"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. :)"