Used 2006 Toyota RAV4 SUV

2006 Toyota RAV4
List price range
$5,995 - $9,998

Pros

  • Steers and handles like a car, thoughtful and roomy cabin design, exemplary build and materials quality, available third-row seating, refined and powerful engines.

Cons

  • Cramped seating for third-row passengers, more expensive than many competing compact SUVs.

Used 2006 Toyota RAV4 SUV for Sale

Toyota RAV4 2006 Sport 4dr SUV 4WD (3.5L 6cyl 5A)
131,557 miles
Used 2006
Toyota RAV4
Sport
List$7,924
Est.Loan: $162/mo
Fair Deal!
Fair Deal!
$218 Below Market
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Dealer Notes
SUNROOF WITH TOWING PREP PACKAGECLEAN CARFAX WITH NO ACCIDENTS. CARFAX One-Owner. 6 Speakers, Alloy wheels.2006 Barcelona Red Metallic Toyota RAV4 4D Sport Utility Sport 4WD 5-Speed Automatic Electronic with Overdrive 3.5L V6 DOHCOurisman Chantilly Toyota...Let us help make this the best car buying experience you have had!!! Call the Used Car Manager Ash Sharma at 703-378-2121 and remember our Ourisman Lifetime Edge!!! *Qualified vehicles come with Ourisman's Lifetime engine Guarantee!
Toyota RAV4 2006 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 4A)
89,131 miles
Used 2006
Toyota RAV4
Base
List$8,594
Est.Loan: $176/mo
Fair Deal!
Fair Deal!
$236 Below Market
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Dealer Notes
*** WE ARE *** 1ST CHOICE AUTO SALES *** OPEN 10:00AM TO 7:30PM, LOCATED IN FAIRFAX CITY (On Route 50, Between Town and Country Animal Hospital and The Cash Store) at 9772 LEE HWY.(aka. FAIRFAX BLVD/ROUTE 50) FAIRFAX VA, 22031. METRO/AIRPORT PICK-UP. *** VIEW MORE PICTURES AT *** www.1stchoiceautosales.co *** 703-273-9310 ***
Toyota RAV4 2006 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 4A)
104,865 miles
Used 2006
Toyota RAV4
Base
List$8,000
Est.Loan: $164/mo
Fair Deal!
Fair Deal!
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Dealer Notes
**RAV4 RELIABILITY** **DAYTIME RUNNING LIGHTS** **ROOF RAILS AND CROSS BARS** **NEW TIRES, NEW SHOCKS, NEW SUSPENSION COMPONENTS...WE HAVE A SERIOUS $$$ INVESTMENT IN THIS BEAUTY TO MAKE THIS CAR ALMOST LIKE NEW!!** Clean CARFAX. Nautical Blue Metallic 2006 Toyota RAV4 FWD 4-Speed Automatic 2.4L 4-Cylinder DOHC Taupe w/Cloth Blocks Seat Trim or Leather Camelot Seat Trim, 16 x 6.5J Steel Wheels, Brake assist, Electronic Stability Control. Recent Arrival! 30/24 Highway/City MPG. At Jim Coleman Toyota, we offer new Toyota cars in Bethesda, along with used cars, trucks and SUVs by top manufacturers. Our sales staff will help you find that new or used car you have been searching for. For years, our financial staff at Jim Coleman Toyota has offered expert advice for those seeking a great Toyota car loan or lease. Our service doesn't stop there. Bethesda customers can come in and take advantage of our knowledgeable car repair technicians and a fully-stocked inventory of Toyota car parts. You can reach Jim Coleman any time by filling out our contact form, by calling us or simply visiting our dealership.
Toyota RAV4 2006 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 4A)
142,616 miles
Used 2006
Toyota RAV4
Base
Ammoury Auto
18.8 mi away
List$5,995
Est.Loan: $123/mo
Fair Deal!
Fair Deal!
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Toyota RAV4 2006 Limited 4dr SUV 4WD (2.4L 4cyl 4A)
64,277 miles
Used 2006
Toyota RAV4
Limited
List$8,888
Est.Loan: $182/mo
View Details
Dealer Notes
ONE OWNER, RAV4 Limited, 4D Sport Utility, 2.4L 4-Cylinder DOHC, 4-Speed Automatic, 4WD, Barcelona Red Metallic, Ash w/Cloth Blocks Seat Trim or Leather Camelot Seat Trim. Barcelona Red Metallic 2006 Toyota RAV4 Limited 4WD 4-Speed Automatic 2.4L 4-Cylinder DOHC See more photos of this vehicle at www.MANASSASIMPORTS.com. Odometer is 60309 miles below market average! 28/23 Highway/City MPG We accept all trade in's no matter what the year or what the payoff is. Plus we can handle all your financing needs from first time buyer, to re-establishing credit and pre-approvals or instant approvals. We use all banks and most credit unions, so this will be you last stop to get your new VA certified used car here at Manassas Imports. We are not responsible for typographical errors, misprints on prices, or equipment. Call 703-368-5390 and ask for a Sales Manager to set your appointment today!
Toyota RAV4 2006 Limited 4dr SUV 4WD (2.4L 4cyl 4A)
167,662 miles
Used 2006
Toyota RAV4
Limited
Braddock Motors
27 mi away
List$7,990
Est.Loan: $163/mo
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Toyota RAV4 2006 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 4A)
71,000 miles
Used 2006
Toyota RAV4
Base
List$7,950
Est.Loan: $163/mo
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Toyota RAV4 2006 Limited 4dr SUV 4WD (2.4L 4cyl 4A)
70,212 miles
Used 2006
Toyota RAV4
Limited
List$9,520
Est.Loan: $195/mo
Fair Deal!
Fair Deal!
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Toyota RAV4 2006 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 4A)
111,701 miles
Used 2006
Toyota RAV4
Base
List$8,195
Est.Loan: $168/mo
Fair Deal!
Fair Deal!
$225 Below Market
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Dealer Notes
VEHICLE HAS PASSED SAFETY AND EMISSION INSPECTIONS, VEHICLE CHECKED AND SERVICED BY OUR ON SITE MECHANIC WITH A FRESH OIL CHANGE, EXTENDED WARRANTY AND EASY FINANCING AVAILABLE, CAR FAX REPORT AVAILABLE ON ALL VEHICLES! COME AND TAKE IT FOR A TEST DRIVE TODAY!!*****INTERNET PRICE IS BASED ON ONE TIME PAYMENT OF CASH CREDIT UNION AND OR BANKS CERTIFIED LOAN CHECKS AND EFT's. PRICES EXCLUDES TAXES TITLE LICENSE AND DEALER PROCESSING FEE. WOODBRIDGE AUTO SALES IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR TYPOGRAPHICAL ERRORS MISPRINTS ON EQUIPMENT.*****
Toyota RAV4 2006 Sport 4dr SUV 4WD (2.4L 4cyl 4A)
132,115 miles
Used 2006
Toyota RAV4
Sport
List$7,950
Est.Loan: $163/mo
Fair Deal!
Fair Deal!
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Toyota RAV4 2006 4dr SUV 4WD (2.4L 4cyl 4A)
163,846 miles
Used 2006
Toyota RAV4
Base
List$5,995
Est.Loan: $123/mo
Fair Deal!
Fair Deal!
$165 Below Market
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Toyota RAV4 2006 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 4A)
102,366 miles
Used 2006
Toyota RAV4
Base
List$7,500
Est.Loan: $153/mo
Fair Deal!
Fair Deal!
$206 Below Market
View Details
Dealer Notes
FWD 4-Speed Automatic 2.4L 4-Cylinder DOHC **ONE OWNER CARFAX**, ***3RD ROW SEATS***, Taupe Cloth, Third Row 50/50 Split Seat. Recent Arrival! Odometer is 19951 miles below market average! 30/24 Highway/City MPG
Toyota RAV4 2006 Sport 4dr SUV 4WD (2.4L 4cyl 4A)
108,892 miles
Used 2006
Toyota RAV4
Sport
List$8,795
Est.Loan: $180/mo
Fair Deal!
Fair Deal!
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Dealer Notes
Happy customers, Quality cars, Better prices, That is Hampstead Pre Owned. We eliminate all the anxiety and frustration of purchasing a used car by following the golden rule of treating others the way we would want to be treated. This company was founded on three simple principles: The first and and most important is that we never put profits before our customers. We have always and will always put our customers satisfaction before anything and everything else, no exception. Second, We put every car through a rigorous pre-sale check which far surpasses any state inspection required by law to absolutely ensure that you always get a safe and reliable vehicle , also every pre owned vehicle here comes with a complementary warranty, and our unprecedented 7 day exchange. Third, we use the most current pricing applications and programs to analyze each vehicle and compare them to the current market price to ensure you never over pay. Please take a moment to read our reviews and see what our customers have to say about us. We are a pre owned dealership with old fashioned values, building an amazing reputation one deal at a time.
Toyota RAV4 2006 4dr SUV 4WD (3.5L 6cyl 5A)
121,393 miles
Used 2006
Toyota RAV4
Base
List$9,998
Est.Loan: $204/mo
View Details
Toyota RAV4 2006 Sport 4dr SUV 4WD (3.5L 6cyl 5A)
193,676 miles
Used 2006
Toyota RAV4
Sport
(1)
AutoOne
94.4 mi away
List$6,000
Est.Loan: $123/mo
Great Deal!
Great Deal!
View Details
Dealer Notes
Priced below KBB Fair Purchase Price! *DEALER MAINTAINED*, Alloy Wheels, *NEW PA STATE INSPECTION and EMISSIONS*, Recent Oil Change, Vehicle Detailed, Passed Dealer Inspection. Black 2006 Toyota RAV4 Sport 4WD 5-Speed Automatic Electronic with Overdrive 3.5L V6 DOHC28/21 Highway/City MPGGreat financing too at Auto One -- our team will work hard to get you attractive financing to suit your budget and lifestyle. Auto One employs Market Based Pricing. Don't wait-- vehicles like this never last long: Call, stop in, or apply online today! *WE BUY CARS* & *WE WANT YOUR TRADE*
Toyota RAV4 2006 Sport 4dr SUV 4WD (2.4L 4cyl 4A)
98,375 miles
Used 2006
Toyota RAV4
Sport
Lancaster Hyundai
94.9 mi away
List$8,298
Est.Loan: $170/mo
View Details
Dealer Notes
Clean CARFAX. RAV4 Sport, *FULL SERVICE RECORDS*, *TWO SETS OF KEYS*, *Local Trade, Not a Prior Rental Vehicle!!*, *NEW OIL AND FILTER CHANGE*, *PROFESSIONALLY DETAILED INSIDE AND OUT*, RAV4 Sport, 4D Sport Utility, 2.4L 4-Cylinder DOHC, 4WD, Dark Charcoal w/Sport Cloth Blocks Seat Trim.Blue / Gray 2006 Toyota RAV4Sport4WD 4-Speed Automatic 2.4L 4-Cylinder DOHCCLICK TO LEARN MORE. Odometer is 18295 miles below market average! 28/23 Highway/City MPGPlease call us today; to schedule a test drive or get more information on the vehicle of your choice.
Toyota RAV4 2006 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 4A)
103,635 miles
Used 2006
Toyota RAV4
Base
(4)
Rosenthal Acura
16.9 mi away
ListNot Listed
View Details
Toyota RAV4 2006 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 4A)
60,071 miles
Used 2006
Toyota RAV4
Base
ListNot Listed
View Details

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Edmunds' Expert Review

With available V6 power under the hood, nimble handling on the street and a generous standard features list, the Toyota RAV4 is a top compact SUV choice for 2006.

vehicle overview

In the mid-1990s, the Toyota brain trust took a close look at the SUV market and determined that not everybody liked the idea of piloting a 3-ton land yacht in order to take advantage of the "U" in SUV. File drawers full of focus group questionnaires pointed toward a vehicle that combined the advantages of a sport-utility -- great visibility, sizable cargo capacity, all-weather capability -- with the manageable size and drivability of a car.

With that in mind, Toyota's designers looked past their bulky truck frames and gas-guzzling engines and came up with a car-based SUV that merged trucklike utility with carlike maneuverability. Introduced in 1996, the Toyota RAV4 (Recreational Active Vehicle -- four-wheel drive) combined sporty good looks, a convenient size and an economical engine into an attractive and affordable package. It was an instant hit, and as the first example of a car-based sport-utility, the RAV4 enjoyed phenomenal sales that brought with them an onslaught of new competitors hoping to cash in on the newfound niche. Vehicles like the CR-V and Grand Vitara soon hit the market sporting bigger engines and more refined interiors, promptly shuffling the aging RAV4 toward the bottom of the category it had single-handedly created. This led to the second-generation Toyota RAV4, introduced for 2001, which bolstered the RAV back into the top of its class. But time marches on, and the competition has continued to improve.

The 2006 RAV4 marks the third generation of Toyota's compact SUV. Only now it's not so little anymore, as nearly all dimensions have grown. The styling is less busy than before and the RAV4 has a more serious, chiseled look. There is a certain premium feel of the new cabin with fewer hard plastics. The rear seats are not only split and able to recline, they also slide back and forth 6.5 inches to allow either passenger space or cargo capacity to be optimized. A third-row seat is optional. Big changes lie under the hood, as well. In addition to a standard four-cylinder engine, a 269-horsepower V6 is optional. A redesigned suspension system delivers a fine balance between comfort and control. In sum, the 2006 Toyota RAV4 has finally stepped up from being a "cute 'ute" to a fully functional crossover SUV.

trim levels & features

The four-door Toyota RAV4 is a midsize crossover SUV offered in three trim levels: base, Sport and Limited. Standard features for the base trim include 16-inch wheels, air conditioning, cruise control, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescope steering wheel, a CD stereo with MP3 capability and power windows, mirrors and locks. Above this, the RAV4 Sport has 18-inch alloy wheels and wider tires, a sport-tuned suspension, color-keyed overfenders, and a roof rack. The top-line Limited includes 17-inch alloy wheels, a roof rack dual-zone automatic climate control, a power driver seat and upgraded audio with a six-disc CD changer. Many of these features are available as options on the base trim. Other options include a third-row seat, a moonroof (Sport and Limited only) and, for the Limited, leather seating and a DVD-based rear entertainment system.

performance & mpg

Both front-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive (4WD) versions of the RAV4 are available. The 4WD system automatically sends torque to the rear wheels when a loss of traction is detected. Standard power is provided by a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine that delivers 166 horsepower and 165 pound-feet of torque. A 3.5-liter V6, which boasts 269 hp and 246 lb-ft of torque, is optional. Automatic transmissions are standard -- the four-cylinder gets paired with a four-speed automatic, while the V6 gets a five-speed unit. When equipped with the optional towing package, the V6 RAV4 can tug 3,500 pounds.

safety

Four-wheel antilock disc brakes are standard, as is Toyota's VSC stability control system and traction control. RAV4s with 4WD or the optional third-row seat are equipped with Hill-start Assist Control and Downhill Assist Control. Side airbags for front occupants and full-length side curtain airbags are optional. The redesigned Toyota RAV4 has not yet been crash tested.

driving

Intended for a life on pavement, the 2006 Toyota RAV4 really shines in this environment. Its taut suspension and quick steering make daily commutes or errands much more enjoyable than what would otherwise be the case in a traditional SUV, and the RAV4's ride quality is still pretty comfy when driven over broken pavement. Most drivers will be perfectly satisfied with the standard 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine as it provides adequate power for day-to-day driving. The optional 269-hp V6, meanwhile, is full of swagger. So equipped, the RAV4 can embarrass quite a few modern sport coupes in terms of acceleration.

interior

As usual, all controls are simple and straightforward to use. The overall feel is upscale, with less hard plastic than previous RAVs, electroluminescent gauges like a Lexus' and an illuminated cupholder. The rear seats recline, and can slide forward or rearward 6.5 inches to allow either passenger space or cargo capacity to be optimized. Normal seating capacity is five; the optional third-row seat bumps it to seven, though this seat is truly meant only for children. To configure the RAV4 for cargo, all one has to do is flip a lever to instantly get a flat load floor. No removing headrests or flipping up seat cushions for the second-row seating is required. With its flat load floor, the RAV4 can hold a maximum of 73 cubic feet of cargo.

Top consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2006 Toyota RAV4.

Great, but has had its share of problems
aposak, 5/28/2013
My wife has had this car since we met. It's her daily driver, as well as our trip vehicle. Overall, it handles very well. The engine is powerful, much more so than my 2003 Nissan Altima (with the same size V6). It handles confidently, and the brakes are string. The few times we've used 4wd in the snow and offorad trails, it worked well. The interior quality is okay, with a few minor issues. The powertrain reliability, however, simply hasn't been there. Since I've been around the car, it rattles loudly on startup. The 4x4 lights randomly light up, indicating a problem, but non found. Recently, the VVT module exploded, causing extensive engine damage. Caveat emptor.
Safest Car I've Ever Seen
whisper292, 4/14/2013
Overall performance was great, but the car really pulled its weight during a recent accident. My 17-year-old flipped the car three times going about 70 mph and landed on the driver's side in a ditch. The car was totaled, but thanks to seatbelts and side airbags, she walked away with barely a scratch. I would recommend this car to anyone.
Money Pit
Lydia, 2/12/2016
I didn't know until after I had already purchased the car that they were bad coils in the 2006. The coils blow on a regular basis. It is very expensive to repair, and the dealerships don't help you. I even contacted Toyota and they said it was my own problem not theirs.
120K miles and still purring like a kitten
cinderella123, 10/16/2012
I'm the 3rd owner of my '06 4cyl 4WD, base model RAV, which had a 110K miles on her when purchased from a private seller. She was well cared for by her previous owners, with the replacement of the rear window wiper motor as the biggest issue. Since owning her, I've maintained her well and she purrs like a kitten & runs like a race horse. I've read a lot of negatives reviews here, but neither I nor the previous owners (judging from car reports and Toyota service records) have encountered any of it. I couldn't be happier with the continued solid & reliable performance of my Made in Japan RAV4, and look forward to years with her. It's all in the personal care and maintenance you give them.
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Features & Specs

MPG
20 city / 25 hwy
Seats 5
4-speed automatic
Gas
166 hp @ 6000 rpm
MPG
21 city / 27 hwy
Seats 5
4-speed automatic
Gas
166 hp @ 6000 rpm
MPG
19 city / 26 hwy
Seats 5
5-speed automatic
Gas
269 hp @ 6200 rpm
MPG
20 city / 25 hwy
Seats 5
4-speed automatic
Gas
166 hp @ 6000 rpm
See all Used 2006 Toyota RAV4 SUV features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Good
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Marginal
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2006 Toyota RAV4
More About This Model

Ten years ago, before the flood of current compact SUVs washed over the market, Toyota's RAV4 offered the Gen X and Gen Y folks an SUV that suited their supposedly active lifestyles.

Something that could handle foul-weather driving as well as a trip to the slopes or mountain bike trailhead. Something that had relatively small dimensions for an SUV, making it easy to park in the city. Something that had a frugal four-cylinder engine that promised 20-somethings 20-something miles to the gallon. Something journalists dubbed the "cute ute."

Well, this is America, the Land of Supersizing, so it was inevitable that the RAV4 would get bigger. And that's exactly what happened with the 2006 Toyota RAV4. Although this new RAV also debuts in Europe this year, they'll be getting the shorter-wheelbase version shown at the 2005 Frankfurt International Motor Show. The difference in length is most noticeable by looking at the rearmost side windows. North America gets a third-seat option, Europe does not.

Would this upsizing kill the lovable, agile demeanor of the RAV4? Or would it take Toyota's entry-level SUV to new heights? We couldn't wait to find out so we got hold of a preproduction unit, a V6 Limited that was loaded to the roof rack with options.

Grow up already
At 181.1 inches in length, the 2006 RAV4 is over a foot longer (14.5 inches) than the outgoing model. It is also arguably more handsome than its forebear. The grille sports Toyota's signature trapezoidal shape, the oversized rub strip on the side is gone, and the greenhouse has a more elegant appearance with its reverse-canted D-pillar. Width is up 3.2 inches, adding to the more aggressive stance.

Compared to its chief competitors, the new RAV4 is about the same length as a Honda CR-V (181.3 inches), about 11 inches longer than the Hyundai Tucson and about 8 inches shorter than the midsize Chevrolet Equinox. A lower coefficient of drag (0.33 versus 0.35 previously) promises a quieter ride and better fuel-efficiency at higher cruising speeds.

Three trim levels will be available: base, Sport and Limited. Base versions are anything but strippers as the following features are all standard: air conditioning, cruise control, tire-pressure monitor, power windows, power locks, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, keyless entry, an AM/FM/CD system with auxiliary input jack, 215/70/16 tires (V6 versions get 225/65/17s), a six-way (manual) driver seat and a split/reclining/sliding second-row seat.

Step up to the Sport and added to the mix are a sport-tuned suspension, alloy wheels wearing 235/55/18 performance tires, foglights, rear privacy glass, spare-tire cover, and color-keyed mirrors, door handles and fender flairs.

Limited models feature dual-zone climate controls, heated/power mirrors, a six-disc CD changer and steering wheel controls for the audio system, anti-theft system, chrome grille, color-keyed bumpers, door handles and rear spoiler, power driver seat, alloy wheels with 225/65/17 tires, rear cargo net and leather wrapping for the steering wheel and shift knob.

The Safety dance
A comprehensive active safety package is standard on all RAV4s and as such, all the high-tech acronyms apply here. Antilock brakes, BrakeAssist, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, traction control and Vehicle Stability Control provide peace of mind as well as the ability to save your butt while dealing with the daily risks of urban and suburban driving. Side-impact and side curtain airbags are optional.

Come on in and get comfortable
Compared to the '05 RAV4, the '06's difference in interior space is immediately noticeable. Toyota claims a 21-percent roomier cabin, and that seems no exaggeration. With the wheelbase stretched 6.7 inches, space for second-row passengers is plentiful — at 38.3 inches, rear legroom is 2 inches greater than a Ford Escape's and an inch less than the Honda CR-V's. And that second-row seat slides fore and aft to cater to passenger and cargo needs — it's not an original idea (Chevy has it in the Malibu Maxx and Equinox) — but a great one nonetheless.

Along with the upsizing came the availability of upscale features. Our Limited even had a DVD entertainment system in addition to the leather seating and moonroof. A third seat is optional, and though our test RAV4 didn't have it, we tried it out while at a press event. It should be fine for the kiddies, but adults bigger than 5 feet tall are going to feel cramped back there.

Simulated brushed-metallic trim adorns the dash, console and door panels, furthering the uptown image, as do the Optitron gauges and illuminated cupholders up front.

Most staffers found the seats supportive and comfortable over long drives, although our tallest staffer (at 6-foot-4), Richard Homan, just didn't fit no matter how much he fiddled with the eight-way power seat. The telescopic feature on the steering wheel was appreciated and rare in this class. The quietude of the cabin impressed everyone, as did the ease with which the second row folded (just flip a lever on the seat side and the seatback flops down, without requiring removal of the headrest in most cases).

Not just bigger, but faster, too
For the first time, a V6 engine is available in the RAV4. And this ain't no puny 2.5- to 3.0-liter V6. Borrowing a page from the Saturn Vue playbook, Toyota stuffed a burly 3.5-liter V6 (shared with the company's flagship sedan, the Avalon) into the RAV's engine bay.

With a forceful 269 horsepower (at 6,200 rpm) and 246 pound-feet of torque (at 4,700 rpm) on tap, this engine gives the RAV4 a decidedly aggressive personality. Coupled to a five-speed automatic and running through an electronic, "on-demand" four-wheel-drive system, our RAV4 scurried to 60 in just 7.1 seconds and was still going strong as it flashed through the quarter-mile in 15.2 seconds at 91.2 mph. This means it will lay waste to your snobbish friend's X3 3.0 by about a second in each category.

On the street, the RAV4 just moves out quickly whenever you toe into the throttle. The automatic tranny is never caught sleeping — no need to slam your foot to the carpet to coax a downshift. Gear changes are swift and smooth and our average gas mileage, at 19.3 mpg, is commendable given our leadfoot tendencies. Those with more self control should get closer to Toyota's estimates of 20 city and 27 highway. Two-wheel-drive V6 RAVs are rated 1 mpg higher on the highway.

The base RAV4 powertrain consists of a 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 166 hp (up 5 over last year) and 165 lb-ft of torque running through a four-speed automatic gearbox. As with the V6, no manual transmission is available. Mileage estimates are 24/31 (2WD) and 23/29 (4WD).

Disc brakes are standard all around, and aided by the best technology available to provide swift and short stopping distances. We scored a best of 120 feet from 60 mph, a performance just 2 feet shy of the highly regarded BMW X3's. Solid and progressive, the pedal feel provided confidence in all driving scenarios.

The available four-wheel-drive system operates in front-drive mode for optimum fuel-efficiency until a situation (such as quick acceleration from a stop or while driving on slippery roads) demands four-wheel drive, at which point up to 45 percent of the torque is transferred to the rear wheels. A "4WD Lock" switch allows one to manually select that maximum torque output to the rear wheels.

The V6 models come standard with Hill-start Assist Control (which prevents rolling back when on a hill) and Downhill Assist Control (which automatically keeps speed down without the driver having to brake while moving down a steep hill).

For those who tow and want to know, the four-banger can pull up to 1,500 pounds while a V6 model can tow up to 3,500 pounds.

No longer tiny, but still a dancer
With independent suspension at all four corners, the RAV4 incorporates McPherson struts up front along with a double-wishbone setup out back. With tuning set nicely between plush and firm, our Limited delivered a comfy ride over broken-up pavement while remaining responsive and secure on winding two-lanes. Surprisingly, the electric power steering feels well weighted and natural (take note, GM) with no slack at all on-center.

With a performance of 61.3 mph through our slalom course, the RAV4 felt confident and well planted. Toyota's overenthusiastic Vehicle Stability Control slapped our wrists and intervened while we were still playing with the RAV's good clean handling fun — we have a recent history of taking issue with Toyota/Lexus traction and stability systems. Overall, we're happy to say that the RAV4 retains its sporty dynamic even though it's grown considerably larger this year, a helluva feat for the chassis engineers.

This is how we do it
Not only has the 2006 RAV4 moved up in terms of size, it's also managed to broaden its appeal without losing any of its previous spunky and affable personality. Once again, Toyota has shown the automotive world how to build on a model's strengths while still making improvements where needed.

Stereo Evaluation

System Score: 7.0

Components: Our RAV 4 came equipped with an optional stereo. The upgraded system is a JBL premium sound system with a total of eight speakers plus a subwoofer. Our test car was a Limited and with or without the JBL stereo it includes an in-dash six-disc CD changer, MP3 and WMA capability, mini-jack input for portable music players like an iPod and steering wheel-mounted audio controls.

Performance: It's hard to tell the standard Toyota stereo from the upgraded version just by looking at the head unit. The only visual cue your passengers will get that you opted for a nice sound system is the JBL logo on the speakers.

The display and controls are all Toyota, which is to say they are practical and functional. The head unit is mounted high and the buttons are large and easy to use with just a glance. Even so, the steering wheel-mounted controls are the likely route for most drivers. Those buttons are simple and straightforward and clustered together on the left side of the wheel. Like the rest of the car's controls, the audio controls are very intuitive to use.

The sound quality of this optional system is clearly better than the stock system but overall it is only a little above average. Even with the optional system's subwoofer, the bass is just OK. It's prominent enough but lacks true kick and can tend to be muddy when the volume is turned up. We found the best sounding profile was to have the bass and treble boosted almost all the way up with the mids at about +1. But hey, that means this stereo has a midrange adjustment and we like that.

The highs are never overwhelming but even with the treble bumped up to +3 or so, much of what we listened to lacked detail. The system overall sounds very good but there is a softness to the sound that can take away from some harder-edged music. Stereos like Pioneer from the Scion line and Nissan's newest Rockford Fosgate offer a more aggressive sound when you want it.

Best Feature: Intuitive head unit and controls.

Worst Feature: Lack of bass punch.

Conclusion: Like the RAV4 itself, the optional JBL stereo is a step up but ultimately lacks a "wow" factor. While the sound quality lacks edge, the system overall is easy to use and seamlessly blends itself into the driving experience. — Brian Moody

Second Opinions

Editor in Chief Karl Brauer says:
I was never a fan of the previous RAV4s. Between their bizarre styling and too-small-to-be-truly-utilitarian dimensions they always struck me as "cute utes" that were neither cute nor utilitarian. The last generation did handle quite well, and it possessed typical Toyota quality in design and execution, so for someone who needed an economy sedan — but wanted to be seen driving a "lifestyle" vehicle — I guess it worked.

The new model has addressed both of my previous issues. It looks cool, both inside and out (think BMW X3), and its larger size means it has real utility potential (though the third-row option is more symbolic than authentic...). But where this car really shines is under the hood. Toyota's new 3.5-liter V6 is a sweetheart of an engine, with exceptional horsepower and torque. The first time I punched the throttle I found myself shouting expletives — in a good way. Is there such a thing as too much horsepower? Of course not! But the fact that question crossed my mind while driving the RAV4 is a good indication that Toyota has transformed its smallest SUV into a serious player.

Executive Editor Richard Homan says:
Toyota has come a long, long way with the RAV4 since its original iteration two generations and 10 years ago. The original version was gag-a-maggot ugly to my Gen-XY (male) eyes, especially in its two-door form. It drove OK, but no better. Toyota found its footing with the second-generation RAV4, giving it almost mini-BMW X5 lines and respectable road manners.

Now the 2006 RAV4 comes along and the news is almost all good. The shape has a legitimate cool-factor to it, especially in the Metallic Red that our test RAV wore — Frank Lloyd Wright would have been proud. And the 269-hp V6 deserves a standing ovation all its own. That much horsepower in this class of ute is a godsend for righteous passing maneuvers.

Did that man say "almost" all good news? Yeah, he did. At 6-foot-4, this editor doesn't fit in the RAV4 so good. The torso is no problem — headroom abounds — it's the legs that have no place to go. If you're not a genetic freak (or "normal" as I like to think of myself), you may still feel like you're propped-up on, rather than sitting in, the driver seat, and you may get that low-steering-wheel bus-driver feeling. But at least you'll fit. Also, the spare-tire carrier blocks the view out the rear window pretty effectively.

But if you fit the new RAV4 and the price fits you, it's an easy decision to make.

Used 2006 Toyota RAV4 SUV Overview

The Used 2006 Toyota RAV4 SUV is offered in the following styles: 4dr SUV 4WD (2.4L 4cyl 4A), 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 4A), Limited 4dr SUV 4WD (3.5L 6cyl 5A), Limited 4dr SUV 4WD (2.4L 4cyl 4A), Sport 4dr SUV 4WD (2.4L 4cyl 4A), Sport 4dr SUV 4WD (3.5L 6cyl 5A), Sport 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 4A), 4dr SUV 4WD (3.5L 6cyl 5A), Sport 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 5A), 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 5A), Limited 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 5A), and Limited 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 4A).

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