2020 Honda CR-V vs. 2020 Toyota RAV4: Compare Crossovers

November 21, 2019

Shortly after you’ve grabbed your keys, swilled the last gulp of coffee, and made a beeline to the front door on your way to the dealership the question comes. You’ve decided a new crossover is in order, a replacement for the family car, and a new set of keys on the ring in your hand now. 

“Where do I start?”

For most buyers, it begins—and often ends—with the 2020 Honda CR-V and 2020 Toyota RAV4. Both crossovers are high on shoppers’ lists for many reasons. Their names are familiar like morning coffee, all with the same perceived dependability and reliability. Both models offer relative comfort and versatility, with a tall ride height and active safety features that are appealing to safety-minded shoppers. There’s enough tech to play nice with the smartphones already in your pocket, and like Android and Apple phones, Honda and Toyota travel down two seemingly different roads. 

2020 Honda CR-V

2020 Honda CR-V

2020 Honda CR-V

2020 Honda CR-V

2020 Toyota RAV4

2020 Toyota RAV4

2020 Toyota RAV4

2020 Toyota RAV4

Our TCC Rating of 6.5 for both crossovers declares a virtual coin-toss between the two. There’s not a fraction of a point to separate either crossover on our scale. But how they arrive at the same score is anything but a draw. 

The two diverge immediately at the curb. The newer Toyota RAV4, which was redesigned for 2019, pens a daring shape with its roofline. Removed from the bulbous generations before it, the new RAV4 goes all-in on SUV shapes, with a sloping roofline that commands some compromise from tall riders up front. By comparison, the CR-V is much plainer. Its been slightly reworked for 2020, although it falls far short of the RAV4’s appeal. In profile, the CR-V’s parent-ready bod is suited more for interior space than curb appeal. 

It’s the same story inside. The RAV4’s chunky controls mimic the bigger, tougher 4Runner and its interior feels wash-and-ready, eager for the next dusty trail. The CR-V’s interior eschews style for convenience and mass appeal. It’s a tad more stately, but also a little boring comparatively. 

Under the hood, the RAV4 and CR-V are near-equals for performance and power. The CR-V’s lone powertrain, for now, is a 1.5-liter turbo-4 that makes 190 horsepower and drives the front or all four wheels via a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The CR-V’s best attribute is its ride, which is composed and calm. The CVT works to keep the CR-V efficient mostly, and the EPA rates the crossover at about 30 mpg combined in most configurations. 

The RAV4 uses a 2.5-liter inline-4 that makes 203 hp and drives the front or all four wheels via an 8-speed automatic. The 2.5-liter is coarse compared to the CR-V’s engine, but the 8-speed is slick and unobtrusive. The RAV4 doesn’t ride as well as the CVT but Toyota’s off-road variants of the compact crossover may be better suited for more ambitious weekend adventures than the CR-V. The EPA rates the most popular versions of the RAV4 at about 30 mpg combined. 

(Toyota offers a hybrid RAV4 that’s more efficient, and Honda says a hybrid CR-V is on the way. We’ll cover both separately.)

Inside, the CR-V pulls ahead with its spacious interior and copious cargo capacity, nearly 40 cubic feet in the back with a low load floor. The CR-V sits five adults with grown-up bona fides: more than 40 inches of rear seat leg room and comfortable, cushy seats. The seats are shod in durable cloth or, optionally, leather. 

The RAV4 is more comfortable in the rear too, but because its daring roofline cuts away some available head room in the front. The rear seats accommodate longer torsos, but not necessarily long legs. The RAV4 offers 37 inches of rear seat leg room, less than the CR-V, and 37 cubic feet of cargo space with a higher load floor than the Honda, too. 

2020 Toyota RAV4

2020 Toyota RAV4

2020 Toyota RAV4

2020 Toyota RAV4

2020 Honda CR-V

2020 Honda CR-V

2020 Honda CR-V

2020 Honda CR-V

Both crossovers excel in crash tests by federal and independent testers, but the CR-V nudges ahead slightly. The RAV4 is a Top Safety Pick+ in top trims with optional headlights, the CR-V is a Top Safety Pick but lags Toyota in headlight performance. 

Both Toyota and Honda make automatic emergency braking standard in every RAV4 and CR-V, which we consider life-saving tech. Blind-spot monitors are included in many trim levels on the CR-V and RAV4, but we think it should be standard equipment in the latter; the CR-V narrowly outpoints the RAV4 on our safety scale due to the RAV4’s compromised outward vision. 

The 2020 CR-V costs $26,145, including destination, to start. The 2020 RAV4 is a little more expensive, at about $27,000, but is better equipped with a standard 7.0-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. 

Our picks for value, the 2020 RAV4 XLE and 2020 CR-V EX, cost $28,265 and $28,655, respectively. All-wheel drive is a $1,400 option for the Toyota, $1,500 for the Honda. Both offer 7.0-inch touchscreens with smartphone software, power-adjustable front seats, and better tech. Honda makes heated seats standard, Toyota charges a little more. 

Both crossovers can crest $35,000 in top trims, and Toyota offers the RAV4 in tougher, off-roady versions; Honda loads the interior with leather and more tech. 

There’s no daylight on our scoresheet between the two—the CR-V and RAV4 are locked in a dead heat. For many shoppers, the decision may boil down to the RAV4’s style vs. the CR-V’s practicality. 

In either case, both answer that fundamental question for many crossover shoppers darting out the door in the morning: start here.

Summary

6.5
Expert Rating
The 2020 Honda CR-V hits right at the heart of many buyers’ needs: comfortable, spacious, quiet, and efficient.
6.5
Expert Rating
The 2020 Toyota RAV4 covers more bases this year with smartphone compatibility and tough-looking off-road trims.

Styling

4.0
Expert Rating
The restyled 2020 CR-V favors mass appeal over outward style.
Read More
8.0
Expert Rating
The 2020 RAV4 swings for the fences and hits a stylish home run among compact crossovers.
Read More

Performance

5.0
Expert Rating
Addition by subtraction this year for the 2020 CR-V; the lone engine option for now is the best.
Read More
5.0
Expert Rating
Performance isn’t the 2020 RAV4’s forte, but it keeps pace.
Read More

Comfort & Quality

9.0
Expert Rating
The 2020 CR-V excels in hauling people and cargo.
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6.0
Expert Rating
Average bodies will fit fine, but the 2020 RAV4 struggles with more than four bigger adults.
Read More

Safety

9.0
Expert Rating
Great crash-test scores are complemented by exceptional outward vision in the 2020 Honda CR-V.
Read More
8.0
Expert Rating
Good active safety features complement good crash-test scores in the 2020 Toyota RAV4.
Read More

Features

7.0
Expert Rating
There’s not a bad pick in the 2020 CR-V lineup.
Read More
7.0
Expert Rating
A new 2020 RAV4 TRD Off-Road adds more trail-riding goodies, but every RAV4 gets good stuff.
Read More

Fuel Economy

5.0
Expert Rating
The 2020 CR-V is efficient among rivals, a hybrid version is on the way that should be even better.
Read More
5.0
Expert Rating
The 2020 RAV4 keeps pace with the crowd, the RAV4 Hybrid does better.
Read More

MSRP

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Invoice

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Fuel Economy - Combined City and Highway

Engine

Drivetrain

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