5 Speed manual. Recommended - if you find a good one. In my top 30 list out of about 300 vehicles I've driven (owned over 100 of them). Getting 26 mpg highway (60-65 mph), after switching to Amsoil synthetics in engine, tranny, and rear end. Recommend this for long life as well. Very safe - handles well (2 door not so much), ride is surprisingly plush and comfy, great visibility, likes to rev, will run all day 75. My wife and daughter really like it. Mine has 130,000 miles on it now and i think it'll make 250,000 if looked after. Manual tranny is weak link - watch out for grinding gears and 5th slipping out. Expensive repairs unless you're real handy.
Very good city vehicle. I bought the car used with 76,000 miles. I researched before I bought a used car, and the RAV4 came very well recommended. It has not let me down so far. AC works great, noise on the highway is minimal, and no one can complain about the gas mileage. Only complaints are a rear door that rattles a bit over bumps, and a drivers seat that I wish would go back one click further (I am 6'1).
I really enjoy driving my RAV4. I use it mostly for short trip driving in town, highway driving,and light off road driving. It handles great, and works well in all weather conditions. I use it for light off road driving, in pastures and meadows for hunting and fishing, and it performs fine. I have the front wheel drive model, and it still gets me around in the outdoors. The ECT Power button is pretty cool, faster acceleration for fun, and more power for towing light trailers, or making it up steeper hills. The reliability is great,and I like the way it looks. Acceleration in town is alright, on the highway it gets the job done, but it seems a little slow. All in all a great little SUV.
I have owned the car for 9 years and overall it has been very reliable. However, it has not been without problems. Cons: An emissions sensor had to be replaced at 70k (over $700 repair). The front struts had to be replaced at 75k ($1200 repair). The actuator rod for the driver door remote auto-lock mechanism failed at 80k (It's a $1000 repair). Finally transmission failed at 128k. Overhaul parts and labor put the repair at over $3400. A little underpowered and a little loud at highway speeds. Pros: Better than my Jeep Cherokee in the snow and rain. Comfortable driver position (I am 6'1"), good turning radius and great handling. Fun to drive.