There are some people who do everything expected of them and they still don’t get the recognition they deserve. They show up on time. They do what’s asked. They never cause problems. And someone else gets the glory.
I wonder if Toyota has felt that way about its sporty little crossover vehicle, the RAV4. I mean, it’s been around for a little over twenty years, and just can’t seem to get the love, man.
So Toyota tinkered a bit, starting in 2013, and then added some nice touches for the 2016. I think it helped.
For one thing, the car has a smoother look. When I first saw it parked in my driveway, I know I gave one of those approving nods. It simply looked better than the old RAV4s I’m used to seeing.
Technically a compact SUV – or a crossover, according to many – the RAV4 gives you four different trim levels to choose from, starting with the base LE and working up to the Limited (which I drove for a week).
Under the hood you’ll find a 4-cylinder engine that puts out 176 horsepower. Although not the most dynamic car off the starting block, I never felt shortchanged on power. Its smooth 6-speed transmission was flawless. Front-wheel-drive is standard, but an all-wheel version is available. (It better be; the origin of the name is “Recreational Active Vehicle with 4-wheel drive.” Now you know.)
The combined mileage for the RAV4 is about 25 mpg, which is slightly below some of the competition, but certainly within the ballpark.
Inside, you’ll find an interesting, modern design. No, this Toyota doesn’t exude luxury, but for this segment it shouldn’t. It does, however, provide a comfortable, practical ride. The basic Entune system, Toyota’s suite of apps and audio packages, is included. If you opt for the larger screen, you’ll be able to stream some of your favorite sources. I liked the touchscreen interface – which, these days, is not a given.
The RAV can carry five passengers, and, although space in the back isn’t cavernous, it’s more than adequate for adults. Fold the rear seat and you’ll have a good-sized storage compartment, one of the largest in this segment.
As for the ride itself, I found it better than expected. The RAV4 moves smoothly enough in city driving, and the highway experience is equally stable and comfortable.
When it comes to safety, the crossover delivers a perfect five-star overall rating in crash tests.
The base sticker for the ’16 RAV4 is just under $33k. I recommend the Advanced Technology Package; not because I’m an audiophile, although the JBL audio in this package is nice. I happen to be a big fan of the Bird’s Eye View camera system. Looking down on your car as you back out of a garage is pretty impressive. My guests are always left wondering how it does that.
The competition in the compact SUV market is extreme, and Toyota probably deserves better than they’ve received with the RAV4. I think some of the external updates will bring in a few additional fans. Those who’ve driven the RAV4 in the past will appreciate the new touches, especially the sleek look.
It’s well worth your attention.
Reviewed by Dom Testa
Car provided by manufacturer