2007 RAV4 New Car Test Drive
Watching the recent evolution of the Toyota RAV4, one might conclude that, like children, little sport-utility vehicles eventually grow up. One day they are tiny, cute and cuddly, with feisty but economical four-cylinder engines. The next they've grown longer, wider, and taller, with family-size, three-row seating capacity and available V6 power. Cute just isn't enough anymore, and the RAV4 is a lot more than cute.
After a complete redesign for 2006, the 2007 RAV4 gets significant safety improvements. Driver and front-passenger seat-mounted, side-impact airbags are now standard equipment, as are roll-sensing side-curtain airbags for first and second-row seats. Both systems were extra-cost options last year. Electronic entertainment options have also been updated.
The recent redesign addressed the buying public's demand for power and space among compact SUVs. The RAV4's length increased by 14 inches, creating more headroom and legroom for second-row passengers, and increased shoulder room all around. Cargo capacity grew by five cubic feet. The base RAV4 still seats five and offers a more frugal four-cylinder power, but a third-row seat (that folds flat into the cargo floor) and a powerful V6 are available.
With these additions, the RAV4 has caught up with its competition. Its 3.5-liter V6 generates 269 horsepower, almost too much for the package, although it adds substantially to the RAV4's capabilities. A V6 RAV4 can haul as many as seven people and tow up to 3500 pounds, and it really scoots. Even the four-banger is more powerful than ever, and buyers still have the choice of front-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.
On the outside, this latest RAV4 is fresh, less flashy, with fewer styling gimmicks than previous models. The same can't be said for the interior, where some of the change appears to have been for the sake of change alone.
The 2007 Toyota RAV4 is a four-door, compact sport utility vehicle (SUV), available in three trim levels: base ($20,850), Sport ($22,425) and Limited ($23,150). For those prices you get front-wheel drive, a 2.4-liter, 166-horsepower inline-4 and a four-speed automatic transmission. Each model adds more features.
All three trim levels are available with a 3.5-liter, 269-horsepower V6 and five-speed automatic transmission, increasing the price as follows: base ($22,885), Sport ($24,340) and Limited ($25,020). All V6 RAV4's come with Downhill Assist Control (DAC) and Hill-start Assist Control (HAC).
Any of the six models is 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, power windows, keyless-remote locking, manually adjustable passenger seats, tilt-and-telescope steering wheel and auto-off headlamps. 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-sized spare.
Options at the base level include a third-row seat ($950); an in-dash, six-CD changer ($200); a selection of 17-inch wheels, both styled steel ($120) and aluminum ($440-560); cargo cover ($140); roof rack side rails ($220); daytime running lights ($40); and a towing package for the V6 ($160) that includes a heavy-duty radiator and fan, transmission oil cooler and 150-amp alternator. The tow package increases the RAV4's pulling capacity from 2000 to 3500 pounds.
The RAV4 Sport adds a roof rack with cross bars; rear privacy glass; fog lamps; sport-tuned suspension; P235/55R18 tires on alloy wheels; and combination hard/soft spare tire cover. Options expand to include a JBL premium stereo with nine speakers, a subwoofer and steering-wheel controls, ($890); and power tilt-and-slide moonroof ($900). The third-row seat is not offered on the Sport.
The Limited model upgrades with dual-zone automatic climate control; the six-CD changer with auxiliary input jack; power-adjustable driver seat; heated outside mirrors; leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob; rear privacy glass; cargo cover and other amenities. Outside, Limited is distinguished by a chrome grille; fog lamps; P225/65R17 tires on alloy wheels; and a full, hard-shell spare tire cover. Options include the third-row seat ($700-810, depending on engine and drive combination), heated leather seats ($1,490) and the JBL stereo ($640). A rear-seat entertainment system ($1,705) is available only on Limited V6.
Safety features on all RAV4s include dual-stage frontal airbags, side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags, LATCH child safety seat anchors, antilock brakes (ABS) with brake assist (BA) and electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), electronic stability control (VSC) and traction control (TRAC).
We're glad to see that Toyota has made curtain airbags standard for 2007, because they are designed to provide head protection in a side impact or rollover. Head injuries are the leading cause of fatalities in those types of accidents. Side-impact airbags are designed to improve torso protection.