When it comes to reliable family haulers, Toyota sets the standard. Two of their most popular models are the midsize Toyota Highlander and compact RAV4 SUVs. While both offer Toyota’s reputation for quality and value, there are some key differences that buyers should consider.
Size and Capacity: Is Bigger Better?
The Highlander is noticeably larger, measuring up to six inches longer and wider than the RAV4. This translates to more interior room and cargo capacity. The Highlander seats up to eight passengers, while the RAV4 seats five. Behind the rear seats, the Highlander can fit over 48 cubic feet of cargo compared to 37 cubic feet in the RAV4. Fold the seats down, and the maximum cargo room jumps to 84 cubic feet in the Highlander and 70 cubic feet in the RAV4. The tradeoff is the Highlander’s higher curb weight of over 4,000 pounds compared to around 3,300 for the RAV4.
Performance and Efficiency: Which Offers More?
Both models offer four-cylinder engines paired with hybrid options for improved mileage. The Highlander puts out a bit more horsepower at 243 vs. 203 for the RAV4. However, the RAV4 gets better EPA-estimated fuel economy, with 28 mpg combined for the gas model and 40 mpg for the hybrid. The Highlander is rated at 24 mpg combined for gas and 36 mpg for hybrid models. Driving ranges are similar as the Highlander’s larger tank balances out its lower efficiency.
Technology and Safety: Drive With Confidence
You’ll find user-friendly tech in both SUVs, like touchscreen displays, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Wi-Fi, and Amazon Alexa capability. Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+ equips each model with advanced safety features, including automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, and auto high beams. Available options include surround-view cameras, digital rear-view mirrors, and more.
Cost to Buy and Own
Base model Highlanders start around $8,000 higher than base RAV4s. A top-trim Toyota Highlander can cost up to $50,000 compared to $37,000 for a loaded RAV4. However, Toyota’s reputation for longevity means lower projected maintenance costs down the road. Strong resale value is another perk for both models. While pricier upfront, the Highlander offers more space and capability for growing families. The RAV4 shines when the budget is a top priority.
Toyota Highlander or Toyota RAV4: Which One is Right For You?
Drivers wanting maximum passenger and cargo room are better served by the larger Highlander. Families hauling lots of gear or planning to tow will also appreciate the Highlander’s advantages. For those seeking maneuverability and efficiency in a smaller package, the RAV4 hits the sweet spot. Take a test drive and crunch the numbers to see if going bigger with the Toyota Highlander or downsizing to the RAV4 better fits your needs. Either way, you can’t go wrong with Toyota’s proven reputation.No matter which Toyota SUV you choose, you can expect years of worry-free driving.
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