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Detroit News: 2006 Toyota RAV4 Review

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Toyota RAV4 grows up, gets pricier

By Paul & Anita Lienert

Toyota's baby crossover vehicle, the RAV4, isn't much of a baby anymore -- not since a makeover for model year 2006 transformed this once-compact five-seater into a mid-size seven-seater with optional V-6 engine.

The new-generation RAV4 appears to be up to Toyota's usual high standards, with a few surprising exceptions.

We drove a well-equipped RAV4 Limited 4x4 with more than $2,700 in options and a bottom line of $27,290.

HE: Gee, I kind of miss the old, toylike RAV, even though I outgrew cutesy vehicles like that about 30 years ago. Plus I never did fit in the old one very well. But for singles and younger families, I always thought the original RAV4 and especially the second-generation model had the recipe just right in terms of size, price and features. This new one is a whole different story -- all grown up and in search of a different audience, I suspect. It's less of a sporty crossover vehicle and more of a family hauler now -- call it the un-minivan.

SHE: It's also a lot more expensive. The base front-wheel-drive, five-passenger RAV4 now starts at just under $21,000, and you're easily pushing $30,000 by the time you load up a V-6 Limited 4x4 with all the available equipment. I can only imagine what Toyota will charge for the hybrid version when it finally decides to bring that to market -- and I would say that's a pretty safe bet, considering the '06 RAV4 squares off so neatly with the Ford Escape.

HE: I don't think so. I see it as more of a competitor now to smaller vans like the Mazda MPV and van-like crossovers such as the Subaru B9 Tribeca. Which is not a bad place to be in terms of market space. Toyota wasn't really playing there before with the Sienna. Now it has a true mid-size grocery getter with the new and improved RAV4, which got stretched more than 14 inches and is nearly as long as a Highlander.

SHE: I'm not sure you really appreciate what Toyota has done with the RAV. The larger size makes so much sense. The longer wheelbase not only means more passenger and cargo space inside, but the ride is much smoother and less choppy. The '06 model is really easy to park and maneuver, despite the extra length. There are some annoyances and some surprising omissions, considering that Toyota doesn't make that many mistakes. My biggest complaint is the third-row seat, which is awfully cramped and uncomfortable, even for kids.Another big no-no in my book -- you have to pay extra for side air bags and side curtains to protect your family.

HE: My issues are pretty simple. It's tough to climb in and out of the third row, and with the seat up, there isn't much cargo space in the rear -- not enough for a week's worth of groceries, unless the whole family is dieting. I'm surprised Toyota included only a four-speed automatic with the four-cylinder engine, rather than a more modern and efficient five- or six-speed automatic.

SHE: On the plus side, even with the four-speed and four-wheel drive, the four-cylinder RAV4 is very frugal on fuel. The EPA ratings on our test model were 23 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway, which is pretty good for a family vehicle with all that space. The new RAV4 looks really cute, too. It certainly hasn't lost its winning personality.

2006 Toyota RAV4 Limited 4x4

Type: Front-engine, four-wheel drive, seven-passenger utility vehicle.

Price: Base, $24,560 (inc. $605 destination charge); as tested, $27,290.

Engine: 2.4-liter I-4; 166-hp; 165 lb-ft torque.

EPA fuel economy: 23 mpg city/28 mpg highway.

Where built: Japan.

AAA Michigan estimated 12-month insurance cost: $1,665.

Anita:

Likes: Larger size makes more sense than previous model. Takes the RAV4 to the next level. Super easy to park and handle. Smooth ride. Good fuel economy for a four-wheel-drive people mover. Big buttons on dash are easy to read and use. Rear seats slide fore and aft. Plenty of cargo space with the rear seat down.

Dislikes: Side air bags and side curtains cost extra. Power mirror switches on the center console instead of the driver's door. External spare tire cover blocks rear vision. No navigation system. No adjustable pedals. Cramped, uncomfortable third-row seat.

Paul:

Likes: Distinctive and attractive design. Stylish alternative to a minivan or conventional SUV. Not just for kids and singles anymore. Powerful V-6 option available. Outstanding assembly quality.

Dislikes: Tough to climb in and out of third row. Not the cute, affordable little mini-ute that it once was. Only a four-speed automatic. Larger size and price leaves Toyota without a direct competitor to the Honda CRV. Not much cargo space with the rear seat up.

Link: http://info.detnews.com/autosconsumer/auto...ex.cfm?id=22437

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That review kind of sucked. It was a little to vague. Yeah, it's all grown up, yada yada yada. But they didn't get into many details. They didn't say if the comfort level improved in the 3rd row when the 2nd seat was moved. They just said it was cramped.

Then they said "the four-cylinder RAV4 is very frugal on fuel. The EPA ratings on our test model were 23 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway, which is pretty good for a family vehicle with all that space." It's alright to quote the EPA and all, but why didn't they say what they got? Didn't they do that with there Tahoe or Yukon review?

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Gotta love how they mention that they were surprised it only had a 4-speed auto... whereas GM would have been crucified for their ancient 4-speed.

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The RAV4 is a good buy lightly optioned and with the V6. It hits 60 mph in less than 7 seconds, which is pretty impressive for any $22K family cute ute.

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So now the almighty Toyota is behind GM in only offering a 4 speed automatic in it's base versions while GM's Equinox and Torrent come std with a 5 speed automatic. And the Equinox/Torrent annihilate it in the looks department. Oh what a feeling!

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So now the almighty Toyota is behind GM in only offering a 4 speed automatic in it's base versions while GM's Equinox and Torrent come std with a 5 speed automatic. And the Equinox/Torrent annihilate it in the looks department. Oh what a feeling!

Except that the Chinese engine in the 'nox needs the 5 sp. to perform....(the 4 speed, however, is inexcusable on any product nowadays. V6 Rav is a 5 speed).

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Instead of bashing the 4spd tranny ( A la GM ) they actually have the balls to say it gets good gas mileage with the 4cyl. :banghead:

FOG where are you?

Yes, if that were GM it would have said:

"While all other companies switched to superior 5 and 6 speeds, only GM continues to use the outdated 4 speed. There is no excuse to still use that outdated technology in a vehicle of this class"

But it's Toyota, so it's ok. Nevermind that GM's 4 speeds are fuel efficient and reliable.

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Yes, if that were GM it would have said:

"While all other companies switched to superior 5 and 6 speeds, only GM continues to use the outdated 4 speed. There is no excuse to still use that outdated technology in a vehicle of this class"

But it's Toyota, so it's ok. Nevermind that GM's 4 speeds are fuel efficient and reliable.

Except, you are taking it completely out of context....IIRC, the quote either comes form the Lucerne V8 review or one of the GMT-900's....In either case, the reviewer was 100% correct, since we aren't talking about a $20k small SUV that is available with a 5 sp. in upper trim levels...the Lucerne v8 starts in the high 20's and is supposed to compete with a plethora of products, all of which arrive with at least a 5 speed...the GMT 900's start at an even higher price point...

...GM 4 speeds are great tranny's, unfortunately, they are no longer state of the art and should not be appearing in 30-50k product....you could argue a Cobalt with a 4 speed makes sense, not so a Caddy DTS.

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