"from 2001-2005 there is a problem with the engine control module causing the transmission to miss shift.
warranty is good to 80,000 miles,
mine went out at 89,400 other than that I love the car.
If buying used make sure the ECM has been changed so you don't damage your transmission."
"I bought my Rav 4 brand new in 2001. Originally I was going for the Chrysler PT Cruiser, but after a dealer snafu I had to choose a different model completely. What attracted me to the PT Cruiser was the ability to tumble and take out the seats. This function on the Rav 4 made me a buyer. I have moved over 12 times (once across the country), and have moved nearly everything using my Rav 4 - Couches on the rooftop, chairs inside, boxes upon boxes.
I love the Toyota Rav 4. This car has been reliable and has paid for itself twice over in the 11 years that I have had it. Now that the car is over 200,000 miles, I'm seeking a new one but hesitant to because this one is like my baby.
Cons about the Rav 4: The high center of gravity means that you shouldn't take turns too fast. I have managed to lift two wheels off the pavement before. Ever since I got the vehicle I've had trouble with the check engine light. It just likes to be on - for NO REASON. It always says it's an oxygen sensor. But, I have changed the oxygen sensors, the oxygen manifold, etc. time and time again. Finally, I just gave up on it and it works just fine with that check engine light on. Be aware though - Having that check engine light on makes it difficult for registration in certain states."
Pros: "great price , fun to drive , front seat comfort"
Cons: "cramped back seat leg room"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"The ride and driving experience is wonderful.I get 26 mpg/city and around 30 mpg/hwy,even after 10 years. Never any problems,major or minor. Body integrity is great and I especially like the look of the tire on the back...it used to be unique,but not anymore. I have recommended the car to many people."
"250,000 miles with only significant problem that sensors needed to be replaced twice and water pump at 200,000 miles. Original power steering, master cylinder, alternator and BATTERY! Air conditioning clutch loud last 4 years. Catalytic converter needed cleaning. Plugs replaced twice -- 25.5 mpg through whole life."
"I am the happy owner of a 2003 Rav4 2.0L 4cyl automatic with Sport package 2wd (owned for 20 months and driven 35000 miles). I have used the 2.0L engine to tow a small trailer with my motorcycle on and it does ok. The engine tend to have high revs going uphill under load. I would suggest the upgraded 2.4L engine or the V6 if you are do long highway trips or live in a hilly area. The 2.4 was upgraded in 2004-2005.
Besides the high reving when under load, I have no other complaints! The ride is agile and smooth, the fit/finish and comfort in the cabin is adequate for me (6'3" 240lb man). I live in Iowa and have no troubles getting around in snow, heavy rain, ice, etc. and i have the 2wd model. I have been getting 21 mpg during the winter with mixed driving on mostly a 23 mile commute (11 miles of 55 mph high way and the other 12 miles in 45-35-25 mph in town driving). I have been getting as high as 27 mpg in the summer and driving "softly." regular MPG on an overall basis in the last 30,000 miles has averaged 24 mpg. That also includes about 5000 miles of light towing with a 4x8 canoe trailer and 3 canoes and gear. I haven't had one mechanicle problem yet... Ok well I did have the door lock on the passenger side front jam up and wouldn't work proper but the Toyota dealer took care of it for me (probably since my family is a regular customer... We have 6 from them...). I have 85,000+ miles on it thus far and don't have any complaints! Also something to consider is that you can talk any toyota dealer into doing the used car certification that gets you 6-7yr 100,000 power train warrenty. I bartered them into doing mine for free and I ended up with 45,000 and 3 years... better than they factory warrenty on a new one!!! Oh and if you are concerned with interior cargo area... it's there if you need it... i managed to get a chair and a half into the it by taking out the rear seats..."
"I got all the value and more for the overall price.Provides comfort and trust-worthiness.Solid like a s.u.v. but drives and handles like a luxury car.
I'M so confident in quality and value I'm going to drive it for a total of 15 years before buying another."
"I own the 2003 Rav 4. I bought it new. It now has 170,000 miles and the only thing I have ever done to the vehicle is normal maintenance. It is reliable and a perfect small family car. I do wish it has three seats in the back but it is still okay for what we use it for. The MPG is around 28-30 on the highway. The engine is a little small to pull an AWD vehicle in the hills of PA. Otherwise it is perfect in every way & I cannot express enough how much we depend on this vehicle. We have no intention of getting rid of it till it just simply crokes! My personal goal is 350,000 miles. One note of interest...Keep it clean & you always feel you are driving a new one:)"
"Our primary complaint is comfort. It isn't comfortable for longer drives. Also, the seats took time to figure out how to remove. I feel safe and confident when I drive this car; I plan on a RAV4 being my next vehicle."
"I love my Rav! It is the best car I have ever owned!! It is big enough to cart around all of my equestrian equiptment and on occassion I have had to use it as the farm vehicle. It is easy and comfortable to drive. It is nice and compact while still offering so much room on the interior. The only complaint I have about this car is that I had to replace the transmission about 3 years ago."
Pros: "Great gas mileage, reliable, great in all weather"
Cons: "I have no cons for this vehicle"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I absolutely love this car! It is outstanding in every kind of road condition. It has safely got me through ice storms and blizzards. Gets great gas mileage. Has lots of room, I am always saying there is very little I can't haul around in my Rav. It it completely reliable, have never had any issues with it. Gas, oil changes, new tires, wipers and a battery is all it has ever cost me after purchase. I highly recommend this car!"
"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!"
"Bought a newer '03 after having a '97 RAV4 for about 8 years. We will lose about $2k fo having the RAV for 8 wonderful years.
Love our new one - Could have bought a Chrysler PT Cruiser (cute!) for under 11K (new) but paid more to get our '03 RAV4 for $12,450 ++. Are we crazy? We don't think so. Thought about buying a brand new one but I'm retired and my wife is still working. Guess who drives the newer RAV4?? :-)"
"My wife and i bought this 01 rav4L and this thing is a beast in the snow. Im an avid 4wd off roader with a seriously modified tacoma and this rav 4 got around as good or better and i have big mud tires on my truck. This last week we had a record snow fall of 22 inches the snow was up past the bumper, full size 4wd trucks were getting stuck all over on our roadways. This rav4 drove 60miles in this snow and i even stopped on a few occasions to let salt trucks go by in snow past the bumper and the rav didnt ever come close to getting stuck I even pulled a couple vehicles out of the ditch with it. Their all wheel drive system routes power to whichever of the four wheels that have traction similar to a traction control set up. Most conventional 4wds only have one wheel in the back and one wheel in the front that spins while in 4wd, This vehicle uses all 4 if need be. The only problem we have had out of this is a coil pack went out that also fried the catalytic converter which was covered under an 80000 mile emmissions warranty. This thing gets 28 mpg in the city or the highway, theres no difference hardly at all. The 5spd trans. might have something to do with it. The 01 and newer ravs have vvt engines that have timing chains so i like the fact that i wont be having to replace a timing belt every 80000 miles. We also owned a 1st generation rav4 that had a 2.0 4cyl with a/t and it didnt have near the power as this one or as good of gas mileage plus it had a timing belt instead of a chain."
"I bought my RAV new in 2001. Except for 1 sensor that needed replacing 6 years ago, and having the front brakes replaced after 8 years, it has been problem free. I take care of it with scheduled oil changes, inspections, etc. so it has been very good to me. I've never owned a car this long .. and I think buying it was the best thing I ever did."
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."
"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."
Pros: "LOVE fun to drive, easy to handle, low cost to own"
Cons: "Comfort not best on long drives, more cup holders"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"ORIGINAL OWNER. 11 years and 180,000 miles. I absolutely love this car!!
It is the BEST car I have owned.
On a scale from 1 – 10, my RAV4 is an 11.
I consistently keep my cars for 10 years, but I have no plans to get rid of this one any time soon.
I really enjoy driving this car. It has great get up and go considering it’s a 4 cylinder.
Incredible handling for a SUV. Nimble on the freeways and super easy to parallel park.
I open the sunroof almost daily. The roof rack not only looks great, but comes in handy.
The fog lights help me to see much more clearly at night.
I love how the rear door opens and the cargo cover is a great feature.
The only thing I don’t enjoy about this car is so minor.
I really hate to even mention it and I don’t want to appear that I’m complaining…
…but on long trips (12-14 hour drives),
my RAV 4 can become “slightly cramped and a little uncomfortable”.
However, the advantages the 2005’s smaller body has, far out number this one negative comfort trait that is common in just about all smaller cars."
"I Loved this car so much, but had to stop driving due to medical issues. I gave it to my daughter and she has had minimal problems, normal maintenance for a 16 year old car. The reason for trading it was because she needed a larger car for 3 children, and the air conditioner finally gave up. Best car I have ever owned!!!"
"I bought this car in college 1 year used and with 19K miles. Now it's 12 years and 100K miles later and I can't seem to find anything I think I will love as much as my RAV4. I've driven this car on the beach, up to the ski resorts in blizzards, to mountain bike trails with 2 bikes upright and fully assembled in the back, and coast to coast 3 times and it's been SO reliable. Enough space to squeeze 600lbs of my gear in the back, removable seats, adjustable cupholders fit and hold EVERY size mug, decent gas mileage and rather good looks are some of my favorite features. I do find the seats get uncomfortable after about 3h of driving, but stuffing a coat behind me for lumbar support fixes that. NO leaks, major repairs, or anything other than routine maintenance required, which I do myself. Downsides-it's a bit basic and the engine is small so it's not something you'll gun to pass anyone other than a Jeep...that's all I've got. If I were selling my used RAV4, I'd market to a teen's first car: great visibility, safe, decent gas mileage (I get about 22) and a bit underpowered so you know they won't be drag racing anyone. But I'm not selling just yet. :)"
"Rock solid, never once broke down in 258K miles and 15+ yrs
Catalytic converter replaced at 200k miles (it was rated for only 100k miles!)
Had to replace sway bar and shocks around 200k miles, but was probably related to an accident around 150k miles
Mileage 22-23 mpg - city or highspeed highway. Driveing the speed limit on highway boosts the milage to 25+ mpg, but then you might fall asleep on the wheel :)
Headlights burn out about every 75k-125k miles
Marker lights burn out around 75k-125k miles
Around 225k miles, something is leaking oil. Est cost to fix 1250. But instead of fixing I just top off the oil every 1000 miles, and it runs just fine. Thats adding a nickel or two per TANK of gas, which is much cheaper than fixing it
Factory tires lasted only 40k miles. But Dueler alezna tires last 60k miles
The height of the cargo space with the seats removed is 12 inches higher than the 2016 RAV4. It is even 6 higher than the 2016 4Runner. I have transported large snowblower in this RAV but you cant get those same snowblowers into a 2016 RAV4 or 4runner!"
"Bought this car in 2005, with 15,000 miles on it. Eleven years and 275,000 miles later, it has never let me down! Have to put some money into replacing wheel bearings, struts, etc. this winter, but the engine still runs like a top. Can't bear the thought of parting with it. Wish Toyota still made this nice little compact model."
Pros: "Fuel economy, VERY reliable, great gas milage,"
Cons: "Engine is a little weak"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I have over 90,000 miles on my 2002 Rav and have never had any mechanical issues with it. It still drives great and looks great. Currently looking for new vics but only because I need a bit more size. Love this car!"
Pros: "4 usable cup holders, elevated seat position, fun"
Cons: "a bit noisy on the highway."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"The only thing that ever went wrong with this car was 4th gear, when it was still under warranty. I drove it 10 years in snow country, and only had to put on chains once. The 25-27 mpg was great. High driver's seat position is nice.
Negatives: a bit under-powered, so you want the manual trans, so you can decide your own shift points. Also, there is no "granny" gear, so if you're in a very steep place, the clutch work needs to be precise."