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HEAD-TO-HEAD: Toyota RAV4 versus Honda CR-V

The VTi-LX is the only car in Honda’s CR-V range with active safety features
The VTi-LX is the only car in Honda’s CR-V range with active safety features

Toyota RAV4 Cruiser

$44,990 drive-away

17.5/25

VALUE

4 stars

The Cruiser tops the RAV4 tree and is good buying at this price until the end of June. Default gear includes heated front seats, leather-highlighted upholstery, an 11-speaker stereo, sunroof and powered tailgate. The spare is a space-saver. The three-year warranty isn't great; nor are the six-month/10,000km services. The upside is the first six trips are capped at $180 each for a three-year total of $1080.

Active safety software is standard across the RAV4 range
Active safety software is standard across the RAV4 range

DESIGN

3 stars

A 577L cargo capacity puts the RAV4 at the sharp end of the mid-sized SUVs. Interior storage isn't great, especially for rear occupants - and there are no rear air vents. That wasn't a big deal when the car launched in 2013 but it is a notable omission against newer rivals. Ergonomics are good up front but a digital speedo would be handy.

ENGINE

3 stars

A 2.5-litre cranks out 132kW/233Nm but being naturally aspirated the RAV4 needs to wind up the rev range to perform at its best. It is matched to a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive and uses a combined claimed fuel use of 8.5 litres/100km or 11.4L around town.

The RAV4 is starting to show its age inside — but a new version is due next year
The RAV4 is starting to show its age inside — but a new version is due next year

SAFETY

4 stars

Toyota updated the RAV4 in 2016 and all models come with a full suite of active driving aids - something that can't be said for the Honda. ANCAP rates the car at a high 34.56/37, despite deducting a point in the frontal crash test when the driver's head brushed against the airbag.

DRIVING

3.5 stars

The engine needs to be spinning above 4000rpm to get the best out of the RAV4. The steering isn't as direct as the Honda but it is well weighted and reassuringly responsive, letting you know when the front end is starting to lose grip. The ride is relaxing and noise suppression is good.

The RAV4’s upswept back windows restrict rearward vision
The RAV4’s upswept back windows restrict rearward vision

Honda CR-V VTi-LX

From $47,675 drive-away

20/25

VALUE

4 stars

Honda's range-topping VTi-LX has power/heated front seats, leather upholstery highlights, power tailgate and parking sensors front and rear. It rides on 18-inch rims and has a full-size spare. Buy before the end of June and the warranty is seven years. Service intervals are 12 months/10,000km and the first four capped-price trips to the dealership will cost $295 each for a total of $1180.

The VTi-LX is loaded but every version of the CR-V should have active safety kit
The VTi-LX is loaded but every version of the CR-V should have active safety kit

DESIGN

4 stars

The CR-V is a newer vehicle than the RAV4 and that's obvious in the more modern materials and interior presentation. There are more stowage spaces front and rear than the Toyota, though cargo capacity is down at 522L. A seven-inch infotainment touchscreen includes satnav, digital radio and smartphone mirroring,

ENGINE

4 stars

A 1.5-litre turbo engine sends 140kW/240Nm to all four wheels via a continuously variable transmission. It isn't loud in most situations and it takes sustained full-throttle acceleration to elicit the typical CVT drone. Claimed fuel use is 7.4L/100km, though the urban use of 9.3L will be more relevant to most buyers.

 

The dash-mounted transmission lever doesn’t look pretty but it frees up console space
The dash-mounted transmission lever doesn’t look pretty but it frees up console space

SAFETY

4 stars

The VTi-LX is the only CR-V with active driving aids, though Honda's suite includes lane-keep assist, rather than just a warning as found on the Toyota. There's also tyre pressure monitoring but it misses out on the driver's knee airbag in the RAV4. The Honda earned 35.76/37 when ANCAP tested it in 2017.

DRIVING

4 stars

The CVT and turbo combination can occasionally hesitate off the line but generally works well around town and on the highway, with solid acceleration once under way. As with the Toyota, the ride is biased towards comfort, rather than a Mazda CX-5-like emphasis on cornering. The sharper steering helps in carparks without being fidgety.

The CR-V’s 522L cargo space is 50L down on the RAV4
The CR-V’s 522L cargo space is 50L down on the RAV4

VERDICT

The top-spec CR-V deserves the win here but it would be a different story in other variants - and there's a new RAV4 due early next year.

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