Crossover SUVs are the darlings of the automotive buying public right now. The crossover field is crowded with any array of choices from most manufacturers. With so many crossovers to be had, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for savvy car shoppers to pick the right vehicle that fits their lifestyle and their budget.

Two of the most popular crossovers on the market are the new 2017 Honda CR-V and the 2017 Toyota RAV4. Both models receive an update for 2017 which makes them good candidates for a side-by-side comparison.

We admit to being biased toward the 2017 CR-V. After all, we sell Hondas. But because we want to be fair in our assessment of the RAV4, we turned to outside sources, such as auto review websites like TheCarConnection.com, to give us their unbiased opinion of these two vehicles.

While these automotive pundits do find a few things to like about the 2017 RAV4, the consensus strongly favors the CR-V. In fact, Bengt Halvorson, TheCarConnection.com’s Deputy Editor, comes right out and says, “Which is the better pick between the two? Because it’s not even close right now, we’re going to give this one away: The Honda CR-V beats out the Toyota RAV4 on multiple levels.”

Looks like it’s going to be quite an uphill battle for the RAV4. Let’s find out why.

CR-V’s Superior Styling.

Even though the 2015 Honda CR-V walked away with Motor Trend Magazine’s coveted “SUV of the Year” honors, Toyota’s designers didn’t rest on their laurels. Instead, they set out to improve every aspect of the 2017 CR-V model, including updating its already handsome exterior with a sportier appearance.

You’ll notice one of the biggest changes around back, where Honda update’s the CR-V’s signature vertical taillights, adding a striking horizontal design that blends nicely into the rear decklid. We might add that the taillights are LEDs, much like the string of LED headlights and daytime running lights that grace the CR-V’s more muscular and assertive front end. The CR-V’s profile benefits from accentuated wheel openings that call attention to the stylized sport alloy wheels. The CR-V’s smooth flanks and curving roofline contribute to improving aerodynamic efficiency. Cheating the wind simply never looked this good.

What about the RAV4? While Toyota added a somewhat sportier model to the RAV4 lineup, it still wears sheetmetal that’s a few years old. If you look at the RAV4’s front end, it features a lower fascia with angular “V”-shaped lines reminiscent of the somewhat controversial-looking Toyota Prius. TheCarConnection.com calls the RAV4’s rear-end “chunky,” with “unusual taillights.” Their words. Not ours.

New CR-V Interior Shines.

The new CR-V’s spacious and versatile interior is a benchmark of quality and thoughtful design; even more so for 2017. TheCarConnection.com calls the CR-V’s modernized interior “…the winner here by a fair margin.”

The updated CR-V interior is more sophisticated and user-friendly than ever. There’s a smart-looking new instrument cluster featuring a distinctive horizontal tachometer that follows the curve of the instrument housing. A neat touch. Standard Dual-Zone Climate Control, available push-button start/stop, and available wood-grained accents and 10-way power leather seats are just a few of the many reasons why the CR-V’s interior excels at creature comfort.

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The CR-V also outclasses the RAV4 with better-quality materials and more passenger volume. A large, tablet-sized Display Audio Touchscreen dominates the dash. Honda also listened to consumers and brought back the volume knob. A simple gesture demonstrating how the little things really do matter. The CR-V makes better use of its inner space, with easy-to-use split 60/40 rear seats that expand the CR-V’s cargo capacity to a generous 70.9 cubic feet.

The RAV4 did get some interior updates as well. However, the RAV4’s interior looks cluttered, chopped-up and overly busy. And why they would awkwardly wedge the cup holder in-between the shift knob and lower center stack controls is a mystery to us.

CR-V The Performance Winner.

Where the 2017 CR-V really pulls out ahead of the RAV4 is when you compare performance, handling, and fuel economy. For starters, the CR-V’s standard 2.5-liter Earth Dreams i-VTEC® 4-cylinder engine outguns the RAV4’s comparable 4-cylinder with 185 horsepower and 181 lb.-ft. of torque compared to the RAV4’s 176 horsepower and 172 lb. ft. of torque. Honda’s 4-cylinder also bests the RAV4 with better fuel economy, getting a combined EPA-estimated* 29 city/highway mpg compared to just 26 mpg combined for the Toyota.

For 2017, the CR-V extends its lead over the RAV4 with an all-new 1.5-liter 190-hp turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that delivers 179 lb.-ft. of twist for quicker acceleration across a wider power band. The RAV4 simply can’t match those numbers. The RAV4 also can’t match the CR-V’s excellent handling, either. The CR-V has always been fun to drive; now only more so. New fluid-filled suspension bushings, a floating rear subframe, a stiffer chassis, MacPherson struts, and more precise steering contribute to the CR-V’s fun-loving attitude.

How does the RAV4 measure up against the CR-V regarding ride and handling? Some might say that it’s downright dull. TheCarConnection.com states, “Though the RAV4 rides well, it is neither the most composed small crossover nor the sportiest.”

Both the CR-V and the RAV4 offer capable All-Wheel Drive systems. Each has what it takes to improve traction and handling in different driving conditions, such as snow and mud. Honda improved the CR-V’s AWD this year by sending more torque to the rear wheels when needed.

CR-V Scores With Safety.

The final measure between the CR-V and the RAV4 concerns safety. Honda continues to lead the way with cutting-edge safety features. Honda was one of the first automakers to offer a standard rear backup camera. And the available Honda Sensing™ suite of advanced safety features you’ll find on the CR-V include Lane-Keep Assist, Lane-Departure Warning, Forward-Collision Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control, and Collision Mitigation Braking. Plus, the CR-V also features Honda’s advanced ACE™ energy-absorbing body structure, multiple dual-stage airbags, ABS, and Vehicle Stability Assist.

To be fair, the RAV4 follows Honda’s lead by offering its own rear backup camera system, as well as some similar safety technologies such as lane departure alert.

Based on the 2016 model, the CR-V earns top safety scores from both the IIHS and the NHTSA. Those are but two of the many accolades the much-awarded Honda CR-V has received. It’s also been named one of Kelly Blue Book’s “16 Best Family Cars” and is a kbb.com 2016 “Best Buy” award winner. U.S. News & World Report also named the CR-V one of their 2016 “Best Cars for Families.”

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CR-V For The Win.

In the final analysis, the 2017 Honda CR-V outclasses the Toyota RAV4 in several key categories. While there will always be those who favor the Toyota brand for various reasons, when it comes time for you to put down your hard-earned cash on a crossover SUV, doesn’t it just make sense to go with a winner?

But don’t take our word for it. Shop and compare. We’re sure that when you get to know the new CR-V by taking for a test drive at one of our conveniently located Valley Honda Dealers near Phoenix, you’ll also be impressed. The new 2017 CR-V will be arriving soon, so be sure to check back frequently for updates.

You’ll also get a winning deal on new Hondas for sale near Phoenix with sensational money-saving Honda factory incentives as well as deep dealer discounts. Plus, you’ll save even more when you shop our wide selection of top-quality Honda Certified pre-owned vehicles for sale near Phoenix.

Wherever you live in the Valley of the Sun, there’s a conveniently located Valley Honda Dealer that’s just minutes away. We’re also located in Prescott, AZ. Click here to find a Valley Honda Dealer near you.

Sources:

http://www.toyota.com/rav4/

http://www.thecarconnection.com/overview/honda_cr-v_2017

http://www.thecarconnection.com/news/1098509_toyota-rav4-vs-honda-cr-v-compare-cars

http://automobiles.honda.com/future-cars/cr-v