Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, honorable guests! Please, let me welcome to the stage the legendary Toyota RAV4 – the Japanese champ on modern-day American roads. Believe it or not, but this one is a keeper, and, ever since the 1995 debut here in the United States, it’s been getting better and better. So, what’s so special about the RAV4, you could ask? That’s a good question, sir, thumbs up! Well, how about this: the RAV single-handedly invented the market of compact crossover SUVs, one that’s hugely popular these days and has a strong grip over the automobile industry. Aha, Toyota is known for a lot of great achievements, but to create a brand-new segment that’s gonna be the spearhead of the business? That’s definitely rare! Second, this good-looking, family-friendly and highly efficient SUV is everything a guy/gal needs, especially if he/she has a big, happy family to take to the mall, to school, to work and back – you know, the usual middle-class stuff that we all love to do so much :). The Toyota RAV4 is most definitely one of the brightest models of the last couple of decades, and I’m not even saying this because it’s the first one it its class. It is the real deal, guys; besides, when was the last time the Japanese failed you?
RAV4 – On Top For 2 Decades, The Best In The Class
Toyota RAV4 mileage, the RAV4 dimensions, the Toyota RAV4 safety, durability, reliability, and the RAV security are off-the charts, my friends, and that’s why the American shoppers are still pretty much in love with it. You know what they say: we, the US folks, don’t really like to express our emotions with words – we do that with actions. And the sales charts of the last 15 to 20 years tell us – loud and clear – that the Yanks sure do love that Japanese accent when it comes to affordable-yet-cool CUVs (that’s the short for compact utility vehicle). Obviously, the auto enthusiasts and the gearheads (no, that’s not the same thing) just love to constantly compare the best in the game, so, if you wanna learn about all the differences between, say, the Honda CRV vs RAV4, make sure to check out my review
RAV4 Vs Mazda CX 5 Vs Ford
Oh, yes, I let the Ford Escape sneak in between the two, but that will only give you more perspective on all three models (besides, who doesn’t want to compare Toyota RAV4 vs Ford Escape). The Escape is definitely one of the best offers on the market and Ford sure does know how to make them look, feel and perform good on the road. And despite the fact that the RAV4 vs CRV clash is by far the most popular one (simply because they are the greatest one to ever do it), I’ve also got a RAV4 vs Mazda CX5 comparison for y’all. If you’re a fan of Mazda, but still recognize the strength of the RAV4, I bet you’ll learn a lot of tasty (and maybe even nasty) details about both SUVs. Dig in, folks, I’ll wait. Just don’t take too long, OK? Otherwise you might not find me here when you come back. Just kidding, I’m a patient man :).
Looking For The Perfect Family Ride? Pick The Toyota RAV4!
Alright, well, I’ll assume you’re back from my Toyota RAV4 reviews, the clash of the titans, and we’re all ready to go north…or south? Anyway, today we’ll talk about the Toyota RAV SUV, with a 4 at the end (that means 4WD, four-wheel drive), folks, the history of this iconic model, from the very beginning down (or up?) to 2016 and even 2017. Fun fact: even though the official name of it is “Recreational Active Vehicle with 4-wheel drive”, not all the editions are 4WD, but it is optional. Funny, right? The RAV 4 nameplate today means a lot of things, but first of all it means reliability and safety, just as always with a Toyota vehicle. So, first things first, it was introduced to the United States 2 decades ago, in 1995 (’94 in Japan and Europe). The initial concept for the car was to create the perfect pick for the customers who are looking for a vehicle that successfully combines all the advantages of a big-bad SUV, including generous cargo capacity, available 4WD and a higher visibility with the flexibility, maneuverability and fuel-efficiency of a compact car. And they did it!
RAV4, RAV4…What About RAV5? Is There One?
The Toyota RAV4 interior is one of the best ones in the business, with top-quality materials, finishing, cozy seats, enough room to mess around (thanks, again, to the Toyota RAV4 dimensions), a pretty strong powertrain, great handling, a fun, refined ride quality and a bunch of other exciting stuff. The Toyota RAV 4 mileage is considered to be class-leading, so, if you’re a fan of economy and have a big family to take care of, this SUV is a no-brainer. Note: in most world-wide markets it’s the only compact SUV from the Japanese giant; in other countries it’s the “little brother” to the Toyota FJ Cruiser. Ok, that’s about it for the prologue! If you read my RAV4 reviews through and through and want more, let me just open up my history books, wipe the dust off my cheat-sheet list and tell y’all about the history of the Toyota RAV4, the origins, if you will. By the way, remember: there is no RAV 5, and there never will be (unless the industry decides a 5th wheel is in order), so, keep that in mind…just in case. We’ve been doing quite alright with 4 wheels, so I don’t really see Toyota reinventing the system, so to speak, and rolling out with a 5-wheeler in the nearest future.
Flying Back To 1995 – The First Generation RAV 4
Ok, this is it, boys and girls, the history class, so, keep your heads up and stop staring into those damn smartphones/iPhones/iPads/iWhatevers, for God’s sake! The first-gen RAV4, named the XA10, debuted in Japan in May 1994 and was built upon a then-unique platform that was heavily based on some of the best elements from the Corolla and Corona models. Right off the starts the shoppers had a choice between 3- and 5-door versions, which, IMHO, helped promote the SUV quite handsomely. Here in the States the RAV4 Toyota was available both with FWD (front-wheel drive) and AWD (all-wheel drive), with a 2.0-lit 4-cylinder engine, good for 120HP, paired to either a 5-speed manual transmission or a 4-speed automatic one. So, if you’re wondering about the “original” Toyota RAV4 horsepower, there you have it. The RAVs were so good that the Automobile Magazine named it the 1997 Automobile of the Year. The 1998 RAV4 went through a minor restyling upfront and around back; power was increased a bit as well, reaching 127HP, plus, a soft-top 3-door edition was also rolled out. In 1999 (June, to be exact) the 2-door version was dropped from the American line-up, so, we were left with the 5-door and the 3-door models, which was more than enough. For those gearheads who want to learn about the Toyota RAV4 length, here it is: 4,150–4,160 mm, which is about 163.4-/163.8 inches.
The RAV4 EV
I’m kinda ashamed to say this, but I actually never thought that there was a RAV4 EV. I mean, they just rolled out the RAV4 Hybrid, right?! Well, there is (or, rather, was) an electric edition of the world-famous SUV. It’s a plug-in, an all-electric vehicle, believe it or not. It was produced for the 1997-2003 period and was called the zero emissions edition. This unusual thing was on sale for 7 months in tiny bits in California only back in 2002. The Toyota RAV4 EV was powered by a pretty might battery pack that could store as much as 27kWh and the vehicle could go for 120 miles between charges. Furthermore, the Toyota RAV 4 EV was offered with a 60K mile battery warranty, which was pretty decent by the electric standards. Overall, there were 1.484 units sold/leased in Cali, and in 2012 about 500 cars were in use. So, I guess it’s safe to say that the RAV 4 EV was not the brightest spot in the model’s history; nevertheless, it did show that Toyota was more than capable of building a solid EV SUV. Plus, in 2012 the company resumed production, with the second gen providing 2.6K units – almost every last single one was sold, too. As for the EV RAV 4 MPG, the car was good for 76 miles per gallon of gasoline equivalent. By the way, Toyota was working with Tesla on this one, so, that’s why it turned out to be a good one.
The Second Generation (2000 – 2005)
Alright, time to move on, folks, and talk about the second incarnation of the RAV 4 Toyota that hit the shelves in July 2000. Much like the previous gen, the XA20 was offered in 3- and 5-door configurations and was constructed upon the same old platform. The team behind the second gen started working on in since 1995, with Yasuhide Hosoda taking care of the final design. Now, even though the new RAV Toyota was available as a 3-/5-doorers in Australia and Europe (UK included), we, the Americans, only got to enjoy the 5-door SUV. Regardless, the Toyota RAV4 seating capacity of up to 5 people was more than enough to get the US folks interested. Besides, if you were a powertrain fan, there were plenty of engines to choose form: the first one was the entry-level 1.8-lit 4-cylinder, good for 123HP, the second unit was a 2.0-lit 4-cyl engine, capable of 150HP, and the third one was a D-4D diesel motor. The 2002 Toyota RAV4 MPG was pretty solid: 25 miles per gallon on the highway and 20MPG in the city, 24MPG combined. That’s with the 4-wheel drive and the manual transmission.
The New RAV4 Interior – Tech-Savvy And Ready To Roll
The RAV4 interior was beefed up a bit, especially in terms of the technological features and the safety equipment: you had air conditioning, cruise control, an anti-lock braking system, a 6-speaker stereo, and more. Furthermore, a sport package was also available, adding all kinds of cool stuff to the pack. Other options included keyless entry, good-looking alloy wheels, heated seats, etc. Hey, I’m not done yet saying nice things about the Toyota RAV4 4 interior! True, it wasn’t nearly as dope as, say, in the 2015 RAV4, but the buyers still got super-cozy seats, enough leg- and head-room to go around, even for the tallest folks, nice visibility, more entry-level features and a special kind of fun attitude which is common among compact SUVS. So, it’s safe to say that if you’re a bit low on the budget or just don’t wanna go with a brand-new and shiny model and are in the market for a Toyota RAV4 used model, the XA20 is definitely worth your attention. With the trademark Toyota durability, reliability and the still-awesome looks (even though it’s been 10-15 years), you won’t even feel like you’re driving a used Toyota RAV4 – it will be like it’s fresh out of the oven.
Big Success In Australia And Love From The Ladies
In Australia Toyota had tremendous success with the RAV4 – it became the best-selling SUV in 2001, beating the mighty-mighty CRV. So, Honda CRV or Toyota RAV? The Australians had the answer! All models came packed with a 2.0-lit 4-cyl engine with variable valve timing, which allows for more power, torque and fuel-efficiency. In 2003 the RAV 4 for sale on the world-wide market received a styling upgrade, with new equipment and even a new engine for Europe. In the States we got the Vehicle Stability Control as standard. The good-old 2.0-liter was boosted with a brand-new 2.4-lit 4-cylinder that was good for 161 Horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. The Old World also received electric air conditioning. So, at the end of the day, you would never hear or read about any Toyota RAV4 complaints, simply because there were no flaws with this victorious SUV. Fun fact: the 2nd gen RAV had the highest percentage of female drivers among all the models and makes here in America. How about that, fellas? I bet the ladies were driving a black Toyota RAV4 to look even sexier, as opposed to the boring-and-routine blue RAV4!
The Third Generation (2005 – 2012) – Going For The Mass Appeal
Ok, my friends, we’re almost at the top of the pedestal – just two more to go. But before we go in I gotta report that with the 3rd gen in play, folks started to compare all kinds of mighty vehicles with the legendary SUV, like The Nissan Rogue vs RAV4. I can say real quick that the Rogue is a solid pick, but the two are not real-world rivals, because the Rogue is pricier and can take in as much as 7 passengers, while the Toyota champ is only good for 5. The second popular comparison is the Highlander vs RAV4, which, again, is not a perfect match, because the Highlander is a bigger, stronger and more expensive offering. Now, if you want a fair fight, check out the Subaru Outback vs Toyota RAV4 clash: they’re both 5-seaters and provide roughly the same pack of features, even though the Outback is considered to be a mid-size wagon. Regardless, all 3 will give you the best bang for your buck, you just have to figure out what is it that you’re looking for first, otherwise you’ll end up regretting your pick for God knows how long. I’ve kinda been there, so, I know how it feels.
A Complete Redesign For The Toyota RAV4
So, I’m happy to say that the SUV went through an overwhelming redesign in 2005 and switched to a brand-new platform. The new edition was first showcased at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2005. Take a look at the Toyota RAV4 images from the 3rd gen – they almost look like the 2015-2016 models, don’t they? With the 2005 edition you had a choice between a short- and a long-wheelbase version. The short slugger was only available in Europe, New Zealand and Japan, while the Americans got the longer model (also available in New Zealand and Australia). The Japanese RAV4 went on sale in 2005, and with the 07 Toyota RAV4 the 3-doorer was dropped out of production there as well. Furthermore, the 3rd gen was the first one to offer regular and extended editions. For example, the extended RAV4, available here in the States, was 21% larger in terms of interior volume; The spacious RAV4 third row seat was a nice touch, too, even though it was only suited for little kids.
Refreshments, MPG And Facelifts
The 2008 Toyota RAV4 went through a mid-cycle refreshment in certain markets, receiving a brand-new 4-cylinder engine along with a redesigned front end and the rear. The limited trim got a different front grille/bumper. On the other hand, the Sport trim featured a big-bad spoiler. New techy features included push-button start, a backup camera and navigation (via the satellite), but the interior remained largely untouched. In 2009 the Canadians got their first 2WD model. As for the 2009 Toyota RAV4 MPG, the 4WD model with the automatic transmission returned 26 miles per gallon on the highway and 19MPG in the city (21MPG combined). The 2011 Toyota RAV4 MPG was pretty much the same, as nothing major happened in two years. The 2012 RAV4 went through yet another minor facelift. And since 2008 (November, to be exact), SUVs for the North American market were manufactured in the Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada Inc Plant.
The 2012 RAV4 – Expanding The Asian Dominance
A year later Toyota started mass-production in Tianjin, China, expanding on the Asian market. Speaking of the 2012 Toyota RAV4 specs, let me tell you that here in America we had a choice between 2 engines – a 2.4-lit 4-cylinder and a mighty 3.5-lit V6, which was good for 269 Horsepower and mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission. Now, if you, by chance, are interested in the min. RAV4 ground clearance, it’s 6.3. Right, so, I guess we’re done with the technical side of the deal, don’t you think? Oh, one last thing: the 3rd-gne RAV4 topped Toyota SUV sales in America for the first time. Overall, the 2012 Toyota RAV4 was (and still is) one hell of a ride for your family, so, keep that in mind if you’re in the market for a used Toyota RAV4 for sale. As a buddy of mine likes to say, a used RAV4 is the best way to spend a couple of spare grand – couldn’t agree more!
The Current Generation (2013-2016 And Counting)
This is it, ladies and gents, the 2013 Toyota RAV4, the first edition of the fourth generation, the latest one to date. It was revealed back in 2012 at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Sales in the US started early January 2013. And there was a lot to choose in terms of engines: you had two 4-cylinders – 2.0-lit and 2.5-lit – and two turbo diesels – 2.0-lit and 2.2-lit. As for the transmission, the new SUV offered a 6-speed manual, a 6-speed automatic and CVT (continuously variable transmission). The Toyota RAV4 2013 was also available in the UK and February and hit the dealerships in, well, 2013. Indonesian models hit the shelves early 2015 with the only engine being a 2.0-lit Dual VVT-i unit with CVT. The Toyota RAV4 2014 was pretty much the same as the previous edition, with a new Technology package, offering lane-departure warning along with (automatic) high-beam control.
Toyota RAV4 2014 – Solid All-Around
Still, it was a super-popular choice among a wide range of SUV shoppers, simply because it was truly awesome. Despite the compact dimensions, you could fit 5 folks in it and pack the cargo with all the luggage from the nearest mall. Another great “feature” of the RAV4 2014 was the affordable price-tag of 23-24K for the entry-level model. Besides, it was a flexible and nimble vehicle, one that can easily maneuver in those tight city corners and find a tiny spot on the parking lot. As for the 2014 Toyota RAV4 MPG, the SUV was good for 31 miles per gallon on the highway and 24MPG in the city (26 combined). I’ll say it again: the 2014 Toyota RAV4 was just what the doctor ordered, and that’s why the model remained virtually unchanged next year. Wait, not so fast – let me tell you about the Toyota RAV4 2015 in details, as it deserves a round of applauds for keeping that high bar and offering a couple of minor but still nice features and equipment for us all to enjoy. And if you wanna read about cars similar to RAV4, make sure to read my review. I’ve got the Honda CR-V, the Mazda CX-5 and the others trying to get that shiny crown off Toyota’s head. Will they prevail? Read up and find out!
The Toyota RAV4 2015 – Keeping The Hood On Lockdown
Last year the Japanese mogul released the 2015 Toyota RAV4 and got back into the game, still as fresh as 2 decades ago (it never left, actually. It’s one of the best compact crossovers in the industry, with a lovely exterior design, good efficiency, a versatile, spacious interior and all the latest technological features and safety equipment to keep you up-to-date and save on the day-to-day routine. As for the trim levels, you still have to pick between 3, starting with the 2015 Toyota RAV4 LE. This is the entry-level trim, the basic model, but it comes pretty well-packed: 17-inch steel wheels, keyless entry, cruise control, air conditioning, Bluetooth/USB/iPod connections, a 6-speaker sound-system, a 6.1-inch touch screen, and more. The 2015 Toyota RAV4 XLE is the golden middle, so to speak, and adds alloy wheels, dual-zone (automatic) climate control, foglights, nice sporty seats, High Def. radio and other fancy stuff. Finally, the 2015 Toyota RAV4 Limited is – yep, you’ve guessed it – the ultimate trim, the most expensive edition out there and comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry/ignition, heated front seats, synthetic leather upholstery, and more. If you want to learn about the RAV4 2015 in details, check out my personal favorite – the article where I’m testing this beast on the road.
The Toyota RAV4 2016 – The Current Model
And if you wanna own the best, hot-on-the-streets Toyota RAV4, then you gotta go with the latest edition – the 2016 model. This time around Toyota updated styling a bit, making the front fascia sleeker and in-your-face. Besides, there’s this brand-new SE trim level with quicker handling, new dope styling elements on the exterior/interior and even LED headlights (it looks pretty cool, too). As for the RAV4 0-60, the acceleration, the AWD edition goes from zero to 60 miles per hour in 9.2 seconds, which is an average time for a compact crossover SUV. Again, if you’re carving for more info, learn about it in details here. By the way, with the latest edition the world finally got the first-ever Toyota RAV4 hybrid, a highly fuel-efficient and all-around solid SUV for all those fans of economy and conscious driving. It’s relatively new on the market but folks are already cheering for it and cleaning out the dealerships all over America. Don’t believe me? Go to and see for yourself!
The Toyota RAV4 2017 – What Does The Future Hold?
With the 2016 edition and the hybrid model doing so well on the market, expect Toyota to announce the 2017 edition later this year. I actually don’t even have a clue as to what the company is cooking up in the labs, but I do know that a major redesign is in order (or, at least, I’m hoping for one). The RAV4 has a super-strong fan base, a mighty grip over the market and solid sales numbers, so, it’s not going away any time soon…or ever. By the way, if you’re a part of the production team and know a few tasty details about the upcoming release, please, do share in the comments! I promise I won’t tell anybody! Objectively speaking, I think we’ll get yet another routine model, just like we did in 2014, 2015 and 2016. And even though the Toyota SUV is on top right now, another “nothing-special” year might just make folks look for an alternative, and the market is full of hungry competition right now. However, knowing the Japanese mogul’s steel nerves, I believe they know what they’re doing and won’t let the rivals get the throne without a mighty clash.
Shopping For A Used Toyota RAV4
Ok, this is probably the most fun part of the whole article, because we all love to talk about that resale market, right? True, you’ve got lease, loan and tons of other options with brand-new models, and the Japanese giant is all about incentives and special discounts, but at the end of the day it’s better to pay up fully and own a used Toyota RAV 4, rather than hang in there somewhere for a decade or so. At least that’s what I think, and I’m sure a lot of y’all agree with me. So, if you’ve been reading my posts for a while now (I see you, brother/sister!), then you know that I’ve got my favorite triple – CarGurus.com, Cars.com and the Autotrader (you’ve got the American .com, the Canadian .ca, the UK, well, .Uk – a lot of them). If there is or ever was a place to shop for pre-owned cars without having to second-guess your every move. hoping not to get robbed of your money, I believe those three web-sites are a part of that magical place. Yeah, you could say I vouch for them.
Paying 1/2 Or Even 1/3 Of The Initial Price
A used RA4 will serve you nicely for at least a decade, my friends, as Toyota makes them ever-lasting, and won’t cost you much. For example, a 2011 Toyota RAV4 will cost you 1/3 of the initial price, as it’s been around for +/- 5 years. A 2010 Toyota RAV4 will cost the same (maybe a few hundred dollars less), while, say, a 2007 Toyota RAV4 can be yours for 4-6K dollars. The aftermarket puts it all into perspective for you and allows to get more for a smaller price, again, without the risk of running into a bad seller. Still, you gotta use your head, compare the pricings of at least a dozen models and never go with the cheapest one, because, chances are, it would be the worst among them (and it usually turns out to be). Check out the pics, the mileage info, the videos (if there are any) and never pay upfront. ALWAYS go check out the vehicle for yourself and ask for the legal papers. If the owner refused to provide them, turn around and leave. It’s not rocket science, obviously, but you’ll still have to be vigilant and never let your guard down. If you’re ready to pay a little extra for reliability, go with the official dealerships. Alright, that’s it for the Toyota RAV4 history class. It’s been a long way coming, but today we’ve got a winner on our hands, no doubt about it. The RAV4 has been around for 20+ years and is today in more demand than ever. I’m signing out and wishing y’all a happy ride downtown. See ya!
Watch this video: 2017 Toyota Rav4