2012 Honda CR-V vs. 2013 Toyota RAV4 vs. 2014 Mazda CX-5 Comparison Test and Video

2012 Honda CR-V SUV

(2.4L 4-cyl. AWD 5-speed Automatic w/Navigation)
  • Crossover Comparison Test

    Crossover Comparison Test | July 12, 2013

1 Video , 85 Photos

Three of the Top Compact Crossovers Face Off

  • Comparison Test
  • 2012 Honda CR-V Specs and Performance
  • 2014 Mazda CX-5 Specs and Performance
  • 2013 Toyota RAV4 Specs and Performance

Science-fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein said that specialization is for insects. Man, he said, "should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly."

If this is the type of performance we should expect from ourselves, why would we expect any less from our vehicles in 2013?

Compact Crossovers Comparison

The crossover utility vehicle (CUV) is the jack of all trades in the automotive world and the 2012 Honda CR-V, 2013 Toyota RAV4 and 2014 Mazda CX-5 are at the top of the class. We rounded up an example of each, all of them loaded with all-wheel drive and a $30,000 price tag to find out which crossover is the best of the breed.

The Benchmark: 2012 Honda CR-V EX-L Nav AWD
Having received a thorough redesign for the 2012 model year, the Honda CR-V is the oldest vehicle in this test and was clearly in the sights of every other manufacturer as they released their newest crossovers. And as you'd expect from a modern, high-volume Honda, the CR-V sets a high bar.

Compact Crossovers Comparison

As indicated by Honda's taxonomy, this CR-V EX-L Nav has Honda's optional AWD and is fully loaded with goodies like dual-zone climate control, a back-up camera, USB input, heated front seats, Bluetooth audio, navigation, Pandora Internet radio and more. While our 2012 test car wears a sticker price of $30,825, the 2013 model got a slight price hike to $31,125.

The CR-V is only available in one engine/transmission combination: a 185-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder hooked to a five-speed automatic. Though it's the only five-speed in the group, the CR-V's fuel economy is highly competitive returning an EPA estimate of 22 city, 30 highway and 25 mpg combined.

Recently, this very same CR-V took home a victory against the 2013 Ford Escape. That was tough competition, but these next two vehicles have had another year to refine their packages.

The Follower: 2013 Toyota RAV4 Limited AWD
With its 2013 redesign, the Toyota RAV4 now falls in line with the rest of the crossover crowd and is a hugely competitive entry into a hugely competitive field. This new generation of RAV4 benefits from a higher-quality interior and an honest attempt at a bold exterior design.

But while previous RAVs had an optional V6 engine, the new Toyota RAV4 makes due with only a 176-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder hooked to a six-speed automatic. Despite offering an extra gear compared to the Honda, the RAV4 returns 29 mpg on the highway and is the only crossover in this test not to hit the magic 30 mpg number on the highway. Official EPA numbers are 22 city, 29 highway and 25 combined mpg. Like the other vehicles in this test, the RAV4 has AWD, but unlike the others, it has a locking center differential for even better all-weather traction. Bonus points.

Compact Crossovers Comparison

As this is a Limited, the Toyota offers more toys than anyone ever expected a family hauler to have. This RAV4 has synthetic leather seats, dual-zone climate control, fully keyless entry/ignition, Bluetooth, navigation, a JBL 11-speaker stereo, back-up camera, USB input, blind-spot monitor and the only powered tailgate in this test. Finally, opting for this trim equips the RAV4 with 18-inch wheels. We'll get to those later.

All told, this 2013 Toyota RAV4 Limited AWD wears a $32,394 sticker price.

When we drove the 2013 RAV4 for a full test earlier this year, we felt that the RAV4 hit all the right notes. Can it keep up that tune back-to-back-to-back?

The Trendsetter: 2014 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring AWD
Mazda's all-new CX-5 is the revelation in this segment. You simply need to look at the shifter to figure this out. The shifter's orientation, push to downshift, is the same you'd find on racecars and is indicative of Mazda's race-bred ethos. If it's possible for there to be a driver's CUV, this is it.

Compact Crossovers Comparison

But just because the CX-5 has the soul of a sports car doesn't mean it's got the fuel-guzzling powertrain of one. The CX-5 has a silky-smooth 2.5-liter four-cylinder that produces 184 horsepower and is hooked up to a responsive six-speed automatic. In this AWD configuration, the CX-5 returns EPA fuel economy of 24 city, 30 highway and 26 combined mpg. By a hair, it's the most fuel-efficient vehicle of this test.

Like the rest of the cars in this test, this CX-5 Grand Touring AWD is filled to the grille with features. Leather seats, dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth, navigation, adaptive front lighting, keyless entry/ignition, blind-spot monitoring and the Grand Touring-mandatory 19-inch wheels. This 2014 Mazda CX-5, which is currently doing duty in our long-term test fleet, has a sticker price of $31,890.

We drove these crossovers for weeks. Each has its own unique personality, its own strengths and its own weaknesses. It would be easy to say they're all good picks, but the average family isn't going to buy three crossovers.

There can only be one winner.

  Mazda CX-5 Honda CR-V Toyota Rav4
Price as Tested: $31,890 $30,825 $32,394
Horsepower: 184 185 176
0-60: 8.3 9.5 9.2
1/4-Mile: 16.2 @ 84.3 16.9 @ 82.4 16.8 @ 82.7
Cargo Capacity: 34.1 (65.4 max) 37.2 (70.9 max) 38.4 (73.4 max)
EPA Fuel Economy: 24/30/26 22/30/25 22/29/25
As-Tested Fuel Economy: 25.9 26.2 22.3

3rd Place: 2013 Toyota RAV4 Limited

Compact Crossovers Comparison

The nail that sticks out gets hammered down.

This Japanese proverb pretty much sums up the changes Toyota made to the RAV4 for the 2013 model. Gone is the third row. Gone is the full-size spare tire. Gone is the side-hinged cargo door. Gone is the optional V6 powerplant. Everything that made the RAV4 stand out in the previous generation is gone for 2013.

Instead of being a unique, outlying data point in the category, the 2013 Toyota RAV4 is just like every other crossover in the segment. Without that uniqueness, the Toyota is outmatched.

Toyota upped its game significantly for the interior of this RAV4, but seemed to have done so without a cohesive mission. There's soft-touch material with ample padding surrounding the start button that could prevent dangerous finger-stubbing, but the driver armrest is hard plastic. The steering wheel is leather but the seats are covered in a synthetic material. The instrument panel is panderingly simple while the navigation system buries frequently used icons in menus. There are two cupholders up front, one obstructed by the lower portion of the dash, one obscured by the center armrest. And then there's the odd shelf that juts into the passenger's personal space and dumps all objects onto their lap.

It's the type of interior that makes less and less sense each time you use it.

With 38.4 cubic feet of space available the RAV4 has the highest cargo capacity of the group and has the flattest load floor. It's also the only vehicle in this test with a power-operated tailgate. Unfortunately for Toyota, the tailgate is painfully slow and refuses to be rushed manually. It's a nice parlor trick, but we'd prefer a high-quality mechanical solution to a wonky electrical one every time.

This victory in rear cargo space is offset by the Toyota's small rear seat. While the rear seats do recline, the Toyota has the narrowest rear seats with the least legroom. Consider it a four-passenger and hope those rear passengers stay skinny.

Finally, Toyota's powertrain dooms it to a closely contested 3rd place in this comparison. The RAV4 is the heaviest vehicle in this comparison and makes the least power. Though its six-speed automatic helps it to a narrow victory over the Honda in acceleration testing, real-world performance is a different story.

Part of our 116-mile Edmunds test loop involves a cruise-control-enabled, highway-speed, 7 percent incline grade. During this test, the RAV4's transmission could never settle on a gear. It would hold freeway speeds in 4th, panic about wasting fuel and upshift only to drop speed by 5 mph. The RAV4 would then downshift to get back up to speed and start the process over again.

Compact Crossovers Comparison

The RAV4's race-to-6th transmission programming has the RAV4 bouncing between laggy and lurchy. This isn't fun and it isn't efficient. During our test, we averaged 22.3 mpg in the RAV4 with a best tank of 27.7 mpg. Nowhere near the combined rating of 25 mpg.

We could understand this low fuel economy if the Toyota had been a joy to drive and flogged repeatedly on back roads and twisting canyons, but that's not the case. The Toyota falls on the softer side of the handling spectrum and the 18-inch wheels feel heavy and impacts reverberate through the cabin. It's an odd sensation as the Toyota is whisper-quiet otherwise. These small compromises add up and give the 2013 RAV4 Limited a grade of "B" in our recommended ratings and a last-place finish here.

On flat, perfect pavement, the Toyota could have performed better. In the real world, though, it leaves it third out of three.

2nd Place: 2014 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring

Compact Crossovers Comparison

The 2014 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring was this close to a victory due to powertrain alone. Mazda's Skyactiv engine is the most eager, willing and responsive here and propels the Mazda to the quickest 0-60 time by nearly a full second. The six-speed automatic transmission is fast, smooth and has the most sophisticated shift logic. No hunting. No waiting for a downshift. No compromise. Only a true manual would have been a better driving partner, and nobody wants that in a crossover. Nobody.

On the same grade that confounded the RAV4, the Mazda performed perfectly. It never second-guessed itself or lost any speed. The transmission's seamless performance is part of the reason the Mazda returned a test-best 29.9 mpg on a single tank of fuel. Overall, the Mazda returned 25.9 mpg. These figures nearly match its EPA rating of 24/30/26.

So what gives? Why 2nd place?

The Mazda has the most rear-seat room, but is a distant 3rd in cargo capacity offering 34.1 cubic feet of space with the seats up and 65.4 with everything folded flat. And thanks to its best-in-test 8.5 inches of ground clearance, the Mazda has the highest cargo loading height. In a class this competitive, these things matter.

Compact Crossovers Comparison

As expected, the Mazda won the on-track battle and thoroughly impressed our test driver. Our on-road suspicions were backed-up on the track as the CX-5 was about a mile per hour faster through the slalom than the Toyota and six-tenths quicker than the Honda. The downside to this, and the Grand Touring's 19-inch wheels, is that the CX-5 has the busiest ride of the group. Impacts unsettle the cabin and the tight steering we appreciate when hustling requires constant attention on the freeway.

Considering how good the powertrain is, we could ignore the stiff suspension if that were the CX-5's only flaw. Unfortunately, with a sea of cheap black plastic and a tiny, hard-to-use navigation screen, the CX-5's interior falls behind the competition's. These tradeoffs help the 2014 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring earn a B grade in our recommended ratings and a 2nd-place finish here.

If your personal priorities for a family hauler favor driving engagement, responsiveness and style, there are few better vehicles on the road than the Mazda CX-5. If you're everyone else, there was one better in this test.

1st Place: 2012 Honda CR-V EX-L

Compact Crossovers Comparison

If the Toyota RAV4 invented the crossover segment, the Honda CR-V perfected it.

Before we get into why the CR-V won, let's discuss its downsides. For starters, the shifter has an antiquated setup that uses a button for selecting 3rd gear then two gates for 2nd and 1st. This setup takes away fine speed control and forces the driver to use the clumsy shifter or, more likely, the brakes, far too frequently on things like long downhills.

And that's pretty much the end of the negatives.

None of these crossovers are fast, but the Honda does bring up the back of the pack by about three-tenths of a second to 60 mph. Honda makes the most power here, 185, and is the lightest so this is a bit of a surprise. Fault again lies with the transmission. Instead of being geared to get up and go, the CR-V is set up for smooth acceleration that doesn't disturb the occupants or drain the tank. And on that final point, the CR-V excelled.

The Honda was the only car in this test to best its EPA combined fuel economy rating returning 26.2 mpg during testing. We never got the Honda's claimed 30 mpg number, but we never got a bad tank. The 2.4-liter and five-speed automatic may not be the newest kids on the block, but the Honda knows when to pick a lower gear and feels stronger than the others from 30 mph.

But the CR-V doesn't win this one on fuel economy alone. For everything the Honda gives up in style it makes up for in kid-carrying, cup-holding, seat-folding, stuff-hauling function.

Compact Crossovers Comparison

The front seats are the most comfortable in the test. They not only feature perfectly placed armrests, the seats straddle a huge storage bin. The rear seats are suitable for three adults, have easy LATCH points and offer the simplest, most praise-worthy self-folding mechanism in the test. Flip the lever and the seat bottoms fold out as the headrest tucks and the seatback rolls. The result is a nearly flat load floor with zero effort. And while the Honda's navigation/infotainment system has the worst graphics of the bunch, the interface is the easiest to use and requires the least amount of time with your eyes away from the road.

The driving experience in the CR-V is just as competent as the interior function. Thanks in part to 17-inch wheels with lots of sidewall, the Honda is the most civilized over broken pavement or light off-roading. One of the previous complaints with the CR-V in general was the prevalent road noise. That, thankfully, has been damped out for the 2012 model and now the CR-V is as quiet as any SUV in the class.

The 2013 CR-V is the only vehicle to score a grade of "A" in our recommended ratings.

Separating the Men From the Bugs

These crossovers are the antithesis of specialization. They may not intentionally butcher any hogs, but today's CUVs must ferry our kids, haul home-improvement goods, do light-duty towing, drive like a car, offer great visibility, drive safely through the rain and snow and return solid fuel economy.

All three of these SUVs can perform such tasks and perform them well. In the end, the 2012 Honda CR-V was the most efficient, the least expensive, the most flexible and the easiest to live with. It may not be the one you desire, but it's the one we'd own.

The manufacturers provided Edmunds these vehicles for the purposes of evaluation.

Vehicle
Model year2012 Honda CR-V
Year Make Model2012 Honda CR-V EX-L 4dr SUV AWD w/Navigation (2.4L 4cyl 5A)
Vehicle TypeAWD 4dr 5-passenger 4dr SUV
Base MSRP$30,825
As-tested MSRP$30,825
Assembly locationSayama, Saitama Japan
North American parts content (%)65
Drivetrain
ConfigurationTransverse, front-engine, all-wheel drive
Engine typeNaturally aspirated, port-injected inline-4, gasoline
Displacement (cc/cu-in)2,354/144
Block/head materialAluminum/aluminum
ValvetrainDOHC, 4 valves per cylinder, variable intake-valve timing and lift
Compression ratio (x:1)10.0
Redline, indicated (rpm)7,000
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)185 @ 7,000
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)163 @ 4,400
Fuel type87 octane
Transmission type5-speed automatic with console shifter
Transmission ratios (x:1)I = 2.79, II = 1.61, III = 1.08, IV = 0.78, V = 0.57
Final-drive ratio (x:1)4.44
Differential(s)Front: Open, Center: Electrohydraulic clutch, Rear: open
Chassis
Suspension, frontIndependent MacPherson struts, coil springs, twin-tube dampers, stabilizer bar
Suspension, rearIndependent multilink, coil springs, twin-tube dampers, trailing links, stabilizer bar
Steering typeElectric-assist, speed-proportional rack-and-pinion power steering
Steering ratio (x:1)16.7
Tire make and modelBridgestone Dueler HP Sport AS
Tire typeAll-season front and rear
Tire size225/65R17 (102T)
Wheel size17-by-6.5 inches front and rear
Wheel materialCast-aluminum alloy
Brakes, front11.7-inch ventilated disc with two-piston sliding caliper
Brakes, rear12-inch solid disc with single-piston sliding caliper
Track Test Results
Acceleration, 0-30 mph (sec.)3.5
0-45 mph (sec.)6.0
0-60 mph (sec.)9.5
0-75 mph (sec.)13.7
1/4-mile (sec. @ mph)16.9 @ 82.4
0-60 with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)9.2
0-30 mph, trac ON (sec.)3.7
0-45 mph, trac ON (sec.)6.1
0-60 mph, trac ON (sec.)9.6
0-75 mph, trac ON (sec.)13.7
1/4-mile, trac ON (sec. @ mph)16.9 @ 82.4
0-60, trac ON with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)9.2
Braking, 30-0 mph (ft.)32
60-0 mph (ft.)124
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph) ESC ON62.6
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g) ESC ON0.78
Engine speed @ 70 mph (rpm)2,000
Test Driver Ratings & Comments
Acceleration commentsThere's nothing I could do to affect the acceleration of this CR-V. It punished pedal overlap and settled into a meager acceleration until cam-phase change aronud 5,000 rpm. Engine sounds peppier than it is. Upshifts are smooth but not very quick. Also, no means for manual shifting other than a traditional PRND21 (D3 button) lever and no rev-matched downshifts.
Braking commentsFirst stop was shortest and barely within the average for the class and those stops that followed were somewhat random and didn't follow any pattern linear or otherwise. Noisy ABS, generous dive and even some wiggle from the light rear.
Handling commentsSlalom: The CR-V gives a sense of handling capability with its taut ride, but when I started asking it to be nimble, it simply didn't have the grip, stability or steering to do it and the otherwise firmly spring suspension flopped over on soft dampers. ESC is either on or completely off, so leaving it on became a guessing game of when and how intrusive it would be. Skid pad: Plenty of body roll, feather-light steering and not very much info coming through the steering wheel either. A combination of throttle closure and brake application limits the CR-V here.
Testing Conditions
Test locationCalifornia Speedway
Elevation (ft.)1,121
Temperature (F)75.4
Relative humidity (%)48.8
Barometric pressure (in. Hg)28.6
Wind (mph, direction)5.9
Odometer (mi.)22,523
Fuel used for test87-octane gasoline
As-tested tire pressures, f/r (psi)30/30
Fuel Consumption
EPA fuel economy (mpg)22 city/30 highway/25 combined
Edmunds observed (mpg)26.2
Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.)15.3
Driving range (mi.)459
Audio and Advanced Technology
Stereo descriptionAM/FM/XM/CD audio with WMA3/MP3 capability, 5-inch color display, 360-watt amplifier, seven speakers
iPod/digital media compatibilityStandard USB and aux input
Satellite radioStandard
Bluetooth phone connectivityStandard, includes streaming audio capability
Navigation systemStandard 16GB hard drive-based, 6.5-inch LCD
Parking aidsStandard back-up camera
Driver coaching displayStandard
Dimensions & Capacities
Curb weight, mfr. claim (lbs.)3,545
Curb weight, as tested (lbs.)3,498
Weight distribution, as tested, f/r (%)58/42
Length (in.)178.3
Width (in.)71.6
Height (in.)65.1
Wheelbase (in.)103.1
Track, front (in.)61.6
Track, rear (in.)61.6
Turning circle (ft.)37.3
Legroom, front (in.)41.3
Legroom, rear (in.)38.3
Headroom, front (in.)38.0
Headroom, rear (in.)38.6
Shoulder room, front (in.)58.6
Shoulder room, rear (in.)56.4
Seating capacity5
Max cargo volume behind 1st row (cu-ft)70.9
behind 2nd row (cu-ft)37.2
Cargo loading height, measured (in.)27
Tow capacity, mfr. claim (lbs.)1,500
Ground clearance (in.)6.7
Approach angle (degrees)28
Departure angle (degrees)21
Breakover angle (degrees)16
Warranty
Bumper-to-bumper3 years/36,000 miles
Powertrain5 years/60,000 miles
Corrosion5 years/Unlimited miles
Vehicle
Model year2014 Mazda CX-5
Year Make Model2014 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl 6A)
Vehicle TypeAWD 4dr 5-passenger 4dr SUV
Base MSRP$29,665
Options on test vehicleGrand Touring Technology Package ($1,625 -- Navigation System; Mazda advanced keyless entry system; bi-xenon HID headlamps with auto leveling; adaptive front lighting system (AFS); Auto-dimming mirror with Homelink; Smart City Brake Support System), Soul Red Metallic Paint Charge ($300 -- Soul Red Metallic Paint), Retractable Cargo Cover ($200), Rear Bumper Guard ($100)
As-tested MSRP$31,890
Assembly locationHiroshima, Japan
Drivetrain
ConfigurationTransverse, front-engine, all-wheel drive
Engine typeNaturally aspirated, direct-injected inline-4, gasoline
Displacement (cc/cu-in)2,488/152
Block/head materialAluminum/aluminum
ValvetrainDOHC, four valves per cylinder, variable intake + exhaust-valve timing
Compression ratio (x:1)13.0
Redline, indicated (rpm)6,250
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)184 @ 5,700
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)185 @ 3,250
Fuel typeRegular unleaded
Transmission type6-speed automatic
Transmission ratios (x:1)1st = 3.55; 2nd = 2.02; 3rd = 1.45; 4th = 1.00; 5th = 0.71; 6th = 0.60, R = 3.89
Final-drive ratio (x:1)4.62
Chassis
Suspension, frontIndependent MacPherson struts, coil springs, twin-tube dampers, stabilizer bar
Suspension, rearIndependent multilink, coil springs, twin-tube dampers, stabilizer bar
Steering typeElectric-assist, speed-proportional, rack-and-pinion power steering
Steering ratio (x:1)15.5
Tire make and modelToyo A23
Tire typeAll-season front and rear
Tire sizeP225/55R19 99V
Wheel size19-by-7 inches front and rear
Wheel materialCast-aluminum alloy
Brakes, front11.7-by-1.1-inch ventilated disc with single-piston sliding caliper
Brakes, rear11.9-by-0.4-inch solid disc with single-piston sliding caliper
Track Test Results
Acceleration, 0-30 mph (sec.)2.9
0-45 mph (sec.)5.3
0-60 mph (sec.)8.3
0-75 mph (sec.)12.4
1/4-mile (sec. @ mph)16.2 @ 84.3
0-60 with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)8.1
0-30 mph, trac ON (sec.)3.2
0-45 mph, trac ON (sec.)5.6
0-60 mph, trac ON (sec.)8.7
0-75 mph, trac ON (sec.)12.9
1/4-mile, trac ON (sec. @ mph)16.3 @ 83.6
0-60, trac ON with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)8.3
Braking, 30-0 mph (ft.)31
60-0 mph (ft.)121
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph) ESC ON63.2
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g) ESC ON0.80
Engine speed @ 70 mph (rpm)2,450
Test Driver Ratings & Comments
Acceleration commentsGenerous reward for bringing the revs up before releasing the brakes. Engine sounds gutsy and upshifts are very smooth and quick. Manual shifting by console lever. Pull back to upshift (correct). Does match revs on downshift.
Braking commentsFirst stop was shortest and typically linear distance creep thereafter. Pedal travels quite a lot, but once the brakes bite, it's easy to modulate them. Very little commotion from the ABS and zero wiggle/wander.
Handling commentsSlalom: Excellent steering feel and response -- benchmark for this class. Confident turn in and the non-defeat ESC is rather permissive. It might go quicker without ESC, but not much. Takes a set nicely, is a little slow in transition, but it isn't upset by midcorner bumps. Skid pad: Very unobtrusive ESC intervention merely closes throttle to keep the tires from howling too much. Plenty of grip here, in fact, an unexpected amount of grip and most folks likely would never use all of it. Poised, confident and capable.
Testing Conditions
Test locationCalifornia Speedway
Elevation (ft.)1,121
Temperature (F)77.1
Relative humidity (%)45.3
Barometric pressure (in. Hg)28.6
Wind (mph, direction)6.5
Odometer (mi.)8,064
Fuel used for test87-octane gasoline
As-tested tire pressures, f/r (psi)36/36
Fuel Consumption
EPA fuel economy (mpg)24 city/30 highway/26 combined
Edmunds observed (mpg)25.9
Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.)15.3
Driving range (mi.)459
Audio and Advanced Technology
Stereo descriptionAM/FM/CD stereo with nine Bose spearkers, 225 watts
iPod/digital media compatibilityStandard USB and auxiliary inputs
Satellite radioStandard
Hard-drive music storage capacity (Gb)Standard with streaming audio capability
Navigation systemOptional, SD-card based, 5.8-inch touchscreen
Smart entry/StartStandard
Parking aidsStandard rearview camera
Blind-spot detectionOptional
Collision warning/avoidanceOptional warning
Driver coaching displayStandard
Dimensions & Capacities
Curb weight, mfr. claim (lbs.)3,532
Curb weight, as tested (lbs.)3,536
Weight distribution, as tested, f/r (%)56/44
Length (in.)179.3
Width (in.)72.4
Height (in.)67.3
Wheelbase (in.)106.3
Track, front (in.)62.4
Track, rear (in.)62.5
Turning circle (ft.)36.7
Legroom, front (in.)41.0
Legroom, rear (in.)39.3
Headroom, front (in.)39.0
Headroom, rear (in.)39.0
Shoulder room, front (in.)57.5
Shoulder room, rear (in.)55.5
Seating capacity5
Max cargo volume behind 1st row (cu-ft)65.4
behind 2nd row (cu-ft)34.1
Cargo loading height, measured (in.)29.5
GVWR (lbs.)4,537
Payload, mfr. max claim (lbs.)1,005
Tow capacity, mfr. claim (lbs.)2,000
Ground clearance (in.)8.5
Warranty
Bumper-to-bumper3 years/36,000 miles
Powertrain5 years/60,000 miles
Corrosion5 years/Unlimited miles
Roadside assistance3 years/36,000 miles
Vehicle
Model year2013 Toyota RAV4
Year Make Model2013 Toyota RAV4 Limited 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl 6A)
Vehicle TypeAWD 4dr 5-passenger SUV
Base MSRP$29,255
Options on test vehicleBlizzard Pearl, Display Audio w/Navigation, Entune and JBL ($1,660 -- 6.1-inch touchscreen with integrated backup camera display; AM/FM CD player with MP3/WMA playback capability; 11 JBL GreenEdge speakers including subwoofer and amplifier; SiriusXM Radio with 90-day complementary subscription; HD Radio; iTunes tagging; auxiliary audio jack and USB port with iPod connectivity and control; vehicle information display with customizable settings; hands-free phone capability, phone book access, advance voice recognition, text-to-speech with programmed and customizable text responses and music streaming via Bluetooth wireless technology; Entune is a collection of popular mobile applications and data services, including Bing and Pandora, integrated with select Toyota vehicles. Entune includes three years of complimentary access to apps and services delivered via most smartphones connected to the vehicle using Bluetooth wireless technology or a USB cable. Entune's features are operated using the vehicle's controls or by voice recognition for some services.), Blind Spot Monitor w/Rear Cross Traffic Alert ($500), Special Paint ($395 -- Blizzard Pearl exterior paint), V.I.P RS3200 Plus Security System ($359); Carpet Floor and Cargo Mat Set ($225 -- 5-piece set)
As-tested MSRP$32,394
Assembly locationWoodstock, Ontario, Canada
Drivetrain
ConfigurationTransverse, front-engine, all-wheel drive
Engine typeNaturally aspirated, port-injected, inline-4, gasoline
Displacement (cc/cu-in)2,494/152
Block/head materialAluminum/aluminum
ValvetrainDOHC, 4 valves per cylinder, variable intake + exhaust-valve timing
Compression ratio (x:1)10.4
Redline, indicated (rpm)6,500
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)176 @ 6,000
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)172 @ 4,100
Fuel typeRegular unleaded
Transmission type6-speed automatic with console shifter and Sport mode
Transmission ratios (x:1)I = 3.30, II = 1.90, III = 1.42, IV = 1.00, V = 0.71, VI =0.61, Reverse = 4.15
Final-drive ratio (x:1)4.07
Differential(s)Center: locking, front/rear: open
Chassis
Suspension, frontIndependent MacPherson struts, coil springs, twin-tube dampers, stabilizer bar
Suspension, rearIndependent double-wishbone, coil springs, twin-tube dampers, stabilizer bar
Steering typeElectric-assist, speed-proportional, rack-and-pinion power steering
Steering ratio (x:1)14.7
Tire make and modelToyo A20 Open Country
Tire typeAll-season front and rear
Tire sizeP235/55R18 (94H) M+S
Wheel size18-by-7.5 inches front and rear
Wheel materialAlloy
Brakes, front11.7-inch one-piece ventilated steel discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Brakes, rear11.2-inch one-piece solid steel discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Track Test Results
Acceleration, 0-30 mph (sec.)3.3
0-45 mph (sec.)5.8
0-60 mph (sec.)9.2
0-75 mph (sec.)14.0
1/4-mile (sec. @ mph)16.8 @ 82.7
0-60 with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)8.9
0-30 mph, trac ON (sec.)3.5
0-45 mph, trac ON (sec.)6.1
0-60 mph, trac ON (sec.)9.5
0-75 mph, trac ON (sec.)14.4
1/4-mile, trac ON (sec. @ mph)17.0 @ 82.3
0-60, trac ON with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)9.2
Braking, 30-0 mph (ft.)33
60-0 mph (ft.)128
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph)62.2
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph) ESC ON60.2
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g)0.77
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g) ESC ON0.76
Engine speed @ 70 mph (rpm)2,000
Test Driver Ratings & Comments
Acceleration commentsThere's a very fine line between not enough and too much pedal overlap for a peppy run. The RAV4 hates too much. Acceleration is pretty lazy and challeneged from start to finish. Upshifts are quick and smooth in Drive or Manual mode (though it still upshifts at redline in manual mode) but no difference at full throttle. Does not match revs on downshifts.
Braking commentsFirst stop was shortest and it found a threshold quickly thereafter. Good fade resistance and firm pedal from start to finish. Modest dive and no wander.
Handling commentsSlalom: There's a more permissive level of ESC (not fully off) and it allowed a bit more aggressive steering input but still took the throttle away at the exit. The steering could use more feel, but the weight is appropriate. Skid pad: Especially in the "on" mode, ESC is pretty intrusive here with both throttle and brake application to limit progress. By the end of the lap around the skidpad, I believe I had the throttle pushed to the floor and it simply put-putted around. Steering felt rather spring-like here where it felt more natural in the slalom.
Testing Conditions
Test date5/29/2013
Test locationCalifornia Speedway
Elevation (ft.)1,121
Temperature (F)79.3
Relative humidity (%)39.8
Barometric pressure (in. Hg)28.6
Wind (mph, direction)4.1 (head)
Odometer (mi.)3,319
Fuel used for test87-octane gasoline
As-tested tire pressures, f/r (psi)32/32
Fuel Consumption
EPA fuel economy (mpg)22 city/29 highway/25 combined
Edmunds observed (mpg)22.3
Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.)15.9
Driving range (mi.)461.1
Audio and Advanced Technology
Stereo descriptionAM/FM/CD stereo with 6.1-inch touchscreen head unit and seven JBL speakers
iPod/digital media compatibilityStandard USB and auxiliary input
Satellite radioOptional
Bluetooth phone connectivityStandard
Navigation systemOptional
Smart entry/StartStandard ignition, doors, trunk/hatch (Limited Model)
Parking aidsStandard back-up camera, optoinal rear cross-traffic detection
Blind-spot detectionOptional
Dimensions & Capacities
Curb weight, mfr. claim (lbs.)3,600
Curb weight, as tested (lbs.)3,612
Weight distribution, as tested, f/r (%)58/42
Length (in.)179.9
Width (in.)72.6
Height (in.)67.1
Wheelbase (in.)104.7
Track, front (in.)61.4
Track, rear (in.)61.4
Turning circle (ft.)36.7
Legroom, front (in.)42.6
Legroom, rear (in.)37.2
Headroom, front (in.)38.9
Headroom, rear (in.)38.9
Shoulder room, front (in.)57.3
Shoulder room, rear (in.)55.4
Seating capacity5
Step-in height, measured (in.)17.5
Max cargo volume behind 1st row (cu-ft)73.4
behind 2nd row (cu-ft)38.4
Cargo loading height, measured (in.)26.3
GVWR (lbs.)4,600
Payload, mfr. max claim (lbs.)900
Tow capacity, mfr. claim (lbs.)1,500
Ground clearance (in.)6.3
Approach angle (degrees)29
Departure angle (degrees)22
Warranty
Bumper-to-bumper3 years/36,000 miles
Powertrain5 years/60,000 miles
Corrosion5 years/Unlimited miles
Roadside assistance2 years/25,000 miles
Free scheduled maintenance2 years/25,000 miles

Comments

  • sharpend sharpend Posts:

    Would have been nice to see a Ford Escape and Subaru Forester in the comparison as well.

  • agentorange agentorange Posts:

    Oh look, another car (CX-5) has 19 inch wheels that it does not not and the ride is crap. Gosh, who'd a thunk it!?

  • quadricycle quadricycle Posts:

    You know what? I agree. While I would prefer the CX-5 since it drives and looks better (I also love what Mazda is doing these days), the CR-V really best accomplishes the roll of the CUV for most people. The Rav4 is a disappointment however, especially considering how good looking and no-nonsense it was two generations ago. It also lacks a cohesive design direction which I find irksome.

  • emajor emajor Posts:

    Surprised by the RAV4's fuel economy numbers in this test; in other comparison tests it runs midpack, and Toyotas generally have no problem hitting the EPA marks. The 18 inch wheels on the Limited are a dumb idea and you guys aren't the only reviewers that mentioned the deterioration in ride quality because of them. A relative owns one of these, and the driver's armrest is NOT hard plastic. It's padded with the same faux leather as the seats. Get this stuff right if you are going to ding a vehicle for it. This is a very bland segment so it makes sense that the blandest vehicle here won it. But if it were me, I think I could sacrifice just a modicum of practicality and get the Mazda.

  • wdrauch wdrauch Posts:

    I noticed that no mention is made of the interior materials quality in the CRV. When I spent some time in one, I noticed that the build quality was very good, but there was nothing but hard cheap plastics wherever I touched, sort of like the pre-refresh Civic.

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    I'm actually a bit surprised by the result, considering how the staff keeps singing praises about the CX-5 "driving like a Mazda". The numbers do suggest that that Mazda 2.5 is significantly more athletic than the CR-V, I'm a bit surprised by those numbers as well. I agree it would have been good to include the Ford Escape, since it's fighting the CR-V neck and neck for bestseller in this segment.

  • atlgaxt atlgaxt Posts:

    The Subaru Forester is the only one that has any potential for driving off road in the woods, on 4X4 only access beaches, etc. and it is not included in the test because apparently this is not even a factor to be considered for SUVs anymore. It is EPA / CAFE idiocy that these tall station wagons even exist. And it is a major oversight that Edmunds leaves out the only one of these vehicles that actually has utility.

  • themandarin themandarin Posts:

    Everyone already knows Mazda is better

  • bankerdanny bankerdanny Posts:

    No Escape and no mention of why not? Ford sells a ton of them and I don't see any good reason why it wouldn't have been included in this comparison. I suppose the Forester should be included too, but it's absolutely awful powertrain would certainly have doomed it to last place. Too bad because Subaru's suspension tuning is spot on for urban driving in pothole filled rust belt cities like mine.

  • farvy_ farvy_ Posts:

    There is no Escape in this comparison because the CRV already beat it in an earlier comparison test. This was noted early in the article.

  • bankerdanny bankerdanny Posts:

    So they did. My bad. Still, that was the top line 2.0EB version. I would still have liked to see the 1.6 turbo vs these 3.

  • 09rich1 09rich1 Posts:

    Let's see... a VW Sportwagen TDI carries nearly as much stuff, drives better, and gets 30 city, 40 highway... hmmm.

  • 7driver 7driver Posts:

    @09rich1, But you can't refuel the TDI at a lot of gas stations (an important one of them being Costco).

  • tom_bavis tom_bavis Posts:

    NOBODY will buy with manual transmission? I won't buy one with an automatic - so that leaves the Forester, Mazda (only with 2.0 engine), and Tiguan which the dealers seem to think is a $40K car, and option them accordingly...

  • 7driver 7driver Posts:

    This comparo test doesn't surprise me much. If the average someone asked me to recommend a CUV I'd probably also point them to the CRV. However, if I had to buy a CUV for myself or spouse I'd go with the CX-5. I imagine the Edmunds staff is probably the same way.

  • agentorange agentorange Posts:

    Let's try again... "Oh look, another car (CX-5) has 19 inch wheels that it does not NEED and the ride is crap."

  • Really? Nobody wants a crossover in a manual? I sure do. I love my Mazdas including my current 3, but I would not have bought it without a manual. In fact my wife and I own three manuals. I am upset that Mazda didn't mate the new manual with the 2.5 liter Skyactiv. If they did, I'd be driving one

  • bankerdanny bankerdanny Posts:

    Close enough to nobody as to be the same thing and offering it here for the low single digit percentage of buyers that would want one would not be worth the expense of getting it certified to sell here.

  • ford_honda ford_honda Posts:

    I am not sure why the only vehicle on this test with a C for "Off-Road" and less than 7" of ground clearance won this comparison. This test becomes even more irrelevant when the reviewer complains the CX-5's loading height is too high because it has 8.5" of ground clearance. The only reason I am looking to buy an SUV is for deep snow and 6.7" will not get the CR-V out of my driveway. Not every buyer of an SUV is a Soccer Mommy and needs enough space to load 3 rug rats along with all of their crap. I need the smallest SUV with the most ground clearance and only 2 manufactures produce one for some reason, Subaru Forrester and Mazda CX-5. Now I need to know which one of these two and the Forester was left off the comparison.I am not sure why the only vehicle on this test with a C for "Off-Road" and less than 7" of ground clearance won this comparison. This test becomes even more irrelevant when the reviewer complains the CX-5's loading height is too high because it has 8.5" of ground clearance. The only reason I am looking to buy an SUV is for deep snow and 6.7" will not get the CR-V out of my driveway. Not every buyer of an SUV is a Soccer Mommy and needs enough space to load 3 rug rats along with all of their crap. I need the smallest SUV with the most ground clearance and only 2 manufactures produce one for some reason, Subaru Forrester and Mazda CX-5. Now I need to know which one of these two and the Forester was left off the comparison.

  • explorerx4 explorerx4 Posts:

    What did you 3 guys do to get this duty? It must have been something bad. My wife has an Escape Titanium with 19 inch rims. We had some kick azz snow storms last winter and it never had a problem with traction.

  • se_riously se_riously Posts:

    Too bad the CR-V, RAV4, Escape, and CX-5 get "marginal" or "poor" on the small overlap crash test, despite their recent redesigns. Forester gets "good" ratings for all tests, and it would be a factor for me if I was in the market. Please note that I'm not a fan of any brand. Just pointing out the facts.

  • Nice review, but why you don't include the Mitsubishi Outlander, Kia Sorento and the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport??

  • scdjng scdjng Posts:

    This comparison was very surprising, as any other car site has rated the CX-5 to be the best compact CUV on the market and the CR-V to be lacking.

  • stickguy stickguy Posts:

    good to see praise for the normal size tires with a real sidewall. The obsession with huge wheels and skinny sidewalls is out of hand, and is especially silly on a utility vehicle.

  • vtx1 vtx1 Posts:

    On paper th RAV-4's rear seat may look like it has less room than the CX5, but in reality the RAV4's rear seat is much roomier and more comfortable than the CX-5s. I know because I have a CX-5 and rented a RAV4 for a week during vacation. The reason the RAV4's rear seat is more comfortable is because first it reclines, and second it's simply roomier. Even when you put the drivers seat as far back as it will go, the rear seat on the RAV4 is roomy. Do that on the CX5 and the rear passeger will be bumping their knee caps on the back of the driver seat. And why is Edmunds complaining about the higher car floor height on the CX5? It's a SUV after all, not an autobahn cruiser wagon from Germany. If you want a lower cargo floor then get a wagon and not a SUV you sissies.

  • alex38 alex38 Posts:

    what about a Kia with the 2.0L Turbo? Sure, looks are subjective, but that Honda is one of the NASTIEST looking vehicles on the road...and this from a Honda fan. I'd take the Kia over any of these in a heartbeat..

  • daharbin daharbin Posts:

    I don't understand why the Mazda gets a "B" and the Honda gets an "A" when each have different strengths. Mazda drives better, while Honda has a bigger cargo area and nicer plastics. That sounds like a tie where you just pick your preference.

  • hybris hybris Posts:

    So in short we have 3 crossover\CUV type vehicles with more or less no major differences between them. You could probably blindfold someone have them pick from the three sets of keys and they would be at "Ok" with whatever vehicle they picked.

  • normsky_ normsky_ Posts:

    I just finished a 2,000 mile trip in an AWD Buick Encore averaging 34 mpg. This is mostly on side roads sight seeing and house hunting and doing allot of stopping and turning around over the week in hilly southeastern PA, with the AC on half the time. The Encore AWD handled like a dream eating up sweepers as fast I would want to take them along with the 15 mph hair pin turns that sent cell phones and sun glasses flying. Braking was there in loads of feedback and very easily to modulate even at the bottom of a big hill without fade. The transmission would downshift to 5th gear on the 5% grade hills and hold speed with no problems. I could accelerate at will going up. Some days were 7-9 hours in the saddle without an ache due to the excellent seating areas there was plenty of room to make adjustments. I never thought that I would find the CUV a pleasure to drive and live in for 8 days but this one is a good mate. So I happened on this review seeing all types of CUVs from every manufacturer along the long week on the road. Comparing this results to what little I could find on the Encore AWD is it brakes from 60-0 the same or better, out handles these on the skid pad with with smaller 215mm all season rubber, holds speed on 5% grades when it shifts down, gets almost 40 mpg on my all highway daily commute, and weighs 200 lbs less and is blast to hit the sweeping and 15 mph hair pin turns, and has about 65 cubic feet of cargo hauling space with the front passenger seat folded down. I thought these made in Japan, RAV4 in Canada, were the cream of the top. But this review sure changed my perspective.

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The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2012 Honda CR-V in VA is:

$114 per month*
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