By on September 20, 2013

 

2014 Toyota RAV4 Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

When the RAV4 landed, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. In a world of unified corporate identity the RAv4 goes off script with a look all to its own. While the old RAV sold on mini-truck looks, the new one is undisguised crossover. The new nose has grown on me slightly since I recorded the video above, but I still find the look a little awkward. Since I was scolded for wearing striped pants with a striped shirt the week I tested the RAV4, feel free take my style opinion with a grain of salt as you click through the jump.

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Exterior
The big change for 2014 out back. It’s not what you see, it’s what you don’t. The spare tire that clung to the back of the 2013 model like an octogenarian clinging to the past is gone. The removal of the tire makes completes the RAV4’s exterior transformation from Toyota Trucklet to crossover. By going hatch-mainstream, practicality is greatly improved allowing easier access when parallel parked or parked on a hill. Because of the RAV’s increased dimensions and the new hatch, it is possible to fit 4×8 sheets inside if you leave the hatch cracked.

The RAV4’s cargo hold has one of the lowest lift-over heights for loading in the compact crossover segment. While this makes loading easier, it means the hatch is closer to the ground and makes opening it more awkward. I thought I was alone, but some of our Facebook friends commented that the hatch hit them in the abdomen if they didn’t take a large step backwards when opening it.

2014 Toyota RAV4 Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Interior

The RAV4’s interior is a sea of shapes, not all of which jive with one another. It’s as if the engineers couldn’t decide which styling direction to take, so they gave the interior a bit of everything. On the flip side, the majority of the cabin materials are above the likes of the Kia Sportage. The stitched pleather pieces of the dash help bring the cabin up-market but the urethane steering wheel lets the cabin back down. The carbon-fiber looking plastic trim seems to scratch easily as well and it’s located in high-traffic areas like the cupholder surround and by the window switches. This dichotomy is unique to the RAV4 with rest of the competition being uniform in terms of style, quality and feel. On average the RAV4 is in the upper-middle of the pack, but this double personality leads people to see what they want to see in the interior.

Front seat comfort is merely average in the RAV4 thanks to seats that lack adjustable lumbar support or a power adjustment mechanism. Continuing Toyota’s move away from leather, the Limited model gets SofTex faux-moo instead. Out back, the big change is the lack of a third row option for 2014. Toyota tells us that the take rate was low with most 7-seat shoppers opting to step up to the Highlander. The loss of the extra seats should have given Toyota a bit of room to expand the second row but it has actually shrunk for 2014 by one inch and the rear seats have lost their ability to slide forward/backward. Cargo room slots in at a massive 38.4 cubic feet jumping to 73.4 if you fold the rear seats flat, well above the competition.

2014 Toyota RAV4 Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Infotainment
2013 brought Toyota’s refreshed 6.1-inch Entune system standard on all models, and starting in a few months will receive another update to their latest software debuting in the Corolla. I should note now that Toyota has not said if the system can be upgraded to the new software, so if you like what you hear in the upcoming Corolla review you may want to wait.

The current touchscreen unit includes standard Bluetooth and a backup camera in addition to the usual combination of AM/FM and a single slot CD player. The standard 6-speaker audio system is moderately well balanced for a compact crossover. The system is easy to use and offers full voice command of your USB/iDevice media library. Optional on the XLE and Limited models is Entune smartphone app integration and flash-disk based navigation. The nav system is intuitive and easy to use but the system’s screen is easily washed out in strong daylight. Although the system is intuitive and highly functional, Entune is outclassed by the larger touchscreen products in the Ford Escape, GMC Terrain, Kia Sportage and the new Jeep Cherokee to name a few.

2014 Toyota RAV4 Engine, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Drivetrain
Toyota decided to kill off optional V6 for 2014, leaving the 2.5L four-cylinder the only powerplant. While the switch is likely to offend a few, the vast majority of RAV4 sales were four-cylinder anyway. Toyota’s logic was this: the prime competitor is the CR-V and it’s four-cylinder only. The 2.5L engine is good for 176 horsepower and 172 lb-ft of twist placing it in the thick of the competition. Since the 2.5L is no longer the base engine Toyota fitted it with their 6-speed automatic transaxle to improve performance and fuel economy. MPGs rise to 24 City and 31 Highway in FWD trim which is above the CR-V and GM crossovers but well below the Mazda CX-5’s impressive 26/35 score (2.0L engine and manual transmission.)

For $1,400 Toyota will toss in their full-time AWD system on any trim level. The RAV4’s AWD system follows the same formula as the rest with a multi-plate coupling acting as a quasi center differential. This system is somewhat unusual however because the driver can lock the coupling on demand via a button in the dash. Although the lock will self-disengage over 25MPH, only the Jeep crossovers offer a similar touch. Engaging the car’s “sport” mode alters the throttle mapping, transmission shift points and encourages the coupling to lock more frequently to try and limit the FWD nature of the RAV.

2014 Toyota RAV4 Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Drive

The loss of the V6 is a big blow to the RAV4. In our tests, the RAV4 ran from 0-60 in 8.64 seconds in AWD trim, faster than the CR-V but slightly slower than the 2.5L CX-5. If you want anything other than middling performance, you’ll need to drop by the Chevy or GMC dealer for a 301HP Terrain or Equinox.

When the going got twisty, the FWD RAV4 we borrowed from a dealer proved to be competent but not exceptional. Like most crossovers the RAV is softly sprung and exhibits plenty of body roll, tip and dive but it never felt sloppy. Toyota’s structural improvements are noticeable with the rear hatch no longer creaking on uneven driveways. Adding AWD improved the RAV4’s dynamics thanks to software that is programmed to send power to the rear wheels when driving aggressively or when in Sport mode. The system not only prevents the few hints of torque steer the FWD model exhibits, but it also makes the RAV4 more dynamic on the road. Regardless of the model, the steering lacks the precision of the Mazda or Ford, possibly due to the RAV’s higher profile tires but it does rank above the CR-V. If handling is important to you, the Mazda CX-5 is quite simply the best small crossover on the market right now.

2014 Toyota RAV4 Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Toyota has a history of playing to the “meat” of every segment. Rarely does Toyota build anything extreme, be it the cheapest car in its class, the most expensive, fastest, slowest, etc. That describes the RAV4 to a tee. After a week with the RAV4 I wasn’t offended but neither was I enraptured. Toyota’s trucklet is reasonably priced ranging from $23,300-$28,410 and in most trims represents a decent (but not extreme) value compared to the competition. Yes, the CX-5 is more exciting, but like the more luxurious and gadget-rich Escape, it’ll cost you more. The CR-V is quieter but it’s also a few bucks more expensive. The Cherokee is more off-road capable but Chrysler’s reliability reputation isn’t exactly stellar. The Forester is the better choice for wagon lovers and the Sportage and Escape have powerful turbo options that speak to my heart. The GMC Terrain and Chevy Equinox have been refreshed and feature 301 horsepower mills for those that like to count ponies and an infotainment system that’s more attractive than Entune.

The new RAV is, without a doubt, a better 2-row crossover than the model it replaces. It’s also a very pragmatic choice delivering a blend of good fuel economy, large cargo hold, an AWD system that’s more capable than most in the segment and, being a Toyota, it’s likely to have a good reliability record as well. The 2014 RAV4 is a solid crossover and you can’t go wrong by putting one in your driveway. If however you want my advice, and since you’re reading this I assume you do, check out the CX-5 and Escape before you sign on the dotted line.

 

Hit it or Quit It?

 

Toyota provided the vehicle, insurance and and one tank of gas for this review.

Specifications as tested

0-30: 3.17 Seconds

0-60: 8.64 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 16.88 Seconds @ 82 MPH

Sound Level at 50 MPH: 68db

Average Fuel Economy: 25 MPG over 483 Miles

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183 Comments on “Review: 2014 Toyota RAV4 (With Video)...”


  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    Thanks for the review. My wife and I are shopping in this segment for her new car. We like the RAV4, CRV, Venza and Santa Fe.

    Give me one or two good reasons why we shouldn’t get a low mileage 2011-2012 CPO Santa Fe V6 and pocket a few thousand compared to a new RAV or CRV. I ask this because I haven’t found one yet.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      Class-trailing fuel economy. A friend has an older one with FWD and he gets 21mpg in mostly moderate speed highway driving. Fuelly says they’re still not good.

      On the other hand, knowing what his fuel economy is, he still loves the car and has bought two more Hyundais since.

      Even though I’m a Toyota loyalist, I encourage you to also look at the Mazda CX-5. I was very impressed (but we decided not to get a CUV and went with a Prius).

      • 0 avatar
        LeMansteve

        Huh, good info. The EPA estimates are like 25-26 hwy. We like the CX5 but used ones hover around $23-25. Our budget is $20k.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          $20K really is a fine spot to be in for a small crossover, at least not where I live. Maybe look at CPO’d Chevy Equinoxes, too.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            It pains me to report this, since I had a 2013 Equinox as a rental (2.4 liter) for a while and was VERY IMPRESSED at how smooth, quiet and comfortable it was, especially for a vehicle in mid level trim that can be had for around 23k new (plus TTL), but my sister’s 2012 has developed a severe oil leak, which is apparently not uncommon (anyone?).

            I really liked the eco trim Cruze I drove, as well (even more so than the Equinox), and would consider it best in the compact class in terms of solidity, quietness, ride quality, etc.

            I REALLY, REALLY hope that GM does not falter in terms of reliability/durability of its vehicles in the same way Ford has, for the sake of its long term prospects, now that they’re vehicles are finally not only often competitive in terms of comfort and driveability, but in certain segments, now class leading.

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            I knew DeadW would drop theos glasses and see the light…and those are Chevys. Wait until your ride in a Buick.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        “A friend has an older one with FWD and he gets 21mpg in mostly moderate speed highway driving. Fuelly says they’re still not good.”

        For comparison, my Hemi Charger beats this.

      • 0 avatar

        I call bull on the 21. I was gettin 24-26 mpg in everyday driving with old 2.4L and 4-speed auto, easily. Tell your frined to quit stomping the right pedal, that’ll help.

      • 0 avatar
        gisguru

        KixStart’s friend must have a lead foot. I get 24 mpg consistently in my 2007 RAV4 FWD. That’s with 75% city driving.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Unless you plan on getting a loaded example with the 2.0T engine, I wouldn’t bother with the new Santa Fe (Sport). My experience with a near base-model example as a rental is that Hyundai made it look a lot cooler while skipping over the small, but important details in the segment. It’s not comfortable, has acres of hard, scratchable plastic, and wheezes it’s way up to speed. I say your best bets are the CR-V at one end of the spectrum and the CX-5 at the other.

      Or there’s always that previous-gen Santa Fe V6, which will probably feel much more useful than the new one.

    • 0 avatar
      tuffjuff

      If you’re going with the Sante Fe, I feel like the old model is a better idea than the new one. The new one feels less substantial, cheaper in a way, despite *looking* more expense. A test drive could confirm this. I had an old 2008 as a rental for a few weeks back in 2007 when it came out, and found it to be pretty average feeling. That said, it offered features in the class others didn’t for the price, and used they’re a steal.

      I’m convinced the CR-V is one of the best vehicles in the current class. It’s unfortunate how ugly the rear end happens to be.

      • 0 avatar
        onyxtape

        I know that the CR-V is the best in class in terms of materials and build quality, but it’s hard to like the car when the word “tumor” pops up in my mind every time I see the back.

        The back of the new RAV4 is not my favorite thing either. Though had Lexus Lexusified (miniaturized the RX?) the RAV4 instead of the CT200, I think they would sell like hotcakes.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        +1 to what Kyree, LeManSteve & trucking stated about the new Santa Fe; the last gen was WAY BETTER.

        The same is even more true of the Tucson, where the current generation is quite possibly one of the worst new vehicles I’ve ever had the misfortune of getting stuck with as a rental.

        Both the new Tucson & Santa Fe had better not be indicative of Hyundai’s trajectory in terms of interior trim quality, creaks & rattles, and ride quality, because if they are, Hyundai’s going to you do about a decades’ worth of positive mike tum.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          I meant tuffjuff and not “trucking” above. Stupid spellcheck

        • 0 avatar

          ^Afreakingmen.

          This goes for the Elantra, Santa Fe, Tuscon and to a certain extent the Sonata.

          Previous gen Hyundai’s may have been a bit frumpy, but they benchmarked Toyota (well, old Toyota). This meant generally good quality interiors and fairly strong reliability as priorities, but also a soft and quiet ride which is ideal for a lot of people in NA. Then, like Toyota, they got all self-conscious and decided that what people really wanted was a Honda/Mazda ride without the finesse. This was partnered with a certain loss of quality and improved (?) appearance. Listen to me, I’m 24 and already waxing poetic about “the good old days.”

    • 0 avatar
      drtwofish

      As I comment below, we just picked up a 2012 V6 RAV4 and are really happy with it. The Santa Fe was too big for our garage, so we didn’t drive it, but the price point seemed high compared to the RAV.

  • avatar

    Clicked on the video just to see Alex in the striped outfit. Dissapointed that I couldn’t!

    As to the car, not my cup of tea. Fora a Toyota, the front looks ok, the profile is meh, but (there’s always a bout with modern styling, specially Toyota’a) what about those backlights bumping out of the body?I guess some must like it.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      The squared-off back and the tail-lamps actually look okay upon seeing them in person. However, the front end takes this car back to the era of the 2004-2010 Sienna and does not at all go with Toyota’s other recent front-end-redesigns. A facelift should come sooner than later.

    • 0 avatar
      Blackcloud_9

      The “Bumped-out” tail lights are actually for wind/air management. They help with the aerodynamics of the CUV. Many of the Toyota CUV/SUVs have them. Check out the latest pictures of the Highlander, 4-Runner.

      • 0 avatar

        yes they are, and much like F1 of today, with all their aerodynamic appendage, in comparison with the ones from years gone by, in terms of beauty, the modern ones pale.

        And also, frankly, in such an unaerodymamic format as a CUV, this aerodynamic justification amounts to a weak sauced affectation.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      “what about those backlights bumping out of the body?I guess some must like it.”

      Fiat, for example. Their new ‘Cherokee’ has them too.

      • 0 avatar

        yep, as I’ve explained on TTAc in a number of my articles, Fiat is taking Jeep international. To due so, they had to let go of traditional American design cues as, quite frankly, they’ve become a bit of a joke in all their boxy, chromey squareness, and so they ‘borrowed’ from the most successful Cuv design language, which is Korean by Germany. Not Japanese.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          The Cherokee is an abomination, but they obviously copied Toyota when it comes to the tail lights and back in general. Toyota is Japanese, the nation behind many of the most successful CUVs. The RAV4 defined the class and the CR-V validated it. You might like the lower quality brands, but there is nothing to support your claim that korea or germany has anything on japan in the area of CUV design. Particularly when you’re talking about Toyota’s tail lights on a Fiat.

      • 0 avatar

        cj, the Cherokee was more than inspired by the Kia Sportage. All it takes are eyes to see. The comment on Korean design is due to the fact that Korean cars took off after their styling was taken over by German nationals. However, that doesn’t take anything from Korean talent. Don’t know if you know or care anything about design, but Seoul has been a hotbed for international design. Korean design has been eclipsing Japanese design for a while now and according to experts has been able to develop their own autoctonous language, i.e., much more authentic than derivative like much Japanese design.

        Dude, chill, you’re gonna pop a vein.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          I did a search for autoctonous language. Any guesses on what came back?

          • 0 avatar

            as to cars? I’m sure Japanese as they developed their own style through thr 80s and 90s. In cars the Koreans are still developing, but are pushing forward. Unlike the Japanese and American styles which have become largely self-referencing, though American cars have been finding a way out of their funk (not so for trucks). When I did the comparison I was talking design in general.

            As to cars, the Koreans have stopped copying the Japanese and are cross fertilizing their own roots, the obvious Japanese early inspiration, with healthy doses of European input. Something good could well come out of it. As is thr Koreans are putting out good looking, but not totally original designs that are striking a chord the world over. Maybe because of the diverse inputs, they can appeal to most everybody.

            Design will only take you so far though. They have pretty much caught up with the Japanese in reliability, but trail even the Japanese in engines, suspension etc., not to mention thr Europeans and Americans.

  • avatar
    bryanska

    The CRV is quieter than a RAV4?? Wow that’s a first. I had heard the CRV was quieter than the outgoing model, but to hear that it’s quieter than the RAV4 is big news indeed.

    Which is awesome, because I really wanted a CRV but didn’t want to get blasted into a coma like previous Hondas by road noise.

    • 0 avatar

      Quieter and substantially smoother, according to CR and TrueDelta.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      I was thinking similar as 68db @ 50 mph is higher than most sedans see at 70 mph. Even my Encore read 70db @ 70 mph, thanks inpart because of Bose Noise Cancelation. The system works well in blocking engine noise because if you open the window the system is foiled. Beside putting both hands over the ceiling microphones produces a weird feedback humming sound.

      • 0 avatar
        goldtownpe

        You can’t directly compare your results with Alex’s. Different road surface. You can only compare them if they were tested/measured on the same road surface.

      • 0 avatar
        WaftableTorque

        Alex’s noise readings for the Scion review and the RAV4 seem awfully high. I’m assuming he’s using dBA weighing, which gives a lower number and corresponds better to human perception than dBC weighing.

        My 1998 Camry LE reads 61dBA at 50mph and 67 dBA at 70 mph. That’s probably what the average 2013 family sedan does. For reference sake, my 2002 LS430 reads 58dBA and 60dBA at the same speeds on the same road.

        EDIT: It just occurred to me that maybe the readings are correct and I’m just used to quieter cars.

        • 0 avatar
          burgersandbeer

          Where are you guys getting dBA info for older cars? Road and Track references it in some of their reviews, but they have some holes in their lineup. I find it helpful (or at least amusing) to compare newer cars to cars I have experience with.

          As goldtownpe noted, road surface makes a huge difference. There are some interesting results in the noise levels published by R&T that must be explained by the road surface. For example, they measured a 2001 LS430 at 71 dBA @ 70mph. This is dramatically higher than the sound levels WaftableTorque reports for his 2002 LS430.

          Bizarrely, R&T measured an ’03 Accord V6 and ’03 Mazda 6s at 69 dBA @ 70 mph. 2 dBA lower than their 2001 LS430, and neither of those cars has a reputation for quiet.

          • 0 avatar
            WaftableTorque

            My numbers come from my own analog Radio Shack sound meter, done on smooth asphalt pavement. In fact, I have a spreadsheet of a few cars I’ve measured. Yes, nerds do crazy things for fun.

            Concrete and wind adds 2-10 dBA to the measurements and make averaging difficult, so I don’t measure in those conditions. Popular Science numbers tended to agree with my own, but not the other car rags.

            What I can infer with confidence is that family cars are quiet when cruising but not accelerating, whereas the higher end luxury cars are quiet during both, so the measurement at a steady speed doesn’t really do justice to what the driver hears.

        • 0 avatar
          jz78817

          Weighting still doesn’t tell you the whole story. 68 dB of discrete tone(s) is likely to drive you batty while 68 dB of broadband noise isn’t. In many cases, industry has moved to calculating perceived loudness in sones to try to correlate it to annoyance.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            I was wondering if the quality of the noise had as much to do with it as quantity. The published noise readings for some cars haven’t matched up well at all with what my ears were picking up while driving them. I’ve never given decibel ratings for interior noise any credence.

          • 0 avatar
            jz78817

            precisely. Whines, hums, squeaks, etc. are far more irritating than just ambient, broad-spectrum noise. Even when the broad-spectrum noise might be “louder” in terms of dBSPL. the study of this is generally referred to as “sound quality” (not relating to the audio system in the car) and companies sell lots of equipment and software to analyze this. Unfortunately I’m not aware of any meters which can offer phon/sone measurements in real time. At least, none that don’t cost a fortune.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            I will echo what goldtownpe said about road surface having a HUGE impact on interior noise legalism some manufacturers’ vehicles more than others.

            Buick, MB, Lexus, Jag (at least XJ8 type Jags, etc) don’t seem to have significantly different noise levels whether on asphalt or concrete, but many Japanese makes are MUCH louder in terms of road noise when traveling over concrete surfaces.

            Tires can also play a huge role in contributing to road noise, as well, especially now that so many vehicles come standard with ridiculously oversized & low profile rubber.

            All seasons in the 16″ or 17″ size with lots of sidewall give smoother ride quality with far less road noise, all things being equal, compared to the 18″ to 20″ wheels that have now become almost ubiquitous on even the most plain, garden variety vehicles, and it seems to be a fashion trend more than for any practical reason, sadly.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Double-check me, but is the Mazda CX-5 the only vehicle left in this segment that offers a clutch pedal?

    • 0 avatar
      tbhride

      You can get a Forester or an Outback with a stick, 6-speed

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        The base Outback with 6 speed is the $22k neighborhood, but you can do $20k on it for a ’13. The base Escape about the same price; it has an auto. The base CX-5 too, although with a manual.

        I really like this redesign…I think they did a great job all around with it. I love the dash design – very unique. The large gas gauge looks like something out of the 70s though….

        It still drives numbly though…the CR-V, CX-5 and Escape all run circles around it handling-wise….

    • 0 avatar
      italianstallion

      Subaru Forester (and Outback too) is still available with a manual.

      I’m surprised to see that the Forester is not mentioned in TTAC’s recent reviews of small SUVs. It sells well and is a competitive offering.

      • 0 avatar

        I know. Between the solid reputation, the recent safety wins, the strong sales, and the fact that CR ranks this as their top SUV I don’t understand why Alex hasn’t placed this front and centre in comparison to the Toyota.

        Frankly, I see no reason to buy a RAV4. They aren’t attractive, they aren’t high quality or posh, they don’t drive that nicely, and they aren’t great value. All they do well is reliability, which is something other contenders do capably as well (CRV, Forester, CX-5, etc.).

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          The CX-5 seems quite new to already be giving it the “reliable” label.

          • 0 avatar

            Mazda generally has a solid reputation and TrueDelta has had very good initial responses for them. No, they aren’t proven to the same extent…but the indicators are that they’ll be quite good, especially when they aren’t especially complex designs (i.e. no turbos, duel clutch autos, etc.)

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            But it does have a brand new engine family that runs a very high compression ratio for gas engine.

            Maybe it’s a personal hang-up but I don’t think I could give any new model or powertrain a pass until it has been out for at least 36 months.

            I mean what’s the highest mileage CX-5 on Truedelta?

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Check the specs for the 2014 Forester against the first generation model. It’s gotten bigger and heavier, almost into midsize territory.

        Of course you can say the same about the RAV4, times two! The tested model vs. the first gen are two different cars. The first RAV4 was a quick, maneuverable city car that held its own on the freeway.

        • 0 avatar
          Skink

          The 14 Forester grew by maybe 100 pounds and by less than an inch in every dimension but length, which was up by 1.4 inches over the 13 Forester. The height and dimensions of the 14 Foresters are right in line with its class’ competitors. And it’s lighter than most of them.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            I was comparing the 2014 Forester against the FIRST generation, 1997-2002 models, not just last year’s. Likewise, compare the current RAV4 against the tiny 1994-2000 first generation.

      • 0 avatar
        drtwofish

        FWIW, we were very disappointed after driving two examples of the ’14 Forester with manuals. They were pitifully slow (even by 4-cyl SUV standards) with lots of body wallow and loosy-goosy steering. The ’13/’14 RAV would run rings around it.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      FWD Tiguan is also available with a 6 speed stick.

  • avatar
    WaftableTorque

    Now I see where the Lexus LF-NX crossover concept gets it’s ungainly proportions from, right down to the C and D pillars.

  • avatar
    chiefmonkey

    I’m sure this is going to be a dependable car, as Toyotas generally are, but the company has taken cost-cutting to practically offensive levels. The interior reeks of it. From the outside, it actually looks good, but the interior is an insult pretty much. A TERRIBLE mishmash of shapes, more of a blueprint than an actual design! Thin, brittle, and CHEAP!

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      I agree, the interior looks beyond cheap and entry-level

      • 0 avatar
        Brawndo

        Alex says of the interior “[o]n average the RAV4 is in the upper-middle of the pack…” I agree, as long as that pack includes a variety of used cars from the ’80s. However, if your pack includes only the CRV, Cx-5, Forester and Escape, then the Rav4 is solidly bottom b.

        Issues from our test drive of the new Rav4:

        1) headliner looks like it was sprayed on via aerosol can;

        2) fabric on the sunvisor that had already started to come away from the underlying foam;

        3) a nav system that washes out badly in sunlight, is nearly invisible with polarized sunglasses, and that buries everything in inscrutable menus;

        4) road noise galore!

        Given the Rav4’s poor showing in both the IIHS and NHTSA tests, that cheapness apparently cuts all the way to the bone.

        • 0 avatar
          84Cressida

          The RAV4’s interior is MILES ahead of the CRV and especially the Forester. I haven’t been in a CX-5 yet but I’m sure like most Mazdas it’s vastly overrated.

          The CRV’s interior is acres of hard plastic, nothing on the dash to break it up unlike the RAV4 which has the stitched soft touch material. You may not like it but it’s better than hard, flimsy plastic.

          I’ve driven the CRV and the RAV4 back to back and the RAV4 on the same roads was smoother and quitter than the Honda, which isn’t a surprise since road noise is something Honda has no idea how to contain. The steering and handling on the RAV4 pretty precise, equal or better than the CRV.

          The new Forester is a lot better than the old one (wasn’t hard), which feels like it could’ve been made in the Soviet Union circa 1953, but still doesn’t feel like any sort of refined car.

          Oh yeah, and since you brought up the IIHS test, note that very few cars even passed that test in this class and the supposedly superior CRV flunked it as well. Oops.

          • 0 avatar
            Brawndo

            I’ve road tested the top trim level CR-V, Rav4, Forester, CX-5 and Santa Fe. I can’t say how the lower trims compare, but at the top of the range, I can assure you, the Rav4’s stitched pleather “racing stripe” across the dash does not make up for the multitude of cost-cutting sins in its interior. It’s amazing that the fake carbon fiber in the Rav4’s interior somehow manages to look cheaper than silver plastic.

            I agree, the CR-V doesn’t handle very well and agree the Rav4 handles better than the CR-V.

            In NHTSA tests of the current generation of these models, the CR-V, Forester, CX-5, and Santa Fe Sport all score five stars overall, while the Rav4 and Escape received four stars.

            But wait, there’s more! Or in the case of the Rav4, less. In the IIHS small overlap test the Forester scored a “good,” the CR-V and CX-5 “marginal,” and at the bottom the Rav4 and Escape “poor.” From the IIHS website: “An analysis of 14 years worth of crash data involving IIHS-rated vehicles shows that a driver of a vehicle rated good in the moderate overlap test is 46 percent less likely to die in a frontal crash, compared with a driver of a vehicle rated poor. A driver of a vehicle rated acceptable or marginal is 33 percent less likely to die than a driver of a poorly rated one.” Combined with the NHTSA results, we can conclude that versus most of its peers, the Rav4 is demonstrably less safe.

            Oops.

          • 0 avatar
            dtremit

            @Brawndo They use acres of that fake CF in the Venza to similarly disappointing effect. What a mess. Lots of really cheap black plastic elsewhere; looks like the same stuff used for the switch/aux panel on this RAV4.

      • 0 avatar
        Firestorm 500

        Toyota reliability is a myth nowadays. They have a recall of hundreds of thousands of vehicles every week it seems.

        They are a meh car with meh interiors and meh “reliability”.

        But they still price ‘em high compared to what you really get.

        People still blindly line up to buy ‘em.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          Toyota has more credibility than the UAW/NHTSA. That isn’t about to change. The recalls are an irritation, but only an imbecile would believe there is much substance behind them. If you’ve owned a bunch of Toyotas that haven’t had any actual manifested problems, would you fall for this regime’s efforts to discredit them? I pity anyone that falls for it.

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            And it is just not Toyota that leads in recalls, Honda/Acura is right there at the top. Considering the recalls to the percetage cars sold, Honda doesn’t come out as good as Toyota.

            Most of these recalls are for stuff that was designed correctly or failed…a half decade ago. That’s the stuff they are forced to recall and fix.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            It’s just a nuisance campaign from the cretins in Washington, trying to create parity in ownership experience with Detroit detritus. Fools will be fooled, but they were probably buying lesser cars already.

          • 0 avatar
            tuffjuff

            @CJinSD

            LOL!

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            CJ Honda loving and his nuisance recalls…lol!

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Why is CJ waving his hand around like that?

            You will buy Honda…you don’t need to see his ID…Republic credits will do fine…you will take me to Jabba now…you serve your master well…you will be rewarded…

          • 0 avatar

            hey FreedMike, you forgot to mention the cretins in DC, corrupt workers and the imbecile buyers of lesser cars…

          • 0 avatar
            billfrombuckhead

            Blaming Washington and the UAW for Toyota failures?

            Cars built for people who hate cars by people who cars=Toyota

            No one aspire to own a Toyota, they just can’t afford the car they want or just don’t care about cars.

            People aspire to own Jeeps and HEMI’s. The new Cherokee will sell just like the Grand Cherokee and the Wrangler.

        • 0 avatar
          chiefmonkey

          I’ve thought about Toyota and I think increasingly, the company’s success is pretty much a factor of having mastered the fundamentals. I once asked myself you know, when Chrysler is putting 8 speed transmissions in its cars, how come Toyota still uses 4 speed automatics in 2013? Because it works. There is no practical need for an 8 speed transmission-just wasted R&D money. You’d think, say the Ford Focus would sell way better than the Corolla because it’s so much more modern but if it has a junky transmission, than what’s it worth? People will take the mediocre Toyota to avoid the headache. That’s what keeps happening.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Or they’ll take the mediocre Toyota THINKING they’re avoiding the headache.

            As far as 8-speed transmissions are concerned, it’s a good way to get more performance out of a smaller engine. Sheesh.

          • 0 avatar

            don’t get me wrong, i usually partake of the if it ain’t broken philosophy. However, in extremis the 3 speed auto was fine, crank windows never broke, etc., etc., ad nauseum. Toyota and Honda are in dire need of a thorough rehash.

          • 0 avatar
            84Cressida

            Chrysler will proudly build you a lump called the Avenger in 2013 with a 4-speed automatic. As for 8 speed transmissions, Toyota was the first to introduce them in a car. Ever.

            And since Chrysler can’t be trusted to build a transmission with 4 speeds to last more than 6 months, no way should they be trusted to build one with twice the amount of gears. Maybe these ones will last a year.

          • 0 avatar
            CelticPete

            No practical need for an 8 speed? LMAO. Ever ride a bike? Or take physics class?

          • 0 avatar
            chiefmonkey

            I’m no fan of Toyota but their transmissions do tend to work…with the exception of maybe early Camrys and ES350’s with the 3.5l and 6 speed.

        • 0 avatar
          84Cressida

          “Toyota reliability is a myth nowadays. They have a recall of hundreds of thousands of vehicles every week it seems”

          My personal experience, along with countless reliability studies that gather data from ACTUAL OWNERS strongly disagrees with your wishful thinking. And I’m gonna trust my own judgment along with millions of others rather than some false conjecture from a vocal minority on the internet who have wet dreams daily of seeing Toyota go by the way side. Ain’t gonna happen.

          • 0 avatar
            Firestorm 500

            There is no false conjecture. Just cold, hard, verifiable numbers. Look it up sometimes.

            Many owners will gloss over the deficiencies and problems of their own cars. They don’t want to admit what a mistake they made buying it.

          • 0 avatar
            84Cressida

            The cold, hard, verifiable numbers that show Toyota and Lexus to still be at the top of pretty much every single quality survey? I did look them up, you didn’t apparently.

            AND LOL to the max over your butt hurt response that owners “gloss over problems and don’t want to admit they made a mistake buying it”. I guess that means American car owners have no shame admitting they made a ginormous mistake and bought a POS, since they score lower on the reliability studies.

        • 0 avatar
          tonycd

          Neutral surveys of vehicle reliability don’t back up your “meh” assesment of Toyotas.

          Now, appeal is another question entirely, but the objective evidence suggests it’s still true that most Toyotas seldom break.

      • 0 avatar
        bryanska

        One enormous saving grace: the empty space between dash and console, which has nearly disappeared in many cars.

        Most new Fords give me claustrophobia from that enormous sweeping console that eats up any sense of spaciousness.

  • avatar
    badtzmaru

    Another candidate drops off the list, for those looking for a new mini-SUV with a spare tire mounted to a swinging-gate. In my case, I wanted such a config for those 2 times a year in which I loaded kayaks onto the roof and loaded bikes onto a spare-tire-mount-secured carrier. With or without bikes mounted, the gate allows me interior access without worrying about interference from the kayaks (not possible with a liftgate). I don’t parallel park enough to be concerned about issues with the swinging gate.
    My 06 Grand Vitara is suiting me very well in these regards, and has the 4WD lo-hi gearbox and locking center diff for those 2 times a year in which I need them… The latest/final-to-U.S. Grand Vitara had dropped the exterior spare and swing-gate, also. I find the GV to be highly under-rated, as it is a sturdy and quite off-road-capable machine.

    • 0 avatar

      I, too, think Toyota screwed that up. However, it made the car lighter, if you consider how much going to the donut wins. And that improves mileage.

      Note that GV’s low range is for real. RAV4 did not and does not anything like what you get in the Suzi, and in fact I found it extremely limiting and thought about upgrading to GV. With Suzuki gone you don’t have any option but Cherokee.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      I have had some experience with a few generations of Grand Vitara and I agree, its a very honest automobile.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    No V6 and no Sport model doesn’t leave an “enthusiast” much to get excited about. My 2011 V6 Sport was so good in so many ways. All they really needed to do was reduce torque steer, improve off-idle throttle response (really abrupt) and QUIET THE THING DOWN!

  • avatar
    romanjetfighter

    Why are they moving away from leather? Is the Softex good quality like MB Tex?

    Also, Toyota totally cheaped out on this one. Grey headliner even with the tan interior? Looks totally rubbish.

  • avatar
    Astigmatism

    I _hated_ the previous-gen RAV4 when I got it as a rental car: tinny, cheap feeling, and the engine never felt nearly as powerful as it was rated. We test drove it when looking for a CUV for my wife this summer, largely because there was a Toyota dealership close by and I have a test-drive-everything-even-if-you-don’t-think-you’ll-like-it-because-you-never-know philosophy (which is how I ended up buying, and loving, my TL). We were surprised and impressed with how far it had come – liked it more than the CRV and the Escape, not quite as much as the Mazda, but as you say, it’s cheaper too.

    Unfortunately for Toyota, we test drove a couple of weeks before we were ready to purchase, and in the intervening time, the memory of the Mazda sweetened while the Toyota stagnated. Like any Toyota, it’s impossible to make an emotional connection with this car – it’s competent and ticks off a lot of boxes, but that’s about it. By contrast, not only the better handling, but also the “small, but important details”, as Kyree puts it, give the Mazda a personality, and make it feel like it’s trying hard to please you, while the Toyota is just kind of sitting there with a low window sticker and better incentives.

    In the end, we were willing to pay the extra buck a day over the next five years to see the CX-5 waiting for us in the driveway, and we haven’t looked back since.

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    Really cheap looking.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      On the other hand, it doesn’t look like the new Fiat Cherokee.

      • 0 avatar
        billfrombuckhead

        Many people are going to find the futuristic Cherokee a much better looking car and as time goes by the Cherokee will look more modern and the RAV4 will look more and more like a cheap appliance. I’m a total car nut and design freak and I liked the Cherokee immediately

        The Cherokee is a very intelligent design because it minimizes the front corners of the car that just catch wind and branches. The Cherokee has the form follows function thing going on where the RAV4 has the beancounter conformity thing going on.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    GF’s parents traded in their trusty 2005 Highlander Limited with 175k miles in one of these new Rav-4s, in Limited trim.

    Besides the increase in fuel economy (which is about 28mpg on the highway, with AC running and 5 passengers+ stuffed trunk), it is, in my opinion, a vastly inferior automobile.

    Engine/transmission is perky enough, in my GF’s 2012 Camry SE it’s actually very quick. The extra weight of the Rav makes it adequate/good. I must say, it handled the full load of 5 passengers + luggage with aplomb.

    The seats are terrible, just like the previous Rav-4s. Lack of thigh support and overall seat size. I’m 5’11” 185lbs and I totally dwarfed the seat. I can’t imagine what anyone over 6 feet would feel like. Rear seats are also uncomfortable, a 3.5 hour drive to Ohio was downright painful for the last hour.

    Ride is very harsh over bumps with the optional 18 inch wheels on the Limited. Downtown cleveland was quite jarring, the impacts of potholes made me cringe.

    Road noise is quite well muted. The interior has that stitched pleather silliness on the dash to distract from the rock hard plastic just about everywhere else, it’s a step backwards from the 2005 Highlander in a big way (let alone something like my 96 4Runner! sorry had to stick that in). Legroom is good front and rear, but I just want to reiterate just how bad the seats themselves are. On our way to cleveland we took 2 cars, I was relieved to make that drive in the back seat of my GF’s grandpa’s 2004ish Concorde. Trunk is very spacious indeed, but again, inferior to their old Highlander. I realize that it’s an unfair comparison: used high mileage Highlander to a smaller new Rav. I think it just goes to show how obsessing over MPG numbers can make you forget about other needs you have in a vehicle. Can’t imagine what this Christmas is going to be like, how will we fit people, luggage and presents on our yearly roadtrip to visit the grandparents?

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      Do you need to write a thesis to say that the Highlander is better than Rav4? They are INTENDED to be on different levels. Compare apple to apple plz.

      • 0 avatar
        billfrombuckhead

        Now days smaller cars don’t have to be cheaper built. Kind of funny how Ford, GM and Chrysler are making very nice smaller cars now. The Fusion and Escape don’t look cheap. The Cruze and Dart don’t look cheap. Korean cars don’t look cheap. Many Japanese cars look cheap even in higher trim levels.

        Having a Toyota is like having a homely wife with a decent job, so you assume she at least doesn’t cheat but if she does cheat (sludge era) you’re really a loser.

        • 0 avatar

          Billfrombuckhead, I agree. In the past one could tolerate the lack of a better interior and low content for the greater reliability offered. As nowadays most everybody has caught up in the reliability department, I for one believe Japanese makers need to step up their game.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            You’re repeating a piece of pure propaganda. There has been no catch up. The 2013 Ford Escape has 24 times as many reliability issues as the new RAV4 and 7 times as many as the 2013 CR-V. As the UAW brands have tried to get fancy, their quality has plummeted from merely being not quite as good to being sub-European.

          • 0 avatar

            You believe what you will and I’ll believe what I see. It’s clear we come at cars from diametrical view points. It’ll be very hard for us to agree on the subject. You know what: it’s all good. It’d be a very boring world indeed if we were all cut from the same cloth.

            Peace!

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            Ford, GM, and Fiat/Chrysler have not “caught up” to Toyota and Honda in the reliability department, at least if we go by the actual results tabulated by Consumer Reports.

          • 0 avatar

            geeber: I don’t read Consumer Reports. I base my affirmation from what I see and what I read elsewhere. On this very site, when they talk about the subject, they show the difference between the top dwellers and the low ranked is what? 1 versua 1.2 dealership visits a year? Pretty much a wash.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I would say for a period Detroit caught up or at least got very close to Japan’s reliability, but in the latest product release they’ve fallen behind in the US. I’m not sure if Nissan went DI but aside from hybrids/electrics the CVT was the biggest move from the Japanese Big Three and until recently this was only undertaken by Nissan. From a basic tech standpoint how much has changed in Honda and Toyota’s powerplants or basic designs since say 2005? Running already reliable proven tech is always going to win out over new tech which Detroit is utilizing. Brazil may be an entirely different story, which is something to bear in mind as Marcelo hails from there.

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            Consumer Reports has shown that everyone has improved over the years, but the best of the Japanese still rank ahead of the pack.

            With vehicles above 100,000 miles, let’s just say that the gap between the best and the rest widens considerably, based on what I’ve seen in the real world.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        No but to reiterate just how lackluster the Rav4 is in general relative to Toyotas before it. For comparison sake, my cheapskate $15k 2012 Civic has much better seats front and rear. I was also attacking Toyota’s cheap interiors, my GF’s 2012 Camry SE is just as bad as the Rav4, leatherette seats and creaky plastic pieces with awful fit (on the center console to dash transition). I’m confident that both of these cars will run for 20+ years with minimal fuss, but Toyota used to have simple, handsome, and very well crafted interiors. The same applies to My Civic I suppose so there you go.

  • avatar
    ggbox69

    The muffler/tip/resonator is painted flat black, cool.

    Not sure if others are doing this but I think it’s a great idea. A bare metal muffler is usually pretty jarring asymmetrically hanging underneath a bumper, unless sportily concealed with a valance. Plus it’s just a matter of time before corrosion kicks it into an even worse color. Black just helps it blend into the chassis.

  • avatar
    Syke

    “The loss of the V6 is a big blow to the RAV4. In our tests, the RAV4 ran from 0-60 in 8.64 seconds in AWD trim, faster than the CR-V but slightly slower than the 2.5L CX-5.”

    Uh, could someone please explain to me why 0-60 in 8.64 is an unacceptable time? Last I looked, these things are not, nor were they ever meant to be, sports cars. And, quite frankly, we don’t always need something that’s faster, faster, faster. It sounds like that kind of performance is entirely adequate for 99% of all driving.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      A 17 second quarter is Prius-like.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        Alex’s numbers from his Buick Encore review:
        0-30: 3.27 Seconds
        0-60: 9.6 Seconds (9.1 with overboost)
        1/4 Mile: 17 Seconds at 80 MPH

        Hmmm… all those numbers are worse than the Rav4. Does that mean your Encore is “Prius slow”?

        • 0 avatar
          NormSV650

          @Quentin, the Encore tested was AWD and Alex was able to beat EPA number. The last I check the Prius was NOT AWD. My Encore has a Trifecta tune on it’s 1.4T and will run rings around your Prius V while hauling similar. It’s faster than all the Japanese CUVs and still gets 40 mpg on a tank.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Wow watch out Quentin, don’t let quantitative proof get in the way of Norm’s one-man Buick lovefest!

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Norm’s Encore does the 1/4 mile in the low 13s, while getting 41mpg along the way, has better skidpad performance than a Zonda, better ride quality than a Silver Spur, and it beat the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon on Off Road Magazine’s most challenging off road test by 47 points.

          • 0 avatar
            Quentin

            The Encore has the same front legroom, less rear legroom, less front and hiproom by 2″, less front and rear shoulder room, same front headroom, a smidge more rear headroom, and is down by 16 cu ft in the cargo hold with the seats up (almost 20 cu ft with the seats down). The Encore has a full sized sedan trunk LESS cargo space than the v. Similar? 47% less space is far from similar.

            I simply found it hilarious that you were quick to jump on this for being slow when it is completely market competitive and your latest GM [that you\'ll own for 3 months and talk for an eternity of how reliable, efficient, and great it was] is slower off the showroom floor. Until GM starts shipping with a Trifecta tune, it isn’t valid for comparison. 99% of buyers aren’t going to tune their cute ute.

            DeadWeight: Golf clap.

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            The Encore’s front seat fold flat forward without removing the headrest for similar cubic cargo area as your Prius V. We won’t talk about handling or braking numbers since my 40 mpg, AWD, Encore has standard 18″ all season rubber. I put 3,000 miles on it by week two of ownership, 8+ hours daily for most of 10 days looking at properties. It proves to be one of the most comfotable and useful vehicles that I have owned.

          • 0 avatar
            tuffjuff

            These comments make me both laugh and sad at the same time.

            Thanks for the cheering up, DeadWeight. :)

          • 0 avatar
            Quentin

            Norm, the Prius v front passenger seat folds flat, too. I do have to remove the headrest. Next thing you are going to tell me is that if you include items hanging out of the rear hatch, the capacity is the same. :facepalm:

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            Add it all up including gas and driver for the Mokka/Encore…AWD too! Looks like the magical 3,500 lbs max payload. WARNING: don’t try this with your battery powered car!

            ” The weight is published for the basic version of the Opel Mokka 1.7 CDTI 4×4. If you order extras and updates it will raise. By industry standard the unloaded curb weight is measured with all fluids, 90% of fuel in the tank, a drivers weight of 68 kg and carry-on baggage of 7 kg. The permitted trailer load is true for max. 12% uphill grade. Unloaded curb weight 1415 kg (3119 lbs) Max. permissible 1810 kg (3990 lbs) Payload 395 kg (870 lbs) Permitted trailer load, braked 1200 kg (2645 lbs).

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            trucking, any day that I get someone to laugh is a good day, especially in these heated 1st world problem threads here on TTAC (e.g. turbo evil or not?).

            Norm, I genuinely find you entertaining You a delight, and have ZERO animosity towards you, even if I find the approximate truth to bullshit ratio of what you typically state to be 1:3.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            tuffjuff, any day that I get someone to laugh is a good day, especially in these heated 1st world problem threads here on TTAC (e.g. turbochargers: evil or not?).

            Norm, I genuinely find you entertaining and a delight, and have ZERO animosity towards you, even if I find the approximate truth to bullshit ratio of what you typically state to be 1:3.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        And a Prius is entirely adequate transportation. Your point is?

    • 0 avatar
      billfrombuckhead

      You can gets the wonderful Pentastar V6 in the Cherokee or the Ecoboost in the Escape if you’re a car enthusiast.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Why wouldn’t a car enthusiast buy a car instead? ‘Wonderful Poroustar!’ Thanks for the laughs!

        • 0 avatar
          billfrombuckhead

          Maybe the car enthusiast wants to tow his jetskis to his mountain home on a winding road on weekends while his heavy footed wife likes to do burnouts in the mall parking lot during the week. Obviously more powerful crossovers have a market.

          The family of Porsche crossovers laughs at you

    • 0 avatar
      laphoneuser

      @Syke:

      Exactly.

      I can remember a day (not too long ago) where if your vehicle could do 0-60 anywhere in the 8 second range, all was good with the world.

    • 0 avatar
      CelticPete

      It’s fast enough to drive safely – sure. But most male drivers would appreciate something faster IMHO. One thing you may notice if you drive a 5 – 6 second car (or faster) is that it opens up a lot of possibilities to power out of trouble rather then slow down to avoid it.

      Whether you are passing an erratic driver, a 18 wheeler on the highway or trying to merge onto the highway the extra speed comes in handy. Obviously its a luxury since bus drivers and the like can manage just fine with like 20 secs till 60. But I certainly appreciate it..

      • 0 avatar
        chiefmonkey

        “Ever ride a bike? Or take physics class?”
        Sorry I missed your comment…as a matter of principle I always respond to personal attacks. Yes to both. My bike has 28 speeds and I’d say half of them, if not more, are completely worthless.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “Toyota’s logic was this: the prime competitor is the CR-V and it’s four-cylinder only.”

    Fail. This logic is just so irritating, shouldn’t you strive to be better than the competition and not merely the same?

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      How did you know they didn’t strive to provide a better I4 than the CRV’s?

      Better is quieter, longer lasting and lighter, etc. But not the 2 extra cylinders that’s not free, and very few wanted to pay for.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        One could simply compare the two and find out. So in the case of the powerplant in question, the 2014 CR-V 2.4 I4:

        185bp @ 7000 rpm / 163 ft-tq @ 4400 rpm

        AOL Autos isn’t listing the 2014 Rav4 yet for whatever reason so I can’t get the RPM ranges, however as Alex points out:

        “The 2.5L engine is good for 176 horsepower and 172 lb-ft of twist placing it in the thick of the competition.”

        Both engines will be of some sort of OHC architecture, prob all alum block/heads with multiport FI and a timing belt. The transmission is slightly different as the Honda is mounted to a 5spd auto while the Toyota is now using a 6spd auto.

        Strictly from the powerplant standpoint I’m not seeing much of a difference. Now as you point out there are other factors at play here, but if you believe some of the comments above it sounds as if this new RAV isn’t quieter or more refined than its predecessor let alone its primary competition. Toyota being the company that it is, I expect a little more from. For years the domestics were criticized for the status quo while Japan Inc built a better breadbox, now it seems the shoe is on the other foot, hence the fail.

        http://autos.aol.com/cars-Honda-CR_V-2014/specs/

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          Small correction, they both use timing chains. Thankfully timing belts are just about gone, except maybe Honda J-series V6 motors(?) Modern chains stretch less and are quieter than in the past, taking away the 2 advantages belts had.

    • 0 avatar
      Scott_314

      30-55 year-olds buying this for the wife’s car.

      55+ buying this for their around-town car.

      If the V6 and the I4 were both available at the same price, most would get the I4.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      Note that Toyota has a 2.o turbo under development. There is no reason to design an engine bay that can accommodate a V6 when the turbo 4 is maybe just one model year away.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Also a good point, although again I’d thought Toyota could do better than follow the trend… Offering a hybrid for instance (or making the base model a hybrid).

    • 0 avatar
      azmtbkr81

      Toyota seems to be on a “good enough” kick lately as evidenced by the RAV4, Corolla, and 4Runner.

  • avatar
    markholli

    Every time I see one of these new RAV4s, either in the flesh or in pictures, the word “rental” pops into my mind. It just looks cheap and generic. The uninspired wheel design, the charcoal interior, the black plastic trim around the wheel wells and bumpers, and the forgettable grille design…can you say Avis?

    I get the sense that these were designed for fleets in the same way the Nissan Rogue was designed for fleets.

  • avatar
    Scott_314

    Good review. Basically there is no reason NOT to buy one.

    Expect record sales.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      Toyota has always went with the Eisenhower business model: If you don’t fail, you succeed. While the RAV4 excels at nothing, neither does it fail at anything.

      Next year’s ad slogan: Toyota = Reliable mediocrity.

      Or, better still: Toyota: We’re like GM used to be, only more reliable.

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    Love the dash. Outside looks Hyundai-ish though.. At least the front of it doesn’t mimic the bass mouth design language many are using nowadays.

  • avatar
    pgcooldad

    That interior has a certain “pre-production” look to it, but it’s not.

    • 0 avatar
      Marko

      When I sat in this new RAV4 at my local car show back in February, I thought the same thing. Unfortunately, it was indeed the real thing. Obviously the market disagrees with us, since the new RAV4 suddenly became as common as maple trees in my area (New England) almost immediately.

  • avatar
    carguy

    The best way to understand the new RAV4 is to see it as the Corolla of crossovers. It is a utilitarian economy class vehicle that will sell to value minded customers that still prefer Japanese over Korean. In an economy where wage growth is stagnant that is probably a winning strategy.

    However, for me the economizing has gone too far and I would rather drive a lesser edition CX-5 than a limited RAV4.

    • 0 avatar
      Marko

      Michael Karesh (TrueDelta) called it the “Yaris of crossovers”.

      • 0 avatar

        I tested the 2014 Yaris and found it much nicer than the old one. It lost its distinctive center cluster, ceding the field to Mini, but it’s all right. Very nice car in the class and it kept with leaders (Fiesta, Fit, Accent) in our comparo. If Michael is right, it would net the new RAV4 enough sales to stay with Escape, CR-V, and whatever else is out there. Of course such analogies are always perilous.

        • 0 avatar
          carguy

          No one doubts that it will be a sales success and there is nothing wrong with producing reliable products for the budget conscious. My initial comment was to point out that it is not really in the same segment as the Equinox, Escape or even CX-5 as their top trim models are $5K or more expensive.

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    I rented a last generation one and hated it – and I likely wouldn’t like this one either. The rental guy tried to sell me on it – (as its all they had left) but honestly I don’t know how people buy these things.

    I have never felt more uncomforable at highway speeds then in that car. Granted the curvy roads of Colorado mountains probably didn’t help but still. An Equinox felt vastly superior – and those things have a good base radio and a very roomy interior.

    I’d probably buy a Subaru or Mazda CX-5 if I was in the market for these things. But I see little reason to buy them over the Chevy or Fiaster either..

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I had the opposite experience. I had the previous generation as a rental and rather liked it. FAR more competent and fun than I ever would have expected. Then I had a couple of the new ones and thought they were bloated turds. YMMV.

  • avatar
    RJM

    I really liked my ’08 RAV-4 for driving Montana’s farm-roads. I could pass the back bumper of a semi @ 50mph and the front bumper close to 90. It was fun for pulling the 2800 lb poptop trailer up in the mountains on dirt roads (3500# capacity with towing option).
    It doesn’t sound as though the two-lane passing ability is as good on the new model, and I wouldn’t be able to pull the trailer as maximum towing is 1500#.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I have only seen a couple of these on the road so far. I just came back from a job near Sydney. I don’t think I’ll see to many of these in the Outback.

    They are really ugly in real life, but that’s my opinion. Toyota has really got to ‘modernise’ it’s diesel lineup. Looking at the 2.2 diesel fitted in the new RAV4, a 2 litre Great Wall pickup diesel is on par.

    A Kia Sorento diesel still looks and performs better, even the Santa Fe the Sorento’s unidentical twin looks and performs better. Remember the latest Sorento and Santa Fe’s have been out for a few years.

    I think if Toyota keep on heading down the path they are going Toyota will be relegated as a sub par performing company.

    Toyota need to invest money into decent engines, design, etc.

    They might once have lead, but why would you pay the Toyota premium for nothing but a very ordinary product.

    They might be reliable, but so are some other cheaper options.

    http://www.carsguide.com.au/news-and-reviews/car-reviews-road-tests/toyota_rav4_gxl_diesel_review

    • 0 avatar

      Big Al, we sometimes agree, but mostly we don’t. I, however, respect your opinions very much. So I take great pleasure in saying that in this case you’re absolutely perfect in your pondering. It never ceases to amaze how blind some of the faithful are, most especially in the case of the Toyota-Honda congregation.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @Marcelo
        I’m very business minded and a engineer.

        I don’t like waste or poor design.

        This vehicle to me comes down to poor management. The same philosophy that has killed other vehicle manufacturers, especially in Detroit.

        Toyota seem to be the GM of Asia. Once great, now we are seeing the beginnings of the Japanese manufacturers being over taken.

        Nissan was the AMC, now governed by Renault. I’m waiting for Mitsubishi to be bought out. Probably by the Renault/Nissan Alliance considering the product sharing between Nissan and Mitsubishi.

        Are the Japanese manufacturers emulating Detroit to a certain degree? Then the Euro’s will buy them out?

        • 0 avatar

          Fiat-Chrysler is on the prowl that’s for sure. If they see a weakness, they’ll pounce.

          Suzuki seems to have avoided VW for now, which is good. Mitsubishi has a large corporate umbrella to protect them so I think they’ll never sell. The problem with Mazda is that they have a relatvely small participation in not that many markets. It does seem Suzuki is the pick of the litter.

  • avatar
    drtwofish

    Interesting review. My wife and I recently purchased a slightly used 2012 RAV4 V6 awd after testing several examples of just about every small SUV out there. We quite liked the 2013/14 RAV, but the extra hp was just too much to miss out on.

    I find the reviews (including yours) that tout the Escape’s handling interesting, as we had a different opinion; we drove several examples of the current Escape, from the base to the 2.0, and all felt twitchy and nervous compared to either gen RAV. My first comment after driving the 2.0 was that the chassis was way undermatched to the engine. The CX-5 handled the best, but we found the Skyactiv transmission to be unacceptable, as it upshifted far too low and was slow to downshift when we put the pedal down. We were perhaps most disappointed by the Foresters we drove, as we wanted to love them due to the manual transmission. They felt extremely loose, with rubber-band steering, wallowy handling, and perhaps the worst pickup of the bunch. We actually liked the CRV’s interior the best (logically laid out and not cluttered like the Escape), but were underwhelmed by its power and handling (and awkwardly placed foot brake).

    At the end of the day we truly don’t understand the new RAV’s middling position in all the reviews. We felt it pretty cleanly outhandled all the utes aside from the CX-5, especially in sport mode, and it had more oomph than all but the ecoboost and the previous V6 (and, presumably, the Forester XT if we’d been able to drive one).

  • avatar
    cpthaddock

    A Toyota product that leaves me with a range of impressions (based on this review) from “meh” to “Okay” probably means it’s hit it’s target.

    Certainly there’s nothing overtly offensive on the outside. Which leads, circuitously, to the GMC Terrain. Every time I see one my gut instinct is that they fundamentally failed with the wheels. Not just a little, but quite massively failed. GM needs to go back to the drawing board and square off those wheels which completely ruin the design aesthetic of the Terrain.

  • avatar
    carve

    So…Toyotas plan was to eliminate the features that set their extremely popular crossover from the competition. Interesting idea. To me, the only remaining selling points are cargo capacity and Toyota reliability. I’m not sure why I’d pick this over a CRV though.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I don’t have much of an opinion on the RAV4, but I am a little surprised that so many people seem willing to throw their faith behind the Mazda and Ford CUVs when both use a decent amount of unproven new tech and Ford has had some launch hiccups lately.

    • 0 avatar

      I heard that Escape fires were addressed. It’s not really _that_ new anymore. BTW, early RAV4.3 with V6 had an issue with losing all of oil. One may argue it’s still better than burning down the whole thing while on a family vacation, but the point is that nobody is immune.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        The new Escape came out in like April of last year. That’s still very new in my book. I could see maybe preferring a 3.5L Edge as that’s much more a known quantity.

        You pointing out that some “early” RAV4s had issues kind of reinforces the fears I would have on these new CUVs.

  • avatar
    segfault

    The edge of the rear hatch is precariously close to the edge of the bumper. It’s probably not that much less prone to damage than the old rear mounted spare with painted cover. The ergonomic issue with the hatch is another negative.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Yawn…

  • avatar
    z9

    Alex, nice review, but it’s “jibe with” not “jive with”…

  • avatar
    ixim

    Had a 2010 4cyl AWD RAV. Glad to say goodbye to the swinging gate, fragile spare cover and 4 speed shift. Bought a ‘Nox and saved $4,000.00. Toyota must be doing something right to get those OTD $$. PS – The RAV is a good car; the ‘Nox is better – smoother, quieter, better on gas, no squeaks and rattles. Zero defects as delivered, too, just like a Toyota. Here’s hoping it’ll go well past 100K that way.

  • avatar
    Ion

    This got this far and no-one did their own “Hit it or Quit It” for Alex in the comments.

    Hit it

    – Smooth Camry I4
    – now with regular lift gate
    – Standard backup camera

    Quit it

    -Cheap interior with bad fit
    – no V6 or Turbo
    – weird proportions in person.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    Sound level readings are a great addition to the reviews. Not to nitpick, but why are they taken at 50 mph? Almost any car is bearable at 50 mph. Other publications that publish this information take sound levels at 70 mph, which is much closer to highway cruising speeds where noise can become a problem.

  • avatar
    84Cressida

    Anybody who says the CRV’s god-awful interior is better than the RAV4’s is fooling themselves and has never driven either. Based on the comments here, it seems many of you haven’t even sat in a RAV4 and even Alex said the interior is one of the strongest points.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      Interesting take coming from the guy who wrote “I haven’t been in a CX-5 yet but I’m sure like most Mazdas it’s vastly overrated.”

    • 0 avatar
      Prado

      I’d take the RAV4 interior over a CRV, but when I tested the RAV4, the interior came off as a disappointment in anything other than the top end Limited trim. Corolla features at Camry+ pricing. Disappointment with the XLE: Poor driver seat adjustability, molded in door armrests, Center console armrest too far back (adjustable only in Limited), No rear vents, Non sliding visors (limited has cheap little extensions).

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    The sones have it!

    Acura ILX 2.4, Buick Verano Turbo, Honda Civic LX, Honda Civic Si. Sones,
    32.5, 27.6, 33.4, 34.2.

    http://m.motortrend.com/roadtests/sedans/1210_2013_acura_ilx_vs_buick_verano_turbo/

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      That comparison also lists dBA, and the results are more or less consistent with judging the car by sones.

      It is noteworthy that the ILX and Civic LX matched in dBA @72.9, but the ILX was quieter on the sones scale (32.5 vs 33.4).

      Sones might offer more detail and give a better picture of interior noise, but dBA still has some value (provided the same test loop, or at least comparable road surface). Especially if the equipment to measure it is more affordable.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    “If you want anything other than middling performance, you’ll need to drop by the Chevy or GMC dealer for a 301HP Terrain or Equinox.”

    not true…
    for some reason folks always leave out the Escape 2.0 which to me is one of the finest engines going. The same 240 HP engine of the Fusion and even the larger Edge is available in the Escape and performs exceptionally.

  • avatar

    I really don’t care that the Equinox/Terrain have 100+ more horsepower. They’re so unbelievably bad to drive it doesn’t matter. Sportage SX for me, only downside seems to be the rear visibility and flinty ride.

  • avatar
    Johann

    Does anyone proof read things on TTAC?

    “The big change for 2014 out back.”

    Perhaps that should read “The big change for 2014 is out back.”?

    “The removal of the tire MAKES COMPLETES the RAV4′s exterior transformation from Toyota Trucklet to crossover.”

    Makes completes?!

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    This is absoluting the worst CUV for strutural noise and resonance. Granted I’ve never driven it but just closint the door door sent a reverberating humming and quivering noise that lasted the longest of any of the CUVs at the autoshow this year. It was so bad that I opened and closed the door almost five times as I could believe what my ears were hearing.

    I cannot fathom how this echo chamber sounds like on a rough road.

  • avatar
    lostjr

    Note that the seats on both the XLE and Limited have “sport bolsters”. They make the seats feel quite narrow. Sales people, and this review, do not mention this difference.


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