By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
KBB Expert Rating: 9.1
The 2016 Toyota RAV4 remains a perennial favorite thanks to its compact size, spacious interior, sleek styling and well-deserved reputation for reliability and resale. Sure, you can get a more enthusiastic ride in a Mazda CX-5, and better off-road credentials from a Subaru Forester, but for the way most people drive a compact- crossover SUV, the 2016 RAV4 has everything they need. This year, Toyota adds a hybrid model to the lineup, something you won’t find with the Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue or Ford Escape. Then again, both the Subaru and Ford offer more powerful turbocharged engines, an important factor for those who tow and haul heavier loads.
KBB Expert Ratings
The 2016 Toyota RAV4 arrives with a host of new available features, including the 360-degree Bird’s Eye View parking system. The RAV4 receives refreshed styling as well as a sporty new SE trim package, but the biggest change for 2016 is the introduction of the first-ever hybrid model.
Of all the compact SUVs, Toyota’s RAV4 crossover SUV for 2016 may just have the best combination of ride comfort, handling and fuel economy. Smooth without being too soft, the...
... RAV4’s ride is a pleasant contrast to that of the Mazda CX-5 and Subaru Forester. The RAV4’s 2.5-liter 4-cylinder isn’t the most powerful in this class, but it delivers acceptable levels of acceleration and fuel economy, able to move the RAV4 to 60 mph in less than 10 seconds. Toyota adds a Sport mode to the 6-speed automatic transmission. When engaged, the system holds off shifting until higher in the rpm band for better acceleration. The RAV4 Hybrid employs the same 2.5-liter engine teamed with two electric motors (one up front and the other at the rear wheels) and CVT transmission. Toyota expects the hybrid to deliver noticeably better acceleration and better fuel economy, even with its standard all-wheel-drive system.
With high beltlines and thicker pillars becoming the norm for small SUV design, having the ability to see what’s around you becomes paramount. In addition to its rearview camera and front and rear parking sensors, the RAV4 offers a 360-degree Bird’s Eye monitor, blind-spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert.
CAVERNOUS CARGO CAPACITY
Despite its modest exterior dimensions, the 2016 Toyota RAV4 compact SUV has ample room for four adults plus a good-size cargo area behind the 2nd-row seats. Fold those seats flat and the RAV4 offers up a class-leading 73.4 cubic feet.
With high-quality plastics and soft-touch surfaces, the 2016 Toyota RAV4 offers a comfortable and inviting SUV interior. Base LE models get contrasting colors, adding an upscale look at a price level that usually sentences the buyer to blandness. However, we're not fans of the faux-carbon-fiber cladding around the doorsills and gearshift lever. Interestingly, leather isn't available, substituted with a material called Softex, which does a pretty good impression of the real thing. The driver's seat is comfortable and supportive, especially the Limited model with its added lumbar support. Rear-seat passengers have good legroom, and there's plenty of cargo space.
Overall, we like the looks of the newest RAV4, and its sharp lines are positively aggressive compared to previous models. Owners of those older models may notice that there's no rear-mounted spare tire on the current generation. However, despite it being a fixture since the RAV4's introduction, Toyota was smart in dropping it, as it allows for a swing-up rear door instead of the swing-out design on previous versions, making it easier to load items into the cargo area. A power assist is standard on Limited models, and available on XLE models.
The base RAV4 LE trim comes with Entune, which includes a 6.1-inch display, Bluetooth connectivity, AM/FM/CD system with six speakers, and auxiliary and USB inputs to control your iPod. XLE models add a power moonroof, upgraded Entune with satellite and HD Radio, dual-zone climate control, and better front seats with French stitching. The SE trim receives a sport suspension, paddle shifters, Softex seating, 2-tone paint and rear cross-traffic alert. Limited models add the power liftgate, Softex upholstery, Entune Premium audio with navigation and apps, push-button start, and more. The AWD RAV4 Hybrid is offered only in XLE and Limited trims.
All-wheel drive (AWD) is available on all Toyota RAV4 models and standard on the Hybrid, enhancing the SUV's traction in wet weather and on dirt roads. Other options include a navigation system with Toyota's Entune telematics – which includes voice recognition and various apps for everything from making reservations to finding sports scores – JBL premium audio system with 11 speakers, Bird’s Eye Parking System, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and, on the XLE, a power rear liftgate.
There are two powertrain choices for the 2016 Toyota RAV4. Gasoline-powered models employ a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine with 176 horsepower. Coupled with the standard 6-speed automatic transmission, it's enough to get the SUV from a standstill to 60 mph in a little less than 10 seconds, not exactly quick, but good enough. The standard front-wheel drive (FWD) can be replaced with an all-wheel drive (AWD) system, and the RAV4 will tow up to 1,500 pounds. The RAV4 Hybrid uses the same 2.5-liter engine only with Atkinson-cycle technology mated with two small electric motors (one at each axle). AWD comes standard on the hybrid models, as does a CVT automatic transmission.
176 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
172 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/31 mpg (FWD), 22/29 mpg (AWD)
2.5-liter inline-4 engine + electric motor
194 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm (peak output with gasoline and electric combined)
206 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 34/31 mpg
The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for a 2016 Toyota RAV4 LE is about $25,000, including the destination charge. The top-of-the-line Limited model with AWD and option packages can extend to more than $32,000. The XLE Hybrid starts around $29,000. Those prices are right in line with competitors like the Honda CR-V and Ford Escape, two of its strongest competitors. Other compact SUVs like the Kia Sportage and Mazda CX-5 start lower, but the RAV4's simplified trim levels keep even a loaded RAV4 well below the mid- to high-$30,000 prices that afflict other vehicles in this segment, like the Volkswagen Tiguan. Be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for the new Toyota RAV4. The RAV4 should retain its value on par with the Honda CR-V and better than Ford's Escape, but below the Subaru Forester.