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Toyota Rav4 - unexpected vehicle "assigned" to me - review based on rental


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Posted (edited)

I had reserved a mid-size car.  I would have it for a week.  I arrived to pick up the rental and there were no cars that I could see.  The gentleman helping me pointed to either a Toyota Rav 4 or a Nissan Rogue.  I did see a Malibu and a Fusion parked further away, and asked if I could have those instead.  I was told that one had a mechanical issue that needed fixing and the other one was already assigned.

I looked at the 2 vehicles available and focused on how well the luggage area was covered.  I picked the Toyota Rav 4. I see the reviews bill it as a "cross over SUV."

The interior and the controls took some getting used to.  It's very different from a domestic vehicle, or even other Japanese vehicles and Toyota passenger cars.

The first things you notice is that the ride is controlled, the transmission shifts almost imperceptibly, and the steering is light.  One review called it vague.  I didn't think it was vague.  The lightness in the steering proved to be useful in parking lot maneuvers.

You can talk about ride, but have sound abatement be a different subject.  You can talk about a transmission within a power train and, again, have the engine be a different animal.

The ride was smooth and mostly unruffled but the noise control wasn't all that it could have been, especially when throttled.  In most cases, the Toyota 2.5L inline 4 cylinder engine functioned competently for this hefty enough vehicle but, depending on the load or the incline, could be a little unpredictable.  Most of the use was on the interstate with the adaptive cruise control engaged, but there were a few situations where I had to merge quickly or pass at highway speeds.  It seems that the engine was more responsive for low speed passes than for high speed passes.  The pedal is also light and, a few times, I felt it go the length of its travel.  I've only experienced this once before, and it was in a much smaller Mazda 3.

The interior was a mix of pluses and minuses.  The pluses were the roominess, usefulness, and toughness of the materials, specifically the fabric in the seats.  It looked like they were built to endure a lot of wear.  The rear seat legroom was extensive and the trunk area, under a tonneau cover, was spacious.  I did not care for the dashboard.  Until I got used to it, these two large knobs in the center stack said radio "tuning."   I turned the one to the left and it was the temperature control for the driver!  Tuning and such was up higher, in or near the infotainment screen.  It, too, was a little busier than I would have liked.  I thought the steering wheel remote controls for audio and cruise control were also small and I sometimes missed making the intended adjustments.  The adjustment for the interior light was not easy.  I tried reaching back and found that it was easier to do than from the rear seat.  Perhaps there was a control up front and I didn't see it.  The location of the power window switches was different than what I'm used to.  I often hit the buttons for the rear windows instead.  I also did not like the graphics and displays in the main IP pods.  I bring up these ergonomics because, even though I'm not a CUV/SUV customer and prefer sedans, or coupes, I've sat in similarly sized GMC and Chevrolet products at auto shows where the proportions, features, and finishes in the cabin, on the dashboard, and on the console were more pleasing to the eye, the touch, and eventual use.

As for the electronics, they worked extremely well.  The adaptive cruise control was overly sensitive and that proved to be a good thing.  If behind a truck keeping a speed lower than posted, the sensation of decelerating really gave the driver an idea of who's doing what.  The BSM (haha, I'm almost sure that means Blind Spot Monitor, ) was also very useful and seems to read the speed and trajectory of adjacent vehicles to light up at just the right time.  Given the thickness of the rear pillars, I used the exterior mirrors and the BSM features to help me change lanes more than I would have liked.  I prefer to rely much more on the old fashioned way of turning my head and looking.  However, the Rav4 has thick rear pillars.  Fortunately, I did not drive it much in any place resembling congested urban areas.The rear camera was large and useful.  The different modes to use the drivetrain (eco, sport, etc.) were well marked and located on the console.

In terms of its exterior, the front grille is overwrought, but then Toyota and Lexus are related.  The side views are a little more angular than I like.  The best views of this vehicle are the rear 3/4 view and the direct rear view.

The fuel economy was commendable and, with 8 gears in the automatic transmission, the Rav4 could pull in 34 mpg going 65 or 70 mph, and with the air conditioning on.  In other bigger cars, such as rented Dodge Chargers, I've had to baby them (set cruise at 63 and turn off the A/C) to get 31 mpg.

Most of the professional review outfits look very favorably on the Toyota Rav4.  I'm more in line with what KBB consumers think of the vehicle.  They rate it at about 3.5/5.

I'll save the best for last.  I wasn't crazy about the decibel level in the cabin under throttle, the visibility to the outside looking rearward, and the layout and trim of the dashboard, controls, and doors.  However, I liked the ride quality, the steering ease which still communicated what was going on, and the fuel economy the Rav4 could attain.  I almost "loved" the automatic transmission and its shift quality. The Rav4 is also a good value for the price point and its legendary Toyota reliability, with base models having stickers in the mid $20Ks.

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Photos forthcoming

Edited by trinacriabob
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Posted (edited)

Photos:

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1. The Toyota Rav4 at a roadside pull out

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2. The overall interior environment upon entering; I'm not digging on the urethane steering wheel, nor its controls

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3. The fairly firm and supportive front bucket seats, durable looking cloth fabric, headrests for which I haven't decided on their ergonomics, and a large storage area inside the center console

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4.  The overhead cabin light is more easily adjusted from the rear seat; the tonneau cover hides what you have in the storage area well

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5.  This is what the rearward view looks like from the driver's seat looks like; the seating area for those in the rear seats is very generous

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6. The two main bezels make sense but other automakers have displayed the info in the middle in more logical groupings and colors, even the last-gen Ford Focus

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7. Those two knobs were hilarious and the grooves in them look sort of dumb.  Hey, I've found the radio!  NOT.  Those are temperature adjustments, and then some.  I meant to mention that, while the air blows out of the center vents very well, the flow is weaker from the side vents ... even weaker than in the older domestic cars I've had.  The "laptop left open" infotainment that is ubiquitous these days is up above the center stack.  (Some of you probably wouldn't like the music I was streaming.)

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8.  These are the window and lock controls in the door armrest.  There is another cup holder below, with a map pocket.

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9. The height of the console is good relative to the seating position and the seating position is also good.  You have cars, such as the now departed last-gen LaCrosse and which are favored by more mature people, where the console height has the drivers sitting in there like astronauts ... not so here.  

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10.  The drive mode buttons are conveniently placed, as is the parking brake control, right above them.

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11. One of the better vantage points for the Toyota Rav 4

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End of photos

Edited by trinacriabob
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Been reading the reviews as I have family members that want a Hybrid CUV and I have to say the Rav4 has earned it's leadership place. The latest reviews just starting to come out on the Rav4 Prime Plug-in Hybrid is it is even better. Wish they would get them into the rental lots for testing.

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1 minute ago, dfelt said:

Been reading the reviews as I have family members that want a Hybrid CUV and I have to say the Rav4 has earned it's leadership place. The latest reviews just starting to come out on the Rav4 Prime Plug-in Hybrid is it is even better. Wish they would get them into the rental lots for testing.

Those are at the higher price points and I haven't seen reviews on them.  The base LE is about $25,000, which is a decent price. I believe the rental was one grade up.  I think one always has to pencil the cost differential versus the fuel savings over the period they intend to own the car.  If it's about something else, like not contributing to GHG, then one doesn't need to take out the pencil.

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21 minutes ago, trinacriabob said:

Those are at the higher price points and I haven't seen reviews on them.  The base LE is about $25,000, which is a decent price. I believe the rental was one grade up.  I think one always has to pencil the cost differential versus the fuel savings over the period they intend to own the car.  If it's about something else, like not contributing to GHG, then one doesn't need to take out the pencil.

Reviews say the hybrid and plug-in hybrid actually drive better than the lower end Rav4's.

Just now, daves87rs said:

I liked the review!!

And the pictures..... 🙂

I thought it was ugly when it first came out- but the style is starting to grow on me....

Better than the Lexus predator mouth grill.

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  • 4 months later...

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