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 J. Driving on Sunday, February 09, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great in snow, fun to drive, lots of space"
Cons: "rear cargo power outlet, glare on radio screen"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I've owned my 2013 Rav4 XLE AWD for 2 months now and have absolutely no complaints. The Rav4 handles great in the snow & slush on the stock Michelin tires. There is plenty of power from the 2.5L 4cyl engine to merge onto the interstate and easily cruises along at 80 mph-I really don't need to go any faster. I suggest using Sport mode for city driving or in stop & go highway congestion. The interior is quiet, ride is firm and I haven't any of the creaks or rattles others have complained about-those may be unique to that owners vehicle. The controls on steering wheel for the radio & BT phone interface are well placed & easy to use. I test drove several other CUVs prior to purchasing- and decided on the Rav4 due to comfort of the seat (I drive a lot), exterior styling, cargo space and fuel economy (avg 27.9 on trip computer). Could use a cargo area power outlet."
11 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By Will on Sunday, February 02, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Price, Value, Amazing in snow or ice, Fun to drive"
Cons: "Low interior light illumination"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"First, this is my wife's vehicle which I drive on occasion. My wife had always driven full size SUV or Van, First said she would not even consider this size vehicle. But after the test drive and the redesign, she wanted it. But what impressed me this winter is how this Rav 4 handles in snow and ice. It grips the road like a glove. Have not driven any vehicle ever that made me feel so confident and secure. Amazing! My only fault is the low illumination of the interior lighting."
8 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By KD on Wednesday, January 29, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 3,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Push button start, interior layout"
Cons: "No XM on Limited w/o Nav upgrade (unreal)"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I have only had this car for three months and just 3,000 miles, but I traded in a 2012 Highlander SE AWD for the 2013 Rav4 Limited AWD. No. 1 reason was gas mileage and they basically traded the same amount. Good little car. Definitely lacks the power but I didn't buy it for power, bought it for better gas mileage, Highlander was a bit of a guzzler. A lot of my driving is highway or at least 60/40, and I so far so good with the Rav4. Averaging around 23-24, but it has also been bitter cold (not above 0 for weeks at a time), and that keeps me closer to 22-23. High tank was 26. My biggest complaint is that I declined the Nav-speaker package and by doing so, without knowing so (my salesperson was misinformed) killed my ability to get XM through the touchsceen. Car does NOT come with it unless you drop the whatever over a grand for the nav and speakers which I wasn't interested in. Not sure what Toyota was thinking -- my bare bones Saturn Vue from 2008 had XM. Otherwise, features are great. Push button start and access to the car is hugely helpful, power lift gate is great, just like the Highlander, bluetooth works just fine. Two complaints, like I said, so far is the power, which I KNEW, and the XM, which I did NOT. But no regrets. Has handled just fine in the snow as well. We also own a loaded 2012 CRV, and I love Honda. Rav4 is quieter for sure, CRV appears bigger from inside but specs says it isn't so. Can't really go wrong with either of them, but I like the Toyota dash better and has a few more features (push start, power lift gate) CRV doesn't yet have."
14 people out of 14 found this review helpful
By Bill B. on Tuesday, January 28, 2014
I don't own this caroverall rating 4 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great Styling, lots of room."
Cons: "4 cylinder engine is a deal breaker."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"I have the 2011 6 cylinder awd version of the Rav 4. I love it. I was VERY disappointed to see that the 6 cylinder engine is no longer available. A big mistake by Toyota."
7 people out of 15 found this review helpful
By DilbertE on Monday, January 13, 2014
I don't own this caroverall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "Perfect size for a small family"
Cons: "Under powered and not as much fun to drive."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I am a RAV owner and got my first RAV in 2006 when the 6CYL became a choice. Now I can not find a new RAV with a 6CYL and only can find a 4CYL with 1500 lb towing limit instead of the 3500. The Highlander is too big and will not purchase a 4CYL RAV."
7 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By klem50a on Wednesday, January 08, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 6,800overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "fuel economy, good looks, safety"
Cons: "squeaks, tire pressure monitor system, rough ride"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"I have owned this 2013 RAV4 for 9 months. The dashboard creaks at highway speeds and is really annoying. The tire pressure monitoring system has no interface to the center unit and has no reset. The owner's manual talks of a reset under the dash next to the steering column, but it doesn't exist. The manual also talks about pushing the "CAR" button on the center unit to get tire pressures, but that doesn't exist, either. I called Toyota about these deficiencies, and they said the tire pressure monitor that was reflected in my owner's manual was the kind they had in the 2012 model. They discontinued it with the 2012 model because it did not work right. The least they could have done was to remove it from the owner's manual. This limited edition rides rather rough due to the 18" wheels. I have owned a 2005 RAV4 since it was new, it now has over 145,000 miles on it, and I never had any difficulties like this on the 05 RAV4. I would like to give this one back to Toyota. It looks great with the pearl white paint and grey interior, but the overall driving experience is not what I expected from Toyota. The navigation system is impossible to see in the daylight due to the glare, and really difficult to understand it when you first get the vehicle. I finally figured it out after about 8 months of fiddling with it. Overall, this car is totally functional, but a great disappointment to a long time Toyota Rav4 owner."
9 people out of 10 found this review helpful