Staff Writer - CheersandGears.com
December 17, 2013
Author's Note: With 2013 coming to a close in a couple of weeks, we've decided to clear out the remaining 2013 vehicle reviews this week. Everyday a new review will appear on the front page. If you miss one day, don't worry, we'll have links to the previous reviews just below. -WM
Monday: Nissan Maxima 3.5 SV
Wednesday: Hyundai Santa Fe Limited AWD
Thursday: Toyota Land Cruiser
Friday: Lexus LS 600h L
The compact crossover marketplace has become one of the most crowded and contested in the automotive world. It seems a month doesn't go by without news of a new or redesigned compact crossover. Automakers are trying to differentiate their crossovers by going somewhat daring with their designs, making them fun to drive, filling them with tech, and other items. But there is one thing some automakers can play to their advantage, name recognition. No one is more apparent of this than Toyota. The automaker is patient zero of the compact crossover marketplace with the RAV4, first introduced back in 1996. For the past three-generations, the RAV4 has been one of the best selling compact crossovers in the U.S. This past year saw Toyota introduce the latest-generation of the RAV4. The question of course is whether in light of fresh competition, can the RAV4 retain its title of being one of the best sellers?Much like C&G's Managing Editor Drew Dowdell said in his quick drive of the RAV4, I wasn't too keen on the design at first, but it has grown on me since then.
Moving inside, the RAV4 features a mix of good and bad ideas. The good ideas start with an improved dashboard that features a leather-like material and stitching. There's also a color touchscreen radio that is standard across the range and can be equipped with the user-friendly Entune infotainment system with navigation on the XLE and Limited. While the graphics look somewhat dated compared to competitors, the interface is very intuitive.
Other good ideas for the RAV4 include in airy cabin thanks to large amount of glass in the vehicle. The back seat provides comfortable seating for two people despite them being somewhat firmer than the ones up front. Cargo Space in the RAV4 is best in class with 38.4 Cubic Feet with the rear seats up and 73.4 Cubic Feet with the rear seats down.
The bad ideas in the RAV4 begin with other materials used inside. Hard plastics are very noticeable all around the interior from the door panels to the center console. Certain pieces of interior are finished faux 'carbon fiber' looking trim which looks completely out of place. That trim also appears to have issues with quality as it looked pretty scratched up in this 10,000 mile example. Also, I wish Toyota would give the navigation system a dedicated button on the radio and not have it buried in the Apps section of the system.
No Toyota. Just No.
To find out how the RAV4's powertrain and suspension fared, see the next page.
Only one engine is available, a 2.5L four-cylinder with 176 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic comes standard, while the choice of front-wheel or all-wheel drive is available. My tester came with the all-wheel drive system. Despite having the lowest numbers powertrain-wise in the class, the RAV4 doesn't feel like it at all. This is due to the six-speed automatic which is smart enough to keep the four-cylinder right in the sweet spot of the power band.
Fuel economy-wise, the EPA rates the 2013 RAV4 AWD at 22 City/29 Highway/25 Combined. My average for the week landed around 22 MPG.
On the ride-and-handling front, the RAV4 sits right in the middle. The suspension is comprised of a MacPherson strut setup in the front and a double wishbone coil spring setup in the back that provided a very comfortable ride which was able to absorb bumps and imperfections. In the corners, the RAV4 feels confident around the corners and body roll is kept in check. While it's no match for the Mazda CX-5 in driving fun, the RAV4 should fill the role of being a crossover that gets you from point a to b with no problem. One area I wish Toyota would work on is minimizing the amount of road and engine noise coming into the cabin.
Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the RAV4, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas.
Trim: XLE AWD
Engine: 2.5L DOHC 16-Valve Four-Cylinder with VTT-i
Driveline: All-Wheel Drive, Six-Speed Automatic
Horsepower @ RPM: 176 @ 6,000
Torque @ RPM: 172 @ 4,100
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/29/25
Curb Weight: 3,585 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Woodstock, Ontario
Base Price: $25,690.00
As Tested Price: $28,552.00 (Includes $845.00 Destination Charge)
Display Audio with Navigation and Entune - $1,030.00
Running Boards - $549.00
Roof Rack Cross Bars - $229.00
Body Side Molding - $209.00