2011 RAV4 New Car Test Drive
The Toyota RAV4 offers seating for seven and cargo capacity comparable to mid-size SUVs in a compact package. It's quick, relatively easy to maneuver, and comes with a choice of front-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.
Among the best of the compact SUVs, the RAV4 excels at convenience and ease of use. Getting in and out of the driver's seat is easy. It can move lots of people or lots of gear on a moment's notice. And it comes standard with a long list of safety equipment. We prefer the five-passenger configuration.
We found the RAV4 smooth and stable underway. The Sport model has a harder ride due to its suspension tuning. RAV4's available four-wheel-drive system works very well in wintry conditions as well as on rain-soaked roads.
The four-cylinder is responsive and gets an EPA-estimated 21/27 mpg when equipped with four-wheel drive, slightly better with two-wheel drive. Ordered with the optional V6, the RAV4 really scoots, boasting 269 horsepower.
For 2010 the RAV4 is unchanged except for feature packaging.
The Toyota RAV4 comes in three trim levels: Base ($21,500), Sport ($23,200) and Limited ($24,490). All come standard with front-wheel drive, a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, and a four-speed automatic transmission.
A 269-hp, 3.5-liter V6, and five-speed automatic transmission is available on all three trim levels: Base ($23,535), Sport ($25,130), and Limited ($26,410). All RAV4s with V6 power and/or third-row seating come with Downhill Assist Control (DAC) and Hill-start Assist Control (HAC).
All are available with full-time all-wheel drive ($1,400).
Standard features for all RAV4s include air conditioning; cruise control; AM/FM/CD stereo with six speakers, MP3/WMA capability, integrated satellite radio, and auxiliary input jack; power windows; power foldable mirrors; keyless-remote locking; 60/40 split second-row seats with manual recline and for-and-aft adjustment; tilt-and-telescope steering wheel; three 12-volt power outlets; and auto-off headlights. The base four-cylinder RAV4 has P215/70R16 tires on steel wheels with hubcaps. The V6 is upgraded with P225/65R17 tires on styled steel wheels. All models come with a full-size spare tire.
Options at the base level include a third-row seat ($840-940); six-CD changer ($260); a selection of 17-inch wheels, both styled steel ($120) and aluminum ($440-560); a roof rack with crossbars ($220); rear privacy glass ($310); a cargo cover ($90); daytime running lights ($40); and a towing package for the V6 ($160) that includes a heavy-duty radiator fan coupling, transmission oil cooler, and 150-amp alternator. The tow package increases the RAV4's towing capacity from 2,000 to 3,500 pounds.
RAV4 Sport adds a handling-tuned suspension and P235/55R18 tires on alloy wheels, plus fog lamps, rear privacy glass, color-keyed trim outside, unique charcoal fabric, and a rear spoiler. Options expand to include a power tilt-and-slide glass sunroof ($900), navigation ($1,550), a Premium Package, which includes leather upholstery with eight-way power driver's seat ($1,930), a back-up monitor ($475), and auto on/off headlights ($70). An Extra Value Package ($470) combines the sunroof with a roof rack, daytime running lights, and six-CD changer. The third-row seat is not offered on the Sport. The Sport Appearance Package ($577), available only on Sport models with the V6 and 4WD, takes the spare wheel off the rear door and substitutes run-flat tires. It also adds power heated side mirrors with integrated turn signals, a stainless steel exhaust tip, and additional interior brightwork.
RAV4 Limited upgrades with dual-zone automatic climate control, six-CD changer, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, leather-wrapped shift knob, cargo net and tonneau cover, heated and foldable power outside mirrors with new integrated turn signals, roof rails, engine immobilizer, the Smart Entry system, and other amenities. Outside, the Limited is distinguished by a unique grille and front bumper, P225/65R17 tires on six-spoke alloy wheels, and a full hard-shell spare tire cover. Options include the third-row seat ($750-850), eight-way power driver's seat without leather ($440), and a premium JBL stereo with Bluetooth phone connectivity ($610), plus most of the options from the Sport level, mostly for the same prices. Two Extra Value Packages bundle the JBL stereo, Bluetooth, sunroof, power adjustable heated seats, and daytime running lamps; one includes navigation ($2,110), the other doesn't ($1,240).
Safety features on all RAV4s include dual-stage frontal airbags, side-impact airbags, and side-curtain airbags. Active headrests on the driver and front passenger seats move up and forward in certain rear-end collisions to help reduce the distance between the occupant's head and the headrest. Front seatbelts incorporate pre-tensioners and force limiters. Also standard are LATCH child safety seat anchors, antilock brakes (ABS) with brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), electronic stability control (VSC), traction control (TRAC), and a tire-pressure monitor.