Toyota RAV4

Roseville, CA- Introduced in Japan and Europe in 1994, and two years later an instant hit in the U.S. market, the Toyota RAV4 has been a class leader for nearly than three decades.

A check of the numbers reveals that U.S. sales of the RAV4 have been 132,000 or more the past 15 years, including sales of 430,387 a year ago.

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RAV4 sales has really skyrocketed the past four years when it was the best-selling compact SUV in the U.S., surpassing 407,000 annually. The RAV4 had a record-number of sales (448,068) in 2019, beating out perennial rivals – Honda CR-V and Nissan Rogue. Other competitors include the Mazda CX-5, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Subaru Forester and Chevrolet Equinox.

There’s no disputing that Americans love their compact crossover sport utility vehicles. These smaller SUVs offer a lot of versatility, typically have an appealing design, and are also somewhat sporty.

What’s New

Despite its huge success, Toyota did some serious tinkering with the RAV4 the past few years. The biggest news has been adding a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid to the lineup. Because the RAV4 was getting a little behind the times in some areas, Toyota did a complete redesign two years ago, making improvements in performance, exterior styling, and adding more technological and safety features.

One of the RAV4’s greatest qualities is its cargo space. In fact, the cargo area of 37.5 cubic feet is so large that one might think the RAV4 is a midsize SUV. Drop the second row down and the space expands to 69.8 cube feet, one of the largest capacities in the class.

The RAV4 can make a sizable hardware store run, and if equipped with all-wheel drive, can easily maneuver its way around in snow country, which we did on our week with the 2021 Toyota RAV4. There are no noteworthy changes to this year’s RAV4.

Trim Levels

Slotted in the Toyota SUV lineup between the three-row Highlander and the subcompact C-HR, the RAV4 has considerable variety, offered in six trim levels (LE, XLE, XLE Premium, Adventure, TRD Off-Road, Limited).

The TRD comes equipped with all-wheel drive, all-terrain, 18-inch tires, an off-road-tuned suspension, unique black trim elements, TRD-tuned suspension kit with red coil springs, power liftgate, and sunroof.

2021 TOYOTA RAV4

  • Performance: 2.5-liter, four-cylinder, 203 horsepower
  • Mileage estimate: 26-35 mpg
  • Price estimate: $26,300 to $36,200
  • Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain: 5 years/60,000 miles; roadside assistance: 2 years/unlimited; corrosion: 5 years/unlimited

Performance

Although the engine has been improved, note that several RAV4 rivals provide better performance and a more powerful engine as an upgrade. The lone RAV4 engine is a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder that generates 184 pound-feet of torque and 203 horsepower. A turbocharged option would be a great addition for the RAV4.

Toyota Rav4 Interior

While not quick from a standing position – 0-60 mph in 8.0 seconds – the RAV4 delivers steady power. It experienced no issues in passing other vehicles on the freeway or mountainous stretches of highway, thanks in part to its Sport mode. The fuel economy (26-35 mpg) is near the top of its class.

We like how the RAV4 handles and it comes with an array of safety features, including lane keeping assist, forward collision mitigation with automatic braking, and adaptive cruise control.

There’s plenty of reasons to be enamored with the RAV4 interior; it’s both comfortable and spacious. We applaud the interior set up that’s fairly easy to master. Control knob placements make sense and there are no cheap, hard plastic materials to detract from the overall appeal. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now standard.

A smart redesign in 2019 has helped keep the RAV4 where it has always been – near or at the top of the extremely competitive compact crossover SUV class.