By Matt Degen
KBB Expert Rating: 7.0
The RAV4 is the crossover SUV that takes credit for starting the segment back in 1995. Nearly two decades later, crossover SUVs have exploded in popularity because of their versatility, fuel economy and car-like handling. 2013 marks the fourth generation for the revamped RAV4. With it, Toyota's smallest SUV receives a much-needed styling update, new technology and more miles per gallon of gasoline. Class-leading interior room remains. Buying the newest RAV4 is now a simpler affair with fewer choices: just three trims, one engine and one transmission. An all-electric version with the old body style remains for sale in California. The RAV4 can't quite match the comfort of archrival Honda CR-V or the driving dynamics of the Ford Escape, but it remains a well-rounded SUV with a history of reliability and good resale value.
If a smaller, well-equipped SUV with seating for five and good fuel economy is on your to-buy list, it's hard to ignore the RAV4. Sharp looks, competitive pricing and a strong reliability history further bolster its appeal. Those seeking an all-electric SUV will only find it in the 2013 RAV4 EV.
The new RAV4 doesn't have the most powerful engine, the best fuel economy, or the lowest price in this segment. More power can be had in the Ford Escape, Kia Sportage, and Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, while the Mazda CX-5 has a lower starting price and a higher fuel-economy rating.
The RAV4 receives fresh styling inside and out, a standard 6-speed automatic transmission, rearview camera and touchscreen control center, and safety technology such as blind-spot monitoring. Gone are the 3rd-row seat and impressively powerful V6 engine available in past models. 2013 RAV4 EV models are unchanged from their 2012 debut models.
Driving Impressions The 2013 Toyota RAV4 feels well-balanced in just about every way. With a 0-60 mph time under nine seconds, off-the-line acceleration is adequate for getting up to speed on freeways...without fear of being rear-ended by a semi-truck. Steering feel and overall comfort are good for this class of vehicle. In addition to the normal driving mode, the RAV4 now features a "Sport" mode that quickens throttle response and sharpens the steering response. The "Eco" mode, conversely, mutes throttle response in an effort to be more miserly with fuel, but we found ourselves quickly turning it off since it made acceleration feel laggardly. The RAV4 EV, meanwhile, is one mean green machine. With peak torque of 273 lb-ft from its electric motor, the RAV4 EV is surprisingly quick. In sport mode it can zip to 60 mph in seven seconds. In ordinary driving the RAV4 EV felt comfortable and composed. Its EPA-rated range is 103 miles.
Once a safety feature reserved for luxury vehicles, this option is now available in the RAV4 to warn you when drivers enter the side area of your vehicle that you can't see. Additionally, the system has Rear Cross Traffic Alert to warn you when other vehicles are approaching as you back up.
CAVERNOUS CARGO CAPACITY
Toyota's team has again worked their interior design magic to create even more room in the RAV4. Cargo volume behind the front seats has increased to a class-leading 73.4 cubic feet, and with rear seats that fold flat, all that real estate is easy to fill and use.
Now coming only as a 2-row, 5-passenger affair, the 2013 RAV4's interior appears two steps ahead of the last model. Even base LE trims have contrasting colors, always a good antidote for blandness. The only piece out of step is faux carbon-fiber cladding around the door stills and gearshift lever. Leather is no longer an option in top models, which now receive a leather-like material called Softex that's also in the RAV4 EV. We found the driver's seat comfortable even in base models with cloth, and especially so in the Limited trim with Softex and added lumbar support. The ability to drive in Eco or Sport mode is nice to have, but accessing the buttons low in the dash is awkward while driving. Rear legroom has decreased, but is still good. One-pull folding rear seats are easy to operate.Exterior
One of the biggest aspects of the RAV4's 2013 redesign is something that's missing: the spare tire that has resided on the rear of these SUVs ever since they were tiny 2-door runabouts in the mid-1990s. That isn't the only relevant change at the RAV4's posterior. The compact SUV now has a rear door that swings up instead of out, which makes it easier to access and helps shield you from rain as you load groceries. Top-line Limited models feature a power liftgate that can be adjusted to raise to a customized height. The limited-production RAV4 EV retains a modified body from the last-generation RAV4.
The 2013 RAV4 is available in three trims: LE, XLE and Limited. Base LE models come nicely equipped with 6-speed automatic transmission, 6.1-inch touchscreen display, rearview camera, Bluetooth connectivity, and an AM/FM/CD audio system with six speakers and auxiliary/USB inputs. XLE trims add a power moonroof, 17-inch allow wheels, dual-zone climate control, and front seats with extra bolstering and French stitching. Limited models are highlighted by a power liftgate, Softex leather-like seating (heated in front), 18-inch wheels, leather-trimmed steering wheel, and push-button starting. RAV4 EVs are loaded with features like dual-zone climate control, navigation display and Toyota's Entune smartphone-enabled system. 2013 RAV4s have eight airbags (six for the EV), antilock brakes, stability control, and traction control.
All trims of the RAV4 can be had with all-wheel drive, which enhances traction in wet weather and on dirt roads. Other options vary by trim level and include a navigation system with Toyota's Entune telematics system that includes voice recognition and various apps for everything from making reservations to finding sports scores, JBL premium audio system with 11 speakers, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. For the RAV4 EV model, a Level 2, Leviton 240-volt home charging system is available.
The 2013 RAV4 is powered by a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes 176 horsepower, enough to get the SUV up to speed in a decent – but not the quickest – manner. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is optional. Fuel economy has improved to up to 31 mpg/highway, and the 2013 RAV4 will eagerly tow up to 1,500 pounds. The limited-production RAV4 EV has an AC induction motor, lithium-ion battery, and single-speed automatic transmission. All RAV4 EV models are front-wheel drive and not rated for towing. Charging can take over 40 hours on a standard 120-volt outlet, but decrease to as low as five hours on a 40-amp, 240-volt outlet.
176 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
172 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/31 mpg (front-wheel drive), 22/29 mpg (all-wheel drive)
AC induction motor
273 lb-ft torque
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 78/74 mpg equivalent
Range on a full charge: 103 miles
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price for the 2013 Toyota RAV4 starts just over $24,000. A top-of-the-line Limited edition with all-wheel drive and options can reach around $30,000. The RAV4 EV costs just over $50,000 before incentives. At its starting price, the new RAV4 is in line with the Honda CR-V and Ford Escape, two of its strongest competitors. Other Asian compact SUVs, such as the Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-5, and Nissan Rogue, start at lower prices. On the other hand, because of the RAV4's simpler trim level and minimum of extra add-ons, you don't have to worry about reaching the mid- to high-$30,000 prices that can come with other loaded vehicles in this segment. Before buying, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for the new Toyota RAV4. In terms of resale price, we predict that the RAV4 will retain its value well in the years to come.
By Sea-Toy (WA) on Sunday, November 24, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 7,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This car was rated @ 27 mpg. But so far my best is 34mpg. A reassurance that not all estimates are accurate For a SUV its ride is smooth and the features it has are better than expected. With the 2 yr. free maintenance program, I am worry free The 4 cyl. engine has a lot of power and is quick in response. Cargo area is adequate for the vehicles size."
5 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Danny Mac (MA) on Wednesday, November 20, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good looking, nice to drive, good performance"
Cons: "Squeaks,, dry creaks and rattles everywhere"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"Like all prior positive reviews, this car has in essence the potential to be a great vehicle for the price. Comfortable, attractive, roomy and fairly good performance and good economy. What makes this vehicle disappointing? The quality of the plastics. The bean counters have squeezed every penny out of the costs of materials and assembly, and as a result the build quality of the interior really suffers. There is a CNET vehicle review article that describes this vehicle perfectly... "Death by a thousand rattles". This car has more squeaks, dry creaks, and rattles coming from everywhere than any other car I have owned. The most annoying come from the dashboard trip clips I have had to disassemble the trim and put vaseline on all the clips. I now have a dry creak coming from the left side of the dash that I can't find, and am going to the dealer for it this week. The tool bag was clanking around in its designed storage location. I have had to move it to the spare tire well rapped in a towel. It is a great vehicle totally spoiled by squeaks, creaks and rattles. Really too bad. I am thinking of getting rid of it as it is starting drive us crazy."
7 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By love them toyota's (NC) on Monday, October 28, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "fun.looks good.drives at."
Cons: "backup screen difficult to see."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Great value. Great looks. Top quality. Traded in an inferior 2013 Hyundai. Toyota is the topauto mfg.."
6 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Ed on Tuesday, October 08, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 4,100overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Sound and HVAC systems; handling and ride; economy"
Cons: "Poor display visibility, cumbersome navigation sys"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"In 50 years of driving 15 vehicles from 5 manufacturers, this is the first vehicle I've owned that has no light on the instrument panel during daylight hours when it is needed most. The navigation system is cumbersome at best and is not compatible with the Apple iOS operating system. Furthermore, it is positioned where it is subject to direct sunlight with nothing to shade the screen. The driver's seat will not go back far enough to accommodate anyone taller than 5'10". The interior appointments are cheap, and I had to buy the XLE just to get map lights, which are not standard on the XL. Honda offers much better value. On the other hand, the vehicle is very comfortable on long trips, gets good gas mileage and has good performance for a 4-cylinder vehicle. The 6-speed transmission is smooth, but I can't understand the utility of having both manual and automatic transmissions. The dual control HVAC system is very convenient and comfortable, and the sound system is excellent with HD radio. For its size, the cargo space is adequate."
18 people out of 24 found this review helpful
By Cady (AZ) on Friday, October 04, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,850overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"dealer lied about trade in of my previous vehicle (big surprise, huh?). I wanted to buy a RAV 4 for over a year and am extremely disappointed."
4 people out of 17 found this review helpful
By Larry (CA) on Saturday, September 28, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Lots of room especially in the back seat. Mileage"
Cons: "no complaints"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Took a first trip got 34.9 miles to the gallon. Around town 27 miles to the gallon. Mileage better than EPA projections. I had an 06 with over 100,000 miles on it.My son now has the car which has been very reliable.I expect the new Rav to be better."
11 people out of 13 found this review helpful