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Honda CR-V vs. Toyota RAV4 vs. Kia Sportage: Hybrid SUV Showdown

Three hybrids — two good, one great

Compact Hybrid SUV comparison: Kia Sportage Hybrid vs. Honda CR-V hybrid vs. Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
  • We compare three very popular compact hybrid SUVs.
  • The Kia Sportage, Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V are all hybridized in a very competitive class.
  • Which is best? Watch the video below to find out.

There's no shortage of SUVs to pick from these days, and hybrid options are cropping up faster than ever. The competition is fiercer than any Ms. Universe contest, and there are no signs of anyone quitting. The Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Kia Sportage all have hybrid powertrain options, so we brought them together to determine which is best. (And yes, we know there are more compact hybrid options out there.)

In case you didn't know, these cars sell. They're among the biggest money-makers for their respective brands. Toyota moves more than 165,278 RAV4 Hybrids a year; 2023 was the hybrid model's best year ever. Honda sold nearly 200,000 CR-V hybrid models last year, while Kia moved 33,372 units of the Sportage Hybrid in 2023. Kia's number doesn't sound that big by comparison, but Kia has had a little trouble getting the Sportage Hybrid to dealer lots, and that number should go up this year.

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Here's how it all shakes out

Third place: Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

In the end, the Toyota comes out on top in the fuel economy test. On our 200-mile testing route, it managed 47.4 mpg. But sadly, that's where the good news ends for the RAV4.

The Toyota is far and away the least enjoyable to drive. We don't like the way it handles — or rather, the way it approximates the concept of handling. The RAV4 feels boaty, with poor body control and damping. Not only that, but we don't care for its mushy brake pedal and rough power delivery. It might have great fuel economy, but the RAV4 lacks polish on the road. 

On top of that, the RAV4's interior is a tired, uninspiring place to be, and small updates over the last five years haven't really done enough to help it keep pace with its rivals. A major update for the RAV4 should come soon, but for now a win solely on efficiency is the best it can muster. 

Second place: Honda CR-V hybrid

The CR-V compares favorably to the RAV4 in several categories. It's much more enjoyable to drive; it's stable, responsive and poised. Its interior feels higher-quality than the RAV4's, too, with a more modern selection of materials.

However, the CR-V misses the mark in a few key areas. The first is that the CR-V has a major value problem. As with the Accord in our recent hybrid sedan comparison, the CR-V locks you out of important features unless you go for the priciest Touring-spec trim. Want a heated steering wheel, a premium sound system or a power tailgate? All of those features are locked up in the top model. Not only that but the Honda doesn't offer ventilated seats, its hybrid powertrain is noisy, and the CR-V is easily the most expensive car in this test at over $42,000. 

In our fuel economy test the Honda splits the difference between the Toyota and the Kia. It logged 42.3 mpg over the course of the testing run, and while that's more than solid for a compact crossover, it's 5 mpg lower than the RAV4 Hybrid.

First place: Kia Sportage Hybrid

It frequently feels like the phrase "value for money" has escaped from the lexicons of most major automakers, but Kia must have it enshrined at its global headquarters in 10,000-point font. The Sportage Hybrid is our winner not because it's the most efficient car here but because it is so darn well-rounded. 

In fact, the Sportage Hybrid netted the lowest fuel economy figure on our test route at 40.8 mpg. But the Kia is the only SUV to offer a turbocharged engine — meaning it has the most power and is the quickest. Plus, Kia offers a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty for peace of mind. The Kia is also better to drive than the Toyota, and while perhaps not as sharp as the Honda, the Sportage does the best job of balancing performance, enjoyment and everyday comfort.

The interior is really where the Sportage makes up its lead. Its use of screens is clever, the interface is easy to work with, and there are plenty of physical controls for things like the heated/cooled seats, heated steering wheel and the drive modes. Kia's switchable touch panel (which controls either the radio functions or the climate) is the one major knock on this interior. It might be easy to get the hang of, but we still prefer the predominantly physical layout in the Honda and Toyota for climate control functionality. 

Edmunds says

Yes, the least efficient vehicle in a test of three hybrid crossovers just won. Dig into any category and it's clear the Edmunds Top Rated Kia Sportage Hybrid takes the cake for being the best mix of usable, enjoyable, affordable and spacious. It's the all-around best buy.