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Drew Dowdell

Quick Drive: 2013 Toyota RAV-4 Limited AWD

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September 30, 2013

Drew Dowdell

Managing Editor - CheerandGears.com

Some Crossovers are too this; some Crossovers are too that; and some Crossovers are just right. This is the Goldilocks’ impression I walked away with after my quick drive of the 2013 Toyota RAV-4 AWD.

Toyota rarely releases radical designs, but the first visual impression of the RAV-4 is that Toyota is trying to break that habit, though cautiously. The RAV-4 seems to drop the family face shared by the rest of the Toyota line, yet retains enough familiarity to fit in. I admit to not being a fan of the new look at first, but it has grown on me.

Step inside and you are greeted with a roomy interior for the class. The dashboard continues the unconventional look from the outside with an unusual two tier dash. Upscale materials are found on most places you would normally touch, however some of the lower panels have clearly been through some cost-cutting. The overall look of the dash layout is what one might expect if a car manufacturer produced a luxury compact pickup, with a very upright and blocky appearance. Most of the switchgear is standard Toyota and the everyday buttons are easy to reach and have a simple layout. Lesser used switches are low on the center stack and a bit harder to operate by touch.

Though dimensionally similar to vehicles like the Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, and Ford Escape, the Toyota RAV-4 makes the most of those dimensions and feels larger and roomier inside thanks to its light and airy cabin.

2013 Toyota RAV 4 interior

Click picture to enlarge

Like the interior? How does the RAV-4 drive? On to page 2!


One area that Toyota has nailed it is in overall refinement. From the perky 2.5 liter 4-cylinder with Lexus like manners, to the buttery smooth 6-speed automatic transmission, to the supple yet spritely independent suspension, the RAV-4 would keep Goldilocks happy for a long while.

2013 Toyota RAV 4 side

The 2.5 liter produces 176 horsepower at 6,000rpm and 172 lb-ft of torque at 4100rpm. Though lacking the absolute highest of 4-cylinder engine power, the engine never feels overworked. Around town, the RAV-4's engine feels very energetic. It pushes that power through a buttery smooth 6-speed automatic to all 4 wheels netting an EPA 22 mpg City/ 29mpg Highway/ 25mpg combined. The suspension is soft without being spongy, soaking up road imperfections but maintaining a firm and confident feel in corners.

The Toyota RAV-4 has been one of the best selling vehicles in its segment for years, often taking the best seller crown. While Toyota has gotten a little out of their comfort zone on styling, they have put together a total package in the 2013 model that only strengthens their solid market position. I'll bet a whole lot of Goldilockses out there will end up finding the 2013 RAV-4 to be just right.

As Tested Price: $31,869

Related Reviews:

Review: 2013 Nissan Rogue

Review: 2014 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring

Review: 2013 Kia Sportage AWD

Disclaimer: Toyota provided the 2013 Toyota RAV-4 during a drive event held for members of the International Motor Press Association.

Drew Dowdell is Managing Editor of CheersandGears.com and can be reached at Drew.Dowdell@CheersandGears.com or on Twitter as @Cheersngears

2013 Toyota RAV 4 front

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Toyota has nailed this segment, though I find the looks to be a step backwards. The nose unfortunately has adopted the snout of the Corolla instead of being a softer version of the 4Runner. Removing the rear tire and placing it under the cargo hold is a huge improvement. The prior Sport model traded the rear-mounted tire with expensive run-flats. It's a wonder why GM hasn't had a model compete directly with it (other than the Captiva), though it sounds like the next Equinox will.

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WOW, Talk about a ugly station wagon like external and the internal dash is just pathetic. That interior is enough to have me never even consider buying it. What are the engineers watching to build a terrible dash like that? To much Anime?

Loved the review and glad it has a decent powertrain, I feel Toyota will do fine with sales, but really needs to step up their game. The design language is just blah, and forgetfull but the interior is a horendous nightmare that I will not forget. Why is Toyota and Honda on these multi-split personality dash designs. I find nothing of benefite and only pure uglyness.

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Now come on. I don't think the interior is that bad as in "horrendous nightmare" bad. I do however think it could certainly have used better design and refinement. Still, not too shabby.

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I like these new horizontally oriented Toyota dashes. They're old skool. Everybody else is going with a giant, prominent center stack. The Yaris, Corolla, Camry and Avalon are all doing it, too.

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I like these new horizontally oriented Toyota dashes. They're old skool. Everybody else is going with a giant, prominent center stack. The Yaris, Corolla, Camry and Avalon are all doing it, too.

No, No, No, Nothing Old skool here at all, just plain ugliness. :nono:

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I think Toyota made good strides on the exterior design with this model. When I sat in it at the auto show though, I was repulsed by the cheapness of a lot of it.

It's gotta be an improvement over the current CRv though. I drove the CRV at the ford ecoboost ride and drive and that is nothing but junk. It feels straight out of 1999 or something and is tinny and noisy and plasticky and uncomfortable.

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I've been informed that the lower level RAV-4s do feel cheaper inside.... as I was only able to sample this fairly loaded model, I couldn't really comment.

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I've been informed that the lower level RAV-4s do feel cheaper inside.... as I was only able to sample this fairly loaded model, I couldn't really comment.

I might be able to give an answer to this since I'll have a RAV4 XLE in for review in late November.

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anything is better than the the CRV crap recreational vehicle. Honda sells em like hotcakes and they are to me the epitome of days gone by milquetoast

I give Toyota for trying to evolve the RAV4.

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