2000 RAV4 New Car Test Drive
Toyota's RAV4 wasn't the first mini sport-utility vehicle, but its success helped start a trend. When it was launched in the U.S. in 1996, industry analysts weren't sure how to categorize this quirky cross between a truck and a compact. But as more customers became aware of the RAV4's relatively low cost, fuel-efficiency, manageable size and sporty image, other manufacturers were quick to follow suit.
New and upgraded competitors in the small SUV class include the Honda CR-V, the Kia Sportage, the new Suzuki Grand Vitara and the Subaru Forester. In the same price range but considerably larger and more rugged is the Nissan Xterra.
The RAV4 is no longer new and there are few changes for 2000, but it's still a head-turner. Toyota's reputation for quality and reliability has continued to make the RAV4 popular despite the increased competition in the segment it helped create.
For 2000, the two-door version has been dropped. All RAV4s come as four-door hard tops. Two- and four-wheel-drive variations are available. The 2WD model retails for $16,668, while the 4WD model starts at $18,078. The four-wheel-drive models feature a lockable center differential (on manual transmissions).
Powered by a 127-horsepower, 2.0-liter, twin-cam four-cylinder engine, the RAV4 comes with either a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic; the automatic adds $1,050.
The base price is a bit deceptive because air conditioning is not standard. To get it, you need to order one of three Extra Value packages. Extra Value Package #1 ($1,547) adds air conditioning, AM/FM/cassette, cruise control, power windows, mirrors and door locks, cloth head rests. That brings the base price for a real-world 2WD model with 5-speed manual to $18,215 -- or $19,625 for a 4WD 5-speed model.
To add some sportiness to the looks of your RAV4, you'll need the $2,399 RAV4L Special Edition (Extra Value Package #2), which adds color-keyed door handles, mirrors, bumpers and body cladding, cruise control, alloy wheels and privacy glass to the above. Package #3 ($3,029) includes the above plus leather seating surfaces. Anti-lock brakes, which allows the driver to maintain steering control of the vehicle during panic stops cost extra.
Our 4WD RAV4 came with the automatic transmission ($1050); Special Edition Value Package #2 ($2,399); ABS ($630); limited-slip differential ($390). With the destination charge ($480), the price as tested came to $23,027.