2013 Toyota RAV4 has a fuel-economy rating of 22
mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway for the
all-wheel-drive version -- better than many of its
sharpened its focus when it developed the all-new 2013
RAV4 crossover SUV.
are the powerful optional V6, outdated four-speed
transmission, snug third row of seats and
tailgate-mounted spare tire that made the previous RAV
new five-passenger RAV4 aims for the bull’s-eye in the
middle of the crossover SUV market.
start at $23,300 for a base front-wheel drive model.
All-wheel drive models start at $24,700. All RAV4s have
a 176-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and
six-speed automatic transmission. The top model stickers
at $28,410 before options.
tested a well-equipped AWD RAV4 XLE. It had a navigation
system, voice recognition, Bluetooth phone and audio
compatibility and cloth upholstery and cost $26,720. All
prices exclude destination charges.
RAV4 competes with five-seat crossovers such as the
Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Hyundai
Santa Fe Sport, Kia Sportage, Nissan Rogue, Subaru
Forester and Volkswagen Tiguan.
hard to get attention in that crowded segment. The RAV4
makes its pitch with good fuel economy, a roomy interior
and excellent voice recognition for phone calls and
passenger compartment is 100.7 cubic feet with good
head, leg and shoulder room. The cargo area offers 38.4
cubic feet behind the rear seat and 73.4 with the rear
seats folded flat.
tailgate is hinged at the top, like most SUVs and
station wagons. The outside-mounted spare tire that
forced the old RAV to use a side-hinged door has moved
inside, under the cargo floor.
new tailgate is one of the RAV4’s greatest
improvements. It’s much easier to use in crowded
interior materials and trim are peculiar. The center of
the dashboard — an area you’re never likely to touch
— is covered by a soft, cushioned pad of
attractive, but why not put that comfy cover on the door
armrests, which are covered with a thin layer of fabric?
There’s no place to rest your outboard arm and elbow
comfortably on a long drive.
center armrest — which is padded — covers a roomy
bin. That storage space would be very useful if it
housed the USB port and a power outlet for mobile
phones. Unfortunately, those utilities reside in the
center stack, below the climate controls. Cords, phones
and music players connected to them create clutter.
gaps between some interior trim pieces were uneven. None
is egregious, but Toyota’s designers placed several in
the driver’s line of sight, where they drew my gaze
like a chipped tooth draws your tongue.
RAV4 I tested had a 6.1-inch touch screen to control
phone, audio, navigation and online services. The screen
is smaller and less sensitive than the best that
Entune Internet functions — which include Bing
searches for navigation, Pandora Internet radio and more
— worked well. It was a marked improvement from the
glitchy system in a Toyota Avalon I tested earlier this
year. It uses your smartphone’s Internet connection,
so there’s no additional cost for data, but Toyota
will charge for most Entune functions after three years.
RAV4 AWD rated 22 mpg in the city, 29 on the highway and
25 combined in EPA tests. Among AWD competitors, the
combined rating trails only the new 2014 Subaru Forester
2.5i. It matches Ford Escape’s 1.6-liter EcoBoost and
beat the others. The front-drive RAV4 rated 24 mpg in
the city, 31 on the highway and 26 combined.
quick-shifting six-speed automatic transmission teams
with the four-cylinder engine to give the RAV4 good
acceleration. The steering and suspension lean more
toward sporty driving than you might expect from a
mainstream Toyota. The RAV4 has little squat or dive
under acceleration, but the chassis communicates bumpy
surfaces to the passengers.
brakes are terrific, with communicative pedals and
plenty of stopping power.
RAV4’s exterior design features a snub-nosed front, a
fast windshield and tidy C-pillars. It’s a pleasant
shape that doesn’t draw much attention to itself.
true of most aspects of the 2013 RAV4. It doesn’t
demand the spotlight, but good fuel economy and interior
space plant it firmly in the mainstream of the crossover
type: Front- or all-wheel drive five-passenger crossover
to buy: Fuel economy, passenger and cargo room,
excellent voice recognition.
Interior materials, minor interior fit issues, operation
of some controls.
Three out of four stars
price, base model: $23,300
price, test model: $25,690
as tested: $26,720
prices exclude destination charge.