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Consumer Reports Pits Toyota RAV4 vs. Honda CR-V - Which Wins Big?

America’s most respected consumer publication compares the Toyota RAV4 to the Honda CR-V, and the winner was clear.

Torque News prides itself on its win-win comparisons of two similar vehicles from different brands. In our comparisons, we highlight the differences that a shopper may want to know about so they can make their own choice between two similar vehicles. Not Consumer Reports. They take the gloves off and anoint one vehicle better than the other. They just compared the 2017 Toyota RAV4 and the 2016 Honda CR-V*, on sale now, and called the Toyota RAV4 the clear winner. Here’s why.

Consumer Reports finds that the RAV4 and CR-V are basically identical regarding acceleration. The two match up well in terms of fuel economy (24 MPG) and also interior space and exterior dimensions. Like all good auto-testing groups, Consumer Reports (CR) found that the real difference comes when the vehicles are driven back to back in the real world.

Let’s start with the strengths of the CR-V. CR found that it is much easier to get a power seat in a CR-V than in a RAV4. That is something we have pointed out in our comparisons and tests of the RAV4 as well. Almost every rival has a power seat in the mid-trims, but Toyota stubbornly leaves that for just its top trim. CR also found that the Honda had easier to fold rear seats. CR also found more variety in the prices of the Honda CR-V. Toyota uses more rigid tiers of amenities. At the top of the trims, CR felt the Honda CR-V may be slightly less expensive.

So where did the RAV4 shine? First and foremost, in its six-speed transmission. CR found the Honda’s CVT transmission less familiar and noisier. Road noise was also an issue for the CR-V. While it is trending stiffer, the RAV4 got more compliant in its last refresh.

Two things Toyota included tipped the balance of value in CR’s evaluation. First, Toyota now offers forward collision prevention on all trims at no added cost. Honda only adds it to certain top trims. That means lower trims of the RAV4 have a safety advantage as well. Also, Toyota’s RAV4 comes with two full years of included maintenance. Not so with the Honda.

The last advantage for Toyota came from Consumer Reports’ reliability data. The RAV4 has proven more reliable than the CR-V according to consumer surveys compiled by CR. In the end, it wasn't that close. The 2017 Toyota RAV4 won by a score of 76 to 69.

*The 2017 Toyota RAV4 is on sale now. At the time of Consumer Reports' comparison Honda had not released details to the press on the 2017 Model Year CR-V. Presently, the 2016 model year is on sale.

Consumer Reports is subscription-only. Look for the full comparison by using your on-line account or in an upcoming print edition.

Image by Philip Ruth. Used with permission. Not for reproduction.


tim gatton (not verified)    September 27, 2016 - 12:47PM

Not only is reliability higher, but having actually WORKED on both, I find the RAV to be much easier to work on (have to take off the right front tire to get to the oil filter on a CRV ... wow).. Plus, there are TONS of on line videos showing how to do pretty much anything with a RAV.

Joseph Mike (not verified)    September 27, 2016 - 12:53PM

Incorrect article. Consumer report compared a 2017 RAV4 vs 2016 CR-V. Quote from the article below.

"Because the CR-V is an older design that is well into its model cycle and the 2017s arrive this fall, the leftover 2016 models have a good deal of negotiating room based on a recent Consumer Reports analysis of transaction prices. The loftier asking price for the RAV4 reflects that it has more shelf life left."

Parks McCants    September 27, 2016 - 1:45PM

In an apples to apples comparison, It's closer than you think. We know that a larger and more refined CR-V will come off the production line for model year 2017, superior to RAV4 in fuel efficiency, new found turbo-power, and standard HondaWatch active safety features across the lineup. The "who's on first, who's on second" game will continue between Honda and Toyota, both winners in the compact SUV, crossover game. We could easily throw Kia and Mazda into this competition. All 4 makers come to the segment with viable contenders. However, when the hype clears, CR-V remains the #1 seller in the compact crossover segment. When we look to the total package that is CR-V, Honda takes this competition with standard feature value.

Dan (not verified)    October 1, 2016 - 12:09PM

In reply to by Parks McCants

"CR-V will come off the production line for model year 2017, superior to RAV4 in fuel efficiency, new found turbo-power, and standard HondaWatch active safety features across the lineup." The Hybrid offered in the Rav4 will stack up nicely with better MPG and increased power over the gas model. Both will continue to be Good competitors. I imagine Honda will adopt something similar to Toyota's Blind spot monitoring system too, I do not car for Honda's the way it sits now.

Pam (not verified)    September 27, 2016 - 9:05PM

This is silly comparing a 2017 RAV and the 5th year of this CR-V (2016). The 2017 CR-V will bring an all new body style with many new features. Hold on tight to your winners cap Toyota, it will soon be blown away.

Mike (not verified)    September 29, 2016 - 6:01PM

The Rav4 has been using the same 6 SPD automatic with their PGM-FI 2.5L for how many years? This is the same model as the 2016, it's just a refresh. Real world driving says otherwise about the fuel economy as well, having personally driven both. Not to mention the lower power offered in the Rav4. The only thing I really found as a stand out feature was the memory power tailgate, I don't even think the birds eye view camera was executed well as everything seems as it is on an angle. The 2017 CRV will blow this refreshed Rav4 out of the water.