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Hybrid War: Honda CR-V Hybrid vs Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

The CR-V gets electrified, but is it enough to beat the RAV4?

Ed TahaneyWriter, Photographer

TUSCON, Arizona—I recently reviewed the all-new Honda CR-V Hybrid and had the opportunity to test drive it back to back with the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid. Here's a quick look at each electrified SUV's pluses and minuses.

Looks wise, the Honda seems a bit more reserved with its blacked-out grille, conservative five-spoke 18-inch rims, and restrained overall design. The RAV4 looks way more aggressive with its angry grille, flashy 18-inch chrome wheels, and sword-slash styling all around.

2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid and Honda CR-V Hybrid Interior and Features

Inside, both vehicles are impressive and include sunroofs for top trims, but the Toyota's is slightly bigger than the Honda's. The Honda CR-V Hybrid gets a push-button shifter and the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid has a normal shifter, which I personally prefer, but you can still get a similar one in the gasoline-powered version of the CR-V.

There are volume and tuning controls integrated into the Toyota's touchscreen, while the Honda still has only the one volume control knob. Also, both vehicles include soft-touch materials on the dash and upper front doors, except the CR-V sports fake stitching along the tops whereas the Toyota has the real deal. The RAV4 also has soft-touch materials on the tops of the rear doors, too. Score one for Toyota.

Seating

Seating for five passengers 6-feet or taller is tight in both hybrids, but the Honda CR-V Hybrid has a wee bit more cargo space because it ditches the spare tire to make room for the powertrain's battery pack. (It gets an inflation kit instead.) The Toyota has a spare, but its rear seats don't fold fully flat like the ones on the new Honda. Score one for Honda.

Powertrains

The Honda CR-V Hybrid packs a 2.0-liter inline four paired with two electric motors, for a total of 212 horsepower. It has an EPA mpg rating of 40/35 in city/highway driving. The RAV4 has a 2.5-liter four-cylinder paired with an electric motor and delivers 219 horses. It scores 41/38 mpg in city/highway testing. The Toyota is mated to an eCVT and the Honda doesn't have a transmission and uses a single speed, fixed ratio gearset to transfer torque from the engine/drive motor to the output shafts. Both cars have all-wheel drive. Score another one for Toyota.

Pricing

The Honda CR-V Hybrid in Touring trim I tested retails for $37,070, but you can get a base model for $28,870. The Toyota RAV4 Limited sells for $38,713 and starts at $29,470. I think you know the winner here. The Honda is a great bargain for its price but those extra horses, better fuel economy, and enjoyable ride make the RAV4 the first choice until the 302-horsepower 2021 RAV4 Prime arrives.

2020 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Limited AWD Specifications
ON SALE Now
PRICE $29,470 (base)/$38,713 (as tested)
ENGINE 2.5L DOHC 16-valve I-4, 219 hp, 295 lb-ft/electric motor, 219 hp combined
TRANSMISSION Continulously variable
LAYOUT 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD SUV
EPA MILEAGE 41/38 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H 181.5 x 73.4 x 68.6 in
WHEELBASE 105.9 in
WEIGHT 3,667 lb
0-60 MPH 7.9 sec (est)
TOP SPEED 120 mph (est)

 

2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid Touring AWD Specifications
ON SALE Now
PRICE $28,870 (base)/$37,070 (as tested)
ENGINE 2.0L DOHC 16-valve I-4, 212 hp, 232 lb-ft/2 electric motors, 212 hp combined
TRANSMISSION None
LAYOUT 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD SUV
EPA MILEAGE 40/35 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H 182.1 x 73.0 x 66.5 in
WHEELBASE 104.8 in
WEIGHT 3,649 lb
0-60 MPH 8.0 sec (est)
TOP SPEED 120 mph (est)