2001 RAV4 New Car Test Drive
Toyota has completely redesigned and re-engineered its RAV4 for 2001. The all-new Toyota RAV4 is more refined than the previous-generation model and it's much better looking.
Toyota's RAV4 was a front-runner in the mini-SUV market from the get-go, and not entirely by default. True, it was the earliest of mini SUVs, which gave it a competitive advantage; but being built on the platform of the proven Camry certainly helped its reliability and its user friendliness. But during the five-year run of the first-generation RAV4, a steady stream of Asian challengers appeared, such as the Honda CR-V, Suzuki Grand Vitara and Kia Sportage. And now there's the highly rated Ford Escape, an Asian-American. It was time for Toyota to upgrade the RAV4 and attempt to raise the bar for the field.
All RAV4s are four-doors, and the only two models are the 2WD and 4WD. There is only one engine, which is new for 2001: an all-aluminum, 16-valve, dohc inline four-cylinder with variable valve timing, displacing 2.0 liters and producing 148 horsepower, an increase of 21 horsepower. Two transmissions are available, a five-speed manual and a four-speed electronically controlled automatic.
The catch with the RAV4, and the explanation for the huge difference between the $18,665 base price of the 4WD model and the $26,415 price of our test model, is that much of what many buyers want is optional equipment, not standard. The sticker on our test model showed $590 for antilock brakes; $220 for a roof rack; $875 for alloy wheels with slightly wider tires; $220 for remote entry; $800 for leather; $390 for limited-slip differential (only available with 4WD); $200 for a rear spoiler; $815 for a power moonroof; $40 for daytime running lights; and a whopping $3120 for a package including air conditioning, cruise control, CD sound system, tinted windows, fog lamps, and smoother body trim including a spare tire cover. Plus $480 delivery, processing and handling.
Anti-lock brakes might be the best value in there. If you were trying to keep the price of your mini SUV mini, as one would think it should be, you might tell yourself you could do without most of the rest of those options. But you'd probably want air conditioning, and the lowest-cost package with air is $2295.