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2008 Toyota RAV4

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2008 Toyota RAV4 Review

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The 2008 Toyota RAV4 underwent a major evolution in 2006, growing in size and price. Toyota's smallest SUV left its long-time rival, the Honda CR-V, in the feature-content dust by offering seating for seven and an optional V6 engine. Moving upscale can have its drawbacks, however, and the current RAV4's conservative styling might be the most noticeable of those. Where the RAV4 was once aimed at young singles with active lifestyles, the new vehicle caters to young couples with active two-year olds. While there are better equipped and less expensive seven-passenger SUVs on the market (the Hyundai Santa Fe, for example), none have the RAV4's impeccable quality, reliability reputation or strong resale value.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you want a small-to-midsize Japanese-built sport utility vehicle that combines car-like performance, ride, handling and fuel economy with available four-wheel drive and room for up to seven passengers, or five adults and a fair amount of cargo, the 2008 Toyota RAV4 is a good choice.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you prefer a domestic or European brand and/or your needs include heavy duty hauling or towing or serious off-road rambling, you may want to look elsewhere. There are many fine competitors in this class, including some that may offer a combination of attributes, price and value that are better suited to your tastes and needs.

What's New for 2008

The Limited trim receives a standard immobilizer feature, which is optional on the base and Sport.

Driving the RAV4
Driving Impressions

Toyota engineers have achieved their objective of car-like driving dynamics in a practical SUV package. High-strength steel increases the body's rigidity for improved ride, handling, steering and (if...

... necessary) crash energy management, weighs less and reduces noise, vibration and harshness. Improved sealing and insulation keeps most engine noise out of the cabin, except for some (un-Toyota-like) engine harshness at wide-open throttle, even with the V6. Elimination of outer moldings around the windshield and door glass helps reduce aerodynamic drag and wind noise. While the 166-horsepower four-cylinder is more than adequate with light loads and at lower elevations, the 269-horsepower V6 offers acceleration, pulling and passing power at or near the top of this class and is recommended for heavier loads and higher altitudes.

Star Safety System
This comprehensive system integrates five active electronic safety features -- enhanced Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), traction control, anti-lock brakes (ABS) and Brake Assist -- to help avoid accidents, and one passive safety feature (multi-stage front airbags) to cushion occupants should a crash occur. The VSC is assisted by "cooperative steering control" and, on four-wheel-drive models, "cooperative four-wheel-drive system control." Driver and front passenger side-impact airbags and front- and second-row roll-sensing side-curtain airbags are available as stand-alone options.

Hill Start and Downhill Assist Control
Toyota's second-generation Hill Start Assist Control (HAC) automatically prevents the vehicle from rolling backward for two to three seconds when starting from a stop on an uphill slope. Downhill Assist Control (DAC), when activated by the driver, keeps the vehicle's speed to a crawl on steep descents. Both are standard on all V6 models and four-cylinder RAV4s with the optional third-row seat.

2008 Toyota RAV4 Details
Interior

The 2008 RAV4 offers nearly six inches more second-row legroom and an inch-and-a-half more head and shoulder room than the previous-generation models. The 60/40 reclining middle-row seats adjust fore and aft and fold flat with levers on their sides or (on two-row models) a one-touch lever in the cargo hold. The available third-row seat folds flat into the same space in the rear where standard RAV4s have hidden under-floor storage. Base RAV4s get durable fabric-covered seats, while higher-level cloth dresses Limited and Sport models, the latter in dark charcoal. The center cluster, door trim and steering wheel spokes are brushed metallic-look plastic. Lighted front cupholders, a console cell phone holder, an extra storage compartment above the glove box and a deep rear storage bin are notable features.

Exterior

The third-generation RAV4 is more substantial and less "cute" than the original, with contemporary but conventional good looks. Only the triangular rear C-pillar and vertically-wrapped taillamps are somewhat unusual, reminding us (in profile) of the very unconventional Nissan Murano. The trapezoidal grille opening, sitting atop an integrated body-color bumper with two large cooling slots, displays a hefty Toyota logo on twin horizontal bars. The spare tire, mounted to the right of center on the rear door -- which, unfortunately and inconveniently, swings open from the driver's side (curb side in Japan) -- has a color-keyed cover with a full hard shell on Limited models.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

All three trim levels have an automatic transmission, front side-impact airbags, side-curtain airbags, air conditioning, remote keyless entry, power windows and door locks, rear privacy glass, power mirrors, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, three 12-volt outlets, 10 cupholders, cruise control and AM/FM/CD six-speaker audio with MP3/WMA and a mini-plug jack. The Limited adds 17-inch tires on six-spoke alloy wheels (in place of the 16-inch steel wheels of the base model), fog lights, heated outside mirrors, six-disc CD changer, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel with audio controls, eight-way (plus lumbar) power driver's seat, cargo area net and tonneau cover, engine immobilizer system and a chrome grille. The Sport trim gets much of this plus 18-inch performance tires and wheels, sport suspension, blackout headlamp trim and fender flares.

Optional Equipment

Options for the base model include the six-disc CD changer, daytime running lights, black painted roof rails and cross bars, 17-inch wheels and tires, third-row seat, cargo area net and tonneau cover and (with the V6 only) a tow package that increases towing capacity to 3,500 pounds. Available options on the Sport include a power moonroof with sunshade and a JBL six-disc CD changer with nine speakers and steering wheel audio controls. The Limited offers optional leather-trimmed seats, heated front seats and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system with rear-seat audio.

Under the Hood

Toyota provides a choice of a 166-horsepower version of its 2.4-liter Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) four-cylinder engine, or a potent VVT-i V6. The former is one of the more powerful fours in this segment, while the latter, pumping out a claimed best-in-class 269 horsepower, is good for zero to 60 miles per hour bursts in slightly under seven seconds. The four-cylinder engine drives through a four-speed automatic transmission and the V6 is fitted with a five-speed automatic.

2.4-liter in-line 4
166 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
165 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/27 (2WD), 20/25 (4WD)

3.5-liter V6
269 horsepower @ 6200 rpm
246 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4700 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/27 (2WD), 19/26 (4WD)

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2008 Toyota RAV4 Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.6
Out of 10

Based on 696 Ratings for the 2006 - 2012 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.8/10
    Quality
    8.7/10
  • Reliability
    9.1/10
    Performance
    8.8/10
  • Comfort
    8.4/10
    Styling
    8.6/10

Excellent, reliable vehicle, worth its money

By on Monday, July 4, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 39,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"third rav4, no problems with any, very reliable, you get your full money's worth, peppy, fun to drive, feel safe inside, will consider new rav4 when ready to move up!"

2 people out of 2 found this review helpful

Missing features

By on Sunday, June 5, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 79,000

10 5.0
overall rating 5 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
5/10
Value
7/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
2/10
Performance
6/10
Styling
1/10
Comfort
1/10

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1

"I love the exterior of this vehicle, however I hate the interior. They put two cup holders where you suppose to connect your phone at the cigarette lighter. And the put an extra cigarette lighter in the storage unit (driver support). Sucks!"

1 person out of 6 found this review helpful

Best car ever!

By on Tuesday, May 31, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 70,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "great acceleration, utility (hauling, traveling)"

Cons: "they don't make the V6 anymore"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"This car has been perfect: safe, great handling, can tow a boat, move us across the country, etc. In general I see a car as simple transportation, but I LOVE my RAV with the V6."

8 people out of 8 found this review helpful

Better than I hoped.....

By on Friday, May 20, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 70,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
Not Rated
Styling
5/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Fun to drive, very reliable"

Cons: "Push start does not have key alternate if fob dies"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

"I went back to SUV after 6 years in a car. I love the feel of an SUV, even a small one such as the RAV4. I have a Limited so many of the features are the "top" end of what was offered, BUT the doors don't auto lock when in gear, there is no "miles to empty" display (it has an instantaneous MPG but I don't really care what my mileage is while I'm driving) and most aggravatingly, when the $3 battery in the fob for the keyless push-start ignition is dead, YOU CANNOT DRIVE THE CAR! So your $25k+ vehicle is completely inoperable if your $3 fob battery is dead! As a result, I carry 6 replacement batteries -- two in my glove box, 2 in my wallet, and 2 at home with the spare key. I discovered this MAJOR DEFECT at 11 pm in the middle of winter at the airport! Thankfully my son was home, I stored my car in the airport garage so I was warm, and we only lived 30 minutes from the airport. What a nightmare with a HUGE potential of being a devastating disaster! So far the dealership does not know what the problem is and I am well prepared for an emergency... Also, the backup camera is in the rearview mirror instead of on the navigation screen, and it is so small that I have to turn anyway. Other than that, this SUV is perfect for my needs, gets great mileage, is super fun to drive, and I love the look (mine has the tire mounted on the back, which I love -- not crazy about the "newer" ones with the spare tire inside the vehicle!)."

10 people out of 10 found this review helpful

Great Reliable Car

By on Friday, May 20, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 106,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
5/10
Styling
6/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Great value, reliable, roomy back seat for size."

Cons: "Not the most exciting car"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"I've had my Rav4 for about 6 years now. Still runs great. Never had any major issues with it, just general maintenance stuff."

6 people out of 8 found this review helpful

Best Vehicle Ever.

By on Thursday, May 12, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 63,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Great price and fun to drive."

Cons: "Roof rack noise, but probably on any car."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I'm the original owner and am now 84. I have 63,000 miles on this 4 cyl Suv. It runs super well and always very dependable. Gets 21-23 mpg with the A/C running. Burns no oil and always changed at 3-4000 miles per change always at Toyota dealer. I have a new set of Michelins on it now. I would NOT get a sliding sun roof next time or rack, just to much wind noise. Love this car."

10 people out of 11 found this review helpful

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