Bigger — and blander — than some competitors.
Later this year, Toyota will introduce an all-new RAV4. However, the old RAV4 is still worth considering versus its newer competitors, thanks to some rather unique features. First, it’s large enough to accommodate optional third-row seats. There’s an underfloor cargo area. With the rear seats folded down, the RAV4’s cargo hold will easily swallow an adult-size bicycle. The RAV4 is also somewhat of a standout among small-to-mid-size SUVs for its brawny V-6 — Toyota’s excellent 3.5-liter. Its 269 hp is enough to snap this crossover from 0 to 60 mph in fewer than seven seconds — something you won’t experience in a Chevrolet Equinox. At the other end of the spectrum, a late-to-the-2012-lineup electric RAV4 is available in California, with a powertrain developed in partnership with Tesla. The RAV4 EV is motivated by a 129-kW lithium-ion battery pack, and it will go more than 100 miles between charges. Even the addition of such novel technology can’t hide the fact that this crossover is ready for an overhaul: the all-business interior looks rather drab, for instance, and both gas engines could benefit from a six-speed automatic transmission (the four-cylinder employs a four-speed; the V-6 gets a five-speed). And like almost all Toyotas not named FJ Cruiser, it could use an injection of impassioned design.
Hyundai Santa Fe
new for 2013
Toyota has not yet announced details on the all-new 2013 RAV4. In the meantime, it has introduced an electric variant of the old model for California.
Front, side, and side curtain air bags; ABS; traction and stability control; and a tire-pressure monitoring system are standard.
Third-row seat is rare in the segment
Powerful V-6 engine
Bland inside and out
Newer transmissions might improve fuel economy
Base Price Range: $23,460–$50,610
DRIVE: Front-wheel, 4-wheel
TRIM LEVELS: RAV4, Sport, Limited, EV
BODY STYLE: SUV/crossover, 5- or 7-passenger
ENGINES: 2.5L I-4, 179 hp, 172 lb-ft
3.5L V-6, 269 hp, 246 lb-ft
MOTOR: AC induction, 154 hp, 218/273 lb-ft
TRANSMISSIONS: 4- or 5-speed automatic
PASSENGER VOLUME: 108.2–144.6 cu ft
CAPACITIES: Towing 1500–3500 lb; cargo (behind third/middle/front seats) 12.3/36.4–37.2/73.0 cu ft