2008 RAV4 New Car Test Drive
The vehicle that pioneered the cute-ute segment is all grown up. Ever since its last total overhaul (for the 2006 model year), the Toyota RAV4 has offered seating for seven, cargo capacity comparable to some mid-size SUVs, and V6 performance near the top of its class. The RAV4 can tow 3500 pounds when properly equipped, and buyers have the choice of front-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. True to its family-friendly role, the RAV4 comes standard with a long list of safety equipment.
So what was once the cute baby of the family is now the family car.
The available 269-horsepower V6 tops most of the RAV4's competitors. It's more than the RAV4 needs, really; but it allows the RAV4 to really scoot while carrying as many as seven people and all their associated stuff. Yet the RAV4's fuel efficiency remains comparable with some less powerful four- and six-cylinder SUVs. The base RAV4 seats five and offers a more frugal four-cylinder power.
Style-wise, the RAV4 looks like other contemporary Toyotas, featuring an aerodynamically efficient ovoid profile strategically relieved by sharp character lines. A coefficient of drag (Cd) of 0.33 is among the best in its segment and a major factor in minimizing wind noise and maximizing fuel economy.
Only small details have changed for 2008. Most significantly, an engine immobilizer is now standard on the Limited grade and optional on other models.
The 2008 Toyota RAV4 is a four-door, compact sport utility vehicle (SUV), available in three trim levels: base ($21,250), Sport ($22,825) and Limited ($23,505). For those prices you get front-wheel drive; a 2.4-liter, 166-horsepower inline-4; and a four-speed automatic transmission. All V6 RAV4s come with Downhill Assist Control (DAC) and Hill-start Assist Control (HAC).
All three trim levels are available with a 3.5-liter, 269-hp V6 and five-speed automatic transmission, and when so equipped MSRPs are as follows: base ($23,285), Sport ($24,740), and Limited ($25,420). Any of these 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, MP3/WMA capability, 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; rear privacy glass; 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 ($950), which also adds Downhill Assist Control (DAC) and Hill-start Assist Control (HAC) to four-cylinder models; 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 with crossbars ($220); daytime running lights ($40); engine immobilizer ($60); 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 handling-tuned suspension and P235/55R18 tires on alloy wheels, plus fog lamps, a roof rack with cross bars, heated outside mirrors; color-keyed trim outside and unique charcoal fabric inside. Options expand to include a JBL premium stereo with nine speakers, a six-CD changer, XM Satellite radio, Bluetooth, and steering-wheel controls ($890); and a power tilt-and-slide glass sunroof ($900). But the third-row seat is not offered on the Sport.
The Limited model upgrades with dual-zone automatic climate control, premium cloth upholstery, power-adjustable driver seat, six-CD changer, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, leather-wrapped shift knob, cargo area net and tonneau cover, full-hard spare tire cover, the new engine immobilizer, and other amenities. Outside, Limited is distinguished by a chrome grille and P225/65R17 tires on six-spoke alloy wheels; and a full, hard-shell spare tire cover. Options include the third-row seat ($700-810, depending on engine and drive combination), leather upholstery ($1,050), heated front seats ($440), plus the same JBL stereo ($640) and sunroof available on Sport. 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 and electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), electronic stability control (VSC), traction control (TRAC), and a tire pressure monitor.