Follow by Email

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Vehicle Comparison including RAV4 & Highlander

Hi folks,

Since getting home from this year’s travels I have been very busy around the house getting many things done. My thoughts have been with vandwellers having linked up with two couples in MA.  I took a short trip for a long weekend getaway in ME too.

Some time ago, I was asked to include the RAV4 and Highlander in my blog.  The following is a reader of this blog’s question.

“I am interested in buying Rav4 or Highlander. Could you please compare these cars totally grade with your 3 cars ?
thanks a lot”

Below is the Toyota RAV4 I caught at an event.

Although I have never owned a RAV4 I have gone to the showroom many times to look at them.  Why?

Answer: For all the things I love about the Prius and all the things I don’t like about the Prius.  If I hadn’t my Tacoma or found a Fleet shell model I suspect I would be in a RAV4 today for my travels.  

First, is ground clearance and the RAV4 gives me better ground clearance over my 2011 Prius and the newer Prius that is yet again a bit closer to the ground.  

Look up Ruby, AZ on Google and see that I drive the road from Nogales to Ruby only to get there and couldn’t get over s cattle guard that had too large of a drop off on the other side.  My Prius would have hung and gotten stuck on top of the guard.  

Ruby Road is leftbto right at top of picture.  The cattle guard is on Ruby Access Rd.  (Brown rectangle) can only go over guard crossing.

So, follow the map from Ruby to Arivarca.  A few miles north of Ruby the road crosses a wash.  The water wasn’t high, but the ridges left in the road from moving water made it impassable for the Prius to continue to Arivarca 

Above this is the section of Ruby Road on way to Arivarca with pin drops in both sides of the road Prius couldn’t get through without hanging on sandbars.

Fail!  But the Prius does well in so many other ways but so does the RAV4.  For me it has to be the hybrid RAV4 to fill in for the Prius and it does.  Drawbacks of the RAV4?  Yes.  The current RAV4 hybrid has a battery bump to design around, but I can design compensat for that.  Any other issues? Yes. The RAV4 hybrid is not true all wheel drive.  After reviewing the design of the AWD it does not matter to me that the front wheels are powered by the engine and back are powered by the electric motor.  Heck the Prius doesn’t have AWD

Now to the Highlander and yes the hybrid version.

Below is a Toyota Highlander picture I took from a Google search.

I owned an older non- hybrid highlander and although nice and more room, I don’t care.  I’m good in my Prius for room and don’t need more at the cost of lower mpg that doesn’t make sense.

So, as you can tell.  I have an opiolnion.

This year at the RTR I met up with my friend Susan from Oklahoma and her new RAV4 and installed a solar panel that I would be proud to have on my RAV4.

You can’t tell it’s there and you passively charge lithium battery so you don’t have to run the engine.  Susan’s RAV4 is not hybrid and she gets all the solar she needs from 80 watts and can set up to charge her lithium battery when she drives if she wishes.

An additional testimony is directly from me as Susan followed me and my Tacoma with FWC camper up and down roads that were challenging.  Yes this is true and I was sold on the RAV4 since I left Utah at the end of March.

Am I still a Prius guy.  Yes I love my Prius but one day it will need replacing.  The RAV4 is the only vehicle I would replace it with right now



  1. Thank you so much for posting this. I followed your Prius journeys with great interest, and as a result, decided to try a similar trip of my own in the future but in either a hybrid Rav4 or hybrid Highlander. I haven't seen either vehicle in person yet as my planned trip is a couple years away, but I'm constantly researching in preparation.

    1. Hi,

      I encourage all potential small vehicle owners to try what they currently have for overnight travel. Small vehicle dwelling is not for everyone. You are best to try vandwelling and if you like it the vehicle Choice is much easier.

      Case in point, is my friend in Oklahoma who I helped put solar on her RAV4 (non-hybrid). She had an older Honda CRX and she vandwelled in that as she owned it. When it came to replacing it she decided on the RAV4 and knew exactly how she wanted it set up. Although the bed took a bit to design and work the way she wanted, she is thrilled with the RAV4 and I was surprised by where she took it.

      Before a purchase ensure you know what it is like to live in a car


  2. In grading either a Rav4 or a Highlander against a Prius, I think there is no way to overlook the Prius convenience of all night climate control. Those who read your blog know that you are rather hardy when it comes to temperature. But for those who enjoy the comforts of "home," its nice to be able to sleep at 68 degrees no matter whether it is a hot summer night of 90 degrees and humid, or a cold winter night of 10 degrees.

    While the Prius restricts WHERE you can go due to low ground clearance, it does not restrict WHEN you can go due to temperature.

    1. Happy Runner,

      Sorry for the response delay. I have been focusing on home life.

      I am remiss that I wasn’t clearer that my vehicle comparison did not express that the RAV4 and Highlander come in hybrid models as well as non hybrid models.

      Those looking for climate control and higher ground clearance, both the RAV4 hybrid and the Highlander hybrid will provide that function as well as the Prius. The only difference is that both alternative hybrids use much more gas. The RAV4 is the best of both worlds with higher clearance and climate control in ready mode like the Prius.

      The Hylander gets worse Milage for a hybrid and it’s size gain and Milage as a hybrid does not make it my choice.


  3. I did not realize that the RAV4 and Highlander and the "ready mode." Come to think of it, I had thought Prius was alone on that. Just another thing I've learned from reading your blog!

  4. I hadn't realized that those were hybrids. It actually hadn't dawned on me that other hybrids worked like the Prius with READY mode. Although I just did some research and it seems like some other hybrids don't. I looked at the Chrysler Pacifica minivan and the READY mode cuts off after 60 minutes. Not sure whether that is common for other manufactures.

    1. Hi,

      I haven’t done research on other company hybrids. Thanks for the feedback.

      The Toyota Prius electro-mechanical design is a wonderful thing. Although I didn’t use my Prius for Brent’s Travels this year, it’s my choice to drive everywhere else. It’s just fun