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Compact SUV Best Buy of 2019

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By: KBB.com Editors Source: Kelly Blue Book®
Published: Nov 12, 2018

Compact SUV Best Buy of 2019

By: KBB.com Editors Source: Kelly Blue Book®
Published: Nov 12, 2018

  • Honda’s venerable compact crossover is practical, efficient, and easy to drive
  • Most models come standard with Honda Sensing suite of safety features
  • Honda CR-V pricing starts at $25,345 (including $995 destination charge) 
  • On sale now | See CR-V models for sale near you

What’s the most recommendable small SUV for the most people? Once again, the answer is the Honda CR-V. In the five years the Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Awards have existed, Honda’s compact crossover has won its category four times. Given that the small SUV segment continues to grow in popularity with each, that’s no mean feat.

Standing Out Amid a Raft of Rivals

Winning this category also means the Honda CR-V bettered some dozen competitors, including all-new versions of formidable challengers like the Subaru Forester and long-time archrival the Toyota RAV4. The Honda CR-V excelled in every category, from its class-above interior size and flexibility to its fuel efficiency and safety features. Throw in useful tech features and a sterling reputation for reliability and resale value, and the CR-V continues to pull ahead of the pack. Whether you’re looking for a safe, practical, easy-to-drive and easy-to-own car for a younger driver or a leather-laden mainstream SUV that could give some luxury vehicles a run for their money, there’s a CR-V to meet your needs.

The CR-V itself was totally revamped just last year, and with the all-new model came a small but efficient turbocharged engine, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone compatibility, and the Honda Sensing system that bundles active safety and driver-assistance features like automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control. Skip the base LX model and you’ll get all those features standard, plus unexpected creature comforts like 12-way power operated and heated driver seat.

Outsized Interior and Excellent Efficiency

Practical by birth, one of the CR-V’s best traits is just how much room there is in its otherwise compact footprint. Presenting 75.8 cubic feet of usable space with the rear seats folded flat, the CR-V’s cargo space remains near the top of its class. That figure even edges the larger, all-new 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe, itself a highly recommendable crossover SUV with a larger footprint that is good for growing families.

Also impressive: the MPG the 2019 Honda CR-V returns. The older, 2.4-liter engine used only in the base LX model still gets up to 34 mpg on the highway. The new, smaller, and more powerful 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that is used (and recommended) in the rest of the lineup is only a tick behind, boasting up to 33 mpg. Whichever powerplant or trim you choose, you can get all-wheel drive for added traction and more confidence on slippery, weather-fouled roads.

Enviable Resale Value and Reliability

No writeup about a Honda would be complete without mentioning the brand’s strong reliability and resale value. These two characteristics are especially noteworthy in the CR-V. Its reliability has been enviable over its 20-plus year existence, and it’s a mainstay among Kelley Blue Book Best Resale Value Award winners.

There are now more than a dozen small crossover SUVs competing for space in your garage. Almost all have at least one standout trait, but none are more well-rounded or more recommendable than the 2019 Honda CR-V.

More 2019 Honda CR-V

Build and price your own 2019 Honda CR-V to see this week’s Fair Purchase Price, 5-Year Cost to Own and more, or check out the CR-V models for sale today at dealers near you.

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The Honda Accord has appeared on our 10Best Cars list a record 33 times.

The Honda Accord has appeared on our 10Best Cars list a record 33 times. Such an achievement is no accident; it’s the culmination of Honda’s fastidious fine-tuning and dogged attention to detail.

While agreeableness is a given in most new cars, the Accord’s dynamics are several degrees beyond the agreeable, with finely tuned primary controls, a light helm with good feedback, and an optional and precise six-speed manual shifter. The delicate, well-placed pedals work so naturally as to disappear. Likewise, the Accord’s controlled body motions and supple ride quality encourage its occupants to relax during the everyday slog. So how can it be so much fun to fling the Accord through challenging corners?

We can imagine Honda’s engineers working late into the night, fretting over minutiae as their uneaten dinners grow cold at home.

Their fine-tuning extends to the Accord hybrid, which joins the regular models on this year’s list. Its clever direct-drive gearbox and arrangement of motors and clutches help propel the car partially, or solely, on electrons, and the integration of all the pieces is seamless.

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To the naked eye, the 2018 Honda Accord hybrid is a virtual doppelgänger of its standard-issue sibling. Aside from special wheels and a few subtle hybrid badges, there’s little outward evidence that a hybrid powertrain hides under this Accord’s sheetmetal. Five minutes behind the wheel, however, and its unique personality is evident.

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Like all current Accords, the hybrid impresses with its solid feel. Thanks to the added weight—our hybrid test car tipped the scales at 3404 pounds, some 250 pounds heavier than a manual Accord Sport 1.5T we recently tested—and the location of the battery pack and attendant hardware under the rear seat, the Accord hybrid displays a touch of that dense, stable sensation that in bygone days automakers touted as “road-hugging weight.” We were impressed with the hybrid’s quiet ride, an observation confirmed by its 69-decibel interior-noise level at 70 mph—matching our long-term 2018 Honda Accord 2.0T EX-L. And the hybrid shares the regular Accord’s supple, isolated ride over nearly every type of road surface. Most potholes pass underneath without undue disturbance, and larger imperfections are diminished by its rigid structure and refined suspension tuning.

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In its quest for maximum mpg, the hybrid wears low-rolling-resistance 225/50R-17 Michelin Energy Saver A/S all-season tires, and they’re not particularly grippy. Although the steering is reasonably direct and turn-in is snappy, the front end starts to push in even moderately aggressive cornering. The Accord hybrid registered just 0.83 g on our skidpad; that’s compared with 0.86 g for our long-term Accord and 0.90 g for the Accord Sport, a model that delights in such maneuvers.

Multi-Mode Motivation
A cleverly configured drivetrain employs two electric motors and an Atkinson-cycle, port-injected, 2.0-liter inline-four engine making 143 horsepower and 129 lb-ft of torque. Total combined output is 212 horsepower. As we explained in our review of the mechanically similar, previous-generation 2017 Accord hybrid, this enables three distinct driving modes: an EV Drive mode using only battery power, a Hybrid Drive mode that uses electricity to propel the car with the gasoline engine powering the generator, and an Engine Drive mode employed under certain conditions that clutches the gasoline engine in at a fixed ratio. Although complex in concept, it’s simple in execution if a tad unrefined at the ragged edge.

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In concert, the powertrain trio performs agreeably and nearly imperceptibly under mild requests, but it can grow coarser as more performance is asked of it. Mat the pedal and the sensation of agreeable work-sharing cedes to mild disorder, the combustion engine revving wildly while occasionally accompanied by a low-frequency grunting. Lifting your foot from the accelerator brings a sudden silence.

At the track, the Accord hybrid hustled to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds and cleared the quarter-mile in 15.5 seconds with a trap speed of 90 mph. Surprisingly quick given the slightly schizophrenic soundtrack, the Accord hybrid bettered the manual Accord Sport 1.5T’s zero-to-60-mph time by 0.1 second and matched its quarter-mile time. The 2.0T automatic Accord is the speed demon of the family; we reached 60 mph in just 5.7 seconds and posted a 14.3-second quarter-mile time in our long-termer. The Accord hybrid’s archrival, the Toyota Camry XLE hybrid, was a bit pokier in our testing, requiring 7.9 seconds to hit the 60-mph mark and 16.0 seconds flat to complete the quarter-mile.

The Accord hybrid’s brakes are a mixed bag. While the pedal exhibits almost none of the inconsistent travel and erratic feel that formerly beset hybrids, the stopping performance could stand improvement. Coming to a halt from 70 mph required 189 feet but without a hint of fade over repeated attempts. The Accord Sport 1.5T did the same in a remarkably short 162 feet while our long-term 2.0T EX-L required 183; the Camry hybrid stopped in 180 feet. Before you chalk up the difference entirely to the Accord hybrid’s low-rolling-resistance rubber, consider that the last Kia Optima hybrid we tested stopped in 175 feet while wearing similarly efficiency-oriented Kumho Solus TA31 Eco tires.

Casual deceleration can be facilitated by four levels of regenerative braking selected by the right-hand steering-wheel paddle. Smooth in engagement, the max-regen mode effects consistent slowing action while recapturing as much energy as possible to bolster the battery-charge level. Each additional tap dials back the regenerative action for a more free-wheeling vibe. Given the right topography, it makes an addictive game out of recapturing energy on long, steep descents.

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Fuel Economy: Its Reason for Being
But it’s really efficiency that excites most hybrid buyers, whether in the form of savings at the pump or just for the sheer satisfaction of extracting as much energy as possible from a unit of fuel via the technical wizardry of a hybrid-drive system.

As an indicator of how adept the Accord hybrid’s propulsion system is at applying the most efficient engine, motor, or engine/motor combination for the motive task at hand, consider that the 2018 Accord hybrid earns an EPA fuel-economy estimate of 47 mpg in all three metrics: city, highway, and combined. In typically enthusiastic Car and Driver testing, it returned 40 mpg overall, exactly matching our results with the Camry XLE hybrid. Both represent a substantial improvement over the 31 mpg we earned in the Kia Optima hybrid. In our real-world, 75-mph highway fuel-economy test, however, the Accord hybrid, at 42 mpg, fell short of the Camry hybrid’s 44 mpg.

What this efficiency is worth is a subjective question. Our top Touring trim sported a sticker price of $35,605, nearly a $10K premium over the $26,670 total for the manual Accord Sport 1.5T. The hybrid Touring’s price, however, includes nearly every available option: leather-trimmed seats and steering wheel, premium 10-speaker audio, navigation, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a power sunroof, a host of safety and driver-assistance systems, and about a dozen additional minor features. For 2018, Honda has expanded the hybrid powertrain across four trim levels—starting with the base sedan at $25,995, the EX at $29,785, the EX-L at $32,335, and finally the Touring tested here—so those less concerned with creature comforts can get their Accord hybrid for significantly less dough.

A similarly equipped Camry XLE hybrid rings in at $37,245, which brings us back to some very familiar territory in the realm of mid-size sedans: Accord versus Camry. In the hybrid round, we’ll take the Honda.

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Human creations are rarely entirely perfect. Despite the Accord’s fastback profile, the slinkier Mazda 6 is still prettier. And none of us would complain if Honda obsessed over a better solution than the 10-speed automatic’s clumsy shift buttons.

But the current-generation Accord, now in its sophomore year on this list, convincingly exhibits Honda’s obsessive-compulsive approach to mass-market carmaking. The model continues to balance engagement, quality, and practicality more consistently than any other car.

Comparing Civic Vs Elantra

2019 Honda Civic Sport vs 2019 Hyundai Elantra

2019 HONDA CIVIC

2019 Honda Civic

Models

DX, LX, EX, Sport, Touring, Si

Price range

$17,790-$28,990

With the Canadian-built 2019 Civic, Honda proves it’s possible to pack desirable features into every nook and cranny while still offering a spacious interior that doesn’t skimp on cargo capacity. On top of that, it’s gorgeous to look at. Complementing its restyled front end, its aggressive stance, sleek lines, and low-slung body invite drivers in with hints of the top-shelf performance ready to be unleashed. The 10th-generation Civic comes to life with a choice of two 4-cylinder engines: a naturally aspirated 2.0-litre i-VTEC® and a 1.5-litre turbocharged option that tops out at 205 hp on the Si trim. In addition to the 6-speed manual transmission, trims featuring Continuously Variable Transmission also boast G-Design Shift Logic and are outfitted with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters for engaged driving no matter which Civic buyers choose. Inside, Civic’s multitude of features will leave driver and passengers alike feeling that every need is satisfied. Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™? It’s got that. Display Audio System with HondaLink™? It’s got that, too. Touring and Si trims offer even more: a 10-speaker sound system with subwoofer, SiriusXM™, and heated rear seats. Add in plenty of cargo space and innovative storage options, and customers are primed and ready for an extra-long road trip or intense trip to the grocery store. Whatever Civic drivers are up to, they’ll feel safe and secure with the Multi-Angle Rearview Camera and the many active safety features of the standard Honda Sensing™ suite1. With so much driving enjoyment to unlock, it’s little wonder that Civic has been Canada’s best-selling car 21 years running.

DX, LX, EX, SPORT
TOURING
SI
Engine type, displacement
2.0-litre port-injected DOHC i-VTEC® 4-cylinder
1.5-litre direct-injected DOHC turbocharged 4-cylinder
1.5-litre direct-injected DOHC turbocharged 4-cylinder
Compression ratio
10.8:1
10.6:1
10.3:1
Horsepower
158 hp @ 6,500 rpm
174 hp @ 6,000 rpm
205 hp @ 5,700 rpm
Torque
138 lb.-ft. @ 4,200 rpm
162 lb.-ft. @ 1,700-5,500 rpm
192 lb.-ft. @ 2,100-5,000 rpm
Transmission
6-speed manual transmission (DX, LX); Continuously Variable Transmission (Available on LX; Standard on EX, Sport)
Continuously Variable Transmission
6-speed manual transmission
Fuel economy, L/100 km (city/hwy/combined)
9.3/6.5/8.0 (DX-M/T, LX-M/T); 7.9/6.1/7.1 (LX-CVT, EX-CVT); 8.2/6.5/7.4 (Sport)
7.8/6.2/7.1
8.4/6.2/7.4
We’ve been giving this generation Civic top marks since its debut three years ago, and there’s nothing else out this year that’s going to steal the car’s title belt.

THE 2019 CIVIC SPORT: A CLOSER LOOK

ADDING SOME SPICE TO THE MIX

The new-for-2019 Civic Sedan Sport trim lends Canada’s best-selling car an inspired, more aggressive look to reflect its engaging driving dynamics.
Here’s a look at some key features and attributes that help the Sport trim stand out.

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2019 HYUNDAI ELANTRA

2019 Hyundai Elantra

Models

Essential, Preferred, Luxury, Ultimate

Price range

$16,999-$27,399

The first look at the 2019 Hyundai Elantra will be a long one, as its radical redesign adds a strong dose of visual excitement to the compact-sedan segment. Hyundai’s latest design language lends the vehicle a bolder, more upscale presence. A curved hood flows into a new front end that integrates sharply defined headlights into its all-new grille for a look that stands out among its class. Under the hood, the 2.0-litre Atkinson-cycle 4-cylinder engine is mated to either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission with SHIFTRONIC® manual mode that provides drivers with a deeper connection to the pavement and plenty of driving fun.

Elantra’s interior affords passengers relatively spacious accommodations, as well as a sizeable trunk space. On the technology front, higher trims offer Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™, a wireless phone charger, and the BlueLink® connected car system. Occupants can also feel at ease with the available Hyundai SmartSense™ suite of safety technologies. From the SUPERSTRUCTURE™ to available features like Driver Attention Warning, safety is a major part of the Elantra, from its very core to how it interacts with the driver. Plus, on the top-spec Ultimate trim, there’s the segment-exclusive Safe Exit Alarm that will warn occupants of approaching vehicles before you open your door to the street. The result is a compact sedan that customers will feel confident driving through any road conditions.

ESSENTIAL, PREFERRED
LUXURY, ULTIMATE
Engine type, displacement
2.0-litre port-injected DOHC Atkinson-cycle 4-cylinder
2.0-litre port-injected DOHC Atkinson-cycle 4-cylinder
Compression ratio
12.5:1
12.5:1
Horsepower
147 hp @ 6,200 rpm
147 hp @ 6,200 rpm
Torque
132 lb.-ft. @ 4,500 rpm
132 lb.-ft. @ 4,500 rpm
Transmission
Standard 6-speed M/T; optional 6-speed A/T with SHIFTRONIC® manual mode
6-speed A/T with SHIFTRONIC® manual mode
Fuel economy, L/100 km (city/hwy/combined)
9.2/6.5/8.0 (M/T) 8.3/6.4/7.4 (A/T)
8.3/6.4/7.4
The Elantra is…an all-rounder — solid in most departments though not a particular standout in any.

HONDA CIVIC SEDAN SPORT VS HYUNDAI ELANTRA LUXURY

EXTERIOR

CIVIC

Civic

Model shown with optional accessories.

SPORTY, PREMIUM LOOK
Civic certainly raises the exciting possibilities of what a compact sedan can be. Its low, wide stance sends a message that this compact sedan has performance to spare. By comparison, the 2019 Elantra boasts a thorough refresh that plays up its compact sporty character and projects a sense of nimbleness, ideal for winding through city streets.

ELANTRA

ELANTRA

civic

18-INCH WHEELS
Though Civic may be a compact sedan, its aluminum-alloy wheels are anything but, measuring 18 inches. These wheels showcase a split-spoke design and dark finish that draws the eyes of onlookers, while conveying swiftness with their aerodynamic design. As far as size goes, Elantra’s alloy wheels aren’t too far behind at 17 inches, though its design is relatively flat and conservative.

Elantra

Civic

CAPLESS FUELING SYSTEM
Civic makes filling up at the pump simpler with its capless fueling system. The innovative capless mechanism opens and closes as you insert and retract the nozzle, so there’s no more need to fumble with a dirty fuel cap or worry about inadvertently emitting harmful vapours. You won’t find such a thoughtful fueling system on Elantra, which features a conventional fuel cap.

Elantra

Civic

HONDA LANEWATCH™ BLIND-SPOT DISPLAY
Civic drivers can drive more confidently thanks to LaneWatch™. A camera mounted on the passenger-side mirror allows the driver to view hard-to-see areas by displaying a video feed on the Display Audio System. LaneWatch provides added peace of mind when switching lanes or making right turns, and Elantra offers nothing like it.

Elantra

civic

LED TAILLIGHTS
Civic makes itself seen more clearly at night with dazzling LED taillights, standard across all trim levels. These lights offer several advantages over conventional incandescent bulbs, including reduced power consumption, longer life, and improved environmental friendliness. Hyundai customers must step up to the top Elantra trim to enjoy the benefits of LED taillights.

Elantra

Civic

CENTRE-MOUNTED EXHAUST
Civic’s sporty looks are all-encompassing, with a centre exhaust outlet that perfectly complements the athletic aesthetic of the dynamic face. In rather stark comparison, Elantra’s purely functional exhaust outlet is tucked out of sight, signalling its less sporting intentions.

Elantra

The 2019 Hyundai Elantra comes in many flavors, but the vast majority are plain vanilla — not even vanilla bean or country-style vanilla

UNDER THE HOOD

Civic

MORE HORSEPOWER AND TORQUE
Civic makes good on its aggressive exterior by providing drivers with 158 hp and 138 lb.-ft. of torque courtesy of its 2.0-litre i-VTEC® 4-cylinder engine. Lightweight yet power-dense, it uses natural aspiration and features Honda’s patented i-VTEC valve control system for enhanced performance and increased efficiency. At 147 hp and 132 lb.-ft. of torque, Elantra’s 2.0-litre Atkinson-cycle 4-cylinder engine packs decent pep but offers slightly less powerful performance.

Elantra

Civic

CONTINUOUSLY VARIABLE TRANSMISSION (CVT)
Civic’s CVT features an infinitely variable ratio range to ensure the optimum pulley ratio for a more natural feel. Its dedicated Sport mode uses aggressive transmission mapping for better pep, and the G-Design Shift Logic offers more immediate acceleration response than conventional automatic transmissions, including Elantra’s 6-speed.

Elantra

Civic

INDEPENDENT REAR SUSPENSION
The sporty demeanour of the Civic is derived in large part from its independent rear suspension, helping create a smoother, more refined ride that provides better traction and stability. Hyundai outfitted Elantra with a more traditional torsion-beam rear suspension setup that results in diminished comfort, agility, and stability, and can also contribute to more noise, vibration, and harshness in the cabin.

 

 

FEATURE
NOT AVAILABLE

Civic

AGILE HANDLING ASSIST

Agile Handling Assist adds turning control and helps amp up the driving on the Civic. This system applies more braking force to the inside wheels to generate greater turning force while reducing understeer. The result is better initial turn-in response, and there’s no equivalent to Agile Handling Assist on the Elantra.

 

 

FEATURE
NOT AVAILABLE

Civic

VARIABLE-RATIO STEERING
Civic’s Variable Ratio Electric Power-Assisted Rack-and-Pinion (EPS) can modify the steering ratio for improved steering feel and manoeuvrability. It determines the appropriate amount of assist to dish out based on the driver’s physical steering input and adjusts accordingly using an electric motor. Compared to Civic’s low 10.93:1 steering ratio, Elantra’s is locked in at a higher 12.7:1, leaving its steering feeling relatively light by comparison.

 

 

FEATURE
NOT AVAILABLE

The Elantra isn’t as youthful or fun to drive as a Honda Civic

INTERIOR

Civic

UPSCALE CABIN
“Premium” is the watchword of the Civic cabin. The thoughtfully designed interior outfits its space with the choicest materials to strike a seductive balance that’s both attractive and durable. While Elantra’s interior certainly looks the part of a more upscale vehicle, a closer inspection reveals various hard plastics and trim pieces that betray the overall impression.

Elantra

Civic

SIMULATED LEATHER/FABRIC SEATING SURFACES
Civic occupants settle comfortably into seating surfaces made from simulated leather/fabric for an ideal blend of luxury and sportiness. Plus, their rugged design was made for longevity, which makes for a perfect complement to their heated capability. Elantra’s leather seats are attractive yet hard to the touch, and the jury’s still out on whether their materials will hold up to years of wear.

Elantra

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DRIVER INFORMATION INTERFACE (DII)
Civic drivers enjoy the customizability of the bold, 7-inch colour centre meter display with Driver Information Interface. Using the steering wheel-mounted controls, it’s simple to scroll through all sorts of relevant information, including fuel gauges, vehicle temperature, and navigation. Unfortunately, Elantra’s gauge cluster doesn’t compare favourably, with a much smaller 3.5-inch colour LCD that lacks the vibrancy and information capacity of Civic’s screen.

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STEERING WHEEL-MOUNTED PADDLE SHIFTERS
Civic sports steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters to give the driver more complete control over gear selection. They not only keep the driver’s hands on the steering wheel, but they also keep the engine in the sweet spot of the rev range. While Elantra offers a somewhat similar feature with SHIFTRONIC® mode for its automatic transmission, it’s not as engaging as Civic’s paddle shifters, requiring the driver to remove their hands from the steering wheel and manually move the shift lever.

 

 

FEATURE
NOT AVAILABLE

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HONDA SENSING™ SUITE
Civic drivers enjoy the peace of mind provided by the robust Honda Sensing™ suite of active safety features. These driver-assist systems include such useful technologies as Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Low-Speed Follow (LSF), Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS), Forward Collision Warning (FCW), and more. Elantra offers a similar suite of safety tech with SmartSense, but it lacks some of the same features found on Civic, such as Road Departure Mitigation (RDM).

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The mixed materials and colors remind me of the gaudy 90s and lack the upscale
vibe we’ve come to expect from Hyundai.

VERSATILITY

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POWER DRIVER’S SEAT
The power Civic drivers enjoy isn’t limited to vehicle performance. It also plays a role in the comfort and convenience of an 8-way power driver’s seat. Elantra drivers are stuck with less convenient seating, being forced to adjust their throne with 6-way manual controls.

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ELECTRONIC PARKING BRAKE (EPB)
The Electronic Parking Brake makes it easier than ever to engage and disengage the parking brake. Effectively functioning as a traditional mechanical parking brake, it can be released simply by applying the accelerator. This saves real estate on the centre console, helping make the area less cluttered. In comparison, Hyundai Elantra’s parking brake doesn’t offer this level of convenience.

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MULTI-ANGLE REARVIEW CAMERA WITH DYNAMIC GUIDELINES
Civic drivers will appreciate the utility of their Multi-Angle Rearview Camera, which features dynamic guidelines that pivot based on the steering-wheel angle to aid reversing manoeuvres. Not only does it allow easier observation of hard-to-see areas, its multi-angle configuration affords drivers more comprehensive sightlines and increased safety. Elantra offers a rearview camera and dynamic guidelines, too, but lacks the multi-angle capability.

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MULTIFUNCTIONAL CENTRE CONSOLE
Civic’s multifunctional centre console offers drivers abundant storage space that’s also easy to access. With an overall capacity of 7.2 L and a reconfigurable console designed to meet a variety of owner needs, the Civic provides no shortage of storage conveniences. The centre console on Elantra is a bit farther back and harder to access, and also lacks the ample storage capacity Civic’s console provides.

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VOLUMINOUS TRUNK
Civic outfits its owners with a generous 428 litres of trunk space, and its large opening helps facilitate loading and unloading of cargo. Meanwhile, Elantra’s trunk capacity only manages 407 litres. Even though it’s not considerably smaller than Civic in terms of overall volume, there will be times when Elantra owners have too much cargo to pack away and feel the pinch of their smaller trunk.

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In-cabin storage is decent, but there are cars that do it better in the class, especially with the lack of anti-tip design for the cupholders.

POINT

COUNTERPOINT

Though it sounds impressive, the Atkinson cycle is simply an efficiency play, which is why it’s primarily used on hybrid vehicles. When it comes down to the real meat of an engine’s capability, Civic surpasses Elantra with more horsepower and more torque. As an added bonus, Civic’s engine is more fuel-efficient, too.

Elantra occupants enjoy multiple conveniences like a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, and a hands-free Smart Trunk.

Elantra boasts connectivity features like Apple CarPlay®/Android Auto™, wireless charging, and BlueLink® connected car system.

Like Civic, Elantra offers Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™ capability to maximize smartphone connectivity. Elantra’s wireless charging is only on the Ultimate trim, which Civic matches by offering it on the Touring trim. And, while Elantra’s BlueLink® is a fully featured system, its functionality is limited to Luxury and Ultimate trims, whereas HondaLink™ is included on Civic LX and up.

With the available SmartSense™ suite, plus helpful safety tech like Parking Distance Warning and Blind-Spot and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning, Elantra occupants are well-protected.

SmartSense isn’t available on the base Elantra trim, unlike Honda Sensing which is standard on every Civic. Even the SmartSense system itself falls short, as it still lacks the Road Departure Mitigation featured on Civic. SmartSense is also missing some innovative systems that are exclusive to Honda, such as Civic’s LaneWatch™ blind-spot display.

Impressive though Elantra’s cargo hold is for a compact sedan, Civic’s trunk outdoes it at 428 L. Unlike Elantra, which features a puzzling “hump” between the trunk’s cargo load floor and the base of the rear seatbacks, Civic enhances storage convenience by offering a flat load floor for easier cargo loading and unloading.

HYUNDAI ELANTRA: IN SUMMARY

The 6th-generation Elantra presents a compelling combination of attractive looks, competent performance, spaciousness, and advanced infotainment and active safety features. Even with all those positive attributes, Hyundai Elantra fails to live up to its surface appeal. It restricts its more attractive features to higher trims, making base models feel stripped down and leaving customers disappointed. You’ll have to pay for a higher trim to enjoy features such as Apple CarPlay®, Android Auto™, or a wireless phone charger. But not even the highest trim level can mask the fact that Elantra falls behind in the performance department. It returns excellent fuel efficiency to match Civic, but does so at the expense of driving excitement. Furthermore, while the sheet metal is impressive for a compact car, the overall experience doesn’t elicit the same kind of emotional response as Civic.

A WORD ABOUT THE TOYOTA COROLLA

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The Corolla possesses a long-standing pedigree as one of the top compact sedans on the market. The latest iteration plainly reflects this heritage with its distinctive nose and LED headlamps, while its power-adjustable heated side mirrors with integrated signal lamps balance function and flair. On the performance end, Corolla’s 1.8L 4-cylinder engine develops either 132 or 140 hp and is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission or Continuously Variable Transmission for a smooth, comfortable ride that proves quite nimble while driving in the city. Corolla occupants will appreciate the spacious interior, particularly in the rear where passengers can stretch out with ample legroom. Drivers enjoy an upright dashboard with integrated 6.1-inch infotainment touchscreen that can be upgraded to a 7-inch screen on higher trims. Corolla is also outfitted with plenty of safety features, many as part of Toyota Safety Sense™ P. From automatic emergency braking that detects pedestrians to lane-keep assist and active cruise control, Corolla drivers will find peace of mind in every ride.

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12TH-GENERATION COROLLA:
THE DAWN OF A NEW ERA
Arriving in the spring of 2019, the 2020 Toyota Corolla will look to build on the nameplate’s legacy. While its features and appearance have been consistent and respectable, the vehicle has been outdone by competitors in recent years. Performance has been singled out as a major drawback for Corolla, with sluggish pickup and less-than-par ride quality that leaves Corolla drivers watching competitor vehicles leave them behind on the road. For the new 12th-generation Corolla, Toyota will be making a big bet on their electrification strategy with a new hybrid option. The 2020 Corolla will also address many of the current model’s other shortcomings, giving Toyota a much more compelling entrant in an increasingly competitive compact-car segment.

2019 TOYOTA COROLLA SE CVT XSE PACKAGE VS 2019 HONDA CIVIC SEDAN SPORT

POINT

COUNTERPOINT

Corolla is light on drivers’ wallets thanks to its fuel-sipping 1.8L 4-cylinder engine.

While Corolla’s engine specs are nothing to dismiss, it’s still less fuel-efficient than Civic’s 2.0L engine. Plus, Corolla’s engine produces less power and torque than the Civic’s, giving the Honda an even greater advantage. Whereas Corolla buyers must sacrifice enjoyment in the name of fuel economy, Civic customers enjoy the best of both worlds: minimum fuel consumption and maximum driving fun.

Corolla’s sporty XSE trim accentuates its more athletic elements.

XSE enhancements are certainly attractive, but their benefits are largely cosmetic. And the few mechanical improvements on Corolla, such as solid rear disc brakes, come standard on every Civic. Besides, Civic Sport is no slouch when it comes to striking athletic appeal. One look at the gloss-black trim, 18-inch darkfinish aluminum-alloy wheels, black-painted decklid spoiler, and centre-mounted chrome exhaust finisher will excite any driver.

Corolla provides niceties like an 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, push-button start, and power moonroof.

Indeed, those features are so convenient, Civic features each of them for its occupants, too. Civic takes things even further by adding an Electronic Parking Brake (EPB), multifunctional centre console, and more.

Corolla outfits its cabin with tech like a 7-inch touch panel Display Audio with navigation.

Unfortunately, Corolla’s infotainment interface is conspicuously dated, particularly when compared to Civic’s 7-inch Display Audio System. Corolla also lacks Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility. So, while Corolla includes an embedded navigation system, Civic offers its customers the convenience of turn-by-turn directions using apps such as Google Maps or Waze — all on an interface that’s familiar and intuitive to Apple or Android users.

Every Corolla features standard Toyota Safety Sense P.

Civic matches up well with Corolla’s safety offerings by providing standard Honda Sensing™ suite across all trims. But Civic goes one step further by adding Road Departure Mitigation (RDM).

TOYOTA COROLLA: IN SUMMARY
The 2019 Corolla continues the nameplate’s respectable tradition, offering Toyota shoppers supremely practical, reliable transportation at a bargain price. But in its current, 11th-generation form, and amid a profusion of compact-car competition, its allure has faded. It’s simply gotten too long in the tooth, making it ultimately a hard sell in the face of more compelling competitors, particularly the best-selling Civic. Performance can be singled out as a major factor hampering Corolla’s appeal. Sluggish pickup and less-than-stellar ride quality will give Corolla drivers ample opportunity to check out their competition — as it leaves them behind on the road. Corolla provides excellent safety features, but Civic outdoes it. Corolla’s comfort and convenience offerings are perfectly respectable, but the vehicle is simply outmatched by competitors. While not a bad vehicle, the case for buying a Corolla sedan is drowned out by other sedans that provide more features and offer more performance with eye-catching style to boot.

civic-vs-elantra

First Look: Honda totally revamps the 2018 Odyssey, creating the best minivan it has ever built

There is no better way to transport a family than a minivan, unless, of course, you’ve got something heavy to tow or you live in a region where all-wheel drive and raised ground clearance are necessities. And among minivans, for quite some time now, there has been no better choice than a Honda Odyssey.

Chrysler might dispute this, and given just how good the 2017 Pacifica is, such disagreement carries legitimate merit. Even now, following Honda’s reveal of the redesigned 2018 Odyssey, the Pacifica remains compelling, especially in plug-in electric hybrid format.


You might have trouble spotting the new 2018 Odyssey at a glance, given that it uses similar design themes to the one that’s been around most of this decade. (Honda)

Nevertheless, the new 2018 Honda Odyssey is poised to lead its segment in terms of sales to actual retail customers like you and me. Honda’s reputation for reliability, coupled with brand loyalty, would alone keep showrooms stocked with Odyssey buyers.

Add the long list of improvements that will accompany the next-generation Odyssey when it goes on sale in the spring of 2017, and you can bet Honda won’t have any trouble moving this angular chunk of metal to people who refuse to be defined by the “active lifestyle” muckety-muck used to describe buyers of crossover SUVs.

Evolutionary design changes clean the Odyssey up


Integrating the sliding door tracks into the beltline trim beneath the rear windows gives the new 2018 Honda Odyssey a cleaner appearance. (Honda)

Sporting evolutionary instead of revolutionary styling, the new Odyssey is instantly familiar, requiring no more than a glance to identify it as Honda’s minivan. It employs styling cues that first debuted back in 2010 when the polarizing 2011 Odyssey design went on sale, cleaned up, sharpened and modernized.

While the Oddy’s looks appear decidedly less odd, it is important to remember that familiarity breeds indifference. There’s something funky going on with the van’s profile, bordering on Mazda 5 weirdness depending on the light and angle.

The good news is that the sliding side door tracks are now integrated with the van’s “lightning bolt” beltline, and the Odyssey no longer appears to be two different vehicles that met a Sawzall and then a surgeon – in that order.

Second-row seats can be positioned just about way you want them


Equipped with 8-passenger seating, the 2018 Honda Odyssey offers a multi-configurable second-row seating area. (Honda)

Inside, Honda installs more soft-touch materials than before, and equips the Odyssey with black carpets and seat belts that better hide stains. And minivans collect stains. New stain-resistant leather is also available, and the HondaVac vacuum cleaner returns for an encore.

Eight-passenger seating is standard, and new Magic Slide second-row seats allow for different configurations. For example, you can slide the seats forward to position a rear-facing child safety seat closer to Mom and Dad. You can slide them back to maximize legroom. You can remove the center seating position and slide the resulting captain’s chairs together, putting kids into a safer position farther from the sliding doors. You can move just one seat toward the middle, creating a large walk-through to the third-row seat.

Up front, a large center storage console separates the driver and passenger. Covering the storage bin, a smooth tamboured cover is designed to resist collection of crumbs, dirt and detritus.

Honda has also taken steps to quiet the Odyssey’s interior. Historically, this minivan has suffered from significant wind and road noise, making long trips tiring. With this redesign, Honda adds triple door seals, sound deadening materials, acoustic windshield and side window glass, and Active Sound Control. The result, according to the automaker, is the quietest interior in the minivan segment.

Honda also claims that due to a revised rear suspension design, the 2018 Odyssey provides the largest amount of space behind its third-row seat. However, official cargo volume measurements were not available when the minivan debuted at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show.

New technology helps this Honda to better avoid collisions


Safety-related enhancements help the 2018 Odyssey to better avoid collisions, and to protect occupants when a crash occurs. (Honda)

Honda constructs the 2018 Odyssey around a next-generation Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) architecture that is designed to do a better job of dispersing crash energy away from the occupant compartment in the event of a collision. Of course, avoiding a collision in the first place is always preferable, and with the redesigned Odyssey, Honda takes a big leap forward over the previous version of its minivan.

Every 2018 Odyssey except for the base LX trim level will include Honda Sensing, a suite of driver assistance and collision avoidance systems. They include forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and lane keeping assist, and a lane departure prevention system called Road Departure Mitigation.

Accompanying these Honda Sensing systems, all but the base Odyssey LX are also equipped with a blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert. Depending on the trim level, Odyssey buyers can also obtain automatic high-beam headlights, rain-sensing wipers, and front and rear parking assist sensors.

CabinControl, CabinTalk, and CabinWatch, oh my!


CabinTalk – it’s not a dating app for women who like men with beards, flannel shirts and long rifles. (Honda)

Some families prefer conversation, “I Spy” games, and to talk about the passing landscape during a road trip, while others would rather plug-in and tune out. Honda accommodates both approaches, and makes it much easier for parents to communicate with movie-watching youngsters and to referee squabbles.

Starting at the beginning, all versions of the minivan except for the Odyssey LX are equipped with a new Display Audio infotainment system with an 8-inch touchscreen. It has a volume knob, it runs on Honda-developed software, and it supports system updates via Wi-Fi or the USB port whenever necessary. Additional highlights include upgraded satellite radio, HD Radio, access to Pandora music streaming, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi internet connection, and wireless device charging capability.

The infotainment system provides a new suite of applications, including a CabinControl app that allows Odyssey occupants to control the infotainment system, the climate system, and the navigation system from their smartphones. This app also supports a Social Play List, a virtual jukebox of sorts that allows each person aboard the Odyssey to submit favorite songs to a compiled group play list.

The rear seat entertainment system installs a 10.2-inch display screen on the ceiling of the minivan. It features headphones, HDMI video gaming jacks, and can stream video via the onboard Wi-Fi connection or a smartphone data plan. An app called “How Much Farther” keeps kids apprised of the remaining distance in the journey, though anyone with a child realizes that this is not going to cut down on repeated questions of: “Are we there yet?”

Even when your adorable offspring have their headphones on and are singing “How Far I’ll Go” at the tops of their little lungs, you’ll be able to get their attention in a calm, cool and collected manner. Thank you, CabinTalk technology, which feeds a parent’s voice to rear passengers via the rear speakers and, yes, the headphones.

CabinWatch is also new, sounding like the name of a really crappy TV show in which the stars get bundled up in flannel shirts and L.L. Bean boots rather than dressed down into lifeguarding suits. In reality, this is a camera system that gives Mom and Dad a video view of what’s going on in the second- and third-row seats. The image is displayed on the infotainment screen, providing evidence that yes, your children do lie to you. All of the time.

More power, better fuel economy, improved driving dynamics


Nobody buys a minivan because they want to have fun behind the steering wheel. Honda improves the 2018 Odyssey in this regard, anyway. (Honda)

With this redesign, the 2018 Odyssey moves to the same platform that underpins the Acura MDX, Honda Pilot, and Honda Ridgeline. Weight drops up to 96 pounds, depending on the trim level, and the minivan boasts a 44 percent improvement in torsional rigidity.

Not that minivans are supposed to be enjoyable to drive, but this change certainly helps in that regard. So does the new Agile Handling Assist technology, a more responsive electric steering system, more powerful brakes, and a revised rear suspension design that Honda says improves the Odyssey’s ride and handling.

A new direct-injected 3.5-liter V-6 engine summons 280 horsepower, a 32-pony increase over the previous Odyssey. Cylinder deactivation technology, active grille shutters, and new transmissions help the minivan to achieve what Honda claims will be best-in-class fuel economy ratings.

A 9-speed automatic transmission powers the Odyssey’s front wheels, and in upper trim levels, Honda introduces a new 10-speed automatic transmission. Both are shifted using a collection of buttons and switches located on the dashboard.

Honda ups its minivan game, but the Chrysler Pacifica remains a formidable foe


The redesigned 2018 Honda Odyssey is better than ever, but it still might not topple the Chrysler Pacifica from the top of Minivan Mountain. (Honda)

Undoubtedly, the 2018 Odyssey is best minivan Honda has ever built. But, is it the best minivan? A test drive and family shuttling will help to determine that, but given just how good a package the Pacifica is, especially in plug-in hybrid format, Honda might still have some work cut out for it.

Head-to-head Comparison Test: 2017 Honda CR-V vs. 2017 Toyota RAV4

As much as “buy American” enthusiasts like to lament the heydays of Ford, Chevrolet, Chrysler and the like, the U.S. family car market has long been dominated by two companies based in Japan: Honda and Toyota.

However, instead of the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry duking it out for the attention of mom and dad, those midsize sedans have steadily lost ground to their small SUV counterparts: the CR-V and the RAV4.

These two vehicles are the founding fathers of the crossover market and though they’ve abandoned the rugged, athletic appearances that defined their younger years (R.I.P. spare tire mounts) for safer, more fuel efficient body styles, both have remained the cream of the crop in the segment.


Gone are the days of ‘Camry vs. Accord,’ and here to stay is the new title fight: ‘CR-V vs. RAV4.’ (Joanna Tavares)

So, we decided to put them to proverbial “Pepsi/Coke Challenge,” except, rest assured, we weren’t blindfolded… or hanging out with Kendall Jenner.

Instead, Associate Editor Brian León and I drove the CR-V and RAV4 back to back to determine which one of these top sellers is actually the best small crossover on the market.

Both vehicles provide ample interior room, a healthy amount of cargo space and comfortable driving experiences, but while these two models might be neck and neck on the sales charts, one stands head and shoulders above the other, in our eyes, when it comes to overall value.

SECOND PLACE: 2017 Toyota RAV4 Platinum


Toyota’s RAV4 has yet to overtake the Camry in terms of overall sales, but a lot of that is due to strong fleet numbers for the Camry. Rest assured, it will soon enough. (Joanna Tavares)

Total Points: 155/200

Final Rating: 7.8

Kyle: Some relationships are love at first sight while others grow over time through shared experiences. The same can be said with cars.

Nothing about the RAV4 screams out for attention and it’s not going to make hearts swoon during hot laps, but it doesn’t have to for Toyota to sell 350,000 units in year. What makes this vehicle endearing is its ability to deliver ample utility and safety in a no-nonsense package.

It also doesn’t hurt that you can get into one for less than the cost of most Camrys (Camries?).

With a charming, “cinnamon” Softex leatherette interior, the RAV4 I tested invited me in and kept me comfortable with padded, adjustable front and rear seats. Once inside, drivers can be comforted further by the fact that every RAV4, regardless of trim level or additional packages, comes with not only endorsements from the nation’s top safety monitors, but also the Toyota Safety Sense suite of semi-autonomous driving assistance features.


The RAV4’s handsome dashboard design and optional cinnamon leatherette are definite highlights, but beneath the surface, there’s not much to love. (Joanna Tavares)

Add to that a relatively spacious cargo area with a 60/40 flat-folding rear bench and a bevy of small item storage spaces, ranging from the cavernous box in the center console to the ledge carved out above the glove box just for front seat occupants to place their phones, keys, etc., and you’ve got a boat-load of utility packed into a vehicle that still fits comfortably in a standard garage.

If the goal of a crossover is to offer more capability than a sedan in a more presentable package than a minivan, the RAV4 certainly meets that standard. However, this compact crossover isn’t winning any beauty pageants and its age is becoming apparent in more places than its squinty front fascia.

Technologically speaking, a fully-loaded RAV4’s 7-inch infotainment screen offers all the industry standards: navigation, satellite radio, Bluetooth capabilities, hands-free operation and smartphone connectivity, as well as a few extra features that are available in other vehicles, though not quite as ubiquitously, such as weather and traffic updates. However, upon using these features, I found their interface appeared dated compared to some of the RAV4’s closest competitors. Also, Toyota continues to boycott Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, saddling drivers with its homegrown and less intuitive Entune system.


Toyota’s 7-inch Entune system could use a serious ‘tune up’ (pun intended) for the next generation. (Joanna Tavares)

Toyota also remains committed to making you operate cruise control in all of its vehicles through a wand that juts out from the steering column at an angle that makes it tough to avoid brushing the top of one’s leg while navigating some highway curves. It would be less intrusive and, frankly, more visually appealing if the automaker would just do as nearly all of its competitors do and bake these controls into its steering wheel.

Also, the RAV4 offers next to nothing in terms of driving character. Steering is feathery light, body roll kicks in on the simplest of curves and the 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine offers a meager 176 horsepower. Not to say performance is a key factor for many buyers in the small crossover segment, but in comparison to the surprisingly fun CR-V, it’s yet another L for Toyota.

For 2017, Toyota’s RAV4 has a few surface-level issues, including body style and cargo capacity, as well as some less obvious elements, such as infotainment technology and driving dynamics, that keep it squarely behind the all-new CR-V. However, it’s still a darn good vehicle and one that might just win over your heart, if you let it.


The RAV4’s driving dynamics won’t be setting anyone’s hair on fire anytime soon, but it may just win you over in the long run. (Joanna Tavares)

Brian: I’ll be the first to admit that the RAV4 is at a bit of a disadvantage in this comparison seeing as the CR-V is all new for this year, but as there will still be hundreds of thousands of buyers cross-shopping these two exact vehicles, we’d be remiss if we didn’t make it clear which one is superior.

The RAV4 comes close to matching the cargo-hauling prowess of the CR-V, as it actually had the old model bested in that category, boasting 38.4 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 73.4 cubic feet with them folded flat. Unfortunately, those reclining rear seats can only be folded down by operating the levers on either side of the car, meaning you have to circumnavigate the rear of the vehicle just to get those seats down. The CR-V, by contrast, can fold its seats flat with just two handles in the rear cargo compartment.

Where the RAV4 wins in this category, however, is the inclusion of a surprisingly low load floor and cube-shaped storage area, which makes hauling heavy stuff – and lots of it – as easy as it would be in many larger vehicles.


The RAV4 actually bested the old CR-V in terms of overall cargo space, and it holds up well to the new one, with a low, flat load floor that makes moving heavy items in and out a breeze. (Joanna Tavares)

Technologically, it’s still behind the times, especially the ancient (or at least ancient-feeling) Entune infotainment system, but the inclusion of Toyota’s Safety Sense P system across the range as standard is a breath of fresh air, giving you automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams, and dynamic radar cruise control.

I share Kyle’s thoughts on the powertrain, though I must add that fuel economy is likely to underwhelm too, at only 24 mpg combined for all-wheel-drive models. Thankfully, it seems the RAV4 is fairly true to this figure, but the CR-V boasts 29 mpg combined, even if that is a little generous after several miles of real world driving. What’s the point of having a small, underpowered four cylinder if it isn’t even going to be particularly efficient? At least you can have the RAV4 as a hybrid, unlike the Honda…


Rear seat space is generous, if slightly tighter than the Honda, and I love the functionality of the lever used to recline the rear seats, but having to use both levers on either side of the vehicle to lower the rear seats flat is an oversight. (Joanna Tavares)

However, what really places this people-hauler in second place is the overall build quality; not just is it a major step behind the new CR-V, but many other competitors offer superior fit and finish too, including the Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson, and Mazda CX-5, among others. In comparison, the RAV4 feels slightly hollow, and there are rattles and shakes that shouldn’t be occurring on a vehicle with less than 10,000 miles on it so far, not to mention one that’s pushing $40K.

Which reminds me: our RAV4 Platinum test vehicle with all-wheel-drive rung in at a whopping $37,919 all included, which makes it over $3,000 more than the CR-V, which feels more solid overall by a fairly wide margin. That’s entirely too much, even for a loaded RAV4, and it begs the question of what you’re actually getting by spending a couple of extra thousand dollars when the Limited trim rings in at a few thousand dollars less. From what I can tell, you’re paying up to $3,000 more for the platinum just to get a foot-activated tailgate, body-color cladding instead of plastic trim, and a heated steering wheel. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether or not that’s worth it.


The RAV4 is largely a victim of its age in this circumstance, but also by some mistakes by Toyota in the first place. Build quality is inferior, and there’s no reason a top-tier RAV4 should cost almost $38,000. (Joanna Tavares)

Summing Up:

  • Pros: Toyota Safety Sense as a standard feature; spacious cargo area with low load floor; proven reliability; affordable base MSRP; hybrid model available.
  • Cons: Technology feels dated; disappointing fuel economy ratings for AWD variant; bland driving dynamics; hefty price for (not many) added features.
  • Conclusion: The RAV4 is getting old, but it’s still one of the best small crossovers on the market. Head-to-head, it can’t quite best the all-new CR-V, but with its advanced standard safety features, it might be the better bargain buy.

Vital Stats:

  • Test Vehicle: 2017 Toyota RAV4 Platinum AWD
  • Price as Tested: $37,919
  • Powertrain: 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine; 6-speed automatic transmission
  • Power Rating: 176 horsepower and 172 lb.-ft. of torque
  • Fuel Economy Rating: 24 mpg combined
  • Safety Rating: NHTSA 5-star overall and IIHS Top Safety Pick+

FIRST PLACE: 2017 Honda CR-V Touring


Honda’s CR-V is the best-selling SUV in America, and with a completely-redesigned and wholly-improved new model, it’s poised to stay that way. (Joanna Tavares)

Total Points: 169/200

Final Rating: 8.5

Brian: It’s hard to think of a vehicle that can do almost every single thing you ask it to do with more competence than the Honda CR-V.

Need to haul five people and an equal amount of stuff all at once? No problem. Want to have all-wheel-drive capability for inclement weather while still pushing close to 30 mpg overall? Sure thing. Need a comfortable and quiet ride for the hellish commute to and from work? Done and done.

I humbly submit the Volkswagen Golf GTI as the only other vehicle to do so many things so well while still ringing in at under $35,000, but when it comes to what most American buyers want and need, the numbers don’t lie: they want CR-Vs, and lots of them.

The Honda CR-V has been the best-selling utility vehicle in America since 2012, and has only been on the market since 1997, and though it trails the heavily-marketed Nissan Rogue this year so far, The CR-V outsold both Honda’s own Accord, the RAV4, and the Toyota Camry last year, all without shifting a single vehicle through fleet sales.


There’s less to celebrate about the interior design than the exterior… except for the happy addition of a volume knob. (Joanna Tavares)

For 2017, Honda’s completely overhauled their best-seller, and it desperately needed to be better than before to keep the company’s perch atop the SUV sales heap. Fortunately, it is better, in almost every measurable way, and that gives it a distinct advantage over the aging RAV4.

We’ve outlined all of the reasons why the new CR-V is wholly improved over the old one in our full ratings and review, so consider this a more succinct summary.

Sporting a sleeker and more modern design than the outgoing CR-V, the new version looks better from seemingly every angle, from the more aggressive front maw to the boxier rear end, thankfully doing away with the humpback style of the 2016 and earlier model. Handsome 18-inch wheels are standard from the mid-tier upward, and the plastic body cladding and chrome detailing looks great when paired with an interesting hue, like the excellent Molten Lava Pearl red-orange paint job our test vehicle was finished in.


Honda’s infotainment system can be a pain to use with such a slow processor, but the ability to default to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto is a welcome addition, and something the RAV4 lacks. (Joanna Tavares)

Inside, the cabin design is more conventional, but you may notice the addition of a volume knob as a sign that Honda’s designers have truly been listening to our cries of anguish. The tan leather upholstery is soft and supple, and the tall, supportive seats are a pleasure to sit in for extended periods of time, even if there’s still no passenger seat height adjustment. Also, it’s so quiet in the CR-V, you could hear a pin drop… or your kid drop their favorite toy, more fittingly.

Honda’s infotainment system still fails to impress, despite the addition of a volume knob. With a Garmin-sourced navigation system and some connectivity apps, the entire system is plagued by a horrendously slow processor that can make operating it a hair-pulling affair, and why can’t I easily scroll through satellite radio channels with a simple menu? Or better yet, a tuning knob…

Still, the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone projection is a welcome improvement, and I often defaulted to using CarPlay instead of Honda’s system while on the road.


Cargo space is arguably the CR-V’s strongest suit, boasting numbers to match many larger crossovers and the ability to load four large suitcases side by side and stacked under the rear tonneau cover. (Joanna Tavares)

Cargo space increases slightly over the outgoing model too, boasting a whopping 39.2 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats and 75.8 cubic feet with them folded flat, which can be accomplished with the ease of pulling just two handles, something the RAV4 distinctly lacks.

What’s more, the CR-V starts to look like an absolute bargain, even fully loaded, with a top-tier sticker of just under $35,000, while the optioned-out RAV4 came in at almost $40,000. Unfortunately, you’ve got to step up to the EX trim from the base LX to get Honda’s active safety technology suite, but you’ll likely want the extra kit anyways.


A fully-loaded CR-V gets you basically all the features you and your family would ever need in a vehicle costing less than $35,000. (Joanna Tavares)

Kyle: The moment I stepped into the new CR-V, I knew this wasn’t a fair fight.

From the real leather encasing the driver’s seat to the more substantial and heavily weighted steering wheel, everything about the CR-V felt more premium than the RAV4 I’d just spent the previous few days tooling around town in, despite both being fully spec’d out and the Toyota costing $3,300 more than the Honda.

Punching the gas and stretching the legs on CR-V’s 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine felt almost sporty in comparison to the RAV4, particularly when the turbocharger kicked in. In reality, the crossover made just 190 horsepower and was, under most circumstances, fairly unimpressive with its continuously variable transmission. But I was starved for personality and the RAV4 could make a conversation with Ben Stein feel like an afternoon with Cosmo Kramer.

With its new dual-pinion, variable gear ratio electric power steering, the CR-V feels more direct and balanced on the road, handling curves and corners much more fluidly and precisely than its rival. Supple MacPherson front strut and rear multi-link suspension handle blemished city roads with ease and deliver a pleasantly quiet driving experience.


All CR-Vs from the EX trim upwards ride on these handsome 18-inch alloy wheels as standard. (Joanna Tavares)

BY
Kyle Campbell
Brian Leon
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Saturday, April 8, 2017, 9:00 AM

As much as “buy American” enthusiasts like to lament the heydays of Ford, Chevrolet, Chrysler and the like, the U.S. family car market has long been dominated by two companies based in Japan: Honda and Toyota.

However, instead of the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry duking it out for the attention of mom and dad, those midsize sedans have steadily lost ground to their small SUV counterparts: the CR-V and the RAV4.

These two vehicles are the founding fathers of the crossover market and though they’ve abandoned the rugged, athletic appearances that defined their younger years (R.I.P. spare tire mounts) for safer, more fuel efficient body styles, both have remained the cream of the crop in the segment.

2017 Honda CR-V and 2017 Toyota RAV4
Gone are the days of ‘Camry vs. Accord,’ and here to stay is the new title fight: ‘CR-V vs. RAV4.’ (Joanna Tavares)

FOLLOW THE DAILY NEWS AUTOS ON FACEBOOK. ‘LIKE’ US HERE.

So, we decided to put them to proverbial “Pepsi/Coke Challenge,” except, rest assured, we weren’t blindfolded… or hanging out with Kendall Jenner.

Instead, Associate Editor Brian León and I drove the CR-V and RAV4 back to back to determine which one of these top sellers is actually the best small crossover on the market.

Both vehicles provide ample interior room, a healthy amount of cargo space and comfortable driving experiences, but while these two models might be neck and neck on the sales charts, one stands head and shoulders above the other, in our eyes, when it comes to overall value.
SECOND PLACE: 2017 Toyota RAV4 Platinum

2017 Toyota RAV4 Front Left Quarter
Toyota’s RAV4 has yet to overtake the Camry in terms of overall sales, but a lot of that is due to strong fleet numbers for the Camry. Rest assured, it will soon enough. (Joanna Tavares)

Total Points: 155/200

Final Rating: 7.8

Kyle: Some relationships are love at first sight while others grow over time through shared experiences. The same can be said with cars.

Nothing about the RAV4 screams out for attention and it’s not going to make hearts swoon during hot laps, but it doesn’t have to for Toyota to sell 350,000 units in year. What makes this vehicle endearing is its ability to deliver ample utility and safety in a no-nonsense package.

It also doesn’t hurt that you can get into one for less than the cost of most Camrys (Camries?).

With a charming, “cinnamon” Softex leatherette interior, the RAV4 I tested invited me in and kept me comfortable with padded, adjustable front and rear seats. Once inside, drivers can be comforted further by the fact that every RAV4, regardless of trim level or additional packages, comes with not only endorsements from the nation’s top safety monitors, but also the Toyota Safety Sense suite of semi-autonomous driving assistance features.
2017 Toyota RAV4 Dashboard
The RAV4’s handsome dashboard design and optional cinnamon leatherette are definite highlights, but beneath the surface, there’s not much to love. (Joanna Tavares)

Add to that a relatively spacious cargo area with a 60/40 flat-folding rear bench and a bevy of small item storage spaces, ranging from the cavernous box in the center console to the ledge carved out above the glove box just for front seat occupants to place their phones, keys, etc., and you’ve got a boat-load of utility packed into a vehicle that still fits comfortably in a standard garage.

If the goal of a crossover is to offer more capability than a sedan in a more presentable package than a minivan, the RAV4 certainly meets that standard. However, this compact crossover isn’t winning any beauty pageants and its age is becoming apparent in more places than its squinty front fascia.

Technologically speaking, a fully-loaded RAV4’s 7-inch infotainment screen offers all the industry standards: navigation, satellite radio, Bluetooth capabilities, hands-free operation and smartphone connectivity, as well as a few extra features that are available in other vehicles, though not quite as ubiquitously, such as weather and traffic updates. However, upon using these features, I found their interface appeared dated compared to some of the RAV4’s closest competitors. Also, Toyota continues to boycott Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, saddling drivers with its homegrown and less intuitive Entune system.
2017 Toyota RAV4 Infotainment
Toyota’s 7-inch Entune system could use a serious ‘tune up’ (pun intended) for the next generation. (Joanna Tavares)

Toyota also remains committed to making you operate cruise control in all of its vehicles through a wand that juts out from the steering column at an angle that makes it tough to avoid brushing the top of one’s leg while navigating some highway curves. It would be less intrusive and, frankly, more visually appealing if the automaker would just do as nearly all of its competitors do and bake these controls into its steering wheel.

Also, the RAV4 offers next to nothing in terms of driving character. Steering is feathery light, body roll kicks in on the simplest of curves and the 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine offers a meager 176 horsepower. Not to say performance is a key factor for many buyers in the small crossover segment, but in comparison to the surprisingly fun CR-V, it’s yet another L for Toyota.

For 2017, Toyota’s RAV4 has a few surface-level issues, including body style and cargo capacity, as well as some less obvious elements, such as infotainment technology and driving dynamics, that keep it squarely behind the all-new CR-V. However, it’s still a darn good vehicle and one that might just win over your heart, if you let it.
2017 Toyota RAV4 Profile
The RAV4’s driving dynamics won’t be setting anyone’s hair on fire anytime soon, but it may just win you over in the long run. (Joanna Tavares)

Brian: I’ll be the first to admit that the RAV4 is at a bit of a disadvantage in this comparison seeing as the CR-V is all new for this year, but as there will still be hundreds of thousands of buyers cross-shopping these two exact vehicles, we’d be remiss if we didn’t make it clear which one is superior.

The RAV4 comes close to matching the cargo-hauling prowess of the CR-V, as it actually had the old model bested in that category, boasting 38.4 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 73.4 cubic feet with them folded flat. Unfortunately, those reclining rear seats can only be folded down by operating the levers on either side of the car, meaning you have to circumnavigate the rear of the vehicle just to get those seats down. The CR-V, by contrast, can fold its seats flat with just two handles in the rear cargo compartment.

Where the RAV4 wins in this category, however, is the inclusion of a surprisingly low load floor and cube-shaped storage area, which makes hauling heavy stuff – and lots of it – as easy as it would be in many larger vehicles.
2017 Toyota RAV4 Cargo Space
The RAV4 actually bested the old CR-V in terms of overall cargo space, and it holds up well to the new one, with a low, flat load floor that makes moving heavy items in and out a breeze. (Joanna Tavares)

Technologically, it’s still behind the times, especially the ancient (or at least ancient-feeling) Entune infotainment system, but the inclusion of Toyota’s Safety Sense P system across the range as standard is a breath of fresh air, giving you automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams, and dynamic radar cruise control.

I share Kyle’s thoughts on the powertrain, though I must add that fuel economy is likely to underwhelm too, at only 24 mpg combined for all-wheel-drive models. Thankfully, it seems the RAV4 is fairly true to this figure, but the CR-V boasts 29 mpg combined, even if that is a little generous after several miles of real world driving. What’s the point of having a small, underpowered four cylinder if it isn’t even going to be particularly efficient? At least you can have the RAV4 as a hybrid, unlike the Honda…
2017 Toyota RAV4 Rear Seat
Rear seat space is generous, if slightly tighter than the Honda, and I love the functionality of the lever used to recline the rear seats, but having to use both levers on either side of the vehicle to lower the rear seats flat is an oversight. (Joanna Tavares)

However, what really places this people-hauler in second place is the overall build quality; not just is it a major step behind the new CR-V, but many other competitors offer superior fit and finish too, including the Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson, and Mazda CX-5, among others. In comparison, the RAV4 feels slightly hollow, and there are rattles and shakes that shouldn’t be occurring on a vehicle with less than 10,000 miles on it so far, not to mention one that’s pushing $40K.

Which reminds me: our RAV4 Platinum test vehicle with all-wheel-drive rung in at a whopping $37,919 all included, which makes it over $3,000 more than the CR-V, which feels more solid overall by a fairly wide margin. That’s entirely too much, even for a loaded RAV4, and it begs the question of what you’re actually getting by spending a couple of extra thousand dollars when the Limited trim rings in at a few thousand dollars less. From what I can tell, you’re paying up to $3,000 more for the platinum just to get a foot-activated tailgate, body-color cladding instead of plastic trim, and a heated steering wheel. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether or not that’s worth it.
2017 Toyota RAV4 Rear Right Quarter
The RAV4 is largely a victim of its age in this circumstance, but also by some mistakes by Toyota in the first place. Build quality is inferior, and there’s no reason a top-tier RAV4 should cost almost $38,000. (Joanna Tavares)

Summing Up:

Pros: Toyota Safety Sense as a standard feature; spacious cargo area with low load floor; proven reliability; affordable base MSRP; hybrid model available.
Cons: Technology feels dated; disappointing fuel economy ratings for AWD variant; bland driving dynamics; hefty price for (not many) added features.
Conclusion: The RAV4 is getting old, but it’s still one of the best small crossovers on the market. Head-to-head, it can’t quite best the all-new CR-V, but with its advanced standard safety features, it might be the better bargain buy.

Vital Stats:

Test Vehicle: 2017 Toyota RAV4 Platinum AWD
Price as Tested: $37,919
Powertrain: 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine; 6-speed automatic transmission
Power Rating: 176 horsepower and 172 lb.-ft. of torque
Fuel Economy Rating: 24 mpg combined
Safety Rating: NHTSA 5-star overall and IIHS Top Safety Pick+

FIRST PLACE: 2017 Honda CR-V Touring
2017 Honda CR-V Front Right Quarter
Honda’s CR-V is the best-selling SUV in America, and with a completely-redesigned and wholly-improved new model, it’s poised to stay that way. (Joanna Tavares)

Total Points: 169/200

Final Rating: 8.5

Brian: It’s hard to think of a vehicle that can do almost every single thing you ask it to do with more competence than the Honda CR-V.

Need to haul five people and an equal amount of stuff all at once? No problem. Want to have all-wheel-drive capability for inclement weather while still pushing close to 30 mpg overall? Sure thing. Need a comfortable and quiet ride for the hellish commute to and from work? Done and done.

I humbly submit the Volkswagen Golf GTI as the only other vehicle to do so many things so well while still ringing in at under $35,000, but when it comes to what most American buyers want and need, the numbers don’t lie: they want CR-Vs, and lots of them.

The Honda CR-V has been the best-selling utility vehicle in America since 2012, and has only been on the market since 1997, and though it trails the heavily-marketed Nissan Rogue this year so far, The CR-V outsold both Honda’s own Accord, the RAV4, and the Toyota Camry last year, all without shifting a single vehicle through fleet sales.
2017 Honda CR-V Dashboard
There’s less to celebrate about the interior design than the exterior… except for the happy addition of a volume knob. (Joanna Tavares)

For 2017, Honda’s completely overhauled their best-seller, and it desperately needed to be better than before to keep the company’s perch atop the SUV sales heap. Fortunately, it is better, in almost every measurable way, and that gives it a distinct advantage over the aging RAV4.

We’ve outlined all of the reasons why the new CR-V is wholly improved over the old one in our full ratings and review, so consider this a more succinct summary.

Sporting a sleeker and more modern design than the outgoing CR-V, the new version looks better from seemingly every angle, from the more aggressive front maw to the boxier rear end, thankfully doing away with the humpback style of the 2016 and earlier model. Handsome 18-inch wheels are standard from the mid-tier upward, and the plastic body cladding and chrome detailing looks great when paired with an interesting hue, like the excellent Molten Lava Pearl red-orange paint job our test vehicle was finished in.
2017 Honda CR-V Infotainment System
Honda’s infotainment system can be a pain to use with such a slow processor, but the ability to default to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto is a welcome addition, and something the RAV4 lacks. (Joanna Tavares)

Inside, the cabin design is more conventional, but you may notice the addition of a volume knob as a sign that Honda’s designers have truly been listening to our cries of anguish. The tan leather upholstery is soft and supple, and the tall, supportive seats are a pleasure to sit in for extended periods of time, even if there’s still no passenger seat height adjustment. Also, it’s so quiet in the CR-V, you could hear a pin drop… or your kid drop their favorite toy, more fittingly.

Honda’s infotainment system still fails to impress, despite the addition of a volume knob. With a Garmin-sourced navigation system and some connectivity apps, the entire system is plagued by a horrendously slow processor that can make operating it a hair-pulling affair, and why can’t I easily scroll through satellite radio channels with a simple menu? Or better yet, a tuning knob…

Still, the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone projection is a welcome improvement, and I often defaulted to using CarPlay instead of Honda’s system while on the road.
2017 Honda CR-V Cargo Space
Cargo space is arguably the CR-V’s strongest suit, boasting numbers to match many larger crossovers and the ability to load four large suitcases side by side and stacked under the rear tonneau cover. (Joanna Tavares)

Cargo space increases slightly over the outgoing model too, boasting a whopping 39.2 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats and 75.8 cubic feet with them folded flat, which can be accomplished with the ease of pulling just two handles, something the RAV4 distinctly lacks.

What’s more, the CR-V starts to look like an absolute bargain, even fully loaded, with a top-tier sticker of just under $35,000, while the optioned-out RAV4 came in at almost $40,000. Unfortunately, you’ve got to step up to the EX trim from the base LX to get Honda’s active safety technology suite, but you’ll likely want the extra kit anyways.
2017 Honda CR-V Profile
A fully-loaded CR-V gets you basically all the features you and your family would ever need in a vehicle costing less than $35,000. (Joanna Tavares)

Kyle: The moment I stepped into the new CR-V, I knew this wasn’t a fair fight.

From the real leather encasing the driver’s seat to the more substantial and heavily weighted steering wheel, everything about the CR-V felt more premium than the RAV4 I’d just spent the previous few days tooling around town in, despite both being fully spec’d out and the Toyota costing $3,300 more than the Honda.

Punching the gas and stretching the legs on CR-V’s 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine felt almost sporty in comparison to the RAV4, particularly when the turbocharger kicked in. In reality, the crossover made just 190 horsepower and was, under most circumstances, fairly unimpressive with its continuously variable transmission. But I was starved for personality and the RAV4 could make a conversation with Ben Stein feel like an afternoon with Cosmo Kramer.

With its new dual-pinion, variable gear ratio electric power steering, the CR-V feels more direct and balanced on the road, handling curves and corners much more fluidly and precisely than its rival. Supple MacPherson front strut and rear multi-link suspension handle blemished city roads with ease and deliver a pleasantly quiet driving experience.
2017 Honda CR-V Wheel
All CR-Vs from the EX trim upwards ride on these handsome 18-inch alloy wheels as standard. (Joanna Tavares)

Thanks to its reduced engine size and continuously variable transmission, the CR-V also offers a significant improvement on the fuel economy front, giving it the win in both performance and efficiency.

Despite its relative advantage, if you’re looking for true driving dynamism, I suggest you look elsewhere (perhaps the Mazda CX-5); this is still a crossover SUV, after all. Acceleration leaves a little something to be desired and the rubber banding effect of the CVT goes unmitigated, though Honda’s transmission handles itself better than many under normal driving circumstances.

Honda still requires an upcharge to get its Honda Sensing advanced safety suite—which includes adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance, automatic crash mitigation, forward collision and blind spot warnings, and so on—for its compact crossover. What’s more, rear parking sensors are extra, and there are no front parking sensors whatsoever… a little ironic for something with the name “sensing” right in it.

However, that package comes standard on its EX trims and higher, which runs about $2,600 more than the base LX. This can be viewed two ways: 1) Honda has done a good job making its best safety features affordable or 2) Honda is being stingy by not including them in all models like Toyota. Take your pick.


Both the CR-V and RAV4 earn top safety accolades, but the CR-V performed slightly better in the NHTSA tests than the RAV4. (Joanna Tavares)

Although both the RAV4 and the CR-V earn top accolades from both the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for 2017, the CR-V performed just a bit better, earning five-star ratings in the driver and front passenger crash tests, while the RAV4 got four-stars in each. Not much to squabble over, but it’s something.

On the tech front, CR-V has the clear advantage by being refreshed, although it also helps its case by offering Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Toyota might end up winning that bet in the long run if it can make its Entune system as user-friendly and capable as the brand-new packages, but for now Honda takes the win by taking the easy way out.

A lot of people, including Brian, have showered Honda with praise for finally giving the CR-V its volume knob back, which I’ll admit was a good move. However, I’m not letting them off the hook without pointing out how silly the knob looks just tacked on to an otherwise smooth infotainment system. My vote would be to place it under the screen or make the screen narrower and position the knob just to the side of it. At this point, it almost seems passive aggressive in its lack of elegance.

Nitpicking aside, the 2017 CR-V is a rock-solid vehicle and represents money well spent by Honda. It offers more comfort, a better driving experience and more cargo room than the RAV4 without sacrificing on the safety front. What more do you need?


By improving its best seller in almost every measurable way, Honda has cemented its place atop the small SUV heap. (Joanna Tavares)

Summing Up:

  • Pros: Improved styling; improved comfort; improved cargo space; improved ride and handling; improved engine.
  • Cons: Still not much fun to drive; infotainment system can be downright infuriating; no hybrid model (yet).
  • Conclusion: A volume knob (and an improvement in almost every possible facet) make what was already a critics’ and buyers’ favorite even stronger, and the new vehicle to beat in America’s most cutthroat segment this side of the pickup truck market.

Vital Stats:

  • Test Vehicle: 2017 Honda CR-V Touring AWD
  • Price as Tested: $34,635
  • Powertrain: 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder; continuously variable transmission (CVT)
  • Power Rating: 190 horsepower and 179 lb.-ft. of torque
  • Fuel Economy Rating: 29 mpg combined
  • Safety Rating: NHTSA 5-star overall and IIHS Top Safety Pick+


With a new RAV4 on the way in a few years, Toyota will have a chance to take back the crown, but for now, it resoundingly belongs to Honda’s excellent CR-V. (Joanna Tavares)

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