Likes: Comfortable front seats, roomy interior, silky smooth engines, strong reliability and resale value.
Dislikes: Four-cylinder feels underpowered at times, not much fun behind the wheel, bland styling.
The Rav4 is the most popular compact sport utility in the U.S. It's known for a spotless reliability record and great value for the money. However, there are rivals that are starting to catch up. How will the Rav4 hold up against some of the newer more competent rivals.
Performance: The Rav4 comes with two engines to choose from. A 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 179hp, and a 3.5-liter V6 with 269hp. The pick of the range is the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. It's punchy enough for city driving, and offers decent pace on the highway. The six-cylinder provides strong peformance, but is better suited with a four-wheel-drive configuration.
Ride & Handling: The Rav4 isn't meant to be driven in a sporty manner. It suspension is set towards comfort. City driving is comfortable and smooth. Highway driving is excellent. There's plenty of comfort for long distance driving. The steering feels vague at times.
Refinement: Wind and road noise are well-contained. There's very little road noise. The engines are hushed and operate smoothly and efficiently.
Behind the wheel: Drivers won't struggle to find a good driving position in the Rav4. The steering wheel adjust for reach and height. The seats are comfortable and easy to adjust. The dashboard has a no-nonsense layout. There's nothing flashy about it, but you'd be missing the point. The logical layout is designed to be user friendly. Something that's common among all Toyota vehicles.
Space & Practicality: The rear seats slide forwards and back for extra cargo space or people space. The boot is decent with many secret compartments to hide valuables. The rear seats fold flat to create a generous loadbay.
Equipment: All Rav4s come with air-conditioning, keyless entry, heated/electric door mirrors and automatic headlamps. Step up to the higher trim level to get leather seats, navigation system and a sportier looking trim. All trims come with optional four-wheel-drive.
Buying & Owning: The Rav4 is priced competitively with its rivals. Resale values are strong, and running costs are low.
Quality & Reliability: Toyota has a reputation for building strong reliable vehicles. The Rav4 is no exception to this. Some cabin materials may look cheap, but they feel sturdy and long lasting. The mechanicals have been tested and tried. JD Power Survey rated the Rav4 in the top 10 for tough and durable products.
Safety & Security: The base trim level comes with side-curtian airbags, ABS and ESP traction control. The four-wheel-drive models have good grip, and torque is diverted to the rear wheels automatically if the front wheels lose traction. Deadlocks and a alarm system are fitted across the range to keep theft at bay.
There are so many compact sport utility vehicles to choose from. The Rav4 sits in the crowd as the safe dependable choose among them. But with many other rivals catching up in those levels. The Rav4 will have to step up its game if Toyota wants to keep being best selling automaker in the U.S.