2019 RAV4 vs. Highlander: Key Differences

February 21st, 2019 by

So, you’re in the market for a mid-sized SUV. You decide on a Toyota due to their incredible reliability, safety and resale value. While Toyota has an impressive lineup of compact, mid-size and full-size SUV’s, two of the most popular SUVs on the market are the Toyota Highlander and the Toyota RAV4. But what is the difference between the RAV4 and the Highlander?

Both of these SUVs are reliable candidates for any current or future SUV-shopper, but we’ll go ahead and break down the key similarities and differences between the two.

RAV4 and Highlander Similar Features:

  • Available panoramic moonroof
  • 8 airbags
  • Available AWD
  • 2 years of no-cost maintenance

Key differences:

  • Highlander: 295 hp vs. RAV4: 203 hp
  • Highlander: 7-8 passengers vs. RAV4: 5 passengers
  • RAV4 comes with standard LED headlights & Daytime Running Lights
  • Highlander: 1,500 – 5,000 lb. towing vs. RAV4: 1,500 – 3,500 towing
  • RAV4 comes with standard Apple CarPlay
  • RAV4’s dynamic torque vectoring and three drive  modes
  • Highlander’s available stop/start engine
  • Highlander’s available rear-seat blu-ray entertainment
  • Highlander’s additional cargo space

Highlander vs. RAV4

2019 RAV4 Key Features:

Exterior: The 2019 RAV4 model arrived with a complete exterior remodel of the previous model year. The 2019 model features edgy, sharp lines and a bold front end. LED headlights and Daytime Running Lights (DRL) come standard. 17-inch wheels come standard on the base model, while the fully-loaded Limited trim level comes standard with 19-inch chrome-finished alloy wheels.

Load up all of your hiking gear, groceries or little league baseball gear in the trunk of your RAV4 with ease, thanks to the hands-free power liftgate. This available feature allows you to open the trunk by simply lifting your foot beneath the rear bumper.

Another key update for the 2019 RAV4, is that it now rides on Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA). TNGA allows for better handling, a more spacious interior as well as a more comfortable ride. Learn more about TNGA here.

Interior: If you’re impressed by RAV4’s exterior, the interior won’t disappoint. The 7-in. Multi-Information Display (MID) provides you with a clear view of all the information you need. Available heated SofTex seats offer a comfortable setting for drivers and passengers alike. To make your drive even more enjoyable, the available panoramic glass moonroof provides an excellent view of all of your surroundings.

Some of the key technology features include standard Apple CarPlay and a digital rearview mirror. Yep, you heard that right! If the view in your rearview mirror is covered by passengers or cargo, simply flip the lever on the bottom of the mirror to activate the digital rearview mirror, displaying a clear, distraction-free camera view of what’s behind you.

Safety & Performance: Eight standard airbags are provided in order to keep you and your family safe. Additional safety features include the newly updated Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 as well as Toyota’s Star Safety System.

The 2019 RAV4’s dynamic force 2.5L in-line 4 cylinder engine is able to produce 203 horsepower, a significant increase from the 2018 model year’s 176 hp. Additionally, the 2019 RAV4 comes with 3 drive modes (normal, eco and sport) in order to maximize performance in any situation.

Pair RAV4’s AWD system with the new dynamic torque vectoring system for an ideal mix of traction, performance and fuel economy. This feature has a rear driveline disconnect that is able to shut off the dynamic torque vectoring all-wheel drive when it’s not necessary, in order to boost fuel economy.

The base RAV4 LE model has a towing capacity of 1,500 lb., while the hybrid model can tow up to 1,750 lb. and last, but not least, the Adventure model has a towing capacity of 3,500 lb. Perfect for loading up your camping gear and hitting the road.

RAV4 liftgate open

2019 Highlander Key Features:

Exterior: The Highlander model is overall larger than the RAV4, fitting more appropriately into the mid-sized SUV category. Some of the most important key exterior features are the LED tail lights and DRLs, unique grille designs for each trim level and sporty alloy wheels. Limited and SE grades have 19-inch wheels, black or dark Chromtec depending on trim level. The 2019 model doesn’t have any huge exterior changes in comparison to the outgoing model year, but Toyota keeps it stylish with a little bit of edge.

Interior: One big advantage Highlander has on the RAV4 is seating capability. With 7 ad 8 passenger variations, the Highlander has plenty of room for the whole family. Choose between captain’s chairs for a 7 passenger arrangement, or bench seating for an additional passenger space.

Now that you’ve got the whole family loaded up, it’s time to load up the cargo. Behind the third row of seats, Highlander has 13.8 cu. ft. of cargo space. Fold down the third row and take advantage of the 42.3 cu. ft. Moving furniture? Fold down the second row for an impressive 83.7 cu. ft.

Like the RAV4, Highlander also has an available panoramic moonroof. Additionally, the available rear-seat Blu-ray Disc entertainment system helps keep the kids entertained no matter how far the drive, while the 3-zone automatic climate control ensures everyone stays comfortable.

Safety & Performance: Highlander’s 2.7L 4-cylinder engine is able to produce 185 hp, while the 3.5L V6 engine boasts 295 hp. LE models equipped with the 2.7L 4-cylinder get up to 20/24 MPG (city/hwy), while the V6 option gets 21/27 MPG (city/hwy).

One of the stand-out features on the Highlander is the available stop/start engine system. Available on V6 gas models, the stop/start engine is able to shut off your Highlanders engine when you’re idle, such as at a stop light. When it’s time to keep driving, take your foot off the brake and the engine starts back up immediately.

Heading to the lake? Highlander’s 5,000 lb. towing capacity should do the trick. Besides the base LE model (towing capacity of 1,500 lb.), each Highlander can tow up to 5,000 lb.

Highlander liftgate open


If you’re looking for a stylish vehicle that fits the whole family without looking like a total mom-mobile, the Highlander is an excellent choice. The redesigned RAV4, on the other hand, is a bit more edgy and rugged. This new RAV4 model is perfect for anyone looking for a capable, sporty sedan alternative.

Have more questions? Feel free to leave us a comment!