive engine and its host of safety and connectivity features to the ToyotaCare program that’s designed to give drivers greater peace of mind, there is no question that the RAV4 offers the best value and capability. Of course, only you can truly make that call, which is why we encourage you to visit both your local Honda and Toyota dealers to schedule a test drive and see the RAV4 and the CR-V in action for yourself!