By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
KBB Expert Rating: 9.0
Despite the sea of competitors swimming in the compact-SUV pool, the 2017 Toyota RAV4 remains the gold medal champ. The RAV4 succeeds on so many levels because it doesn’t try to be too many things. The 2017 RAV4 isn’t as off-road-ready as the Jeep Cherokee or Subaru Forester, but it does offer good ground clearance and a capable all-wheel-drive (AWD) system for dealing with deep snow. The RAV4 doesn’t offer lots of expensive engine options and premium features like the Ford Escape, so even well-equipped models remain within reach of the average buyer. On the fuel-economy front, the RAV4 Hybrid uses the same engine technology as the Prius to create the only hybrid-compact SUV in the U.S.
If you’re the type who wants worry-free car care in a common-sense design, the 2017 Toyota RAV4 delivers both in spades. With trims ranging from basic to luxurious, the RAV4 offers everything compact-crossover-SUV shoppers need in an attractive package at an attractive price.
KBB Expert Ratings
The 2017 Toyota RAV4 gains Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P) on every model. TSS-P includes pre-collision braking, automatic high beams, lane-departure alert and Toyota’s Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. A new Platinum trim is added to the gasoline models and includes a heated steering wheel and a foot-activated power rear liftgate.
While many compact SUVs have expanded beyond their original concept, Toyota’s 2017 RAV4 knows exactly what it is and who it’s intended to serve. The RAV4’s roomy interior...
... can comfortably fit five adults, and its ride is smooth and controlled without being overly soft or floating. We prefer it to the stiff ride found with the Mazda CX-5 and Kia Sportage. The RAV’s 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine isn’t as powerful as some competitors, but it can move the RAV4 to 60 mph in about 10 seconds, which is average for this class. On the flip side, the 2017 RAV4’s fuel economy is near best in class, with the hybrid model pushing 34 mpg in the city. The RAV4 Hybrid AWD uses the 2.5-liter gas engine paired with two electric motors (one up front and the other at the rear wheels) plus a CVT transmission, making it a bit quicker than its gasoline counterpart.
The RAV4’s high ride height, thick pillars and narrow side glass can sometimes make it difficult to park and maneuver. That’s why Toyota offers a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic detection and an available 360-degree Bird’s Eye monitor.
TOYOTA SAFETY SENSE P (TSS-P)
While many compact SUVs offers features like collision-mitigation braking, pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control and auto high beams, none of them do so as standard equipment on every trim.
With high-quality plastics and soft-touch surfaces, the 2017 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 and Platinum models with their added lumbar support. Rear-seat passengers have good legroom, and there's plenty of cargo space.
Overall, we like the looks of the 2017 RAV4 compact-crossover SUV, 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 and Platinum 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 has 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. The Platinum trim adds body-color side molding, a heated steering wheel, JBL audio, navigation, Smart Key and a foot-activated power rear liftgate.
There are two powertrain choices for the 2017 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: 23/29 mpg (FWD), 22/28 mpg (AWD)
2.5-liter inline-4 engine + electric motor (Hybrid)
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: 34/30 mpg
Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for a 2017 Toyota RAV4 LE is about $26,700, including the destination charge. The top-of-the-line Platinum model with AWD tops out around $37,200. The XLE Hybrid starts around $30,000. 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 Ford Escape and VW 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.