We I was looking for a car I back in 2006 grabbed the consumer report and this car showed the best rating of all (not only small SUV). I bought it used and through these years (today 2010) I have confirmed day by day that the reports were true. The Rav4 is spacious (you can easily remove the back seats) for cargo and passengers. The spare tire gives the sporty "Jeepy" look and unlike other cars there is no sacrifice of space to accommodate the tire inside the vehicle, so all that space left is yours to fill. Thanks to this the height of the base of the trunk is at or below your needs. Just go and compare this with other cars, you will find they are much higher.
Space, low maintenance cost, handling and it's loaded standard!
For the new models, go back to the previous like the 2002. It was already right why reinvent the wheel?