2021 Honda CR-V vs. 2021 Toyota RAV4
Perfectly balancing efficiency and ruggedness, technology and old-school finesse, affordability and near-luxury refinement, the compact SUV is, unsurprisingly, as popular to American drivers as Jif is to dogs. Of course, we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the O.G. SUVs of the 1990s: CR-V and RAV4.
For their respective 2021 model years, the famous CR-V and RAV4 crossovers have upped their games, offering even more of what shoppers have come to expect from these venerable vehicles. Now it’s time to see how well these two award-winning SUVs stack up.
Honda is quite good at packaging their vehicles with trick-up-their-sleeves features. There’s no more proof than CR-V’s enormous center console. It comes with a duo of deep, wide cupholders that easily fit Yeti coffee mugs, a few-inch-deep catch-all sink, and its meat-n-potatoes storage compartment.
The latter of which is CR-V’s pièce de résistance: a cavernous storage compartment that has a 12V DC outlet and can easily fit a mid-sized purse or tablet. Simply flip the interior sliding tray to the side to activate its superhero powers.
When not in use, the massive middle cubby splits in two, offering a rubberized parcel shelf that slides front to back at will. When positioned up front, the shelf seems separate from the covered center storage; pushed back and under the awning, the shelf becomes hidden from prying eyes. Best of all, the section below these shelves can still be utilized to stow a good mix of items.
With the RAV4, you get a standard (i.e. small) middle console and some unique storage shelves underneath the dashboard. Great for a few small knick-knacks, these shelves pose no threat to CR-V’s accommodating, multi-purpose center cubby. Game. Set. Match.
Compact crossovers need not be compact in anything but name—but it seems like the 2021 Toyota RAV4 didn’t get that memo. Offering just 98.9 cubic feet of passenger space, the new RAV4 is one of the smallest SUVs, if not the smallest, in its class.
Those miniscule cubic feet don’t tell the whole story, either. Compared to the CR-V, the new RAV4 lags in several departments. In the back row, RAV4’s 37.8 inches of legroom is impressively meager when put up to CR-V’s 40.4 inches. Drivers and passengers up front don’t feel any more comfort in the RAV4, either; Toyota’s compact SUV offers just 37.7 inches of headroom versus CR-V’s 40.1 inches. All in all, the 2021 CR-V is more spacious than the RAV4, offering a class-leading 105.9 cubic feet of passenger volume.
|2021 CR-V LX||2021 RAV4 LE|
|Passenger Volume||105.9 cu. ft.||98.9 cu. ft.|
|Legroom (front/rear)||41.3 in/40.4 in||41.0 in/37.8 in|
|Shoulder Room (front/rear)||57.9 in/55.6 in||57.8 in/56.4 in|
|Hiproom (front/rear)||55.1 in/49.5 in||54.3 in/47.7 in|
|Headroom (front/rear)||40.1 in/39.2 in||37.7 in/39.5 in|
If you want to read a real horror story, peek at the listed cargo capacity on RAV4’s spec sheet. Toyota’s diminutive diva only offers 37.6 cubes in the very back and just 69.8 cubic feet with all its seats folded down. Those numbers don’t hold a flame to CR-V’s 39.2 cubic feet and 75.8 cubic feet, respectively.
|2021 CR-V LX||2021 RAV4 LE|
|Rear Cargo Volume||39.2 cu. ft.*||37.6 cu. ft.|
|Max Cargo Volume||75.8 cu. ft.*||69.8 cu. ft.|
A Parent’s Best Friend
Both the RAV4 and CR-V are among the safest SUVs in America. They each come standard with automatic high beams, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and more.
What makes CR-V slightly better is its parent-friendly LATCH hookups. While the RAV4 includes rear tether anchors on all seats, it lacks a lower anchor in the middle—which is, inconveniently for Toyota, the safest place the for an infant car seat. The new Honda CR-V includes lower anchors in all rear seats, providing more peace of mind.
The Price is Right
All things considered, what matters most to American shoppers is cost—and the Honda CR-V takes the cake in this department, as well. From bottom to top, virtually every new CR-V trim is more affordable than its rival RAV4 model.
|2021 Honda CR-V FWD||Price Difference||2021 Toyota RAV4 FWD|
|EX||$2190 (8%)||XLE Premium|
The MSRP advantage is clearly Honda’s, but what of overall value? Slice off another piece of cake for CR-V.
Heated front seats with 12-way power adjustment come standard on the CR-V EX trim. Want those same features in a RAV4? Prepare to fork over big bucks; heated seats come in pricey XLE and XLE Premium RAV4 packages and standard on the top (pricier) Limited model, and only 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seats are available across the board.
RAV4 Limited takes its name literally, offering only a limited number of high-end upgrades. For instance, you can’t fit the cabin with authentic leather seats; instead, you’ve got faux leather (SofTex) upholstery that doesn’t necessarily give off that luxury vibe. Leather-trimmed seats are not only standard in the range-topping CR-V Touring model, but they’re also standard in the EX-L.
Cargo volume (SAE plus) Based on SAE J1100 cargo volume measurement standard plus, where applicable, floor space between seating rows and seats in their forward-most and upright position.