RAV4 v CR-V v Fusion

I spent the last three days riding all over the eastern US in three different vehicles - 1) 2007 Toyota RAV4, 4 cylinder, Automatic, FWD; 2) 2007 Ford Fusion, V-6, AWD; 3) 2007 Honda CR-V 4 cylinder automatic FWD. I
own the Fusion, my SO owns the RAV4, and a good friend owns the CR-V. I regularly drive the Fusion and RAV4. This past weekend I drove the RAV4 to Annapolis Md and back (350 miles or so one way). Next day I drove the Fusion 300+ miles and on the same day rode around 120 miles in the CR-V. I did not actually drive the CR-V, so my impression of it are from the passengers seat. The RAV4 is about 1 year old and has around 15k miles. The Fusion is 10 months old and has around 15k miles as well. The CR-V is only a couple of months old and has less than 3K miles. Here is how I see the pluses and minuses of the three vehicles (I understand the Fusion is not actually a competitive vehicle, but it is my primary frame of reference) -
Looks - The Fusion is a car and looks ok if you like cars, but you cannot compare it to the two small SUVs. Of the two SUVs I prefer the exterior appearance of the CR-V. It is just a little cleaner looking to me. However, there is not a great deal of difference in the looks of any of these small Crossover SUVs. Interestingly while we were in Annapolis, we had the chance to look over a 2008 Highlander. My SO thought it was a RAV4 until she sat in it and realized it was a lot bigger.
Interior - This is definitely a question of taste. I prefer my Fusion - more "German" looking - simple, clean, functional. The CR-V was also very good. I especially liked the CR-V's radio. The CR-V was greatly improved compared to my son's 2003 Accord. The RAV4 looked like they tossed the controls in the car and nailed them down where ever they fell. It has the worst controls layout of any car I have ever driven, but I have gotten used to it. The design of the gear shift alone should have gotten a department of engineers fired. The idiot that designed the cruise control thingy should hide in shame. If you like simple white on black instruments arranged in logical manner, you'll like the Fusion dash. If you like overlapping chrome ringed instrument with weird colored lights, then the Honda and Toyota instrument panels will be appealing. Of those two, the Honda gauges are the easier to read.
Engine - If you want a quiet smooth 4 cylinder, the CR-V is awesome. You couldn't even tell it was running when it was idling. It never sounded harsh, even under hard acceleration. By comparison, the RAV4 4 cylinder was a tractor engine. It was definitely noticeable at idle, and was harsh when pushed. At a cruise, it was as silent as the Honda 4 cylinder. Since I didn't actually drive the CR-V I cannot comment on how well it performed relative to the RAV4. The Toyota 4 cylinder is very powerful. We had four people and luggage in the RAV4 for our trip to Annapolis. I had no trouble keeping up with traffic on I-95 either up hill or on the level. The only problem was the horrid cruise control. Usually I engage the cruise control on the Interstate. It was not possible to do so with this RAV4. On the slightest incline the car would violently down shift, then upshift, and generally jerk us all over the place. My SO says this is only a problem with the A/C on and when you try to cruise at 60 to 65 mph. To me the performance of the RAV4 cruise control was totally unacceptable. I want my SO to take it in and get it fixed (it has to be broken - no way any company could sell something that horrid). The Fusion has a V-6 so it is not directly comparable. In terms of power, it is clearly stronger than either of the 4 cylinders (as you would expect). It runs very smoothly, but is nosier than the CR-V but quieter than the RAV4. I give the edge in transmissions to the CR-V with the RAV4 and Fusion not far behind in that order. They all shift smoothly, but the Fusion transmission shifts too frequently for my tastes.
The rides are a matter of taste. The RAV4 has the "softest" ride. The CR-V has the stiffest ride. The Fusion is somewhere in between. My Fusion has AWD and definitely handles far batter than the RAV4. However, it is not fair to compare the handling of a car to an SUV - even a small crossover SUV. I did not actually drive the CR-V but it "felt" nervous compared to the RAV4. It also had less body lean.
At a cruise, there was not much difference in the noise. It is my impression that the Fusion was the quietest and the RAV4 the noisiest. Both the RAV4 and CR-V suffered from more wind noise than the Fusion, but I suppose that is normal when comparing an SUV to a car. The RAV4 definitely had more road noise than the other two, but that is likely related to the tires installed on the vehicles. Under hard acceleration the RAV4 was far noisier than the CR-V or Fusion, but at a cruise the engine noise disappeared. None were objectionable.
All three vehicles got similar gas mileage. The one tank average for the RAV4 on the trip to Annapolis was around 27 mpg (give or take 0.5 mpg - I really packed the tank full at the beginning and probably didn't get in quite as much in Annapolis). According to their trip computers, both the CR-V and Fusion were getting around 26.5 mpg on the highway. I'd guess individual driving styles and traffic conditions overwhelmed any inherent gas mileage differences between the three vehicles. It should be pointed out that the Fusion was AWD, and the other two were front wheel drive only vehicles. The AWD option hurts the Fusion's fuel economy (1 to 2 mpg). Last year we drove a Grand Marquis to Annapolis, and it actually got better gas mileage than the RAV4 (despite being bigger and faster).
I can't say anything meaningful about the relative reliability of the three vehicles. None have been back to the dealer. The RAV4 needs for something to be done to the cruise control , but otherwise it has been perfect. The Fusion has a similar number of miles (compared to the RAV4) and has been perfect so far. The CR-V is virtually brand new. All three were well assembled. No squeaks, no rattles.
I am a large guy. Of the three, I find the seating position in the Fusion the best. It also has the best seats. The CR-V was a close second. The seats in the RAV4 were the least comfortable, but it is a base model, while the other two are higher line models. Two things bug me about the RAV4 - the travel on the driver's seat seems unnecessarily restricted (i.e., it doesn't go back as far as it could) and the console jams the side of my leg. The console in the Fusion also jams my leg if I move the seat forward, but since the seat goes back much further, I can move the seat back and stretch out my leg and reduce the interference. The console in the CR-V is of a superior design. However, I hated the locks on the CR-V. They automatically lock the doors, and unlike the Fusion, they don't automatically unlock when you pull the front door release.
I do oil changes on both the RAV4 and the Fusion, and although the Fusion is not bad, it is not nearly as easy as the RAV4. The RAV4 is one of the three easiest cars I've ever performed an oil change on. The RAV4 is starting to wear the front tires in an uneven manner. It may need an alignment, but at least part of the problem is the lack of routine tire rotation (my SO doesn't want to have them rotated).
Of the two small SUVs, I'd give the edge to the CR-V, but the differences are small. Individual preferences would overwhelm the small differences. My opinion might change if I drove a higher line version of the RAV4. The RAV4 and the Fusion were very close in cost, the CR-V was slightly more expensive.
All three of us are happy with our choices. I am well satisfied with the Fusion. My SO loves her RAV4. My good friend is sure his CR-V is perfect (it is really his wife's car and she likes it - so he likes it).
Ed White
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I am waiting for the diesel CR-V with the 6 speed manual - perhaps in 2009 here in Texas ? 35 mpg city, 40 mpg highway (conjecture based on UK numbers).
Lynn
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This is the first time I heard of a Honda diesel, except for power generators. Toyota diesel engines are common in Asia and my former employer has a Toyota diesel van for employees, and those things can go.. 2.0 diesel engine carrying 10 passengers . The team up of Isuzu and Toyota to build diesel hybrids is something too look forward to.
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Honda has been building a 2.2L 138 hp turbo diesel in the UK since 2004. http://www.channel4.com/4car/di/honda/cr-v/1022/1 http://www.honestjohn.co.uk/road_tests/index.htm?id 4
Honda's new diesel that meets US emission is supposed to be 160+ hp: http://www.leftlanenews.com/honda-diesel-line-to-include-civic-accord-cr-v.html
Lynn
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I agree, the CRVs external appearance looks better than the RAV4. But, I think the 2007 Camry has a better appeal vs the Fusion... Its a personal preference, I'm not a big fan of those big chrome grills. But for FWD, instead of RAV4 or CRV I would rather get the new Scion Xb

The 07 4cyl Camry has the same 2AZ-FE engine as the RAV4, I also have the cruise control disappointments you have, and it doesn't matter if AC is on or off. I thought that was due to the 5-spd junk transmission but the RAV4 has a 4-spd. Camry 3307 lbs RAV4 3300 lbs. Is the Fusion drive by wire and have the "tip tronic" (or whatever you call it) transmission like a Camry v6. There are several customer complaints on message boards on the Camry transmission. Why does Honda have one engine for the CRV and no V6?

The fusion would definitely have more driver room since it's a mid- sized sedan, the RAV4 is like a corolla when it comes to interior size. But on cargo space, the rav4 and crv has the advantage over a sedan.

Tell her an alignment is much more expensive than a tire rotation =) and you can't DIY an alignment.
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On Mon, 8 Oct 2007 23:09:02 -0400, "C. E. White"

That's funny I own a 2003 Accord and test drove a 2008 CR-V and I like the Accord better. I was not that impressed at all with the CR-V's acceleration and the rest of it was okay at best. Nope, I prefer my Accord (4 cyl auto) between the two of them. Yeah I know the CR-V is supposedly a good vehicle but my Accord has proven to be a good vehicle.
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I would not a buy a CR-V until they get the 2.2L diesel in it here in the USA (supposedly in 2009, 160+ hp, 250+ ftlb torgue, 35 mpg city ???, 40 mpg highway ???).
Lynn
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Having a diesel version of the CR-V is fine, Honda might want to consider making the Pilot or the Ridgeline as diesel given its lower MPG.
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Funny you should say that: http://www.autoblog.com/2006/12/04/honda-may-outfit-ridgeline-and-others-with-v6-diesel / http://blogs.motortrend.com/1006741/car-news/honda-accord-ridgeline-go-diesel/index.html
Lynn
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Wow even the Odysseys! Nice! maybe its time for me to get a minivan On what other countries do they already sell diesel Hondas?, or does Honda want to make the US as their "test" market.
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The 2.2L diesel has been sold in the Accord, Civic and CR-V in the UK since 2004 ?. http://www.honestjohn.co.uk/road_tests/index.htm?id 4
I think that the V6 diesel is an all new engine.
I read somewhere recently that Honda is building a new factory in Poland to build 1,500,000 diesel engines per year.
Lynn
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Laws against diesels in several USA states prevent that.
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wrote:

I don't think that there are laws against diesels. The emissions standards in some states are so stringent that diesels have difficulty meeting the standards.
--

Ray O
(correct punctuation to reply)
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Quite different vehicles. I would expect the Accord to perform better than the higher CR-V.
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