I was looking for a small SUV/crossover type vehicle to replace my older real estate vehicle. After retiring from real estate I didn't need a large SUV, so I wanted something smaller. I found a nice looking 2003 Toyota Rav4 that seemed to fit my bill. It ran good, the interior was nice and it seemed like it would do me well. I should have read some of the one star reviews. If I had, I would have seen that this vehicle had a bad engine in it and that Toyota doesn't seem to care. The engine has a design defect that caused the head bolts in the back of the engine to pull up and strip the threads in the engine block. Fixing the problem means replacing the engine at a cost of at least $3000. I live on a fixed income now and I don't have that kind of money laying around. I can't drive the car any more than 100 miles without stopping, letting it cool down and putting some water in it. So basically, I'm stuck near home. I wouldn't dream of taking this car on the road. The problem with replacing the engine is that the shop will just put a used engine in the car. Not a rebuilt one. Just a used one. Which will most likely have the same problem this one has. This is the second time I've owned a Toyota and the second time I've gotten a dodgy engine. This will be the last time I have to deal with Toyota and their engines, because I will not buy another. I'll get a Honda CRV or Nissan Rouge. No more Toyotas.
We owned this car for 12 years and it was as trouble-free as a vehicle could be. Basically, you never had to worry about something going wrong. Driver vision was excellent and seating was comfortable. We took it on four around-the-country trips and never had a problem other than a flat tire.
Bought my Rav4L new 12 plus yrs.ago. Most dependable vehicle I have ever owned. Drove it for over 800 miles a wk for work. Starts in sub-zero weather, when our expensive vehicles would not. Maintenace cost almost nothing. Usual stuff....tires,got 109,000 out of one set, battery, brakes, wiper blades etc. this vehicle has saved me a fortune !!! I'm retired and now my trusted vehicle is used for leisure, golf trips, ballgames etc. If I covered the odometer, you would think the vehicle has less than 50 K. Going to buy my wife a 2016 Rav, safe, dependable, fun to drive. Finally sold my 2003 Rav, to first person who looked at it. Still ran great, and yes I bought my wife a new Rav, which has been problem free....awesome vehicle we both love to drive.
I bought this Rav4, AWD about 10 months ago. It is great to drive, ride and handling are good for it's size, power could use lot of help, and the economy has yet to break 25 MPG-it has dropped since we bought it, it is now down to 19 to 21 MPG. I removed the PCM and sent it to a repair facility to get the transmission problem corrected before it actually failed. The man who is repairing is said that the poor economy could be part of the PCM failing, even thought the transmission area had not failed yet. The outcome of this repair will be the deciding factor whether I keep this car or not.
Radio is C/D & Cassette and easy to use, I like the AWD, good brakes and handling, good ground clearance & sets high enough to make ingress and egress easy. I like the sideways opening rear cargo door. I like that it has a higher profile tire which makes for a better ride and less chance of damage to a wheel if it hits something on the road.
A/C and heat are very good.
Needs more power & economy. I had a 2000 Buick Century with a 3100 V6 which weighed more and had 2 to 3 times the acceleration of the Rav4, but got 20 to 25 MPG in identical driving.
The steering wheel is too far forward if you drive with the seat all the way back.
The dome light is located such that if it is turned on, the driver cannot see anything to the right of the center of the windshield--needs a double light that is directional and can be used for either passenger or driver without both being on. Needs a glove-box & console box light.