Honda CR-V vs. Toyota RAV4 for 2021

In terms of sales, the compact SUV segment is the largest one in America. And within it, the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV4 are the most popular models. Together, they account for more than 825,000 sales annually, or nearly 5% of all vehicles sold in the country. If you’re trying to decide between them, this Honda CR-V vs. Toyota RAV4 comparison should help.

Price and Value

2021 Honda CR-V Touring Silver Front View

2021 Honda CR-V Touring

The 2021 Honda CR-V is available with a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with front-wheel or all-wheel drive, or a gas-electric hybrid powertrain with AWD. Trim levels include LX (turbo only), EX, EX-L, and Touring, and prices range from $25,350 to $36,350, not including a $1,175 destination charge. 

All CR-Vs except for the LX trim include free HondaLink connected services, but the plans are basic and do not offer the same features available on other Honda models. Honda does not offer free maintenance for the 2021 CR-V. In the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Resale Value Awards, the Honda CR-V ranked second in its segment.

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 is available with a 4-cylinder engine with front-wheel or all-wheel drive, a gas-electric hybrid powertrain with AWD, and a new-for-2021 plug-in hybrid electric vehicle powertrain with AWD (RAV4 Prime). Depending on the powertrain, trim levels include LE, SE, XLE, XLE Premium, XSE, Limited, Adventure, and TRD Off-Road. 

Prices range from $26,050 to $41,425, plus a $1,175 destination charge. The RAV4 Prime is the most expensive version, but it qualifies for the electric vehicle federal tax credit (up to $7,500) and state EV rebates, where available.

Every RAV4 comes with free scheduled maintenance for two years or 25,000 miles. Additionally, Toyota equips every RAV4 with one year of free Safety Connect service, which includes automatic collision notification, an emergency assistance button, and quick access to roadside assistance. A free 3-month/2GB trial to Wi-Fi Connect service is also standard. On certain trim levels, Toyota offers 10 years of free Service Connect, a year of free Remote Connect, and a year of free Destination Assist service.

Advantage: Toyota RAV4

Reliability and Quality

2021 Toyota RAV4 Adventure Lunar Rock Front View

2021 Toyota RAV4 Adventure

The Honda CR-V did not rank among the top three compact SUVs in the J.D. Power 2020 Vehicle Dependability Study or in the 2020 Initial Quality Study. It comes with the following warranty and roadside assistance coverage:

  • Standard warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles
  • Hybrid battery warranty: 8 years or 100,000 miles
  • Roadside assistance: 3 years or 36,000 miles

Toyota’s RAV4 ranked third in its segment in the 2020 Vehicle Dependability Study, but it did not rank among the top three models in the 2020 Initial Quality Study. The RAV4 comes with the following warranty and roadside assistance coverage:

  • Standard warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles
  • Hybrid system warranty: 8 years or 100,000 miles
  • Hybrid battery warranty: 10 years or 150,000 miles
  • Roadside assistance: 2 years or 25,000 miles

Advantage: Toyota RAV4

Performance and Efficiency

2021 Honda CR-V Touring Blue Rear View

2021 Honda CR-V Touring

Honda equips the 2021 CR-V with a standard turbocharged 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine generating 190 horsepower and 179 pound-feet of torque. It uses a continuously variable transmission (CVT) to power the front wheels, and it gets 30 mpg in combined driving. An all-wheel-drive system is optional for $1,500, and it reduces fuel economy to 29 mpg.

A hybrid version of the CR-V is available. It uses a two-motor hybrid powertrain based on a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, and automatically chooses between EV Drive, Hybrid Drive, and Engine Drive modes. Total output measures 212 hp, and AWD is standard. The CR-V Hybrid gets 38 mpg in combined driving.

Toyota installs a standard 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine in the 2021 RAV4. It makes 203 hp and 184 lb.-ft. of torque, but the torque peaks much higher in the engine’s rev range than it does with the CR-V’s turbocharged engine. An 8-speed automatic transmission directs power to the front wheels unless you opt for AWD, which costs $1,400. Fuel economy ranges between 28 mpg and 30 mpg in combined driving.

The RAV4 Hybrid’s powertrain is based on a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and swaps the automatic transmission for a CVT. Total output measures 219 hp, and the RAV4 Hybrid gets 40 mpg in combined driving.

A plug-in hybrid electric version is called the RAV4 Prime. It supplies 42 miles of electric driving range before switching to gas-electric hybrid operation. It offers an impressive 302 hp, includes standard AWD, and gets 38 mpg in combined driving when used as a hybrid.

Toyota also offers Adventure and TRD Off-Road versions of the non-hybrid RAV4, each providing enhanced off-roading capability compared to the standard versions of the SUV.

Advantage: Toyota RAV4

Safety and Driving Assistance

2021 Toyota RAV4 TRD Off Road Gray Rear View

2021 Toyota RAV4 TRD

Every 2021 Honda CR-V has Honda Sensing, the automaker’s collection of advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS). The CR-V’s version of this technology includes low-speed following capability, which means it can operate in stop-and-go traffic. Also, keep in mind that Honda’s language for lane-keeping assistance is Road Departure Mitigation, and for lane-centering assistance is Lane Keeping Assist. If you want a blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic warning system, you’ll need to choose a CR-V other than the LX trim.

In crash tests performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Honda CR-V earns the highest overall rating of five stars. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) called the 2020 CR-V a Top Safety Pick, but the organization had not assigned the 2021 model a rating as this article was published.

Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 is standard in every 2021 RAV4. It offers similar technologies to Honda Sensing, but includes automatic high-beam headlights and a road sign recognition system. Also, when the adaptive cruise control is used with the lane-centering assistance system, it offers Level 2 semi-autonomous driving assistance. A blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic warning system is optional with LE trim and standard on all other RAV4s.

In NHTSA crash testing, the RAV4 earns an overall 5-star rating, but it doesn’t perform quite as well as the CR-V for frontal-impact protection. Also, the NHTSA hasn’t rated the RAV4 Prime. The IIHS called the Toyota RAV4 a Top Safety Pick in 2020, including the Prime.

As a brand, Toyota performed better than Honda in the 2020 J.D. Power U.S. Tech Experience Study.

Advantage: Toyota RAV4

Infotainment and Technology

2021 Honda CR-V Touring Dashboard

2021 Honda CR-V Touring

In standard LX trim, the 2021 Honda CR-V has a 5-inch radio display, Bluetooth connectivity, and integrated Pandora internet radio streaming. All other CR-Vs have a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system including these features plus basic HondaLink connected services, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, satellite radio, HD Radio, and text messaging support. Honda reserves navigation, a premium sound system, and wireless smartphone charging for the CR-V Touring.

Toyota includes a standard 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system in the RAV4. It has two more stereo speakers than the CR-V’s basic system, plus Bluetooth, satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa compatibility. Connected services with a 1-year free trial to Safety Connect and a 3-month/2GB trial to Wi-Fi Connect are also standard. Toyota provides both a volume and a tuning knob, while the Honda comes only with a volume knob.

Upgrades include a larger 8-inch display, expanded connected services (Service Connect, Remote Connect, Destination Assist), wireless smartphone charging, a dynamic navigation system with natural voice recognition, and an 11-speaker JBL premium sound system.

Advantage: Toyota RAV4

Comfort and Utility

2021 Toyota RAV4 Adventure Dashboard

2021 Toyota RAV4 Adventure

Automatic climate control is standard in all versions, with dual-zone functionality in EX trim and higher. Honda offers cloth or leather upholstery for the 2021 CR-V, and all trim levels except the LX include heated front seats. A heated steering wheel is also available.

A 6-way manually adjustable driver’s seat is standard with CR-V LX trim, while EX and higher feature a 12-way power adjustable seat. Front passengers make do with no better than 4-way manual or power adjustment. A large center storage console resides between the CR-V’s front seats. 

Behind the 60/40-split folding rear seat, the Honda CR-V holds an impressive 39.2 cubic feet of cargo (33.2 for the CR-V Hybrid). Maximum capacity measures 75.8 cu.-ft. (68.7 for the Hybrid).

All Toyota RAV4s, except for the base LE trim, have dual-zone automatic climate control. Cloth seats are standard in lower trims, and instead of leather Toyota offers its SofTex leatherette in higher trims. Heated front seats and a heated steering wheel are available starting with XLE trim, and Toyota offers heated rear seats and ventilated front seats on some versions of the RAV4.

Drivers get 6-way manual seat adjustment with LE trim, while other RAV4s have 8-way power adjustment. Front passengers can adjust their seat no more than four ways. Center console storage is not as accommodating as in the CR-V, but there is a useful shelf embedded into the dashboard forward of the passenger’s seat.

Cargo space behind the RAV4’s 60/40-split folding rear seat amounts to 37.6 cu.-ft. The RAV4 Hybrid’s battery does not reduce this amount, but the RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid’s cargo area is smaller, measuring 33.5 cu.-ft. Maximum volume for all versions of the RAV4 is 69.8 cu.-ft.

Advantage: Toyota RAV4

Learn More About the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4

If you’d like to learn more about these compact SUVs, be sure to read our expert reviews of the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV4. To find out how people like you rate vehicles in this segment, be sure to check out our ratings from verified vehicle owners.

Also, please keep in mind that while the information in this article was accurate and valid on January 6, 2020, it may have changed since that date. Always confirm product details and availability with the automaker’s website or your local dealership.