Test Drive Notes Library
- Solid. This is a car we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to friends and family. It feels substantial on the road, gets very good mileage, and is versatile enough to do pretty much everything you need a crossover to do—except move a full-sized billiard table.
- Hybrid. Toyota’s been working on hybrids longer than anybody else, and it shows. Their system works seamlessly. That it costs a mere $800 more than the gasoline version of the RAV4 makes it an absolute no-brainer. Not only do you get more power with the hybrid, but it’s quieter, and gets significantly better mileage. No matter what kind of driving we did (in Eco mode, Normal mode or Sport mode), we seemed to get about 35 miles per gallon (EPA claims 40 mpg, but we consistently saw 34–36, depending on the type of driving). 35 mpg is impressive for such a solid small to mid-size SUV, and something RAV4 Hybrid owners can feel rightfully smug about.
- Solid road feel. Unlike early versions of the RAV4, this one feels particularly planted and substantial. It handles well, and feels stable and well-made. And it is stable. It absorbs road bumps well, and corners with less body lean than previous RAV4s.
- Versatility. Like most small to medium-sized crossovers, the RAV4 can carry four people, or, with the back seats folded down, a surprising amount of your crud.
- Clear controls. Toyota definitely upped the “rugged” factor in the RAV4, presumably to attract more buyers with X and Y chromosomes. Inside, it results in large, rubberized knobs, which are easy to find, grab, and use. The touch screen is large and up high. The Toyota Entune System still has room for improvements. But most common functions are easy to use, and Apple Car Play is there to save you from the others. Steering wheel controls provide redundant access to the basics. We love the video rear-view camera option that makes large-headed rear-seat passengers or cargo area Great Danes irrelevant. A video projection from behind the car runs in the rear view mirror.
- Standard Safety. The RAV4 comes standard with forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection. Lane keeping assist and lane departure warning are also standard. You need to move up from the base trim to get blind spot monitoring, and it’s well worth it. Front visibility is pretty good. The A-pillars are raked at an angle that makes them less obtrusive than in other small SUVs. They seem a bit thinner, too. To the back, we just have three words for you: Back up camera. Actually, let's add three more words: Blind spot monitors.
Test Drive Notes Library
- Looks are polarizing. Like we said, Toyota is trying to give the RAV4 more male appeal by making it blatantly truckier. It looks, what? Chiseled. Lots of hard edges. There’s a button that says “Trail.” Who’s that supposed to appeal to? This seems to have put off some potential RAV4 owners who find it a bit much. The styling does encroach on interior packaging a bit, but not enough to limit the RAV4’s versatility in a meaningful way.
- Engine noise. In electric mode, of course, the RAV4 Hybrid is practically silent as it whooshes you away from a traffic light. But when the gasoline engine kicks in, you do hear it moan. It’s not atypical of hybrids, but you should see if it bothers you before buying.
- Last foot. Brakes work well, but perhaps it's the weight of the vehicle, with its battery pack, that makes you to insist that it stop. When you roll forward at a light and then come to a full stop, you get a little bit of rock back.
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