A Review of the Toyota RAV4

Having tired of paying for the ever-increasing repairs on my small, seven-year old truck, I decided it was time to trade it in for a new model. After researching several different vehicles, in late March of 2008, I purchased my first Toyota RAV4, Limited Edition. There were several reasons for my choice, and after driving it now for three years, I would highly recommend this dependable and safe SUV to anyone. The 2008 Toyota RAV4 Limited Edition is a small SUV with big SUV capabilities, and although there are pros and cons for owning it, the pros far outweigh the cons.

Mechanical

My RAV4 Limited has a 3.5L V6 engine with an automatic, five-speed transmission that gets approximately 19 miles to a gallon of gas in the city and 26 miles on the highway. Overall, I average about 23 miles per gallon. The V6 engine is not sluggish, giving me ample passing power when I need it. It has front and rear stabilizer bars and a downhill assist control.

The four-wheel drive is electronic on-demand, which means I do not have to do anything. The sensors on the RAV4 will detect if the driving conditions warrant the need for four-wheel drive and automatically kick-in.

Interior

I ordered heated, leather seats with my RAV4. I did not have this luxury before, and wanted it because I was tired of my clothing sticking on fabric seats, especially when I was wearing a dress. The interior is spacious; however, the driver’s seat is a bit confined and tall people might have an issue. The driver’s seat power adjusts up, down, forwards, and back; and there is a special adjustment for the lumbar area of your back. The passenger seat has manual adjustments. The backs of the driver and passenger seats are fitted with storage pockets. This is a great feature for children wanting to take along books or small toys on long rides. The back seat is spacious. It comfortably sitting three, and comes with an armrest with two cup holders. Each section of the back seat can be folded down together or individually to allow for more space. I liked this feature as it gave me the option of hauling items just as my truck had provided me in the past. There is also an option to add two additional seats in the cargo area for small children.

The RAV4 has Bluetooth capabilities to synchronize your cell phone. The controls for the phone are on the steering wheel as well as controls for the AM/FM radio and cruise control. The steering wheel tilts for ease of driving. There is a six-disc CD player with nine speakers in seven locations with a subwoofer. Heating and air conditioning, which have dual controls, are within easy reach of the driver. There is an overhead compartment to store sunglasses, and a small dash compartment that I use to hold maps. The console has two cup holders and a compartment with a tray. The compartment is a good place to store CDs and the tray is excellent for change and pens or pencils. The power adjustment for the side mirrors is located below the console opening. The doors are fitted with side pockets where I can fit a small water bottle, but it is cumbersome getting it in and out. I just use these pockets for trash. I wish it did have cup holders in the doors. All doors are equipped with power windows.

Exterior

Although the RAV4 comes in several colors, I wanted the Pacific Blue Metallic. The four doors make it easy for everyone to get in and out. The overall body of the RAV4 is of solid construction making it strong and sturdy. The side-hinged rear door can be cumbersome at times when loading and unloading from the storage area. The rear wheel cover attached to the door is also not a desirable item. In my opinion, it sticks out too far and can be easily hit, which mine was and had to be replaced. Although I have never used it, there is a roof rack. The moon roof with sunshade tilts and slides. This is nice for days when you want a little fresh air but do not want your hair messed up.

Safety

The Government Safety Rating for the RAV4 played a big part in my choice. It was given five stars for frontal and side crashes and four stars for rollover. The RAV4 is equipped with side curtain air bags, and child safety locks on the back doors. It has anti-lock brakes and a direct tire pressure monitoring system. It is equipped with an alarm system that will sound when a person is detected in the driver or passenger seat and no seat belt is fastened. The daytime running lights are also a good safety feature.

Price

The 2008 list price for the Toyota RAV4 before adding heated leather seats, a six-disc CD changer and other amenities was $26,820.00. According to Toyota.com a new 2011 model would cost around $28,335.00.

Sources: Mungenast Alton Toyota, Toyota.com