• Which is the Best Crossover? 2018 CR-V vs. RAV4 vs. Escape vs. 2019 Cherokee Mega Mashup [Video]

    The crossover market has been booming for years, and these cars have been leading the charge. But which is the best crossover?

    Crossovers are among the most popular vehicles on the road today. They’re absolutely everywhere, and every manufacturer brings its own offering to the fiercely competitive segment. Compact crossovers, in particular, are among the most sought after cars in the U.S. The Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, and Ford Escape each sell in excess of 200,000 units every year. But how does the new Jeep Cherokee compare to the CR-V, RAV4 and Escape? Which one is the best crossover?

    FCA recently refreshed the Jeep Cherokee for the 2019 model year. It looks more mainstream than the previous model, but it hasn’t lost its off-road capability. As far as its ability to head off the beaten path, the Cherokee is the best crossover in this group. However, if you’re not concerned with off-road prowess, you may find one of the other options more appealing. In terms of finding “the best” crossover, it really depends on what you want from a crossover. To find out where each one excels, let’s take a look at each model in turn in this mega mashup review.

    Best Crossover: Honda CR-V
    [Photo: Honda]

    2018 Honda CR-V: The Family Hauler

    Honda redesigned the CR-V for the 2017 model year. Now in its fifth generation, the company has built upon the reputation of previous CR-Vs in creating this latest version. To that end, this crossover is well-engineered and thoughtfully laid out. All the controls are straightforward, and Honda uses a mix of materials throughout the cabin that make the CR-V feel more expensive than it is. It has the most commodious cargo area as well, which makes it a good choice for a family vehicle.

    As tested, this CR-V comes in the least expensive model in this test. An all-wheel drive EX is $29,325. That’s $315 less than the Escape, $802 less than the RAV4, and a whopping $4,395 less than the Cherokee. Mind you, there are a few reasons the Cherokee is so much more expensive than the CR-V.

    The Honda offers a good balance of power and fuel economy for your money. Its 1.5-liter turbo puts out 190 horsepower and 179 lb-ft of torque, routed through a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). It’s the second most powerful after the Cherokee, and has the second-most torque. However, that CVT does add a bit of a rubber-banding effect to the mix, so it takes a moment for that power to come on. It also has the best fuel economy, with an EPA-rated 29 MPG combined.

    Best crossover: Toyota RAV4
    [Photo: TFLcar]

    2018 Toyota RAV4: A Good All-rounder

    On paper, the Toyota RAV4 isn’t too dissimilar to the Honda CR-V. Of course, you could make that statement about compact crossovers in general. This segment is so fiercely competitive, automakers often benchmark each other, which results in remarkably similar offerings. As with the CR-V, Toyota uses a good blend of materials that make the car feel solid and comfortable. The RAV4’s interior feels a bit more cramped than the CR-V, however, and it’s centered a little more toward the driver.

    Unlike the Honda and Escape, the RAV4 offers up a 2.5-liter, naturally aspirated engine. With 176 horsepower and 172 lb-ft of torque, it’s the least powerful car here, but not by much. Since it is naturally aspirated, the RAV4’s power does come on in a more linear fashion than its turbocharged rivals. Altogether, the RAV4 is a more tossable car than the CR-V, though perhaps not as nimble as the Ford Escape.

    The RAV4 offers the best cargo volume with its seats up among these competitors. However, with the seats down, the CR-V beats the RAV4 by 2.5 cubic feet. Still, it’s a practical proposition, and you do get fairly decent fuel economy as well, if not as strong as the CVT-equipped CR-V.

    2017 Ford Escape SE
    [Photo: TFLcar]

    2018 Ford Escape: Nimble On-road Animal

    In its base form, the Ford Escape SE with four-wheel drive is the cheapest car in this group. However, as equipped, this Escape is slightly more expensive than the Honda CR-V. The Escape’s interior is awash with black plastics, although the light-colored seats brighten things up a bit. The interior and exterior design have a European flavor, as this generation Escape is a rebadged version of the European Ford Kuga.

    The Escape makes its power from a 1.5-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder – a layout similar to the Honda CR-V. However, it makes slightly less power at a higher point in the rev range. It has the most tossable character among the CR-V and RAV4, as it is a bit smaller than both those cars.

    The Escape is the least practical car of those three, mainly owing to its size. However, it does have a bit more cargo space than the new Cherokee. As the Escape has the same power output and weighs about the same as the Toyota RAV4, it offers similar fuel economy.

    2019 Jeep Cherokee
    [Photo: Jeep]

    2019 Jeep Cherokee: New, Mainstream Face, Power, and Off-Road Capability

    You can buy the new Jeep Cherokee with the Pentastar V6 (the only car here with a V6 option), but we have the brand new, 2.0-liter turbo. The Cherokee is, by a wide margin, the most powerful car of the group. However, as equipped, it’s also by far the most expensive. At $33,720, this 2019 Jeep Cherokee Latitude Plus 4×4 is $4,395 more than the Honda CR-V, and $3,593 more than the Toyota RAV4. FCA kept the Cherokee’s interior nicely trimmed and well-equipped. With the off-road kit, you do also get more for your money.

    Since the Cherokee is the most powerful, it’s also the fastest. Not only that, but the 2.0-liter turbo model has the best towing capacity of the group. While the Honda and Toyota are each rated to tow 1,500 pounds and the Escape 3,500, the Cherokee can tow up to 4,000 pounds. While EPA mileage figures have not been released yet, we do expect this car to get the worst fuel economy of the group, since it’s putting out nearly 300 horsepower. Jeep also hasn’t released curb weight figures for the 2.0-liter Cherokee either, although the 2.4-liter four-wheel drive model weighs about 4,000 pounds.

    The Jeep Cherokee isn’t quite as practical as the other cars in the group, as it turns out. The Cherokee devotes more space to the passengers than to cargo, so its overall practicality for hauling the family’s stuff is affected. With the seats up, there’s 25.8 cubic feet (you can get a bit more with sliding rear seats). Even with the seats down, there is 54.9 cubic feet of cargo volume – 20.9 cubic feet less than the Honda CR-V.

    On paper, all these crossovers come out fairly similar in terms of size, equipment, and price, depending on which model you test. When searching for a new crossover, your decision may well come down to styling or specific abilities, such as the Honda’s superior cargo space or the Jeep’s off-road capability. Which is the best crossover? It really depends on what you need from this sort of vehicle.

    Stay tuned to TFLcar.com for more news, views, and real-world, crossover mashup reviews! Subscribe to The Fast Lane Car and TFLnow on YouTube for the latest videos on your favorite new models.


    2018 Honda CR-V
    EX AWD
    2018 Toyota RAV4
    2018 Ford Escape
    SE 4WD
    2019 Jeep Cherokee
    Latitude Plus 4×4
    On Sale: Now Now Now Q1 2018
    Base MSRP: $28,350 $27,090 $25,450 $27,995
    Price as Tested: $29,325 $30,127 $29,640 $33,720
    Engine: 1.5-liter 4-cyl. turbo  2.5-liter 4-cyl. 1.5-liter 4-cyl. turbo 2.0-liter 4-cyl. turbo
    Drivetrain (Layout): Front engine, all-wheel drive Front engine, all-wheel drive Front engine, four-wheel drive Front engine, four-wheel drive
    Horsepower: 190 hp @ 5,600 RPM  176 hp @ 6,000 RPM 179 hp @ 6,000 RPM 270 hp @ 5,250 RPM
    Torque: 179 lb-ft @ 2,000-5,000 RPM 172 lb-ft @ 4,100 RPM 177 lb-ft @ 2,500 RPM 295 lb-ft @ 3,000-4,500 RPM 
    Transmission: Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) 6-speed automatic 6-speed automatic 9-speed automatic
    Fuel capacity: 14.0 gal 15.9 gal  15.7 gal 15.9 gal
    Fuel economy (EPA): 27 City/33 Highway/29 Combined MPG 22 City/28 Highway/25 Combined MPG 22 City/28 Highway/24 Combined MPG TBD MPG


    2018 Honda CR-V
    EX AWD
    2018 Toyota RAV4
    2018 Ford Escape

    SE 4WD

    2019 Jeep Cherokee
    Latitude Plus 4×4
    Wheelbase: 104.7 inches 104.7 inches  105.9 inches 106.6 inches
    Length:  180.6 inches 183.5 inches 178.1 inches 182.0 inches
    Width: 73.0 inches 72.6 inches 81.8 inches* 73.2 inches
    Height:  66.5 inches 67.1 inches 66.3 inches 67.3 inches**
    Curb Weight: 3,473 pounds 3,605 pounds 3,668 pounds TBD
    Cargo Volume (Seats up/down): 29.2/75.8 cu. ft. 38.4/73.4 cu. ft. 34.0/64.0 cu. ft. 25.8/54.9 cu. ft.
    Towing Capacity: 1,500 pounds 1,500 pounds 3,500 pounds 4,000 pounds

    Zach Butler
    Zach Butler
    Zach Butler is the Managing Editor for The Fast Lane Car. A Colorado native, he spends his free time exploring the hidden gems and scenic vistas of the Rocky Mountains. Zach is a life-long automotive fanatic and is based in Boulder, Colorado.

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    15 thoughts on “Which is the Best Crossover? 2018 CR-V vs. RAV4 vs. Escape vs. 2019 Cherokee Mega Mashup [Video]

      1. Hi Alex,

        While we would love to make mashup reviews comprising every car in a segment, we’re currently limited by the cars we can actually drive at any given moment. In other words, we compared these four cars because these were the cars available for us to compare for this particular video.

        We are working toward pulling those sorts of reviews together! That may well be possible with your support. The larger our audience (and their demand) becomes, the greater opportunity we have to answer your questions across an entire segment in our reviews.

    1. Since your stated purpose was to explore the question of ‘best’ (not ‘most popular’)… I am quite disappointed that you included the Ford & the Jeep, and excluded the Subaru Forester and the Mazda CX-5.

    2. well….um, why did jeep set you up with their best engine and the escapes worst engine?
      what about how the 4wd systems actually work?
      i understand the honda is very late reacting?

      1. What? It sounded like a tin can in 2012. The V6 didn’t change that. I haven’t driven the 4th gen. The Corolla is more upscale now, I will reserve judgement until J can test drive one. But I am interested.

      2. Yeah, they did kinda ruin the Rav4 since they took out the 3rd row an the V6.
        We bought one of those, and it is still a great vehicle.

    3. How are any of these in the same category as a Jeep off-road wise and can we get back to v6’s and get rid of these fart can buster 4 banger turbos.

        1. I don’t drive anything with a fart can so no clue what your talking about maybe the water in you back woods okc is polluted again lol 😂

    4. The Jeep is clearly superior. 100HP more and at least some off-road capability. Is there really a choice? Even if its 8K more who cares. You don’t buy a new car every year, so get the best you can. Me, I will take some lead in my Pencil and leave cutie pie cross overs to chicks.

    5. The Jeep is not even close to RAV-4 or CRV when it comes to reliability and quality. Average transactions prices are at least 3-4K less for Cherokee. Resale value of Cherokee is also indicative of its mediocre at best reliability.

      Not to mention for most women drivers, they much rather deal with Toyota and Honda dealers than the old school Jeep service bays and their recall ready ways.

      That’s all before that problematic Jeep 9 speed transmission. And no one ever bought this generation of Cherokee for off road ability.

      So all to say if you are in this market, save yourselves the problem of dealing with old nasty dirty Jeep dealers, and deal with clean Toyota and Honda dealers and simply a much more reliable vehicle.

    6. Great review, love the grid layout for easy\fast summary. But…Ford Escape “tossable character”? Umm, can someone tell me what that means?

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