Both the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 crossovers lead in sales. Toyota’s RAV4 has long held the overall sales title, while Honda’s CR-V has held the sales title when only private owner sales are considered and commercial and fleet sales excluded. These tremendous sales have been going on for decades. And for good reasons. The Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 are both favorites when it comes to reliability, safety, efficiency, and value.
Shopping For A Used Honda CR-V or RAV4
As good as both the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V are when new, they may not be equal in terms of reliability when used. To find out, we looked at two reliable sources of owner-reported problems. The first source is CarComplaints.com. This site offers owners with problem vehicles a place to vent. We like the site because its data is all from owners and it helps to identify trends. Problems in vehicles that many owners suffer from.
The second source is Consumer Reports. Do we always agree with the opinions of the editors there? We do not, but we do have the highest respect for them. And more importantly, their ability to corral owner data and pass a fair judgment on a vehicle. In our research here, we did not look at any opinions of the editors, just the owner-reported data for the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV-4
We also didn’t scrutinize every model year. Instead, we took three samples. The years are 2017, 2013, and 2010. Why these three? The first represents a vehicle three years old. Past its steep depreciation hit in value and fully broken in. But still newish. And in many cases, still under the drivetrain warranty. 2013 is a prime of life year. Many of these vehicles will now have around $100K miles and be running well, but sell at a price many can afford. Finally, the ten-year-old, high-mileage year old 2010. Let’s look at how well these vehicles hold up when they are nearing the end of their useful life. Here is what we found.
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2017 Used Honda CR-V vs. Used Toyota RAV4
CarComplints has almost no complaints for the Toyota RAV4 to offer from 2017. There is no single problem that sticks out. Consumer Reports members report that the Toyota RAV4 is also very reliable. It earns a 5/5 score there.
The CR-V is a different story. The 2017 CR-V earns a “Beware of the Clunker” stamp at CarComplaints. So too does the 2018 model year CR-V. The single biggest owner-reported problem is gas mixing in with the oil. Honda was slow to address this issue. In fact, even after the problem was being widely spoken about on owner forums, Honda was still mum on the subject. Since then, Honda has acknowledged the issue and offered a fix.
Consumer Reports members also report many issues with their 2017 Honda CR-V crossovers. The vehicle earns just ⅖ stars there. The biggest being infotainment glitches. The 2017 CR-V’s in-car electronics only earn a ⅕ score at Consumer Reports.
Used 2013 Honda CR-V vs. Used 2013 Toyota RAV4
At CarComplaints, the 2013 Toyota RAV4 earns the “Seal of Pretty Good.” The 2013 CR-V does not earn any accolades and there are repeated engine issues reported by owners. At Consumer Reports, the 2013 Toyota RAV4 earns 5/5 stars for reliability. The Honda CR-V is rated ⅘.
Used 2010 Honda CR-V vs. Used 2010 Toyota RAV4
The ten-year-old Toyota RAV4 has CarComplaints’ “Seal of Pretty Good.” The 2010 Honda CR-V earns no accolades. At Consumer Reports, the 2010 Honda CR-V is rated ⅘ for reliability. The 2010 Toyota RAV4 is rated ⅘ as well.
As you can see, these popular crossovers have different reliability reports from owners. We feel that the evidence from these two sources points to the Toyota RAV4 as being the more reliable of the two. That said, both have many positive attributes. It is no accident that the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 are so popular in the used market.
If you own a Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4 feel free to tell us a bit about how reliable it has been in the comments below. Your story may help a used vehicle shopper make an informed decision.
John Goreham is a life-long car nut and recovering engineer. John's focus areas are technology, safety, and green vehicles. In the 1990s, he was part of a team that built a solar-electric vehicle from scratch. His was the role of battery thermal control designer. For 20 years he applied his engineering and sales talents in the high tech world and published numerous articles in technical journals such as Chemical Processing Magazine. In 2008 he retired from that career and dedicated himself to chasing his dream of being an auto writer. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin.