2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid vs. 2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid: Compare Hybrid Crossover SUVs

February 25, 2021

Pickups aside, the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V are the two top-selling vehicles in the U.S. And they’re both offered in high-mpg hybrid versions. 

The CR-V and RAV4 flaunt the compact-crossover goodness—laid out in cargo-friendly layouts, easy seating heights, and all-wheel drive—that’s pulled Americans away from mid-size sedans. They also both offer mileage near or at 40 mpg,  and they drive better and are more refined than their gas-only counterparts. 

For those reasons and more, our crew of editors unanimously prefers the hybrids versus the non-hybrid versions. But which of these hybrids do we recommend over the other?

2021 Honda CR-V (CR-V Hybrid)

2021 Honda CR-V (CR-V Hybrid)

In styling, the RAV4 Hybrid definitely makes more overtures to SUV design, even if it isn’t ready to go do any boulder-crawling. Its 2019 redesign brought a more upright, chiseled look on the outside, along with chunkier controls inside that brought to mind the tough 4Runner. Launched for 2020, the CR-V Hybrid has a look that’s more restrained inside and out; it’s rakish and aerodynamic on the outside, but it doesn’t masquerade as anything it isn’t. 

Nearly every automaker does hybrid systems differently, and these two are no exception. Under the hood of the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid you’ll find a version of the planetary torque-split system that replaces a conventional transmission and is an evolution of what Toyota has used in the Prius and other hybrid models for decades. There’s a 2.5-liter inline-4 plus a total of three motors. One of the two motors packaged in front helps provide propulsion, while the RAV4 Hybrid also has a third motor in back that propels the rear wheels and provides all-wheel drive—making 219 horsepower altogether. In the CR-V, a 2.0-liter inline-4 is used most often as a generator for the battery pack, while one of its two motors is primarily what powers the wheels, with a driveshaft to the rear wheels offering all-wheel drive—and making a net 212 hp. 

In many types of driving, the CR-V feels perkier and has better drivability, mainly because the delivery of the electric motor makes it so responsive and consistent. Neither of these models are primed for performance driving, but they offer a reasonably comfortable ride and handling that’s a great compromise for most kinds of family use. 

2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid

2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid

2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid

2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid

2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid

2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid

2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid

2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid

The CR-V hybrid has a clear advantage in passenger space, and while the RAV4 Hybrid loses points for its passenger comfort—mind the thin seat bottoms—it gains some for its cargo space, at 37.5 cubic feet with the rear seatbacks up, versus 33.2 cubic feet for the CR-V Hybrid. Wide-opening doors, good front seats, big cupholders, and useful storage bins—plus some nice soft-touch materials—really show that the CR-V was designed from the inside out. 

For safety, you can’t go wrong with either model. Both have five-star ratings from the NHTSA and are on the IIHS Top Safety Pick list. Although both have robust safety-feature sets, there’s a distinction in headlights. CR-V gets a hat tip from the IIHS for its LED reflector lights, while the agency rates the LED projector headlights that come with most versions of the RAV4 Hybrid (all but the base LE) as “Poor.”

2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Part of what has made the RAV4 Hybrid such a big portion of RAV4 sales is that virtually all trim levels can be made hybrid. From LE to XLE, XLE Premium, XSE, and Limited models, the RAV4 Hybrid spans prices starting below $30,000 and ranging up to $36,780, fully optioned with a Smart Key system, moonroof, rain-sensing wipers, and heated steering wheel. The CR-V Hybrid comes in nearly as wide of a range, spanning EX, EX-L, and Touring versions, ranging from less than $32,000 up to $37,525—although Honda offers a long list of appearance and activity-oriented dealer-installed upgrades. All versions of the RAV4 Hybrid and CR-V Hybrid come with a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. 

Across both of these lineups, the premium in going from a non-hybrid to a hybrid with equivalent equipment is roughly $1,000.

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime XSE

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime XSE

One sidenote: Those who would rather have a plug-in vehicle should also take a look at the RAV4 Prime. Although thousands more, it offers better performance and a 42-mile all-electric range, plus a 38-mpg combined rating as a hybrid.

The RAV4 Hybrid offers somewhat higher mileage, by official estimates. It earns 41 mpg city, 38 highway, for a combined figure of 40 mpg. The CR-V earns 40 mpg city, 35 highway, and 38 mpg combined. Non-hybrid versions of the RAV4 and CR-V with all-wheel drive get 28 mpg and 29 mpg combined, respectively, so the hybrids offer a big running-cost advantage that won’t take long to pay off the premium.

2021 Honda CR-V (CR-V Hybrid)

2021 Honda CR-V (CR-V Hybrid)

At present, the CR-V lineup has a slight edge over the RAV4 lineup—with a TCC 6.5 overall rating, versus a 6.4 for the 2021 Toyota RAV4—and it’s such a narrow edge here, too, it will depend on your own priorities as to which is better. In both cases, with value in mind, you’re getting the best of the lineup in choosing the hybrid.

Summary

6.5
Expert Rating
The 2021 Toyota RAV4 is the meat-and-potatoes crossover for many buyers; the RAV4 Prime supplies the all-electric range.
6.5
Expert Rating
The 2021 Honda CR-V wins hundreds of thousands of wallets each year and it’s no surprise: it’s spacious, comfortable, efficient, and quiet.

Styling

8.0
Expert Rating
The 2021 RAV4 is now the looker among the compact crossover bunch; never thought we’d say that about a Toyota.
Read More
5.0
Expert Rating
Style takes a back seat in the 2021 Honda CR-V.
Read More

Performance

5.0
Expert Rating
Now with a performance, plug-in hybrid powertrain, the 2021 RAV4 covers all of the bases.
Read More
5.0
Expert Rating
The CR-V’s performance comes in mild and milder.
Read More

Comfort & Quality

6.0
Expert Rating
Style takes priority in the 2021 Toyota RAV4, for better or worse.
Read More
9.0
Expert Rating
Honda has mastered the use of space in the CR-V.
Read More

Safety

7.0
Expert Rating
The RAV4 needs better headlights on more models.
Read More
9.0
Expert Rating
Great outward vision and crash-test scores vault the 2021 Honda CR-V ahead in safety.
Read More

Features

8.0
Expert Rating
The 2021 RAV4 is available in just about any configuration.
Read More
6.0
Expert Rating
With one notable exception, the CR-V’s well-equipped.
Read More

Fuel Economy

5.0
Expert Rating
The most efficient 2021 Toyota RAV4 is also the quickest; we endorse that message.
Read More
5.0
Expert Rating
The CR-V makes green gains with a new hybrid edition.
Read More

MSRP

from $26,250
from $25,350

Invoice

from $24,544
from $24,168

Fuel Economy - Combined City and Highway

30
30

Engine

Regular Unleaded I-4, 2.5 L
Intercooled Turbo Regular Unleaded I-4, 1.5 L

Drivetrain

Front Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
Front Wheel Drive Read Full Specs
Compare Free Dealer Price Quote
With competitive price quotes from multiple dealers, you will be prepared when you meet your local car dealer. Please tell us how to contact you so that dealers can compete for your business!
Search Dealers by ZIP Code
Update ZIP Code
2021 Toyota RAV4
2021 Honda CR-V
Looking for dealers in your area...
Powered By
*As configured. Excludes taxes, title, license and other customary fees, such as dealer documentation fees, tire and battery disposal fees and, where applicable, finance charges. By clicking on “Get Your Price Quote Now”, you agree to our Terms of Use (including the Supplemental Terms) and Privacy Policy. You further consent to being contacted at the number you provided by CarsDirect and certain participating automotive dealerships, which may include autodials, text messages, and/or pre-recorded calls; this consent is not a condition of purchase or service. Message and data rates may apply.
2021
The Car Connection
See the winners »
2021
The Car Connection
 
Ratings and Reviews
Rate and review your car for The Car Connection
Review your car
Related Head to Head
The Car Connection Daily Headlines
I agree to receive emails from The Car Connection. I understand that I can unsubscribe at any time. Privacy Policy.
Thank you! Please check your email for confirmation.