Toyota RAV4 Research & Reviews

Overview & Reviews

Average Score

4.42/5 Average
2,041 Total Reviews
Model Overview:

Originating in the latter half of the 1990s, the Toyota RAV4 was one of the first entries in the small crossover SUV market. Almost two decades later, today's RAV4 is considerably larger than that pint-sized original, but the core appeal of versatility, good fuel economy and favorable on-road manners are firmly intact.

The RAV4 has been very popular with consumers through the years, so there are going to be plenty to choose from if you're searching for a used model. The newest third- and fourth-generation RAV4s are the most family-friendly and come with the most features, but an older RAV4 should still appeal to young families and urban singles in search of a reliable compact crossover SUV.

Current Toyota RAV4
The Toyota RAV4 is offered in LE, XLE and Limited trim levels. All have a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that produces 176 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic is standard and buyers can choose either front- or all-wheel drive. With an EPA-estimated 26 mpg in combined driving, the RAV4 is as fuel-efficient as its competitors.

Base LE standard feature highlights include air-conditioning, reclining second-row seats, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, a touchscreen interface and iPod/USB integration. The XLE adds alloy wheels, heated mirrors, a sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control and sport front seats. The Limited features bigger wheels, a power liftgate, keyless ignition/entry, a power driver seat, heated front seats and faux leather upholstery.
Major options, depending on the trim level, include automatic high beams, blind-spot/lane-departure warning, Toyota's Entune smartphone integration system, a navigation system and premium audio.

In reviews, we've found that this RAV4 gets just about everything right. Its roomy cabin boasts more cargo room than most rivals and provides ample seating space for adults both front and rear. The overall interior design is modern looking, and the Entune system provides useful smartphone app integration, although the touchscreen's virtual buttons can sometimes be finicky to use. There's no engine upgrade available, but the RAV4's 2.5-liter four is refined and adequately powerful. Handling is secure, and the all-wheel-drive system adds further athleticism on curvy and slippery road surfaces. In the interest of comfort, we recommend the smaller wheel options, as the 18-inch wheels tend to have a rougher ride quality.

Used Toyota RAV4 Models
The current, fourth-generation RAV4 debuted for 2013. It maintained the typical RAV4 strengths of carlike driving manners, versatile cargo and passenger configurations and all-around comfort. It's about the same size as the previous generation, but has bolder styling, a more modern interior and some new features. It also has an easier-to-use, top-hinged liftgate instead of the previous swing-out gate, though the previously available third-row seat was discontinued. There have been no notable changes since its debut.

The previous Toyota RAV4 represented the third generation, which Toyota produced from 2006-'12. Compared to earlier models, these RAV4s were bigger and offered an available V6 engine and third-row seat.

In its inaugural third-generation year, two engine choices were offered. A 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine delivered 166 hp and 165 lb-ft of torque, while a 3.5-liter V6 produced 269 hp and 246 lb-ft of torque. Automatic transmissions were standard, with the four-cylinder paired with a four-speed, while the V6 received a five-speed unit.

Three trim levels were also offered: base, Sport and Limited. Base feature highlights included air-conditioning, cruise control, a height-adjustable driver seat and full power accessories. The Sport added 18-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension and a roof rack, while the Limited topped it off with 17-inch wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power driver seat and an upgraded audio system. A third-row seat, a moonroof, leather upholstery and a DVD-based rear entertainment system were options on upper level trims.

We praised these models for their pleasant driving manners and convenient cargo space, but deducted points for the side-hinged rear gate and noticeable road noise. We also preferred the powerful V6 over the base four-cylinder engine that suffered with its outdated transmission and mediocre fuel economy.

Changes since its debut were minimal but included additional standard airbags in 2007, a slight styling update in 2009 (with an external spare-tire delete option) and a power increase for the four-cylinder engine (from 166 hp to 179 hp). A newly available touchscreen audio interface and Toyota's Entune smartphone apps were introduced for 2012.

The second-generation Toyota RAV4 (2001-'05) was larger than the original RAV4, with more expressive styling and innovative removable second-row seats that gave it truly impressive cargo-carrying capabilities. Early models had a 148-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that came up short versus the larger four- and six-cylinder engines offered by competitors. Toyota addressed this to some extent in 2004 by replacing the 2.0-liter with a larger 2.4-liter four-cylinder good for 160 hp. Acceleration was markedly improved, and buyers could still choose a manual or automatic transmission. Overall, we found this RAV4 to be a fun-to-drive urban runabout thanks to its precise suspension tuning and high fuel economy ratings.

The first-generation Toyota RAV4 (1996-2000) was offered in two-door and four-door body styles, with a convertible version for a brief period. The first-gen RAV4 was appealing to young singles, but due to its narrow width and tight rear legroom, this cute ute was ultimately no substitute for a traditional family vehicle. Advantages included carlike handling, a low cargo floor and a large rear door that made loading cargo a breeze.

User Reviews:

Showing 1 through 10 of 2,041.00
  • Love this Crossover - 2013 Toyota RAV4
    By -

    This is my first SUV, I've had it for 1 month and driving 600 miles. Initially, no matter how fun it was to drive, I questioned my decision to get the Rav4. The dash display told me my MPG and I was less than thrilled. However, I decided to track my own stats and I have no remaining doubt that I made the right choice. I just gassed up and calculated 29.8 mpg. I traded in a 2001 Mazda 626 that got 23, and this ride is so much more comfortable and fun! The rear-view isn't too limited and it has loads of power and spunk. Extremely comfortable and well-designed cockpit. Classy-looking, too. Quiet, smooth cabin and fantastic sound clarity in stereo & Bluetooth. Recommended!

  • EXCELLENT CHOICE - 2004 Toyota RAV4
    By -

    AM VERY IMPRESSED WITH MY RAV 4 HAS A GREAT PEPPPY LIL ENGINE AN HANDLES VERY WELL WITH THE TRACTION CONTROL .WAS CONSIDERING A NISSAN XTERRA BUT AFTER TEST DRIVING THE RAV 4 . IT HANDLES AN PERFORMS 100% BETTER. AN NO ONE CAN BEAT TOYOTAS QUALITY AN RELIABILTY .

  • Mixed bag - 2015 Toyota RAV4
    By -

    Pros: Roomy, great gas mileage, dependable, good dealer network, good driver lumbar support. Cons: Armrest placement awkward for trip comfort, suction cup marks on windshield, handles rough pavement poorly, wind noise very noticeable at highway speeds, outside rearview mirrors block side views, no way to judge your parking as fender height totally blocks any visibility for parking. Overall road comfort feel is like a truck.This is my seventh toyota and I feel the rav 4 did not meet my expectations.

  • Happyowner - 2004 Toyota RAV4
    By -

    Best and smartest vehicle I have ever owned. Very reliable, economic to drive. The size is perfect fit to park in garage and parking spaces. Has great pickup when needed on the highway.Plan on driving this vehicle for long time. Would highly recommend this to any individual or small family.

  • great driving - 2006 Toyota RAV4
    By -

    I've driven about 600 miles in my V6, half freeway, half city. So far it's been great. Lots of pep, looks beautiful, feels like a substantial car while maintaining a nimble feel. I've gotten 26 on the highway and 21 in the city. Once I get my aftermarket leather it'll be perfect.

  • Love this car - 2007 Toyota RAV4
    By -

    This is a great vehicle. I down sized from a Dodge Durango and other than a few of the comforts (heated seats, leather) I don't miss it for a second. The RAV has a smooth ride with guts when needed. I love taking it up to the mountians on ski trips and with all the room there is plenty of room for friends.

  • Great All Around SUV, Best In its Class IMO - 2012 Toyota RAV4
    By -

    Very comfortable seats in this car even on long trips. The leg room and storage in the RAV4 is excellent. Lots of storage and room for luggage. The rear seats recline and move forward and backward. I have had the car in heavy winds and it handled the windy conditions well. Interior noise is low, compared to Honda CRV. Love 4wd button. Reliability of the Rav4 is the best. I looked at the reviews of the competing cars and read about the problems people have for their cars. The Rav4 had minor complaints compared to others having significant problems. after market platinum 0 deductable warranty for $950 upgrading it to a 7/100k had to shop around for the price. 12k miles owned, very happy

  • Some comprimise - 2003 Toyota RAV4
    By -

    Choosing looks over power is a comprimise you have to be willing to make.

  • Love my Toy yoyo - 2007 Toyota RAV4
    By -

    When I say I test drove everything, I mean EVERYTHING. I have had my RAV4 for 3 years now and plan to drive it until the wheels fall off!. Great performance, the V6 does not mess around when you are trying to enter the freeway. I commute 60 miles a day. Did great in the Ohio Snow this year. The tire "sensor" went out a month ago. Haven't had that replaced yet. I always get compliments about how shiny and clean it looks. I swaer it's the paint. Always looks great. You would not believe what I have hauled in this RAV4. A 60" kitchen base cabinet and 6 foot counter top, twin mattress and box springs- it's great.

  • Loving my 09 Rav4 - 2009 Toyota RAV4
    By -

    I am really enjoying my RAV4. I was torn between buying the '08 4cyl and waiting to buy the revamped '09 4cyl. I am very happy with my choice. I have no problem pulling on to the highway and passing is a breeze. The acceleration is smooth. I was also very pleased with how well it handled snowy NH roads.

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