Monday, November 16, 2015

2015 Toyota RAV4 XLE

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 With their up-for-anything personality, easy-to-park size, and hardly no appetite for fuel, compact crossovers are some of the most popular vehicles on the market today. Versatility is by far their greatest asset, as you can easily fill them with car seats, groceries, sports equipment, or the latest spoils from your most recent shopping trip. Among these practical SUV's, the Toyota RAV4 has long been a favorite of savvy shoppers of all ages and tastes.

     Thanks to more competent rivals, the RAV4 isn't quite a no-brainer pick anymore. Still, you are likely to find that it checks off most of your boxes on that must have list.

     The 2015 Toyota RAV4 is a 5-passenger compact crossover that is offered in 3 main trims: LE, XLE, and Limited.

     The LE comes standard with 17-inch steel wheels, automatic headlamps, power folding mirrors, keyless entry, rear privacy glass, full power accessories, a/c, cruise control, and tilt and telescoping steering wheel, a 60/40 split fold and reclining 2nd row seat, rear-view camera, Bluetooth, and a 6-speaker sound system with a 6.1-inch touchscreen.

     The XLE adds 17-inch alloy wheels, fog-lights, heated side mirrors with integrated turn signals, roof rails, sunroof, dual zone auto climate control, sportier front seats, a cargo cover, and extendable sun visors. The audio system on the XLE is upgraded to include satellite radio, HD radio, traffic and weather. Options for the XLE include a height-adjustable power liftgate, a navigation system, and Toyota's Entune system.
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     The top-of-the line Limited comes with all of the above plus 18-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry and ignition, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, a leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, an 8-way power adjustable driver seat with memory settings, and premium synthetic leather upholstery.

     Options on the Limited include a navigation system bundled with an 11-speaker JBL audio system. The Technology package adds a blind spot monitoring system with cross traffic warning, a lane departure warning system, and automatic high-beam headlamp control. There is also the Blizzard Pearl Premium package which adds the Blizzard Pearl color, and 18-inch machine finished wheels with black accents.

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 The 2015 Toyota RAV4 is powered by a 2.5 liter 4 cylinder engine that makes 176 horsepower and 172 lb.-ft of torque. A 6-speed automatic transmission is standard, and all trims come with the option of all wheel drive.

     In testing, the RAV4 equipped with AWD took 9.3 seconds to reach 60 mph, which is average in this class. The front wheel drive equipped RAV4 is EPA rated for 26 mpg combined in LE and XLE trim, while trims with AWD come in at 25 mpg combined, which are good numbers, but hardly class leading.

     Standard safety equipment on every 2015 Toyota RAV4 includes anti-lock disc brakes, rear-view camera, stability and traction control, whiplash-reducing front head restraints, front-seat side airbags, and full length side curtain airbags. A driver knee airbag is also standard. The optional Technology Package on the Limited provides blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alerts, and lane departure warnings. In testing, my vehicle came to a stop from 60 mph in about 130 feet, which is roughly 5 feet longer than the average. In crash test ratings, the RAV4 has earned 4 out of a possible 5 stars for overall protection.

     The 2015 Toyota RAV4 features an interior design with pronounced angles and lines that form a streamlined and modern looking dash. Overall, the materials used are average for the class, and a few of the audio and climate controls feel a little on the cheap side. The cupholder count is fine, but there aren't as many useful storage cubbies like you will find in other vehicles in this class.
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     Although all of the RAV4's audio system have Toyota's Entune branding, only XLE and Limited models with the navigation system include the Entune suite of apps. There is a decent amount of functionality here, but getting started can be a bit of a pain as you have to download the app, then register for an account. Plus, you always need an active data connection to use all of the features. The touchscreen interface has straightforward menus, but it's sometimes unresponsive to user inputs. On the upside, all of the basic controls in the RAV4 are easy to use.

     The cargo bay measures in at 38.4 cubic feet with the rear seats up, and can grow to a respectable 73.3 cubic feet with the rear seat folded. There is a bonus to having a lower mounted rear seat like in the 2015 Toyota RAV4, a near flat floor, and a low load-in height which will help to reduce the strain on your body when you are lifting heavier objects into the vehicle.

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 Most small crossover shoppers will find the RAV4's 2.5 liter engine adequate for most tasks, and fuel efficient enough. The 6-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly, but if you tend to drive more aggressive, you might find it slow to down shift in passing situations. Additionally, when climbing steady mountain grades, the transmission has a tendency to hunt between gears. Both of these are more than likely due to the transmission being set-up more on the fuel economy side of things.

     The 2015 RAV4 handles well and feels refined and comfortable when cruising down the highway. A potential exception to this is the Limited trim, which can get a little rough on harsh pavement thanks to the larger wheels. In spite of this, the cabin remains very quiet, making the RAV4 a good option for families with young children who tend to sleep in the car.

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