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The compact CUV class isn’t just the most one of the most important segments in North America, it’s one of the most competitive. Big players like RAV4, CR-V and Forester are now household names.

But what about the segment below that? The subcompact SUV space might not be as big, but it’s also quite competitive. And if you don’t need the size of the RAV4 or CR-V both Honda and Toyota offer newly debuted subcompact SUVs that offer a lot for the money.

honda hr-v vs toyota corolla cross: battle of the baby cuvs

So let’s break down the Honda HR-V and the Toyota Corolla Cross to see if we can find an advantage for one or the other.

The Cheapest Honda You Can Buy

Let’s Start with the HR-V. At the moment, it’s the least expensive new Honda you can buy—even undercutting the Civic sedan by a few hundred bucks.

honda hr-v vs toyota corolla cross: battle of the baby cuvs

The entry-level LX model has a base price around $25,000, and selecting Honda’s Real Time AWD system to that will add $1,500 to the price. The most expensive HR-V you can get, an EX-L with AWD has an MSRP of $30,645.

honda hr-v vs toyota corolla cross: battle of the baby cuvs

Regardless of trim level, all HR-Vs are powered by a 158 horsepower 2.0L naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine mated to a CVT. And that makes the HR-V one of the slower crossovers you can currently buy.

honda hr-v vs toyota corolla cross: battle of the baby cuvs

On the other hand, it has Honda’s typically great packaging, a modern refined cabin and a reasonably capable AWD system if you’d like to head off the pavement or drive in winter conditions.

honda hr-v vs toyota corolla cross: battle of the baby cuvs

The Smaller RAV4

As you’d imagine, the Corolla Cross is priced very similarly to the HR-V, with an AWD-equipped base “L” model having an MSRP of $25,695. At the top end, a loaded XLE AWD has an MSRP of $32,465.

honda hr-v vs toyota corolla cross: battle of the baby cuvs

The Corolla Cross is also powered by a naturally aspirated 2.0L engine mated to a CVT, though at 169 horsepower, it’s more powerful than Honda. That being said, in the real world neither is going to have impressive acceleration.

honda hr-v vs toyota corolla cross: battle of the baby cuvs

The Corolla Cross is roomy for its size, but the HR-V is a little larger overall and thus has more cargo and passenger space. Ultimately the two are very-well matched with the Honda earning the edge in practicality, but at the expense of fuel economy.

honda hr-v vs toyota corolla cross: battle of the baby cuvs

Hybrid is Best?

Then there’s the upcoming Corolla Cross Hybrid, which looks like it will be worth the wait. First off, it’s more powerful than the gasoline version with 194 horsepower, and it gets better fuel economy at 37 MPG combined.

honda hr-v vs toyota corolla cross: battle of the baby cuvs

In that sense its just like its larger sibling the RAV4 Hybrid, which beats out the gasoline-only version in terms of both performance and fuel economy.

honda hr-v vs toyota corolla cross: battle of the baby cuvs

Pricing hasn’t yet been announced for the Corolla Cross Hybrid. It will be more expensive than the regular version, but the improvements in performance and efficiency should be worth the modest price increase. The Corolla Cross Hybrid will also be available in higher grade trims than the 2.0 model.

honda hr-v vs toyota corolla cross: battle of the baby cuvs

In terms of off-roading capability, it’s likely that neither will be quite as capable as a RAV4 or CR-V, but when equipped with AWD they should still handle most trails, even more so if you upgrade their stock all-season tires to all-terrains like the Nitto Nomad Grappler crossover terrain tire.

honda hr-v vs toyota corolla cross: battle of the baby cuvs

For the moment, between the Honda and Toyota, we’d give the edge to the Corolla Cross Hybrid once it starts hitting dealer lots, but both offer a lot of value.

honda hr-v vs toyota corolla cross: battle of the baby cuvs

Buyers will have to make their own decision between the evenly-matched Honda and Toyota in addition to deciding whether it’s worth stepping up to a larger CUV like the RAV4 or CR-V, but that’s a subject for another story.

Keyword: Honda HR-V vs Toyota Corolla Cross: Battle of the Baby CUVs

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