We purchased the XLE model because we didn't want all of the electronic driving "aids" or the "leatherette" interior that comes on the Limited (that, and we couldn't justify the huge price difference for us). There are 2 items missing on the XLE that we did want though, and there was no way to get them from the factory. Those missing items are automatic headlights and Homelink. We strongly feel that automatic headlights should be a standard safety feature in any vehicle, much less one with a MSRP over $30k (a sunroof and an electric rear hatch is standard, but not a safety item like this?!). Unfortunately, it's not available on this model. We just leave the lights on all of the time, as they turn off shortly after you leave the vehicle or as soon as you push the lock button on the fob. The Homelink issue was easily cured by having an aftermarket Homelink mirror installed by the customizing shop owned by our local dealer.
Another minor annoyance involves cup holders. The front console only has 1 cup holder that will accommodate a full sized drink. The other one is partially under the dash and is only suitable for a water bottle. We use an aftermarket console in the back seat, instead of the handy fold down one, because the cup holders are so close that they also will not hold a decent sized drink without risking a lid popping off. It's a minor issue, but maybe one to consider. They do work well for water bottles though.
Now for the great parts. First and most importantly, our 2 "kids" can easily get into the back seat and sit comfortably with adequate leg room, which is pretty impressive since they are 6+ feet tall with men's size 13-14 feet! Toyota does well in this area, as they have no issues in the back of our PriusV either. Second, we are impressed by the performance. It is zippy and handles well for an SUV while still having a smooth, quiet ride, which is important since we live in the city and have to both navigate traffic and merge onto the highways. We test drove the gas version as well, and we thought the hybrid seemed to have more torque, despite being AWD. Third, it gets great mileage in the city (so far, approximately what it's rated), and it gets better than what it's rated on the highway (as an owner of 3 other hybrids, do NOT expect this to be the case when the temps are extremely hot or cold). We notice that it stays in EV easily, which helps on the mileage too (if you are not a hybrid person, you need to know that your basic driving habits will greatly affect your mileage, just like the temps). Fourth, the front seats are surprisingly comfortable and supportive, even sporty feeling with the nice bolsters along the seat edges, though a bit more support in the center of the back would have made it even better. Overall, our impression is that it is rather Camry-like in it's feel, which is good since we weren't looking for the truck feel and ride, and we anticipate having the same great reliability.
This is my choice as the best small SUV in 30K price range.
The features offered in this car convinced me to spend a little more than my 30K limit for the XLE trim with the convenience package. I do recommend the convenience package if you are into newer technologies.
Below, I compare Toyota RAV4 Hybrid to other models that I considered prior my purchase. I have tested all these cars.
1- The same model in limited trim: I could not justify the higher price. I prefer cloth seating versus synthetic leather because it's cooler and I live in Texas. My car is slightly lighter, which is a good fact. One size smaller rims translates to better off-road driving. I also prefer the look of rims on XLEs.
2- Honda CRV SEL: I prefer both the exterior and interior in my RAV4. I did not have navigation and all wheel drive capability at the same price if I selected a Honda CRV. Toyota ride is far smoother, more comfortable, and much more quiet compared to CRV. The Hybrid is more powerful and more efficient too.
3- Cherokee V6, Limited: Cherookee is a faster car but much less efficient. Cherokee is much smaller. The interior is too compact. The front window is too steep.
4- Lexux nx200t and Acura RLX: they are faster cars, more luxurious too. However, both are more expensive and lose more value for resale. Both have higher maintenance costs.
What I like in RAV4 Hybrid:
They improved three major negative points that I did not like in the 15 models:
1- The ugly blue information screen is replaced with a luxurious 4" display. This display completes the car's En-tune system, similar what you see in a Mercedes or a Lexus. It's very handy for the driver.
2- The cheapo looking carbon fiber plastic trimmings are gone from the cabin.
3- The standard RAV4 is slow and lags when you need to accelerate. The hybrid is fast and snappy when you need the power.
Bottom line: RAV4 is growing up towards its SUV nature. To me, it looks more of a SUV rather than a cross-over or station wagon. Hybrid model is a rare find that very few people know about it. It's fully assembled in Japan similar to Lexus models. It owns the same power train as Lexus NX300h within a more matured body. You get more space for you and your luggage in a lighter body when compared to the pricy Lexus NX300h! To me, not only RAV4 Hybrid is more valuable, but also is a more optimized design.
Driver can ride on this vehicle for either fuel economy or performance. It can do it all! 40MPG or 8s 0-60, it is adaptive in this price range.
-When you look at my ratings, I have considered the price range and car's class. For reliability ratings, this is what I expect from Toyota.
MPG: -I have got MPGs in 40 range for mixed highway-city trips. My total average is less since most of my trips are very short within the city.
-What I don't like about this car: the converters in the cargo could be re-arranged for more space. I believe they come from the lexus design. On the positive side, the back seats are more like what NX has; they look upgraded to me compared to the regular RAVs!
-Algebraic summation of electric motors and the gasoline engine is much more than 195hp! Toyota could offer more power and performance for this car. There is room for further tweaking this car towards improved performance!
Overall: What a wonderful vehicle! I recently traded in my 2011 Honda Accord EXL 4 cyl (Loved that car) for the new 2016 Toyota Rav4 Hybrid Limited and have no regrets. The Rav4 has just as much, if not more get-up-and-go than the Accord and has far superior gas mileage and cargo capacity (obvi). The interior is a delight! The black/beige letherette interior looks so nice with the Black metallic exterior! Definitely a hot car (but not solid black leather hot like my accord...ouch).
Performance and Economy: Off the line, you can either have excellent power and torque, normal acceleration, or electric-only acceleration depending on the mood and situation. If pushed right, the car can be gas-free up to about 35mph in eco-mode! I only use EV mode in parking lots or downtown settings, otherwise your Rav4 handles that for you. For maintaining speed, "Pump and Glide" is the way to go! A light foot in eco-mode will allow it to stay gas-free, but power-mode then eco-mode seems to get me the best mpg from a start. Highway merging is superb! So quick as long as nobody slow is in front to stop you.... Excellent passing power, too!
Handling: One of the reasons I bought this vehicle was to take my grandparents places with ease. Step in height is excellent and comfort is superb. At first I thought the seats were a bit firm, but they have softened up since. The ride is very car-like and seems to have a bit better maneuverability than my accord. Steering is a bit synthetic, but I guess that is what power steering does? It does not bother me at all. The steering wheel has a very nice, thick feel in my hands. The sensors and cameras help me stay confident on the road. I have not had the chance to drive in a blizzard, yet (thankfully).
Safety and Tech: The electronics and safety tech is plenty and helpful. The car looks so sleek with the LED daytime and headlights! I wish the foglights were LED, too. Toyota Safety package is a must! Just make sure to turn off the features before car washes, or the car will go crazy with beeps. The pre-collision system works, too! I wanted to test it out for fun, and it is very confident. I like how the Navigation has a different volume setting than the audio. The voice is very nice and the Tachometer navigation display is very nice. The backup camera is very helpful with turning guides and cross-detection technology! So wonderful to know when a car is coming and I cannot see them. Entune needs a bit of help, but I only ever use Spotify via bluetooth, so it has not been much of an issue for me. The speaker system is better than I was expecting. Speaker placement is good (my accord rattled due to speaker placement). Could use a little bit more fine-tuning for a Limited model. I did not upgrade to JBL, however...
I can see myself owning this car for a very long time! It has great looks, gas mileage, and storage. I will soon be moving cross-country and will update my review after. My accord was an excellent vehicle and survived the cross-country journey last year wonderfully. Excited now to test the Rav4 and see how high I can get the gas mileage. Definitely would and have recommended to anyone looking for a new, fuel-efficient vehicle. Even though XLE may look like a better value, I would highly recommend the Limited for the extra tech and aesthetics.
While I've wanted an SUV for awhile now, I could never justify the cost vs mpg average most have had......at least until now. With a 33 mpg average (for AWD) and only a $700 increase over the gas RAV4, this was a no-brainer! Trying to be practical AND thrifty I decided on the XLE with convenience package. While I would have liked some of the features of the Limited like power faux leather seats with lumbar support, LED headlights and heated seats, it just didn't seem to justify the almost $4000 upcharge. Some have complained about the cloth seats and lack of lumbar adjustment on the XLE....and I thought I would be one of them however, the drivers seat seems to be very comfortable to me and my back feels very secure in the seat back.
The ride feels more controlled than I expected and very smooth considering it's an SUV. The convenience package has just about every safety feature you will need: Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, front and rear parking sonar, auto on/off feature for halogen projector-beam headlights, Entune Premium Audio with Integrated Navigation, App Suite and Toyota Safety Sense which adds Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Auto High Beams and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. While a $2100 upcharge might seem like a lot to most, when you actually witness what you get, I think it's a steal!
Overall the vehicle feels solid on the road, has a masculine look and has plenty of room. With the Hybrid drive I don't see why this SUV won't have just as good of a reliability rating as their Prius. I'm ancious to see what happens once this SUV becomes well know.
For anyone who's on the fence right now, I think you owe it to yourself to at least go out and take one for a drive.
9/2/2016 Update: Well, after almost 7000 miles only one thing has really changed. My mpg has gone up an is now averaging right around 37. No problems or repairs to report.
The best compact SUV available! The trim of my car is Toyota RAV4 2016 Limited Technology Pack. Exterior color - Electric Blue, interior color - Cinnamon.
Quite frankly, I won't even exchange it with BMW X3, which is way more expensive.
Although I own the car for less than two months, I drove it enough to get a good idea. I am just back from a 4500km / 2800ml trip from Toronto to Florida and back.
Here are my overall impressions:
1. Exterior and interior appearance are eye-catching and modern. Lots of people are complimenting and asking questions about the car.
2. The ride is very comfortable, cabin noise level is very low unless you are driving on a road with a coarse surface.
3. Mileage is awesome, I am getting 33.5 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on highway
4. Technologies are superb. 360 bird's view camera makes parking and reversal an easy task. Line-departure helps you to steer the car into the line. I used it on my Florida trip as I was really tired at some points and it was giving me timely alerts and even helped with steering on few occasions. You will also get alerts if you are approaching the car in front of you too quickly (the car even automatically stopped once - I guess I wasn't breaking hard enough so the system panicked a little bit). There are many more cool technologies available and all of them are useful at different degrees.
5. Illumination is awesome - you can see much clearer during night driving.
6. The car is powerful and has impressive acceleration.
7. Built quality appears to be great, will have a much better idea after few years of usage.
And here are few minor things that I don't like much:
1. JBL audio is not of a premium quality. An acceptable sound quality is only achieved when using high-quality source (FM or satellite radio doesn't sound good)
2. Some light-pinging sounds can be heard in the background when brake is applied (this is probably the same for all hybrids)
3. No wireless phone charging is available in any of the trims
4. Infotainment system is not up to modern standards (no folder play, etc)