Which Is Better to Buy Pre-Owned? The Highlander or the RAV4?

A white 2020 Toyota Highlander is shown towing a boat after leaving a used Toyota dealer.

Are you considering moving on to another vehicle? With that decision comes dozens of others, like body style, new or used, model year, and trim level. How do you know which one works best for you? If you peruse the inventory of a used Toyota dealer, you’ll find several choices that could work, but the final decision will be the most difficult. You might want to test-drive your top picks to see how they feel. Perhaps you’ll want to ask a sales associate about each model's safety or tech features, or you'll simply seek their input as a tiebreaker.

Whatever the case, buying is often easiest when you’ve made all the smaller decisions that come before—what brand, what body type, what model, and so forth. A seasoned used Toyota dealer can be quite helpful in guiding you through these decisions, helping you narrow down your search and select the vehicle that will be yours for the next several years. Once the paperwork is signed, you can drive it home and revel in the thought of your latest purchase—but before you do all that, you might want to consider one crucial advantage: buying used.

Consider Buying Used

Buying from a used Toyota dealer brings with it the opportunity to get a great deal on a high-quality vehicle. There are other perks to buying used, as well, including lower and slower depreciation, dealer-installed updates or patches, and saving money toward accessorizing or outfitting your new car further. Toyota is an excellent brand to buy used because its models are renowned for their longevity. Not only do they last a long time, but they’re also easier and less expensive to maintain or repair, which will assuredly save you money in the long run.

When you resell, you won’t lose as much of the value as you would with a newer vehicle. As soon as a new vehicle is driven off the lot, it instantly loses a large chunk of its value—and after four to five years, its value has sunk by about half of its original. So, if you want to buy a vehicle that will retain most of its value while also saving you money in terms of maintenance and repair, then you’ll want to consider stopping by a used Toyota dealer like ours to see what we have in stock. Once you’ve narrowed your choices, you may find yourself split between two somewhat similar models—like the Highlander and the RAV4—and therein lies the most difficult decision...

The Toyota Highlander

The Highlander is a popular choice among Toyota enthusiasts for its versatility, fuel efficiency, and generous space. With three rows, it provides plenty of seating for you and up to seven passengers. There’s even plentiful trunk space for things like groceries, camping gear, or luggage for the occasional road trip with the family. Everyone has plenty of room to stretch out, and all are protected by Toyota’s suite of safety features. If you look at the 2019 Toyota Highlander, you’ll be greeted with multiple powertrain options and whether or not you want a model that has backseat entertainment already installed.

A close up shows someone starting a 2022 Toyota RAV4 Limited.

Front and rear climate control are standard, but if you find an LS Plus or higher trim level, you’ll get a model that has three-zone climate control; this allows every family member to adjust the temperature in their row. Infotainment touchscreens vary in size, depending upon trim level, so be sure to talk to your used Toyota dealer during your initial search to ensure you get the size you'd like, in addition to other features you are looking for or would prefer not to pay extra for.

The Toyota RAV4

Looking for something a bit smaller and perhaps even a bit more adventurous? You may want to check out the Toyota RAV4. This two-row SUV has room for a driver and four passengers, though it won’t cramp your style since it has plenty of space for everybody to move around and get comfortable and far more space for cargo. You’ll appreciate its customizability, especially if you’re looking for something a little more off-road inclined. The RAV4 is an incredibly popular choice with Toyota fans, so if you see one at a good price, you may be tempted to snatch it up right away. Just make sure that it's the trim level that you want so that all the features on your list are included.

The 2020 RAV4 has a larger trunk area, which means you can pack in all the suitcases, sports gear, fishing equipment, and other necessities before you drive off on your next adventure. On select trims, it also comes with niceties like a steering wheel and shift knob—both encased in leather—and an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment center. All 2020 RAV4s are equipped standard with adaptive cruise control and automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, which is especially helpful when you’re off-roading in areas that people might be exploring on foot.

Which Is Best for You?

If the question is which one has the right amount of seating, that’s simple enough; if you want a vehicle that can carry up to four passengers and no more, then the Toyota RAV4 is the one you’ll want to go with, but if you need something that can occasionally tote up to seven, you’ll want to opt for the Highlander. But what if it’s more complex than that? What if you want a vehicle that is fuel-efficient, roomy, and reliable? That could be either the Highlander or the RAV4. So how do you choose? Which one will you still enjoy driving next year or a few years beyond that?

If you’re looking for a larger commuter that is still fuel-efficient, then the Highlander is your best bet. There’s plenty of room, it has a reassuring suite of safety features, and it commands respect. You can choose from a half dozen trim levels, resulting in a truly unique combination of what you love most about the Toyota brand. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something a bit more rugged that can handle a walk on the wild side but still look presentable in the city, then it’s the RAV4 you want. Either way, you’re getting a Toyota, and that’s something worth celebrating.

A silver 2020 Toyota RAV4 XSE is shown driving towards a city.

Drop By to Check Out the Highlander and RAV4 Up Close

Buying a used vehicle doesn’t have to be nerve-wracking. Toyota’s reputation for well-made, long-lasting vehicles has been proven over and over again by tens of thousands of satisfied customers. We can help you sort out what you want at a price that works with your budget; walk right into our dealership and ask about either the Highlander or RAV4 and get your answers. When you consider these two models, you’re considering a vehicle that will work hard for you, providing years of comfort, fuel-efficient travel, and excellent handling.

Whether you go with the larger Highlander or the rugged RAV4, your decision will net you confidence, excitement, and a reliable ride that's ready to take to the road. With a Toyota, you’re not just getting a vehicle—you’re getting high-quality craftsmanship, cutting-edge technology, and a means to let go and be free.