Monday, December 1, 2014

Retake: Toyota RAV4

 Small crossovers like the 2014 Toyota RAV4 have become popular with a large segment of the population. It's little wonder because in spite of their small dimensions, they offer loads of space for both single people, and families alike. They are rather easy to drive, and you usually get decent fuel economy. In a sense, the crossover is a perfect vehicle for many of the people out on the roads today. While the RAV4 isn't what you might call a favorite in the class, you might find that it will check off a lot of the boxes on your wish list.

     Space is quite easily the RAV4's biggest asset. Driver and passenger room are exceptional up front, and a pair of your friends will be quite happy in the back seat, at least for shorter trips. Further, if you have large dogs, or if you haul lots of gear for that band that you have been wanting to start, the large cargo bay of the RAV4 will suite your needs just fine. As a plus, if you opt for the Limited model, a power liftgate is an option.

     While driving, the RAV4 is rather easy to see out of, and it feels pretty steady around most turns, and is a rather comfortable highway cruiser. Acceleration, however, is about average for the class, and there is no engine upgrade to fix this issue. Likewise, the RAV returns solid fuel economy numbers, but they are just average.

   Given the healthy competition in the class, you would be doing yourself a favor if you also checked out some other options. If you want the king of versatility, than the Honda CR-V is one you should take a peek at. If you truly enjoy driving, like I do, than you may want to check out the Mazda CX-5, as well as the just announced CX-3.

     Another good option to check out would be the Ford Escape, which gives you 3 engine options, and a more upscale interior than you might find elsewhere. And lastly, if you are nuts about off-roading, than the Jeep Cherokee might be something you should look into as well.

    The 2014 Toyota RAV4 is powered by the Toyota favorite, 2.5 liter inline 4 cylinder engine, making 176 horsepower, and 172 lb-ft. of torque. A 6-speed automatic transmission is standard, and can be paired to either front-wheel drive, or all-wheel drive.

     In performance testing, the RAV4 needed about 9 seconds to sprint to 60 mph from a stop. Also in testing, stops from 60 mph averaged 128 feet, which is longer than one would hope for in this class of vehicle.

     Most shoppers will find the 2.5 liter 4 banger perfect for their everyday needs. The transmission shifts smoothly, but if you drive more spirited, you might find that it is slow to downshift on many occasions. Also, when climbing hills, it will want to hunt for a gear, instead of finding one and sticking with it.Both of these issues are caused by the powertrain being geared more for fuel economy than anything else. 

     Overall, the RAV4 is quite similar to the Honda CR-V, and drivers that demand more out of their drive might find it quite a bit less fun of a drive than say the earlier mentioned Ford Escape and Mazda CX-5. However, if overall comfort is high on your list, than this Toyota should do right by you. Of course, this can only be a decision made by you, the reader. 


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