Toyota RAV4 Hybrid vs. Toyota Highlander Hybrid

By

Automotive Editor

Willis is a freelance writer based out of Philadelphia. Born and raised in Colorado, he graduated from Williams College. When he's not writing about cars or the outdoors, he spends his time rock climbing or reading with his two cats.


, Automotive Editor - May 15, 2020

Toyota’s line of hybrids is no longer limited to sedans. Both of the brand’s bestselling crossover SUVs, the RAV4 and the Highlander, are available with eco-friendly powertrains. Both models also received recent redesigns.

We put the two new Toyotas head-to-head to see which hybrid is worth the money.

See a side-by-side comparison of the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid & the Toyota Highlander Hybrid »

What the RAV4 Hybrid Gets Right

Being the smaller vehicle, the RAV4 Hybrid is the more affordable of the pair. Starting under $30,000, the RAV4 Hybrid is over $10,000 less than a base Highlander Hybrid.

The RAV4’s lighter weight also means that it’s the more efficient vehicle. The EPA estimates that a RAV4 Hybrid will do up to 40 miles per gallon combined, against the Highlander Hybrid’s 36 mpg combined. Although neither model is sporty, the smaller RAV4 Hybrid is lighter on its feet.

The RAV4 Hybrid comes with standard all-wheel drive. That extends the smaller crossover's efficiency and price advantage, as the Highlander Hybrid starts with front-wheel drive. Neither model is aimed at off-road capabilities, but the RAV4 Hybrid offers a strong blend of weather-readiness, efficiency, and value.

What the Highlander Hybrid Gets Right

The new 2020 Highlander is more spacious than ever, and the midsize crossover holds a significant size advantage over the smaller RAV4. The Highlander’s trunk can hold about 11 cubic feet more cargo than the RAV4, and the Highlander even has the option of a third row.

Both models use a similar hybrid setup, but the Highlander’s system is tuned for more power: 243 horsepower against the RAV4’s 219 hp. That helps the Highlander Hybrid to a towing capacity of 3,500 pounds, which is 1,750 more than the RAV4 Hybrid.

The Highlander has the edge on features. An equivalent Highlander Hybrid comes with a larger touchscreen, more safety features, and bonuses like a power liftgate.

The Highlander is a more expensive vehicle to start, but upgrading to the hybrid brings less of an upcharge. The RAV4 Hybrid is a $2,400 upgrade over the gas-powered RAV4, but the Highlander requires only $1,400 to add electric power.

A Question of Size

The differences between these two models all boil down to size. The RAV4 Hybrid is smaller and lighter, which also makes it cheaper and more efficient. The Highlander Hybrid is a more expensive crossover SUV, but it brings more space and features, and costs less to upgrade to.

Our Verdict: Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Both of these cars make hybrid powertrains more accessible than ever. All-weather capability and extreme efficiency are no longer mutually exclusive. With its low starting price, the RAV4 Hybrid is especially tempting from a value perspective.

But if we had to choose, we’d take the Highlander Hybrid. This is a hybrid truly capable of family duty, including towing capacity, a third row, and efficiency that remains exceptional for the class.

Take a closer look at the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid »

Take a closer look at the Toyota Highlander Hybrid »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

Willis is a freelance writer based out of Philadelphia. Born and raised in Colorado, he graduated from Williams College. When he's not writing about cars or the outdoors, he spends his time rock climbing or reading with his two cats.


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