Are you in the market for a new Toyota SUV but unsure which to choose between the Rav4 and the Highlander? Both are great contenders for a reliable, spacious, and fun-to-drive ride.
So which vehicle should you get?
In this post, we’ll put Rav4 vs Highlander and compare them in terms of dimensions, price, reliability, handling, cargo space, and more.
By the end of this post, you’ll have a better understanding of which SUV is the right fit for you and your lifestyle. Let’s get started.
RAV4 Vs. Highlander: Comparison Table
Here’s a quick peek at the main differences between both SUVs.
2.5L 4-cylinder, up to 308HP.
2.4L 4-cylinder, 265HP.
Spacious with 10.5″ touchscreen.
Spacious with 12.3″ touchscreen.
Toyota Safety Sense 2.5.
Toyota Safety Sense 2.5.
High reliability, not as much as RAV4.
Comfort and Space
Roomy, but less luxurious.
More luxurious with more space.
Up to 3,500 lbs.
Up to 5,000 lbs.
Up to 41 MPG combined.
Up to 24 MPG combined.
RAV4 Vs. Highlander
Now, let’s dig into the details.
The Toyota RAV4 comes with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that generates 203 horsepower, which is sufficient for most daily driving situations.
However, it also offers a hybrid powertrain with 219 horsepower and a plug-in hybrid powertrain with a formidable 308 horsepower. The hybrid options offer better fuel economy, making them ideal for those who want to save money on gas.
On the other hand, the Toyota Highlander has a turbocharged 2.4-liter inline-four engine that produces 265 horsepower, replacing the standard V6 engine. This engine provides a bit more power than the RAV4’s base engine, which can be useful if you need to tow heavy loads or want more acceleration power.
The Highlander’s turbocharged engine provides more power than the RAV4’s engine, so it’s a better choice for raw performance.
Winner: Tie. Depends on preferences.
When it comes to agility and maneuverability, the RAV4 takes the lead.
Its smaller size and lighter weight make it more responsive and easier to handle on the road, especially in tight turns or narrow spaces.
The RAV4 also offers an all-wheel drive system that enhances its traction and stability in different weather conditions.
On the other hand, the Highlander is not as nimble as the RAV4, but it compensates with a smoother and more comfortable ride, thanks to its larger body and more advanced suspension system.
Interior and Technology
The RAV4 offers a spacious and well-designed interior, with plenty of room for passengers and cargo. Its newest iteration features a 10.5-inch Toyota Audio Multimedia touchscreen that is easy to use and provides seamless connectivity with your smartphone.
The RAV4 also comes with standard features such as a Wi-Fi hotspot, satellite radio, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration.
Similarly, the Highlander offers a spacious cabin with plenty of room for passengers and cargo. Its 2023 model even offers a 12.3-inch touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay, which is larger than the RAV4’s.
The Toyota Highlander also has standard features such as a Wi-Fi hotspot, satellite radio, and a premium JBL sound system.
Both models offer similar interior space and technology features, so the right pick depends on personal preference.
Both the RAV4 and Highlander prioritize safety without sacrificing performance or utility.
They come equipped with Toyota Safety Sense 2.5, a comprehensive suite of advanced safety features designed to keep you and your passengers safe on the road.
This includes essential features such as forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high-beam headlights.
Whether you’re driving on a busy highway or navigating through city streets, the advanced safety features of both SUVs can help prevent accidents and provide you with peace of mind.
It’s a close call, but the RAV4 is the most reliable SUV.
According to RepairPal, the RAV4 and the Highlander both have a reliability rating of 4.0 out of 5.0.
The RAV4 ranks higher among compact SUVs, while the Highlander ranks 7th among midsize SUVs.
While the RAV4 has had some complaints about excessive oil consumption in older models and fuel/propulsion system issues in newer models, the Highlander has fewer recalls and complaints.
However, some Highlander owners have reported problems with the engine, transmission, brakes, and electrical system.
Comfort and Space
The Toyota Highlander and RAV4 both offer comfortable and spacious cabins, so which SUV is more spacious for passengers? The Highlander takes the win for that. It even goes a step further and provides extra comfort.
The Toyota Highlander offers more legroom and headroom for passengers, making it a more comfortable option for taller individuals.
Additionally, it has a more luxurious feel with features such as leather upholstery and heated and ventilated front seats with some of its trims, which are not available on the RAV4.
Hence, the Highlander is the most spacious Toyota SUV and it’s also the most comfortable, among both.
When it comes to towing capacity, the Toyota Highlander wins hands down. With a maximum towing capacity of 5,000 pounds, it can haul significantly more weight than the RAV4’s 3,500 pounds.
This makes the Highlander the better choice for anyone who needs to tow trailers, boats, or other heavy equipment. The extra towing capacity of the Highlander also means it can handle larger loads, making it more versatile for those who need an SUV for work or outdoor activities.
While the RAV4’s towing capacity is impressive for its size, it can’t match the Highlander’s capabilities.
Even fitting cargo in it won’t be an issue – with up to 84.3 cubic feet of space with the rear seats folded down, you can easily use the Highlander to transport large items or a lot of gear.
If you require a vehicle with exceptional towing ability, the Highlander is the way to go.
The RAV4 boasts impressive fuel efficiency, with an EPA-estimated 41 mpg combined for its hybrid models.
In contrast, the Highlander’s fuel economy is up to an EPA-estimated 24 mpg combined for its turbocharged models. So RAV4 is clearly the winner when it comes to fuel economy.
Opting for the RAV4 will offer you significant savings on gas and reduce your carbon footprint, making it an ideal choice for eco-conscious buyers.
Additionally, the RAV4’s fuel efficiency makes it an excellent choice for long road trips or daily commutes, making it a more cost-effective option in the long run.
What Makes The Toyota RAV4 Better Than Highlander?
The RAV4 is better as a more fuel-efficient and sportier crossover SUV. With its smaller size and lighter weight, the RAV4 offers better maneuverability and handling, making it perfect for city driving.
Additionally, the RAV4 has a lower price point compared to the Highlander, making it a more affordable option. It also has better gas mileage and offers a hybrid powertrain option.
All that, combined with its stylish exterior design and spacious interior, make it a great choice for singles or small families.
What Makes The Toyota Highlander Better Than RAV4?
The Highlander is better for drivers who prioritize passenger comfort and cargo space. The larger size of the Highlander means it offers more interior space, making it a perfect fit for families or those who frequently carry large items.
It also offers more advanced safety features and a more comfortable ride.
Additionally, the Highlander offers more powerful engine options for drivers who want a bit more performance. And to top that off, it has excellent towing capacity too.
The RAV4 or the Highlander: What is Right For You?
If you prioritize fuel efficiency, a sportier driving experience, and a lower price point, the RAV4 is the way to go.
However, if you often travel with people or go on trips carrying heavy items, then the Highlander is the better choice.
Which SUV is more cost effective: RAV4 or Highlander?
The RAV4 is. It has a lower starting price and a reputation for reliability. The most basic trim for it (LE) costs around $27,975. Meanwhile, the Highlander’s basic trim level (L) costs somewhere around $36,420.
Is Toyota Highlander based on Camry?
Yes, it was originally based on the Camry.
Is RAV4 big enough for a family?
Yes, RAV4 is big enough for a family of four.
Does the Toyota Highlander require premium gas?
No, it doesn’t require premium gas.
Is the RAV4 good for long-distance driving?
Yes, RAV4 is good for long-distance driving.
What is the fuel efficiency and range of different Toyota Highlander models?
There are a lot of models. You can find more information about a specific model at Fuel Economy.
How long can a Toyota Highlander last in terms of mileage and lifespan?
A Toyota Highlander can last up to 200,000 with proper maintenance and care, giving it a lifespan of around 15-20 years.
So, who wins? There’s no objective winner. The Rav4 and Highlander are two very different vehicles that cater to different types of drivers, even if they seem similar in some ways.
The Rav4 is a compact crossover that’s perfect for drivers who prioritize fuel efficiency, agility, and urban maneuverability.
Meanwhile, the Highlander is a midsize SUV that’s ideal for drivers who need more space, power, and features for their daily commutes, road trips, and family outings.
So it’s all up to your needs. Rest assured, you’ll be satisfied with either pick once you make a choice based on that. Toyota is known for being reliable, so you won’t run into trouble with either choice.
Sebastian loves convertibles and drove a BMW 335i for a long time (325 hp is just a dream). Today, with two children, he is more concerned with SUVs and family-friendly vehicles. In addition to an Audi A4 Avant, he also drives a Cupra Formentor VZ – even as a family man, you can’t do without speed. Get to know Sebastian better and visit the About Us page.