“Improving upon a vehicle that has a proven track record, while keeping up with the latest technologies is a key reason that Toyota continues to be so popular today.”
The fourth generation Toyota RAV4 has a bold design that many people were happy to see when it was introduced in the 2013 model year.
Those changes were overdue. The Toyota RAV4 was fast becoming one of those vehicles that was starting to blend into the background. It had lost its design edge, which had distinguished it from its rivals.
It’s now keeping the competition at bay with a new and improved version. It features sleek bodylines, lower stance and is a little wider, making it more aerodynamic. Swept back headlights and a more aggressive front end are just some of the changes made a few years ago. The rear lift-gate features a one-touch operation that has selectable memory height settings. That was perfect for my family: my wife had it set so low I could barely get my arm in. If she had been forced to deal with it at my height preference she would have needed a step ladder to close it!
There are five models to choose from FWD LE, FWD XLE, AWD LE, and AWD Limited, giving a little something for everybody.
In The Cab:
Ample use of soft touch materials used throughout the interior. Comfortable front seats and rear seats that in to consideration the comfort of your passengers. 60/40 split fold down with reclining seat backs that are just as comfortable as the front seats and lots of legroom too. The driver’s seat on the LE models features a six-way manual adjustment while the Limited model receives an eight-way power adjustable. The cargo area has a capacity of 1.09m and 2.08m with the rear seats folded.
Many safety items are standard in this RAV4: dual stage driver and passenger airbags, driver knee airbags, front seat mounted side airbags, roll sensing front and rear head/side curtain airbag. The star safety system includes vehicle stability control, traction control, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake force distribution, brake assist, and smart stop technology. Also available is lane departure alert, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert, which I think should be standard on all new models.
I was impressed with how quiet and comfortable the interior was. You can hold a conversation with your children in the back without have to yell over the road noise. I found the 4-cylinder engine to be smooth and responsive.
Improving upon a vehicle that has a proven track record, while keeping up with the latest technologies is a key reason that Toyota continues to be so popular today.
A 2.5-litre, 4 cylinder engine powers this vehicle with 176 horsepower and 172 lb ft of torque mated to a 6-speed automatic electronically controlled transmission with sequential shift mode.
8.7/6.4 L/100 km (city/highway) FWD LE, XLE
9.1/6.8 L/100 km (city/highway) AWD LE, XLE
9.3/6.8 L/100 km (city/highway) AWD Limited
Basic – 36 months/ 60,000 km
Powertrain – 60 months/ 100,000 km
Hybrid-related components – 160,000 km
Corrosion perforation – unlimited km
$37,367.85 as tested
“My time with the RAV4 LE confirmed that Toyota knows how to make a thoroughly practical and easy to use vehicle that pleases all passengers…”
It’s hard to remember a time when we didn’t have the RAV4 in Canada.
Toyota helped develop the “cute-ute” vehicles from Japan, along with the Honda CR-V. We had never seen anything like these vehicles before but they went on to forever change the marketplace and the way a family gets around. Today the compact SUV market has become so popular it will soon exceed the compact car in terms of overall sales, which has been, for decades, the cornerstone of the Canadian marketplace. The Toyota RAV4 continues to be a sales market leader and for good reason. Many buyers put their money into what I call “The Bank of Toyota” and know they will get a good return in terms of reliability, practicality and resale value.
In terms of design, Toyota wanted to make this latest RAV4 more of an emotional purchase and not just a rational choice. The design has been sharpened with more flow from the front bumper and headlamps into a swept windshield and added character lines. Gone is the old swing-out tailgate, replaced by a proper lift gate, which is now framed with protruding tail lamps that look unique but also help with aerodynamics. One area that could use an update are the cheap looking hubcaps. These come standard on the $24,005 base front wheel drive (FWD) LE trim level and $26,270 AWD model. To get proper looking alloy wheels the buyer needs to spend $28,340 for the XLE FWD or $30,540 for the XLE AWD. In the mid-sized sedan market many cars, like the Honda Accord, costing the same amount as the base RAV4 come with nice looking alloy wheels as standard equipment.
The interior is a study in how to maximize space for a family but some of the small details could use refinement. The dash face is now covered with soft materials and looks much better thanks to the French stitching but this same panel also obscures the switches hidden below. The seat-heating buttons, the Eco and Sport settings for the transmission are all switches the driver access frequently but they are not as easy to see, as they should be. Other than the dash there is still a large percentage of the interior covered in hard plastic. The up side is a well laid out interior configuration. The doors open to a wide angle and expose a big back seat with a flat floor, for easy access. The front seats are comfortable and now the driver’s seat has a manual height adjustment. Standard features include tilt and telescopic steering, Bluetooth connectivity, USB connection and air conditioning. The LE $1,500 upgrade package is worthwhile because it includes the very important heated front seats, larger 6.1-inch display audio with backup camera and upgraded speakers. This brings the price up to $27,835.
Honda recently unveiled the new 2015 CR-V that utilizes direct injection engine technology and a slick, new continuously variable transmission. Not the case with the Toyota RAV4, it uses the same 176hp 2.5L 4-cylinder found in the last model and is matched to a 6-speed automatic. Launching from a traffic light is brisk and the noise inside the cabin is fairly low. The steering is easy to maneuver but some might find the feedback to be too vague. Adjustable engine and transmission settings help the RAV4 to either use less fuel or perform better. The Eco button changes the settings of the car to improve fuel economy plus there is a small Eco light that reminds the driver when the car is being driven most efficiently. The Sport buttons holds the transmission a little longer between shifts for more responsiveness. Fuel economy is rated at 10.5L/100km in the city and 8.2L on the highway, using the new more stringent 2015 fuel economy test. The RAV4 was a solid leader on the fuel economy front but the new Honda CR-V now claims that crown.
Toyota is often criticized for not being bold enough in some of the choices it makes. Honda now has up-to-date technology in the new CR-V but Toyota is sticking with what works. This approach might be viewed as a step behind but other might look at it as tried-and-true technology that is reliable and still delivers solid fuel ratings. Toyota RAV4 was a pioneer in the small SUV space and continues to be a market leader but now the market is so crowded with entries I suspect it will need to get new engine technology when it is totally refreshed in a few years. My time with the RAV4 LE confirmed that Toyota knows how to make a thoroughly practical and easy to use vehicle that pleases all passengers.
Power: 2.5L 4-cylinder with 176hp
Economy: 10.5L/8.2L/100km (city/highway)
Sticker price: $24,005-$33,350