Should A Mechanicsville Driver Buy A Used RAV4 or Used Corolla?

February 10th, 2023 by

A blue 2016 Toyota RAV4 is shown from the front at an angle.

Decisions, decisions.

Some decisions are more drastic than others, including which vehicle you should buy the next time you’re at the dealership. At Haley Toyota of Richmond, we’re here to help the commuters looking for a Mechanicsville used Toyota dealer answer the question: should you consider a used RAV4 or a used Corolla? Both vehicles are perfect commuter models and fit many different budgets.

While both the Corolla and the RAV4 can be considered flagship models in the Toyota lineup, they fit very different segments in the automotive world. The Toyota RAV4 is a compact crossover SUV, while the Corolla is a compact sedan. From the outside, these models may only share a couple of features, like the number of doors and the shape of the headlights, but once you take a look beneath the surface, these models share quite a bit.

What Does the RAV4 Offer?

The Toyota RAV4 is an excellent Toyota vehicle and is considered the first compact crossover SUV (what can beat that?). Against the Corolla, the RAV4 has benefits like a more substantial engine that allows for towing, an increased payload capacity, and storage space that is substantially different. The RAV4 has much of what you’d want in an SUV, and commuters will be pleased to know they’ll be getting a fuel-efficient compact SUV too.

Let’s discuss the 2020 Toyota RAv4 versus the 2020 Toyota Corolla, to highlight the differences between these two great commuter models. The standard 2020 RAV4 comes equipped with a 2.5L Dynamic Force 4-cylinder engine paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. The 2020 RAV4 also had a hybrid option which came with a 2.5-liter Dynamic Force 4-cylinder engine with an electric motor. This engine is paired with a CVT transmission.

The standard 2020 RAV4 is available in one of six trims: the LE, XLE, XLE Premium, Adventure, TRD Off-Road, and Limited. The 2020 RAV4 Hybrid is only available in four trims: the LE Hybrid, XLE Hybrid, XSE Hybrid, and the Limited Hybrid.

If you live in Mechanicsville, it’s likely you have a regular commute down to Richmond. While it may not be the longest commute, having a fuel-efficient vehicle means you won’t have to stop at the pump as often. The 2020 RAV4 with the 2.5L engine earns EPA-estimated ratings of 28 MPG in the city and 35 MPG on the highway if you opt for FWD. With AWD equipped, 2020 RAV4 models have EPA-estimated ratings of 27 MPG in the city and 34 MPG on the highway. Those ratings are even better with the 2020 RAV4 Hybrid. This model can get an EPA-estimated 40 MPG combined.

If you are looking to tow, when the RAV4 is properly equipped, you can tow between 1,500 and 1,750 lbs. However, if you’re shopping for a RAV4, it isn’t a bad idea to start your search with the 2021 model, as the towing capacity was increased from 1,500 lbs to 3,500 lbs.

Aside from the excellent performance and efficiency, the RAV4 is the better choice for Mechanicsville commuters who carpool or regularly need ample cargo room available at all times. SUVs like the RAV4 offer various better dimensions, so you and your passengers don’t feel uncomfortable when sitting in the cabin. The RAV4 can give you 37.6 cu.ft. of cargo space available at all times, meaning everyone in the carpool can store their personal belongings in the back. Or, if you’re traveling alone but need to transport anything for work or otherwise, you can fold down the rear row of seats to increase the storage capacity to 69.8 cu.ft.

Undoubtedly, SUVs like the RAV4 have benefits to commuters, whether they’re driving down Lee-Davis Road or hitting the highway to get to Richmond, but now let’s shine some light onto the Corolla and see why you may want to consider a sedan for your daily commute instead.

A white 2021 Toyota Corolla SE is shown from the rear after leaving a Mechanicsville used Toyota dealer.

What About the Corolla?

The Toyota Corolla is one of the most recognizable commuter vehicles on the market. Between efficient powertrains, well-known reliability, and being an overall generous value proposition, the Toyota Corolla is what you get when you combine all three things into one complete package.

If you’re wondering if the Corolla is the better choice than the RAV4 for commuting around Mechanicsville or the state of Virginia, it’s entirely dependent on your situation. For example, we’ve established that SUVs like the RAV4 are ideal for people who carpool, and while you can certainly carpool with a sedan, it’s genuinely more uncomfortable to fit four to five adults in a sedan like the Corolla than an SUV like the RAV4. However, if you’re looking for better efficiency, you’ll be mostly driving alone or with one other person, and you want to save the most money between the two vehicles, the Corolla will be the way to go.

Compared to the 2020 RAV4, the 2020 Toyota Corolla comes equipped with one of two available powertrains: a 1.8L 4-cylinder engine and a 2.0L 4-cylinder engine. With the 1.8L engine, you can opt for a 6-speed manual transmission or a CVT. The 2.0L engine only comes paired with a CVT. Both engines perform admirably well, and while the Corolla isn’t suited for towing like its SUV sibling, it certainly makes up for it in fuel efficiency, making it a far more appealing offer to the commuters in the greater area of Mechanicsville, VA.

The Corolla has had a few changes over the past few years, with the 2023 Corolla ditching the 1.8L engine altogether and making the Corolla’s transmission solely a CVT. However, if you shop for an older model like the 2022, 2021, or 2020 models, you’ll have the choice of that manual transmission.

For 2020, the 1.8L I-4 engine turns in EPA-estimated ratings of 31 MPG in the city and 40 MPG on the highway if utilizing the CVT. When paired with the manual transmission instead, this powertrain earns ratings of 29 MPG in the city and 39 MPG on the highway. Upgrading from the 1.8L engine to the 2.0L engine in the 2020 Corolla shifts the fuel economy ratings to 30 MPG in the city and 38 MPG on the highway with the CVT.

The 2020 Corolla is available in a few variations that are worth noting. You can get the traditional sedan, a hybrid sedan, or a hatchback. The Corolla Hybrid is going to get you the best fuel economy ratings out of the bunch, with an EPA-estimated 53 MPG in the city and up to 52 MPG on the highway.

A white 2021 Toyota Corolla is shown driving past a lake.

Which One Should You Get?

Which of the two Toyota models you should get if you’re a commuter in the greater area of Mechanicsville is dependent on a couple of things. To recap what we’ve spoken about: if you’re operating a carpool for some co-workers or your friends, you’ll want a RAV4 because it offers more space for your passengers’ belongings, it’ll be more comfortable to fit everyone in the cabin, and is still impressively fuel-efficient. The Corolla is the better choice for cost-conscious drivers who want a simple yet effective automobile with a generous set of features and excellent fuel economy ratings. Regardless of which of the two Toyota models you get, you’ll be saving money in the long run, and you can find these vehicles used by shopping with us at Haley Toyota of Richmond.