Toyota Highlander vs. RAV4

April 11th, 2024 by

If you’re looking for a new SUV, the 2024 Toyota Highlander and RAV4 are sure to cross your path. The new Toyota RAV4 is a powerful yet compact SUV, while the Highlander is a spacious three-row SUV with room for eight. Both options can enhance your adventures while offering unique strengths to take your excursions to another level.

Passenger Space

The Toyota Highlander is the clear pick for large families who want a lot of seating. It has three generous rows to hold eight passengers with second-row bench seating or seven passengers with second-row captain’s chairs. The dimensions for the Highlander provide plenty of space across all its rows. In the base-level LE, you’ll find:

Legroom Headroom Hip Room Shoulder Room
Front Row 42.0 41.2 57.2 59.0
Second Row 38.7 39.4 57.0 58.7
Third Row 28.0 36.1 45.6 55.0

The Toyota RAV4 offers less seating than the Highlander but still has space for up to five passengers in its two rows with bench seating in the back. The RAV4 is slightly smaller across both rows than the Highlander. Dimensions for the base-level LE are:

Legroom Headroom Hip Room Shoulder Room
Front Row 41.0 37.7 54.3 57.8
Second Row 37.8 39.5 47.7 56.4

Cargo Space

The Highlander provides plentiful cargo space throughout. Behind the third row, it has 16 cubic feet of space. With the third row folded down, you’ll enjoy a generous 48.4 cubic feet of cargo volume. With both the second and third rows folded down, this increases to 84.3 cubic feet of cargo volume.

Though the RAV4 has less total cargo volume, the Highlander offers more storage behind its back row. With the second row in place, you still get 37.6 cubic feet of cargo space. When you fold the second row down into its nearly flat position, this increases to 69.8 cubic feet.

Towing Capacity

The Toyota Highlander has a maximum towing capacity of 5,000 pounds. This gives you the capacity to tow canoes, kayaks, fishing boats, campers, and trailers. If you’re looking for a capable SUV that has the strength to tackle family camping trips and tow packed utility trailers, the Highlander is the vehicle that you need.

The Toyota RAV4 can only tow up to 1,500 pounds. This may give you the necessary power for canoe, kayak, or fishing boat trailers or a small utility trailer, but you’ll likely fall short when it comes to camping or any type of larger utility trailer.

Performance and Efficiency

A 2.4-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine that offers 265 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque powers the Toyota Highlander. The LE comes standard with Drive Mode Select (DMS) that includes Normal, Sport, Snow, and Eco modes. The XLE adds Multi-Terrain Select (MTS) with Normal, Mud & Sand, and Rock & Dirt modes.

The Highlander LE offers 22 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, and 25 mpg combined. This is slightly diminished in the XLE, which delivers 21 mpg city, 28 mpg highway, and 24 mpg combined.

The 2024 Toyota RAV4 features a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that provides 203 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. Though the RAV4 offers slightly less power, the LE provides the same DMS with three standard drive modes. You don’t get access to the MTS drive modes until you reach the TRD Off-Road trim.

The RAV4 is more efficient than the Highlander, making it a prime choice if you want to prioritize efficiency. The base-level LE trim provides 27 mpg city, 35 mpg highway, and 30 mpg combined. The TRD Off-Road gets slightly less fuel efficiency with 25 mpg city, 32 mpg highway, and 28 mpg combined.

Off-Road Abilities

The Toyota Highlander can take you on a world of new adventures. Equipped with MTS, the Highlander has enhanced capabilities for sensing and responding to wheelspin and slippage. The Highlander XSE has a sport-tuned suspension, effective shock absorbers, and a rear stabilizer bar that improves handling and helps it hug the road powerfully. The available dynamic torque vectoring all-wheel drive (TV-AWD) sends up to half of the vehicle’s power to the rear to provide better stability and responsiveness, keeping you in complete control wherever you go.

The Toyota RAV4 offers impressive off-road capability thanks to its TRD-tuned suspension, red coil springs, and skid plates to give you a stable ride, even in tricky conditions. As with the Highlander, MTS and TV-AWD are available on all-wheel-drive vehicles. The RAV4 also features the Toyota New Global Architecture platform that improves responsiveness and handling using a bolder, wider stance.

Technology and Safety

If you’re looking for a big, bold multimedia display, the Highlander is the better pick of these two Toyota vehicles. It offers an available 12.3-inch multimedia screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, as well as five USB ports to keep your devices charged and Wi-Fi connectivity so you can stay connected. The Highlander has an available JBL Premium Audio system with 11 speakers for immersive surround sound.

The largest multimedia screen available on the Toyota RAV4 is 10.5 inches. However, the RAV4 has more screens to enjoy. The multimedia screen pairs with a 12.3-inch multi-information display and a panoramic view monitor to help you check your surroundings. The RAV4 has five available USB ports, like the Highlander, but includes an available Qi-compatible wireless charging pad.

While both the Highlander and RAV4 offer a well-rounded suite of safety features, the Highlander is equipped with Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+, while the RAV4 has Toyota Safety Sense 2.5. Both vehicles offer a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, and full-speed range dynamic radar cruise control.

Test-Drive the Highlander and RAV4 at Classic Toyota

If you’re intrigued by the possibilities of the Toyota Highlander and RAV4, you can experience these vehicles for yourself. Come take one or both for a test drive at Classic Toyota in Tyler, Texas. Our team will help you explore all your options and find the best new Toyota for your needs.