Motor Trend - - Comparison Test -

“The new Wran­gler is what crossovers want to be when they grow up.”

It’s re­fresh­ing to see Toy­ota try­ing harder with its in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem. The up­graded 8.0-inch screen sits high on the dash, flanked on ei­ther side by phys­i­cal but­tons. It’d be nice if the but­tons were larger, but I’m glad they ex­ist. The user in­ter­face, how­ever, isn’t great.

“En­tune 3.0 is su­per slow and un­re­spon­sive,” Og­bac com­plained. “The lay­out is sim­ple, but you're left wait­ing for it to load most of the time.” These quite pos­si­bly are pro­to­type is­sues that have yet to be re­solved.

The good news, at least for iphone users, is that Toy­ota de­cided to of­fer Ap­ple Carplay sup­port with the new RAV4, but even the newer cars at the press launch suf­fered Carplay glitches. For now, An­droid users are out of luck. The touch­screen does make En­tune eas­ier to use than En­form, the dump­ster fire user in­ter­face that Lexus still forces on its cus­tomers.

Toy­ota should also be com­mended for mak­ing its suite of driver-as­sist fea­tures stan­dard on the RAV4. Honda only of­fers its ver­sion on EX, EX-L, and Tour­ing mod­els. The down­side is that the RAV4’S lane keep as­sist isn’t as re­fined as Honda’s. Re­duc­ing the sen­si­tiv­ity helped, but it still strug­gled to keep the RAV4 cen­tered in the lane as well as the CR-V’S sys­tem does.

That said, these were more nit­picks than true com­plaints. And whereas the CR-V was bet­ter in some ways, the RAV4 had a few ad­van­tages that main­stream cus­tomers will ap­pre­ci­ate, such as a more at­trac­tive ex­te­rior de­sign, a cool-look­ing cabin, and bet­ter ac­cel­er­a­tion. I found my­self gen­uinely won­der­ing what we’d do if we couldn’t pick a win­ner. And if there were a tie, should the ex­is­tence of the Ad­ven­ture and SXE Hy­brid trims give the RAV4 the ad­van­tage? Pos­si­bly so.

But when we traded cars again, that con­fu­sion van­ished. The CR-V’S seats were more com­fort­able. The steer­ing wheel felt bet­ter in my hands. It was qui­eter on the road. In fact, there was so much less road noise in the CR-V that I was shocked I hadn’t no­ticed it be­fore. As far as I was con­cerned, the CR-V was the clear win­ner.

When we even­tu­ally sat down to make an of­fi­cial de­ci­sion, all three of us were on the same page. The re­designed RAV4 is an ex­cel­lent crossover, and it’s leaps and bounds bet­ter than its pre­de­ces­sor. It’s also pos­si­ble that Toy­ota could im­prove or re­fine a few things as run­ning changes based on this test. But even if Toy­ota reme­dies all our mi­nor com­plaints in time for Job 1, we’re pre­pared to de­fend our de­ci­sion.

To para­phrase last year’s Camry ver­sus Ac­cord com­par­i­son, Toy­ota may have built a vastly bet­ter RAV4, but the CR-V is still the bet­ter ve­hi­cle.

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