I bought this vehicle new in 1997 and never regretted a day of driving it. Sporty little number that always turned heads - I've had several people want to buy it but of course I turned them down. I kept it maintained but in the end (July 2008), I didn't pay attention to oil leakage and the engine died. I went to several auto mechanics (personal friends) and was willing to pay $2500 to get another engine but decided after driving it for eleven years that I didn't want to take the chance (on expert advice) that another engine could fail in six months. Annoys me that had I paid attention, I could still be driving it another five years!
Solid, held the road well. Interior features good, fabric seats comfortable. AM/FM stereo, cassette all good sound, no trouble ever. Rear cargo held a lot more than I ever thought it could. Rear seating also surprisingly adequate.
I would have liked an inside lock on the rear cargo door. There is probably a little more "road rumble" sound but no regrets with this vehicle. The only thing I'm sorry about is that I would have driven it another five years if I didn't get lazy in the end about maintenance.
One less thing to worry about with our daughter away from home at college. The RAV just does not fail. Other than standard brakes/oil/tires, no repairs in 84000 miles. Paint stays rust free, shines with a wax job. Not going to light em up at the raceway, but will always get there.
Fun to drive, goes in rain and snow, and has an "attitude" that fits the 20 year old driver.
Less spartan interior. Solid performance does not have to include bare plastics and little sound deadening.