Toyota RAV4 vs Toyota Highlander

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Automotive Editor

Meghan Ingram is a Pittsburgh native and regular contributor to CarsDirect.com. She holds a Bachelors degree in Spanish and English, is a social media marketing specialist, and has written professionally for a variety of automotive companies over the last several years. In her spare time Meghan enjoys music, running, and hiking trails with her Doberman.

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, Automotive Editor - July 10, 2014

Toyota's RAV4 crossover and Highlander SUV allow buyers to follow its slogan of "Let's Go Places" – whether in the city or down a dirt road. Which vehicle should make consumers go to the dealership, though?

See a side-by-side comparison of the RAV4 & Highlander >>

Advantage: RAV4

The five-seat RAV4 is less expensive and comes with only one engine: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder generating 176 horsepower. A six-speed automatic transmission handles shifting duties. Front-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel drive is optional. The EPA rates the latter for 24 mpg city and 31 mpg highway.

The base LE comes well-equipped with power windows and locks, and a backup camera. The upscale Limited can be optioned with a Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert.

Advantage: Highlander

The Highlander, meanwhile, starts at costs several thousand dollars more, which buys a 3.5-inch information display, sliding and reclining second-row seats and space for seven. A 187-horsepower 2.7-liter four-cylinder is standard; a 3.5-liter V6 producing 270 ponies; or a hybrid unit good for 280. The smallest engine gets an automatic with six forward gears. The six-cylinder is paired with a dated five-speed unit. Hybrids put power down through a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Four-wheel drive is optional with the V6 and mandatory on the Hybrid.

Fuel economy ranges from 17 mpg city and 22 mpg highway for V6 4WD models to 20/25 for four-cylinders to 28/28 for hybrids.

Optional equipment includes three-zone climate control, navigation and the complicated Entune multimedia smartphone integration system.

Important Considerations

Drivers of the smaller vehicle get 38.4 cubic feet of cargo space to fill behind the second row of seats -- there is no longer a third. The Highlander provides a marginally higher 42.3, though it also has considerably less room than its rivals from Ford, Honda and GMC. Additionally, the Highlander's base engine gets only slightly better gas mileage than its competitors' six-cylinder mills.

Both Toyotas, when powered by their respective four-cylinder engines, can tow 1,500 pounds.

Our Verdict: Toyota RAV4

Unless you need seats for seven, the RAV4 packs a lot of utility into a small package.

Take a closer look at the Toyota RAV4 >>

Take a closer look at the Toyota Highlander >>

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

, Automotive Editor

Meghan Ingram is a Pittsburgh native and regular contributor to CarsDirect.com. She holds a Bachelors degree in Spanish and English, is a social media marketing specialist, and has written professionally for a variety of automotive companies over the last several years. In her spare time Meghan enjoys music, running, and hiking trails with her Doberman.

Follow On: Google+ | Website