The Toyota RAV4 and Toyota Highlander are popular vehicles, each playing roles in revolutionizing the SUV segment over the last two-plus decades. More recently, these models introduced hybrid vehicles to their lineups. Now, consumer interest is at an even higher level. If you’re considering a new 2023 RAV4 Hybrid or Highlander Hybrid, you’ve come to the right place. Let the Sloane Automotive Group, which has three Toyota dealerships in Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, Glenside, and Malvern), be your guide. We have provided everything you need to know about making an informed decision.

The Case for Fuel Economy

Typically, fuel efficiency is the No. 1 reason why people buy hybrid vehicles. They are generally more fuel-efficient than traditional gasoline-powered vehicles, which can save drivers money on gas over the long term. United States fuel prices increased approximately $1 per gallon over the last two years (2020-2022). EVs (Electric Vehicles) have even lower operating costs, but limited range and charging stations make them risky to take on long trips. Hybrids provide a happy medium. Hybrid technology has also improved significantly in recent years, making these vehicles more reliable and easier to maintain.

In terms of the RAV4 and Highlander hybrids, there are significant fuel economy differences between them and their gasoline counterparts. The 2023 RAV4 Hybrid gets an estimated 41 miles per gallon in the city and 38 mpg on the highway. That is 14 additional mpg in the city, and three-more on the highway, than the non-hybrid new RAV4. The new Highlander Hybrid gets an estimated 36 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. That is 13 additional mpg in the city, and six-more on the highway, than the non-hybrid 2023 Highlander.

Between the two hybrid SUVs, if fuel savings is your top priority, the RAV4 Hybrid is the better option. It gets a combined four additional mpg (40 vs. 36).

Shop Now: New 2023 RAV4 Hybrid SUVs

2023 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Front Seats2023-Toyota-RAV4-Hybrid-XSE-Dashboard.webp
2023 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Front Seats2023-Toyota-Highlander-Hybrid-Bronze-Edition-Dashboard.webp

The Case for Affordability

There is no way getting around it. Hybrid vehicles come with higher upfront costs than traditional gasoline-powered ones. This is largely due to the additional technology and specialized components that are required to power them, such as the integration of two separate power sources (the internal combustion engine and the electric motor) into a single vehicle. The Highlander and RAV4 are no exception. Starting MSRP (Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price) for the non-hybrid 2023 Highlander is $36,430. The 2023 Highlander Hybrid’s MSRP begins at over $40,000. The new RAV4 Hybrid nearly costs an additional $3,000 over its gas-powered counterpart.

However, the 2023 RAV4 Hybrid starts at approximately $10K less than the Highlander Hybrid. If a lower payment is your main objective, go with the RAV4 Hybrid.

Model Comparison 2023 RAV4 Hybrid 2023 Highlander Hybrid
Starting MSRP* $30,225 $40,220
Engine 2.5-liter four-cylinders 2.5-liter four-cylinders
Horsepower 219 243
MPG Estimates** 41/38 36/35
Seating Capacity Up To 5 Up To 8
Front-Wheel Drive Not Available Available
All-Wheel Drive Standard Available
Towing Capacity 1,750 lbs. 3,500 lbs.
Cargo Area 37.5 cu.ft/69.8 cu.ft*** 16 cu.ft/48.4 cu.ft/84.3 cu.ft****
NHTSA Safety Ratings***** 5 out of 5 Stars 5 out of 5 Stars

*MSRP is not the sales price and does not include taxes, tags, title. adjusted market value, dealer installed equipment (if applicable), and dealer documentary fee. **city/highway. ***behind front/second-row seats. ****behind front/second-row/third-row seats. *****National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Crash Test Results.

The Case for Space

The RAV4 and Highlander, along with other SUVs, rose to prominence by offering more passenger and cargo space, making them more suitable for families than sedans. By the same token, they are more stylish and ruggedly designed than their station wagon predecessors.

The RAV4 is a compact SUV. Its hybrid and non-hybrid variants offer two rows with enough room for five passengers. Hybrid and gas-powered Highlanders have optional third rows that boost passenger capacities to eight people. Additionally, when the third row is folded down, the Highlander provides 48.4 cubic feet of cargo area. With its second row folded down, the RAV4 checks in at 37.5 cubic feet. It’s also important to note that the new 2023 Highlander Hybrid can tow double the weight of the RAV4 Hybrid. If having enough room for your family and belongings is most important to you, the new Highlander Hybrid is the way to go.

Shop Now: New 2023 Highlander Hybrid SUVs

Highlander Hybrid Second and Third Rows2023-Toyota-Highlander-Hybrid-Bronze-Edition-Second-Row.webp
RAV4 Hybrid Panoramic Glass Roof2023-Toyota-RAV4-Hybrid-XSE-Panoramic-Glass-Roof.webp

The Case for Features

The new 2023 RAV4 and Highlander SUVs are packed with safety, comfort, and technological features. These are available over a multitude of trim levels. The RAV4 Hybrid has seven trims. The Highlander Hybrid has five. Below is a look at each one’s highlights, in order of lowest starting MSRP to highest.


  • RAV4 Hybrid LE: All-Wheel Drive Integrated Management with Multi-Information Display monitor, Electronically controlled Continuously Variable Transmission with sequential shift mode, 17-in. 5-spoke light gray metallic alloy wheels.
  • RAV4 Hybrid XLE: LED projector-beam headlights with chrome-finished bezels, Smart Key System on front doors and liftgate, Integrated fog lights.
  • RAV4 Hybrid Woodland Edition: 6-spoke bronze-colored TRD flow-formed alloy wheels and Falken® WILDPEAK All-Terrain tires, Woodland all-weather floor mats and cargo liner, One 120V/100W AC power outlet in cargo area.
  • RAV4 Hybrid XLE Premium: 18-in. multi-spoke Super Chrome-finished sport alloy wheels, SofTex®-trimmed * seats and power-adjustable driver's seat with available two-position memory function, Power tilt/slide moonroof.
  • RAV4 Hybrid SE: 18-in. multi-spoke black-painted sport alloy wheels, Fabric-trimmed seats with sporty blue stitching and power-adjustable driver's seat, Bi-LED projector low- and high-beam headlights with LED accent lights.
  • RAV4 Hybrid XSE: 18-in. multi-spoke black-painted sport alloy wheels, Two-tone exterior color, SofTex®-trimmed * seats and power-adjustable driver's seat.
  • RAV4 Hybrid Limited: 18-in. multi-spoke Super Chrome-finished sport alloy wheels, All-Wheel Drive Integrated Management with Multi-Information Display monitor, SofTex®-trimmed * seats and power-adjustable driver's seat with two-position memory function.
  • Highlander Hybrid LE: 8.0-in. Toyota Audio Multimedia with six speakers, and wireless Android Auto™ & Apple CarPlay® compatibility, Five total USB ports, 7-in. color LCD Multi-Information Display.
  • Highlander Hybrid XLE: 18-in. machined-finish alloy wheels, Power tilt/slide moonroof with sunshade, Qi-compatible wireless smartphone charging with charge indicator light.
  • Highlander Hybrid Bronze Edition: 18-in. bronze-colored alloy wheels, Illuminated front doorsill metal scuff plate with bronze finish, SofTex®-trimmed front- and second-row seats with fabric inserts and bronze-colored stitching.
  • Highlander Hybrid Limited: 20-in. chrome-finished wheels, 12.3-in. Toyota Audio Multimedia with wireless Android Auto™ & Apple CarPlay® & Amazon Alexa compatibility, Height-adjustable hands-free power liftgate with jam protection.
  • Highlander Hybrid Platinum: Power Panoramic View Moonroof with sunshade and one-touch open/close with jam protection, 10-in. color Head-Up Display, LED projector headlights with Adaptive Front-Lighting System, auto leveling and LED-strip Daytime Running Lights.

Despite offering less in trim level quantity, the new Highlander Hybrid includes more quality throughout its lineup - particularly when it comes to safety. On the base Highlander Hybrid LE, a backup camera with projected path is standard. It's not available on the RAV4 Hybrid's entry trim, called the LE, too. Also standard on the Highlander Hybrid's LE trim - a blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert. This is only available on the RAV4 Hybrid LE as part of an option package.

Last, but not least, the Highlander comes in standard front-wheel drive and available all-wheel drive. The RAV4 comes in standard all-wheel drive.

If having more options at your disposal is your top goal, we suggest the Highlander Hybrid over the RAV4 Hybrid.

2023 RAV4 Hybrid vs. 2023 Highlander Hybrid: The Verdict

So, what’s better, the RAV4 Hybrid or Highlander Hybrid? As much as we, at the Sloane Automotive Group, would like to pick an overall winner, the truthful answer is it depends. For fuel efficiency and affordability. The RAV4 beats the Highlander. For space and features, the Highlander defeats the RAV4. Upon reading this blog, we suggest determining which factors are most important for you and your family’s needs. But rest assured. No matter which Toyota hybrid SUV you select, you will end up with a reliable vehicle with top-notch resale value.

Want to take an even deeper dive? You’re in luck. Research all our Toyota hybrid models. Check out our online inventory for a plethora of new Highlander and RAV4 hybrids for sale. Use our "Sloane at Home" feature to build your deal online. This fast and secure tool streamlines the purchase process by enabling you to obtain accurate finance and payment information without having to step inside our Philadelphia-area Toyota dealerships. From there, you can also schedule a test drive. However, if you have additional questions, feel free to contact us and we will get back to you shortly. We look forward to serving you and know you’re going to love the new 2023 RAV4 and Highlander hybrids.


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