2008 Toyota RAV4 Review

Pros & Cons

  • Superb power and fuel economy for optional V6, balanced ride and handling, roomy second row, low cargo floor, solid construction.
  • Interior has a budget feel, side-hinged rear gate impedes curbside loading, driver seat a tight fit for tall drivers.
List Price Range
$5,999 - $10,998

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Spacious, comfortable and easy to drive, the 2008 Toyota RAV4 is a top pick for a small SUV, especially if you want a V6 or a usable kid-size third-row seat.

Vehicle overview

An engine can make or break a car. That's rather obvious since without cylinders pumping under the hood, a car is nothing but an expensive lawn ornament. But in the case of the 2008 Toyota RAV4, its optional V6 engine catapults this otherwise competent compact- to medium-sized crossover SUV to the top of its class. Not only does the 269-horsepower six-cylinder provide excellent acceleration, it gets about the same fuel economy as four-cylinder-equipped competitors putting out 100 fewer horses -- including the four-cylinder RAV4. More power without more consumption is always a recipe for success.

The vehicle surrounding that engine is a model of user-friendly transportation. Though previous generations of the Toyota RAV4 were petite, the third-generation RAV has ballooned to offer a huge 73 cubic feet of cargo space (more than the midsize Ford Edge, for example) and ample space for five passengers. A third-row seat provides room for two children, or possibly small adults with a high threshold for cramped spaces. There are also plenty of family-friendly cubbies, cupholders (10, to be exact) and other features like an available rear-seat DVD entertainment system.

Even with its boffo V6, the 2008 Toyota RAV4 still isn't the most involving crossover to drive. As such, driving enthusiasts might prefer a Mazda CX-7 or Saturn Vue Red Line. Otherwise, the V6-powered RAV4 is hard to beat for families in search of a vehicle that offers plenty of space, features and value (both at buying time and at the pump). The four-cylinder RAV4 isn't quite as attractive. Unless you really need a third-row seat, the Honda CR-V is a more well-rounded, versatile and luxurious choice. And although they don't offer the same space and/or fuel economy, the Nissan Rogue, Mitsubishi Outlander, Saturn Vue and Hyundai Santa Fe are also worthy of a look.

2008 Toyota RAV4 models

The 2008 Toyota RAV4 is a crossover SUV that falls in between the compact and midsize categories in terms of size. There are three trim levels: base, Sport and Limited. There is standard seating for five; however, a third row is optional on the base and Limited trim levels and it increases capacity to seven people.

Standard features for the base RAV4 include 16-inch steel wheels (17-inch alloys are optional), rear tinted windows, full power accessories, keyless entry, cruise control, a tilt-telescoping steering wheel and a six-speaker stereo with CD/MP3 player and auxiliary audio jack. The Sport adds 18-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, foglights, heated side mirrors and several exterior details. The range-topping Limited trim includes 17-inch wheels for a smoother ride, dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and an in-dash six-CD changer (optional on the two lower trims).

Options available on the Limited trim include leather upholstery, heated front seats and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system. Optional on the Limited and Sport trims is a sunroof and upgraded nine-speaker stereo system with satellite radio capability and Bluetooth. Toyota packages these options together, but those packages' exact content and availability varies based on region.

2008 Highlights

The Toyota RAV4 carries over unchanged for 2008.

Performance & mpg

The 2008 RAV4 comes standard with 2.4-liter four-cylinder that delivers 166 hp and 165 pound-feet of torque. A four-speed automatic transmission is standard. Revised fuel economy figures for this engine with front-wheel drive are 21 mpg city and 27 mpg highway, while the four-wheel-drive model gets a 20/25 mpg rating.

Optional on all trim levels and coupled to a five-speed automatic transmission is a 3.5-liter V6 that produces an impressive 269 hp and 246 lb-ft of torque. This powertrain gets almost the same fuel economy as the much less powerful four-cylinder, with 19 mpg city and 27 mpg highway. Getting four-wheel drive results in a loss of only 1 mpg on the highway. In performance testing, the RAV4 V6 4WD delivered a very quick 0-60-mph time of 7.2 seconds.

All RAV4s can be equipped with either front- or four-wheel drive. Front-drive models have a limited-slip differential, while the electronic 4WD system sends most of the power to the front wheels until it identifies potential slippage. Unlike many competitor vehicles, the RAV4 offers a true 4WD lock feature that fixes the front/rear power split 50/50, which is useful for driving in snow and light off-roading.

Safety

Antilock disc brakes, stability control, traction control, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags are standard on every 2008 Toyota RAV4. Vehicles equipped with the V6 and/or the optional third-row seat also come with hill-start assist and downhill assist control. In crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the RAV4 earned a perfect five stars for driver protection in frontal impacts and four stars for the front passenger. It earned five stars for front- and rear-occupant protection in side impacts. Toyota's small SUV performed well in Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests as well, earning the top rating of "Good" in both the frontal-offset and side-impact crash tests.

Driving

Although plenty capable off the beaten path, the 2008 Toyota RAV4 is meant for and succeeds at a life on pavement. Its taut suspension and quick electric steering (that can nevertheless feel a little vague) make daily errands much more enjoyable than they would be in most SUVs. The RAV is not as athletic as the Mazda CX-7 or Honda CR-V, but in trade, the Toyota offers a smooth ride that's forgiving enough for commuters who drive on crumbling expressways. Road noise can be an issue at times, but wind noise is well controlled.

If we were to buy a RAV4, it would have to come with the optional V6. Despite having 100-plus more horses than the CR-V and four-cylinder RAV4, V6-equipped RAVs manage to get almost the same fuel economy. The four-cylinder is a reasonable choice for most buyers, as it provides adequate power for day-to-day driving, but when equipped with this engine, the RAV doesn't fare as well against its competitors that offer similar power, gas mileage and space.

Read our Toyota RAV4 Long-Term 20,000-Mile Test

Interior

Inside, the RAV4 has a clean design with large, simple controls and lots of storage space. The cabin isn't as plasticky as previous-generation RAV4s, but it still has a budget feel compared to competitors like the CR-V, Rogue and Santa Fe. Nevertheless, the Toyota offers a highly practical design. The rear seats recline, and can slide forward or rearward 6.5 inches to optimize passenger space or cargo capacity. Normal seating capacity is five, while the optional third-row seat bumps it to seven. Though this seat is meant only for children, it is at least reasonably sturdy and spacious.

To configure the RAV4 for cargo, all one has to do is flip a lever to instantly get a flat load floor -- no need to remove headrests or fold up seat cushions. With its flat load floor, the RAV4 can hold a maximum of 73 cubic feet of cargo. The load floor is also quite low for this class, and minimizes the strain of loading a week's worth of groceries. The Toyota's side-hinged tailgate can be an inconvenience when you're parked on the street, though, as it opens away from the curb.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2008 Toyota RAV4.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Toyota is Slipping
voicedude,05/17/2011
I bought this car for the engine, and it remains the best feature of the car. But I have had ongoing problems with the transmission, and many others have, too. This is only true with the 5-speed transmission on the V6 (not the 4-cyl.) The now infamous "whining transmission" noise that has been well documented on the owner's forums (search transmission noise on RAV4 World and others) is something you will want to consider when you're buying this vehicle used. Also the poor response from Toyota in fixing the problem under warranty has completely soured me on the ownership experience, so I wouldn't be able to recommend this car to anyone. Go with Honda.
Really Suprised !
Anton Tesla,11/24/2015
Limited 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 4A)
Having had the car for 3 months now, I'm definitely impressed with it overall. I bought it used with 11300 miles on the odometer and was amazed to get the previous owners Impressive maintenance records ! Regular scheduled service from day one with quality tires, synthetic oil and fluid changes and genuine Toyota replacement parts. It came with a complete 5 tire set of Firestone Destination m+s radials with less the 2500 miles on them ! The handling of this vehicle has been a real treat with the new car handling without the new car sized payment ! Both in town and on the highway, it rides and drives like it is on rails. I've taken it to our camp in Northern NH and was pleasantly surprised by the way it handled our sometimes sketchy access road with its ruts and mud holes. The 4wd pulled nicely and the suspension kept the rolling and pitching to acceptable levels. The 2.4 4 cyl motor is averaging 22 mpg and it has plenty of power to pull my small utility trailer with either the 4 wheeler or snowmobile on it. The roominess and storage capacity combined with the overall secure feeling the car has while driving it, has me really pleased with the purchase of this Rav4 ! 7 months later, Big surprise at our 1st state inspection ! Both rear coil springs had snapped and jumped up over the top retainer ?? The muffler also had a pin hole ! I called the dealer and asked about our 2 year warranty coverage that we had to purchase to close the sale ? He says those are wear and tear parts, not covered ? GRR ! After 4 " Garage Mechanic " quotes ranging from $1098.99 to $2900.00 for "Dealer only" parts and labor, I about Freaked !!! After a few Strong Toddies and a day or two to cool off, I decided to tackle it myself ! I spent two days surfing for parts and I scored new heavier springs from HD SPRINGS , an Firestone air bag kit and Walker SS muffler for $316.00 !! It took 12 hours for me to swap out old for new. I increased my towing capacity by 1000 LBS and my Rav4 really handles like a new car and tows with No Sag !! LOVIN IT !!
Possibly Perfect
fd3sired,07/05/2012
After testing other brands as well as the base and Sport model RAV4s, decided on the Limited. Much quieter, more comfortable ride (it's based on a car platform, not truck) and better interior materials than the base. The two extra hidden storage behind the rear seats are awesome as well as the three 12v outlets and iPod jack. Seats are super comfortable. The 4WD handles off-road duties superbly. Everything on this vehicle is laid out well with emphasis on order and functionality. Purchased rain guards, mud flaps, bug deflector, and better crossbars for my kayaks to make it perfect. I purchased this car used and it now has 48,000 miles. Every tank has been 24-26mpg with mixed driving.
My Favorite Rid
adam334,02/05/2012
I have owned a number of AWD/4WD cars, including a WRX, Outback Limited 2.5XT, the 2009 Rav4 Limited (which got totaled by tree) and now I got this one. This car easily tops the list. For a high sitting car, it handles very well with the 18inch rims and 235mm tires. It actually rides better the the Subaru WRX and feels commanding and not cheap. The torque steer of my limited is not there and feels very even. The car is very fast for its size, suprisingly faster than most cars off the line. Its really an understated car. JBL upgrades stereo is more than adaquate, and the black interior looks sweet.

Features & Specs

MPG
21 city / 27 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 2008 Toyota RAV4 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
    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
    Good

More about the 2008 Toyota RAV4

Used 2008 Toyota RAV4 Overview

The Used 2008 Toyota RAV4 is offered in the following submodels: RAV4 SUV. Available styles include 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 4A), Sport 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 4A), 4dr SUV 4WD (3.5L 6cyl 5A), 4dr SUV 4WD (2.4L 4cyl 4A), Limited 4dr SUV 4WD (3.5L 6cyl 5A), Sport 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 5A), Limited 4dr SUV 4WD (2.4L 4cyl 4A), Limited 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 5A), Limited 4dr SUV (2.4L 4cyl 4A), Sport 4dr SUV 4WD (2.4L 4cyl 4A), 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 5A), and Sport 4dr SUV 4WD (3.5L 6cyl 5A).

What's a good price on a Used 2008 Toyota RAV4?

Price comparisons for Used 2008 Toyota RAV4 trim styles:

  • The Used 2008 Toyota RAV4 Base is priced between $5,999 and$10,998 with odometer readings between 75432 and190097 miles.
  • The Used 2008 Toyota RAV4 Limited is priced between $6,400 and$9,787 with odometer readings between 111256 and189115 miles.
  • The Used 2008 Toyota RAV4 Sport is priced between $6,836 and$9,985 with odometer readings between 51064 and141996 miles.

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2008 Toyota RAV4s are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2008 Toyota RAV4 for sale near. There are currently 24 used and CPO 2008 RAV4s listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $5,999 and mileage as low as 51064 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2008 Toyota RAV4.

Can't find a used 2008 Toyota RAV4s you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Toyota RAV4 for sale - 8 great deals out of 15 listings starting at $23,847.

Find a used Toyota for sale - 4 great deals out of 12 listings starting at $14,943.

Find a used certified pre-owned Toyota RAV4 for sale - 6 great deals out of 13 listings starting at $7,332.

Find a used certified pre-owned Toyota for sale - 7 great deals out of 7 listings starting at $21,174.

Should I lease or buy a 2008 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.

Check out Toyota lease specials
Check out Toyota RAV4 lease specials