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TOYOTA RAV4 2013 -

Compact SUV Lives Large

The 4th-generation RAV4 has quite an out-going attitude. We took one up to the slopes and really appreciated the fact that they've removed the spare tire from the rear and hidden it neatly below the cargo area. We also checked the LOCK/all-wheel drive mode on some nasty oatmeal ground and snow, and the Rav4 climbed right up without hesitation. And as for fuel economy? The six-speed automatic hitched to a 4-cylinder 172-hp powerplant beat the EPA estimate by more than 50%, turning in 47.8 MPG highway at 65MPH on cruise control. VERY impressive!


The 4th-generation Rav4

Wow. Toyota wasn't kidding when they said the Gen4 RAV4 was all new from the wheels up. The most important new change they made (thankfully) was finally removing that spare tire from the back of the vehicle and placing it neatly in a new storage area hidden below the cargo area behind the second row seats. In addition to being easy to get to, the area also has extra room for such things as a tool bag..a feature I really appreciate since MY SUV doesn't have this, so I have to lash my tool bag to the inwalls in the cargo awkward solution at the RAV4 solves that problem. And while the tire is "temporary" it is, in fact, a full-size spare, not just one of those cheap donut wheels.

The other major change is in the powerplant. Gone is the V6 option, replaced instead with the 4-cylinder 176-hp engine for all trim levels. During our testing, this engine predicably generated a little slower performance times (about one second slower on 0-60 MPH) vs the V6, but we're not racing these things anyway. And what you gain is some great fuel economy, especially when operating the car in its AUTO mode so it can seamlessly kick into the ECO fuel-saving mode while cruising on the highway. We got an incredible 47.8 MPG actual highway fuel economy after a 50-mile highway run, which was 54.2% BETTER than the EPA estimate of just 31 MPG.

As someone who likes to ski and travel to the outdoors, I really appreciated how easy it was to flip down the second row seats to store long cargo like skis or kayak paddles. Its a snap, and a one-handed operation. Also, because the rear hatch is now hinged at the top. the RAV4 also has an easy way to pre-program how high up it goes by just pressing and holding a button at the desired height. In this way, you won't crash the hatch into your overhead garage door opener when you raise the hatch automatically.

Visibility was good all around, and the dash is very simple with most of the information about the engine, distance to empty, etc, now found by scrolling thru the small but readable multi-information display on the dash. We found the color audio/navigation MFD a bit confusing to work at the beginning, and its operation is not intuitive at first, but once we figured out the correct touch-screen inputs (of course we didn't look at the manual!) it was pretty easy to use. We also thought the cupholder,shifter console was a bit odd, with one cup holder fully forward, and the other aft just in front of the center console storage box, but that's more of a personal preference than anything else. The 8-way driver's seat on our LIMITED edition was GREAT, as were the two-temperature heated driver and passenger seats (nice when coming in out of the snow). And we were VERY impressed with the Rav4's ability to easily navigate the oatmealy farm field we tested the All Wheel Drive and LOCK mode on during test day. It had no trouble bashing through a small snow bank, fording a small stream, and handling curves and tight turns with six inches of snow under-tread. In short, the all-wheel-drive feature is for real, and though it only works up to 25 MPH (then goes to AUTO mode) it will get you going out of those tight, slippery spots, such as the parking lot at the ski area.

Overally the new 4th-generation RAV4 is a great improvement over its predecessors, and should be a strong seller for active couples and small families who want real SUV capabilities in a more compact size.--Chris Kelly

Track Results
MPH 0 to 60 (sec) 8.5 Quarter Mile Time (sec) 17.0
MPH 50 to 70 (sec) 4.5 70 to 0 MPH Braking Time (sec)
Quarter Mile Top Speed (mph) 84.5 70 to 0 MPH Braking Distance (ft)

Highway Results
Actual MPG 47.8 Sound Level Hwy dB(A) 65 dB(A)
Estimated Hwy MPG 31 Turning Radius (ft) 22.5
Percent Change Actual vs. EPA 54.2%    

Interior Photos
Exterior Photos
Mechanical Specifications
Standard Engine 2.5-Liter 4-Cylinder DOHC 16-Valve with Dual VVT-i Transmission 6-speed Electronically Controlled automatic Transmission with intelligence (ECT-i)
Displacement 2.5L Suspension Front Independent MacPherson strut front suspension with stabilizer bar and hydraulic shock absorbers
Fuel System Gas Suspension Rear Double-wishbone rear suspension with coil springs, trailing arms, stabilizer bar and hydraulic shock
Horse Power 176 hp @ 6000 rpm Steering Electric Power Steering (EPS); power-assisted rack-and-pinion
Torque 172 lb.-ft. @ 4000 rpm Brakes Power-assisted ventilated front disc brakes; solid rear disc brakes and Star Safety Systemâ�

Overall Height (in) 67.1 w/roof rack Headroom 39.8/38.9 w/o moon roof
Overall Width (in) 72.6 Shoulder room 57.3/55.4
Overall Length (in) 179.9 Leg room 41.8/38.3/30.0
Wheelbase (in) 104.7 Seating Capacity 40670
Bed Length (in) Off-Highway
Bed Height (in) Approach/Departure angle (degrees) 29/25
Interior front/second/third row seats Ground Clearance (in) 7.5

Weights and Capacities
Curb Weight (lbs) 3435 Cargo volume (cu ft) behind front/second-row/third-row seats 73.4/38.4
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) (lbs) 4485 Fuel tak (gal) 15.9

Tires and Mileage
Standard Tire All-Season steel-belted radial blackwalls Optional Tire
Spare Tire Temporary (165/80R17ST) Fuel Economy EPA estimates (city/highway/combined) 24/31