The Toyota RAV4 is one of the more popular compact crossovers, and the many trim options that were attached to the tested RAV4 Limited made it look like one of the fanciest.
What is it?
Toyota’s RAV4 is riding the wave of crossover popularity – its sales numbers are up more than 15% from last year, and the RAV4 Hybrid opens up a whole new market for buyers wanting top mileage in an crossover.
The Honda CR-V is this segment’s top seller and does about 15% more than the RAV4’s business, but they’re both in the hunt to be on a lot of buyers’ shopping lists.
Pricing and trims
Using 2017 prices, RAV4s start with the LE 2WD trim at $25,850, including the $940 destination charge. There are four other trims to choose from – XLE, Limited, Platinum and SE – so the tested Limited is the middle child.
The tested 2016 RAV4 Limited AWD’s base price was $33,810 with destination, which grows to $34,170 for the 2017, representing increases over the 2016 of $320 in sticker price and $40 in destination.
Whomever optioned this particular RAV4 for the press fleet had an eye on showcasing the various accessory options available, including this $69 Rear Bumper Applique.
The Limited has a power sunroof as standard, but there’s no option of a panoramic roof, as with the Hyundai Tucson, for instance.
For 2017, Toyota is making a bold move with the RAV4’s safety: all trims will come standard with Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P).
This set of active safety features was standard only on the 2016 RAV4 Limited. It was optional on all others, except for the RAV4 LE, where TSS-P wasn’t available at all. We loudly applaud Toyota for making active braking and dynamic radar cruise control standard across the entire RAV4 line.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates the RAV4 at the top in Crashworthiness and Crash Avoidance and Mitigation. It received a Marginal score in Child Seat Anchors (LATCH) Ease of Use, which oddly coincides with Toyota’s current press release trumpeting the RAV4’s “Top of the Class” car seat installation, according to Cars.com.
On top of the front of this RAV4’s hood is a $395 Paint Protection Film, and under it is the same engine that powers all RAV4s except the Hybrid – a 2.5-liter four that produces 176 sedate horses. Performance is placid, with ample acceleration accompanied by occasionally high sound levels.
The geared six-speed transmission is similarly nondescript in its work, though it provided notably sharp initial acceleration. The test car’s shiny shifter is a $160 option.
Ride and handling
The RAV4’s powertrain mildness extends to the suspension, which gives a comfortable and absorbent ride while keeping body lean in check. The steering is a little remote, and its response isn’t the sharpest, but this matches the RAV4 overall emphasis on comfort.
Front seats are very accommodating; they feel large and deep, and this Limited’s contrasting Softex upholstery does an excellent job of approximating leather.
The rear seat is crossover-roomy, with 37.2 inches of legroom and reclining seats.
The cargo area is roomy, with nearly 40 cubic feet of space. Fold down the seats, and you’ll have 73.4 cubic feet to work with. That compares well with the CR-V’s measurement of 70.9.
The cargo tray joins the all-weather mats up front in a $239 package.
The power tailgate was standard in this Limited, and we wished for a way to dial up its speed, as it felt a mite slow in its operation.
Infotainment and controls
The tested RAV4 had the $1,435 Advanced Technology Package, which includes this seven-inch screen. The included split screen with overhead view particularly crisp, with fine enough detail of the sidewalk to accurately place the RAV4 between two tightly-spaced driveways without having to get out and look.
The 11-speaker JBL sound system sounded terrific, but Toyota persists in not offering Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
When I tested the first of this latest generation of RAV4, I was still using a BlackBerry, and it fit perfectly in the shallow front bin. But now, my much larger iPhone 6s Plus had a hard time finding a perch, and it was best propped in the triangular bin, though it popped out a couple times.
The RAV4 is unquestionably a competent crossover, and this fancy configuration showed it to even better effect. The extra trim gave it just that bit extra of distinction, in roads that are increasingly swarming with RAV4s.
It’s tempting to wish for a more vivid driving experience from the RAV4, but that would likely detract from the general calmness it exudes. It’s nimble and friendly, and the RAV4 checks many of the boxes new-car buyers need checked.
2016 Toyota RAV4 Limited AWD
Base price: $32,910
Price as tested, including $900 destination charge: $37,360
Advanced Technology Package: $1,405
VIP – RS3200 Plus Security System: $259
Roof Rack Cross Bars: $315
Paint Protection Film: $395
Door Sill Protector: $199
Shift Knob: $160
Interior Light Kit: $185
Wheel Locks: $65
All Weather Floor Liners and Cargo Tray: $239
Rear Bumper Protector: $69
- TPSS-P standard on all 2017 RAV4s
- Nimble low-speed acceleration
- Comfortable and attractive interior
- No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto
- Leisurely power tailgate
- Placid performance