1999 Toyota RAV4 Review

Pros & Cons

  • Unique styling, pleasant on-road manners, and a long option list for personalizing your RAV4.
  • Anemic power reduces its otherwise capable off-road/people hauling ability.
List Price Estimate
$1,076 - $2,252

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Vehicle overview

The mini-SUV business continues to grow with more manufacturers jumping into the fray every year. Largely comprised of car-based AWD vehicles, this new market will gain even more entrants soon as Ford, Land Rover, and Mercedes introduce small trucklets to the US. One of the early players in the game was Toyota, which recognized this potential boom early on and jumped into the action in 1996 with the RAV4.

A 2.0-liter, 120-horsepower engine hooked to either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission powers the front or all four wheels of the different RAV4 models. All-wheel drive models use powertrain components from the now-defunct Celica All-Trac. Four-wheel antilock brakes are optional on all RAV4s. Minimum ground clearance is 7.5 inches on the four-door models; two-door RAV4s get .2 additional inches of clearance.

The RAV4 is an adequate around town driver, handling more like the car from which its platform is derived than a traditional SUV. Power is on the low side, however; the 120-horsepower engine works hard to drag this mini-ute up even small hills. The interior is not a bad place to spend time, offering fairly comfortable seating for four adults in the four-door models. The cargo area of the four-door is larger than one would expect, too, offering more room behind the rear seat than a Ford Crown Victoria. Two-door models are fine for singles or couples without children. The rear seat is tiny, and less than 10 cubic feet of cargo volume is available with the back seat up. On the plus side, Toyota does offer the RAV4 in convertible form while Honda's CR-V only comes with a hardtop.

We are fond of the RAV4, but there are a number of choices in this growing segment and we can't help but think that the more refined and powerful Honda CR-V might offer shoppers more of what they are looking for in a small truck: power, utility, and value.

1999 Highlights

Leather seats and color-keyed body cladding are now available as part of the "L Special Edition" package. Color-keyed mirrors and door handles can also be had this year and the spare tire is now a full-size steel wheel with a soft cover.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1999 Toyota RAV4.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Keeps on going after 320K miles
Back in 1999, my dad drove his RAV4L off the lot with 50 miles on the odometer. Today it has 320,000 miles. He still drives it everyday to work with no trouble. Throughout the years I've borrowed it to tow a log splitter and 20' foot sail boat. I've been in some crazy snow storms with the RAV and it did great. Took it over 100mph a couple times. Put kayaks on the roof rack. It still has the original exhaust system, starter, alternator, battery. Oil changed every 3k. A/C still works. Not a spot of rust. Just regular stuff like brakes, shocks, tires, and timing belt every 100k. I'm considering getting my own as a winter vehicle...just figured I'd share how great the Rav has been for my dad.
Rav4 303,000 miles
Cat L.,08/08/2009
I love my Rav4. I have to say I prayed over the car too and that helped. My Rav4 has 303,000 miles on it. I had it checked recently at Superior Toyota in Birmingham. I wanted it checked out and felt like apologizing for my mileage. The owner of the company said "It's a Toyota; that's what they do." It means so much to drive a car for years after paying it off. Besides regular things like brakes, tires, and oil, that you'd have to do for any car, I've only had one thing fixed;that was a timing belt, after it had 268,000 miles on it. I will definitely buy another Toyota Rav4 one day. My finance teacher said to keep a car until you no longer trust it. I still trust it.
260,000 miles, veryy reliable
reliable car, good looking on the outside, especially with ski racks black on black paint. 260,000 miles on it and still running on, steering is not that great but hey its a toyota, no a bmw sedan.
My Beloved RAV4
I owned this car for 3 years till someone rear-ended me and totaled it. Let me elaborate: I got hit by someone going 45-50mph, the back end of the car was completely smashed in, and I ended up hitting the car in front of me as well, bending the hood/fender a little bit. Despite this, I walked away with a little bump on my head. If that isn't a testimony to this car's safety, I don't know what is. I loved this car. It wasn't fancy, and I bought it used from a private party so there were some quirks to deal with: back door handle jammed sometimes, passenger side power window didn't always go up, and after a while the cruise control became finicky. But other than that, it's a solid and reliable car with an engine that will run forever. You can load this car up, too...we put bikes on top, camping gear in the back, and still had room for 4 people comfortably. Acceleration is a little slow but what can you expect out of an SUV with 4cyl. I bought it with 196k miles on it, and in 3 years put over 60k on it and only had minor repairs. (Other than replace the timing belt, which was overdue when we bought it.) The only major annoyance was the brakes, they worked great but screeched and squealed in colder weather. Only when the car was cold, after it warmed up they were fine. I took it to my mechanic and he said it was because of the back drums getting full of dirt and debris; they vacuumed it out but to no avail. But other than that, I really enjoyed my RAV4.

Features & Specs

20 city / 24 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
127 hp @ 5400 rpm
21 city / 27 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
127 hp @ 5400 rpm
21 city / 27 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
127 hp @ 5400 rpm
19 city / 23 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
127 hp @ 5400 rpm
See all Used 1999 Toyota RAV4 features & specs


IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 1999 Toyota RAV4

Used 1999 Toyota RAV4 Overview

The Used 1999 Toyota RAV4 is offered in the following submodels: RAV4 SUV. Available styles include 2dr SUV AWD w/Soft Top, 2dr SUV w/Soft Top, 4dr SUV, 4dr SUV AWD, and Special Edition 4dr SUV AWD.

What's a good price on a Used 1999 Toyota RAV4?

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Which used 1999 Toyota RAV4s are available in my area?

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Find a used Toyota RAV4 for sale - 1 great deals out of 20 listings starting at $11,235.

Find a used Toyota for sale - 3 great deals out of 16 listings starting at $11,631.

Find a used certified pre-owned Toyota RAV4 for sale - 4 great deals out of 7 listings starting at $17,631.

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Should I lease or buy a 1999 Toyota RAV4?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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Check out Toyota RAV4 lease specials