"I bought my Rav4 4WD used, and couldn't ask for a more reliable vehicle. Aside from replacing and an emissions sensor, I have spent nothing on repairs (knock on wood), just scheduled maintenance, brake pads and tires. It runs well and is great transportation.
The only fault I have with this vehicle is its back door design, which opens left to right instead of a "hatch" design --down to up-- which I prefer. In use, I have discovered if you park on the right side of a city street and want to unload items from the cargo area to take inside, the door blocks your way to the curb, which can be irritating and inconvenient when parking on a crowded city street. If you are loading or unloading items into the cargo area, a bottom-to-top door opening design also provides some protection from rain or snow. Also, when it snows, the owner must remember to clear the rear roof area very well, otherwise upon opening the door, the accumulated snow falls directly into the rear cargo area and all over whatever you have in there. And, there is no "ledge" on the floor of this area to keep the items placed here from rolling out onto the ground. For example, if you put groceries back there, and the bag of oranges you just bought falls over, when you open the back door they'll all roll out onto the street. Lesson learned: I bought an accessory to hold my grocery bags. Maybe the 2006 and newer models have addressed the floor issue, but I can see that the door still opens from side to side.
Other than the back door issues, this Rav4 model is a great mode of transportation!"
Pros: "highly reliable, superb value, rock solid, fun"
Cons: "not the prettiest looking car"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought a 2001 RAV4 as a starter car when I got my first job. I thought I would buy a new in 5 years. But 13 years and 225,000 miles later, I still plan on using the 2001 RAV4 for a few more years! After 200,000 I have had two repairs - struts, sway bar bushings for ~$750 and a new catalytic converter for $1400. While >$2000, I expect the car to last another 30k miles at least without any major repair.
This car has never once failed me when I needed it. Snow, rain, slush, mud, trails, highways you name it. I have move my belongings in it several times, used it transport snow blowers, generators, lots of garden stuff, home repair stuff like boards, drywall what not."
"2003 Rav4 had no major problems until it hit 8 years old.
Needed a new catalytic converter and 3 cylinders and spark plugs for $1800, a year later at 9 years old it needed a new water pump, exhaust system, wheel rod, tires, and battery for total $2000.
This car is easy to drive because of small dimensions and higher height than a sedan. Very easy to parallel park because it's so short to fit in very small spots. Fortunately original cost of car is cheap - got it under $20000 new. Will probably keep and maintain if repair costs are under $2000 per year."
Cons: "Transmission, interior, door locks & paint."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Transmission went out at 83,000 miles and cost $5,000 to repair. Considering I'm an old lady that also drives like one... that's just beyond poor ! Cheap interior & driver door lock doesn't work anymore. Engine reliability has been good so far but only at 110000 miles thus yet. Also, paint already oxidizing."
"My girlfriend bought her RAV4 brand new in 2002 and it ran well for 98K miles with no problems. Until 1 day her transmission stopped shifting properly. After a bit of online research I thought that it might be the ECM (Toyota has has a service bulletin out on this since 2005). I brought it to a shop and sure enough a new ECM fixed it. A lot of people were not as lucky as we were & their ECM's ruined their transmissions. After a bit of arm twisting Toyota reimbursed us for the repair $1200. I figured that they should pay because they knew of potential problems with their 2000-2002 ECM's since 2005. Lots of people had to pay for new transmissions on their own. Other than that this car and the 3 Toyotas that I've owned have been great."