Rav4 vs Highlander: Which Toyota SUV is Right for You?

As I was in the market for a new SUV, I found myself comparing the Toyota RAV4 and the Toyota Highlander. The same manufacturer makes both vehicles and offers similar features, but there are some key differences that set them apart. In this article, I will be comparing the 2023 Toyota RAV4 and the 2023 Toyota Highlander to help you make an informed decision when choosing between these two popular SUVs.

Rav4 vs Highlander
RAV4 vs Highlander

The Toyota RAV4 is a compact SUV that has been around since the mid-1990s. It has a reputation for being reliable, fuel-efficient, and practical.

The 2023 model is no exception, with a sleek design, advanced safety features, and impressive fuel economy.

On the other hand, the Toyota Highlander is a midsize SUV that has been in production since 2000. It has a more spacious interior, a smoother ride, and a more powerful engine. It is also more expensive than the RAV4, but it offers more features and amenities.

Size and Capacity


As I compare the Toyota RAV4 and Highlander, one of the first things that comes to mind is their size. The RAV4 is a compact SUV, while the Highlander is a midsize SUV. The RAV4 is shorter, narrower, and lower than the Highlander.

The RAV4 has a length of 180.9 inches, a width of 73 inches, and a height of 67 inches.

In contrast, the Highlander has a length of 194.9 inches, a width of 75.8 inches, and a height of 68.1 inches.



The interior of the Highlander is more spacious than the RAV4. The Highlander has a passenger volume of 141.3 cubic feet, while the RAV4 has a passenger volume of 98.9 cubic feet.

The Highlander can seat up to eight passengers, while the RAV4 can seat up to five passengers.

Cargo Capacity

Will an air mattress fit in a RAV4 Rav4 vs Highlander: Which Toyota SUV is Right for You?

When it comes to cargo capacity, the Highlander also outshines the RAV4.

The Highlander has a cargo volume of 16 cubic feet behind the third row, 48.4 cubic feet behind the second, and 84.3 cubic feet behind the first.

The RAV4, on the other hand, has a cargo volume of 37.6 cubic feet behind the second row and 69.8 cubic feet behind the first row.

To summarize, the Highlander is larger and more spacious than the RAV4.

The Highlander is the better option if you need to transport more people or cargo. Here’s a comparison table to illustrate the differences:

Length180.9 inches194.9 inches
Width73 inches75.8 inches
Height67 inches68.1 inches
Passenger Volume98.9 cubic feet141.3 cubic feet
Cargo Volume (behind third row)N/A16 cubic feet
Cargo Volume (behind second row)37.6 cubic feet48.4 cubic feet
Cargo Volume (behind first row)69.8 cubic feet84.3 cubic feet
New Toyota Highlander Rav4 vs Highlander: Which Toyota SUV is Right for You?

Powertrain and Performance


The Rav4 and Highlander have different engine options. The Rav4 comes with a standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, while the Highlander has a standard 3.5-liter V6 engine.

Both vehicles have hybrid and plug-in hybrid options, with the Rav4’s hybrid option being a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and the Highlander’s hybrid option being a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine paired with two electric motors.

Suggested Article: Toyota RAV4 Engine Problems


The Rav4 has a maximum horsepower of 219 in its hybrid and plug-in hybrid options. The Highlander’s V6 engine provides a maximum horsepower of 295.

The Highlander’s hybrid option has a combined output of 243 horsepower.


The Rav4 has a maximum torque of 163 lb-ft in its hybrid and plug-in hybrid options. The Highlander’s V6 engine provides a maximum torque of 263 lb-ft.

The Highlander’s hybrid option has a combined torque of 175 lb-ft.

Fuel Economy

The Rav4 has a better fuel economy than the Highlander in its non-hybrid options, with an estimated 30 mpg combined compared to the Highlander’s 22 mpg combined.

In hybrid options, the Rav4 has an estimated 40 mpg combined, while the Highlander has an estimated 36 mpg combined.

RAV4 vs Highlander
Highlander Hybrid


Both the Rav4 and Highlander have an eight-speed automatic transmission in their non-hybrid options.

The hybrid options have a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

ModelStarting PriceDisplacementAWD

In conclusion, the Highlander’s V6 engine provides more power and torque than the Rav4’s four-cylinder engine.

However, the Rav4 has better fuel economy in non-hybrid options and has a more efficient hybrid option. Both vehicles offer hybrid and AWD options.

Safety and Ratings


When it comes to safety, both the Toyota RAV4 and Highlander are top performers.

In fact, both models have received excellent ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

They both feature advanced safety technologies such as lane departure warning, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking.


Both the RAV4 and Highlander come standard with a suite of airbags, including front, side, and curtain airbags.

The Highlander also includes a driver’s knee airbag and a front passenger seat cushion airbag.

Safety Features

The RAV4 and Highlander are equipped with a variety of safety features, including anti-lock brakes, traction control, and stability control.

The Highlander also includes a backup camera and blind spot monitoring.


The NHTSA has given both the RAV4 and Highlander a 5-star overall safety rating. The IIHS has given the RAV4 a Top Safety Pick+ rating, while the Highlander has received a Top Safety Pick rating.

When comparing the two models, the Highlander offers a few more safety features than the RAV4.

However, both models are excellent choices when it comes to safety and have received high ratings from safety organizations.

ModelNHTSA Overall RatingIIHS Safety Rating
RAV45 StarsTop Safety Pick+
Highlander5 StarsTop Safety Pick
can you flat tow a toyota rav4 Rav4 vs Highlander: Which Toyota SUV is Right for You?

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Price and Value

When it comes to choosing between the Toyota RAV4 and Highlander, price and value are important considerations.

As someone who has researched both vehicles extensively, I can confidently say that both offer great value for their price.

The RAV4 has a lower starting price compared to the Highlander, with a starting MSRP of $26,150 for the base LE trim.

On the other hand, the Highlander starts at $34,810 for the base L trim. While the Highlander is pricier, it has more standard features than the RAV4.

In terms of pricing, it’s important to note that both vehicles have different trims and options that can significantly affect the final price.

For example, the RAV4’s top-of-the-line Prime XSE trim starts at $47,925 while the Highlander’s Platinum trim starts at $48,915.

Regarding value, the RAV4 and Highlander offer excellent fuel economy, reliability, and safety features.

The RAV4 has a fuel economy of up to 30 mpg city and 38 mpg highway, while the Highlander has a fuel economy of up to 21 mpg city and 29 mpg highway.

In terms of safety features, both vehicles come standard with Toyota Safety Sense, which includes features like pre-collision warning and automatic emergency braking.

The Highlander also comes with additional safety features like blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

Overall, the RAV4 and Highlander offer great value for their price, with different features and options catering to different needs and preferences. Here’s a comparison table of the starting prices for the different trims of both vehicles:

Trim LevelRAV4Highlander

Discover valuable insights and expert advice on Toyota RAV4 Years to Avoid in our comprehensive RAV4 category page. Explore our articles on Best Years for Toyota RAV4, Most Reliable SUV After 5 Years, RAV4 Hybrid Towing Capacity, and Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Reliability.

Thoughts On Both

After comparing the RAV4 and the Highlander, I have come to a few conclusions.

Both vehicles have their strengths and weaknesses, and choosing between them will ultimately depend on your preferences and needs.

One of the biggest advantages of the RAV4 is its practicality. As a best-selling crossover SUV, it offers a great balance of space, fuel efficiency, and versatility.

The RAV4 Hybrid and RAV4 Prime models are especially noteworthy for their impressive fuel economy and eco-friendliness.

On the other hand, the Highlander is a larger and more spacious vehicle that can accommodate more passengers and cargo.

It also offers a more comfortable and luxurious ride, making it a great choice for families or anyone who values comfort and convenience.

When it comes to features and technology, both vehicles are well-equipped, with plenty of standard and optional features to choose from.

However, the Highlander does offer a few more advanced features, such as a panoramic moonroof and a rear-seat entertainment system.

To help summarize the differences between the RAV4 and the Highlander, I’ve created the following comparison table:

Crossover SUVYesYes
RAV4 HybridYesNo
RAV4 PrimeYesNo
Advanced FeaturesNoYes

In conclusion, the RAV4 and the Highlander are great vehicles, each with unique strengths and weaknesses.

Whether you prioritize practicality, eco-friendliness, or luxury, a Toyota SUV will meet your needs.


How much bigger is the Highlander than the RAV4?

The Toyota Highlander is larger than the RAV4 in terms of overall size. It offers more passenger space and cargo capacity, making it a suitable choice for those in need of extra room.

Is RAV4 more reliable than Highlander?

Both the Toyota RAV4 and Highlander have a reputation for reliability, but it’s difficult to declare one as definitively more reliable than the other. Reliability can vary based on individual factors, such as maintenance history and driving habits. Proper maintenance and regular servicing are crucial to ensure the longevity and reliability of any vehicle.

What is the ground clearance of the RAV4 compared to the Highlander?

The ground clearance of the RAV4 typically ranges between 8.4 to 8.6 inches, depending on the specific trim level and optional features. On the other hand, the Highlander generally offers a slightly higher ground clearance, ranging from 8.0 to 8.7 inches, depending on the model and options chosen.

What’s the difference between RAV4 hybrid and Highlander Hybrid?

The main difference between the RAV4 Hybrid and Highlander Hybrid lies in their size and seating capacity. The RAV4 Hybrid is a compact SUV with seating for up to five passengers, while the Highlander Hybrid is a midsize SUV that can accommodate up to eight passengers. Additionally, the Highlander Hybrid generally offers more advanced features and a higher level of luxury compared to the RAV4 Hybrid.

Which Toyota SUV is the roomiest?

Among Toyota’s SUV lineup, the Highlander is the roomiest option. It offers three rows of seating and can accommodate up to eight passengers, depending on the configuration. The Highlander provides ample legroom and headroom, making it an ideal choice for larger families or those in need of extra space for passengers and cargo.

If you are interested in the Toyota Highlander but feel like you might need a little more room for your family, I suggest taking a look at the recently announced Toyota Grand Highlander. It just might fit your needs perfectly.

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