My initial choice was Honda CRV but after test driving it I found it was a bit noisy and sluggish pickup. I rented 2008 Rav4 and driven it on Highway from Atlanta, GA to Memphis, TN and found it stable between 75 to 95 MPH, but just under powered and little louder. Finally decided to buy 2009 Rav4 2WD I4, as it has a refined engine (Dual VVTi) with more fuel economy and power. I wanted to buy a vehicle which fits in my budget and able to drive to work and also long trips with space for Cargo. I did not go for a V6 (269 hp) as I4(179 hp) is sufficient and I dont want to get more speeding tickets with V6. My previous car was Camry V6.
The new Rav4 is smoother,quicker and gave me 23 MPG in city. My one year old daughter likes the vehicle very much, as she can clearly see the road. The new sound system is better than old one. I like the reclining rear seats, abundant cargo space, I can sleep in the car with rear seats folded.
Find a way to decrease the road noise, onboard compass and a vertical lift tailgate and a way to eliminate the rear mounted tire w/o resorting to run flat tire.