2009 Toyota RAV4 Review

Pros & Cons

  • Superb power and fuel economy from optional V6, balanced ride and handling, roomy second-row seating, low cargo floor, solid build quality, high crash test scores.
  • Interior has a budget feel, side-hinged rear gate impedes curbside loading, driver seat a tight fit for tall drivers.
List Price Range
$6,299 - $11,216

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Spacious, comfortable and easy to drive, the 2009 Toyota RAV4 is a top pick for a crossover SUV, especially if you want a V6 or a usable kid-size third-row seat.

Vehicle overview

Like the Tin Man in "The Wizard of Oz," a body of metal is nothing without a heart. Thankfully, the 2009 Toyota RAV4 -- when fitted with the optional V6 -- has plenty of heart, thanks to 269 horsepower, potent acceleration and a modest appetite for fuel. In fact, this V6 gets about the same fuel economy as some four-cylinder-equipped competitors.

The RAV4's four-cylinder engine gets a power boost for 2009, to 179 hp, making it the class leader among rival fours. Fuel economy has increased slightly with this engine as well. A new grille and bumper design further modernize the latest RAV4. And with a cavernous 73 cubic feet of cargo space and room for five adults, the current RAV4 presents a nice balance of roomy functionality and ease of maneuverability. There's even a third-row seat available, though it's only roomy enough for children.

As much as we like the 2009 Toyota RAV4, there are still a few competing models you might want to check out. Family-bound driving enthusiasts might enjoy the more intimate connection to the road provided by the Mazda CX-7 or Mitsubishi Outlander. And unless you really need a third-row seat, the Honda CR-V is a more well-rounded and luxurious choice. Still, the RAV4 is hard to beat for families in search of a vehicle that offers plenty of space, power, features and value.

2009 Toyota RAV4 models

The 2009 Toyota RAV4 crossover SUV is available in three trim levels: base, Sport and Limited. Seating for five is standard. An optional third row on the base and Limited trim levels increases capacity to seven people.

Standard features for the base RAV4 include 16-inch steel wheels (17-inch alloys are optional), full power accessories, keyless entry, cruise control, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel and a six-speaker stereo with a CD/MP3 player and an auxiliary audio jack. The Sport adds 18-inch alloy wheels, rear tinted windows, 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, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and an in-dash six-CD changer with satellite radio (optional on the two lower trims).

Options include a Sport Appearance Package for the V6 4WD models that will get you run-flat tires, a different rear door without the mounted spare tire and an upgraded audio system with a six-CD changer and satellite radio. Optional on the Limited and Sport trims are a sunroof, leather seating, a power driver seat, a back-up camera and an upgraded nine-speaker stereo system with satellite radio and Bluetooth. Exclusive for the Limited trim are optional heated front seats and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system. The exact content and availability of Toyota's option packages can vary based on region.

2009 Highlights

A more powerful four-cylinder engine, a restyled grille and bumpers and the adoption of active headrests for the front seats mark the changes for the 2009 Toyota RAV4.

Performance & mpg

The 2009 RAV4 comes standard with a new 2.5-liter four-cylinder that delivers a healthy 179 hp and 172 pound-feet of torque. A four-speed automatic transmission is standard. 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. In performance testing, the RAV4 V6 4WD delivered a very quick 0-60 time of 7.2 seconds.

All RAV4s can be equipped with either front-wheel or four-wheel drive. Front-drive models have a limited-slip differential. In 4WD models, the electronic 4WD system sends most of the power to the front wheels until slippage is detected, at which point power is also sent to the rear wheels. Unlike many competing 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.

The EPA estimates a four-cylinder, front-drive RAV4 gets 22 mpg in the city/28 mpg on the highway and 24 mpg combined. The 4WD model has a 21/27/24 mpg rating. The V6 gets virtually the same fuel economy as four-cylinder crossovers, with 19 mpg city/27 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined ratings for the front-drive version. Four-wheel drive results in a loss of only 1 mpg on the highway.

Safety

Antilock disc brakes, stability control, traction control, active front headrests, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags are standard on every 2009 Toyota RAV4. Vehicles equipped with the V6 and/or the optional third-row seats 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 front passenger protection. It earned five stars for front- and rear-occupant protection in side impacts. Toyota's smallest SUV also performed well in Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests, earning the top rating of "Good" in both the frontal-offset and side-impact crash tests.

Driving

Although relatively capable off the beaten path, the 2009 Toyota RAV4 is meant for -- and succeeds -- at a life on pavement. Its taut suspension and quick electric steering (which can nevertheless feel a little vague) make daily errands much more enjoyable than they would be in most SUVs. The RAV4 is not as athletic as the Honda CR-V or Mazda CX-7, 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 most four-cylinder SUVs, the V6-equipped RAV4 manages to get almost the same fuel economy. The four-cylinder version, however, is a reasonable choice for most buyers, as it provides adequate power for day-to-day driving.

Interior

Inside the RAV4 is a clean design with large, simple controls and lots of storage space. The cabin isn't as plasticky as previous-generation RAV4 cabins were, but it still has a budget feel compared to competitors like the Honda CR-V, Hyundai Santa Fe and Nissan Rogue. Nevertheless, the Toyota offers a highly practical design. The rear seats recline and can slide forward or backward 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 you need to do is flip a lever. There is no need to remove headrests or fold up seat cushions to get a flat load floor that can hold a maximum of 73 cubic feet of cargo. The load floor is also quite low for this class, which minimizes the strain of loading a week's worth of groceries. However, the Toyota's side-hinged tailgate can be an inconvenience when you're parked on the street, as it opens toward the curb.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2009 Toyota RAV4.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Excellent value for money and dependable
Venkatesh Sridharan,08/29/2010
After a quite a bit of research and test driving five vehicles in this class, I choose to buy the fully loaded four cylinder RAV4 Ltd. After driving almost two years and 28,000 miles, I am glad that I bought this vehicle. RAV4 is smooth driving, very responsive, fuel efficient (28 mpg) and almost comfortable. Four cylinder engine is sufficient for highway driving and it feels powerful enough to pass other vehicles. I miss V6 only in cities at stop signal. I4 is bit sluggish in initial pickup. Exterior design is stylish and trendy. But, interior feels cheap. There is no hand-rest and seats are not comfortable for long distance drive. Road noise is annoying while driving on bridges.
Toyota Got It Right with the RAV-4!
Roy from Alaska,08/02/2010
I purchased my RAV-4 new in Anchorage. It is the basic model, 4WD, V6, with 3,500 lbs towing package and 17" wheels. I owned a 1988 Jeep Cherokee for 21 years and thought that nothing could be better in the ice and snow. Wrong! This baby is like a cat on a curtain in the snow. Awesome! And the heater will run you out of the rig at -20 degrees. Just drove it 2,500 miles down the Alcan and Cassiar Hwys from Alaska through the Yukon Territory and BC to Eastern Washington. Got 22 mpg pulling a 5X8 U-Haul! One pass was 4,000' and it never complained. Now I am in the desert and today it was 104 degrees and the AC keeps it comfortable. I get 30 mpg on trips. Love it! Best rig ever.
A very functional SUV!
rdiddy801,12/11/2012
I've had my RAV-4 for about four months now, and I'm quite happy with it. The ride is smooth and the suspension seems solid. I took it off road recently and it handled the terrain okay. I'm getting 25 MPG with a fairly even mix of city/highway driving. The interior is very functional--the back seats slide forward and back, and they split so you have more cargo options. I like the MP3 jack in the center armrest, and there's a little niche there that's perfect for an iPhone. My only complaints: the back window doesn't open (which would allow you to carry long lumber that could hang out the back, for example), and the rear hatch opens towards the curb.
Love my 2nd RAV4 even more
jduffy09,06/18/2013
Sport 4dr SUV 4WD (3.5L 6cyl 5A)
I had a 1999 RAV4 that was bulletproof. I recently upgraded to a 2009 Sport V6 w/appearance package. The power of this V6 is amazing and yet fuel economy is not compromised. On a recent 500 mile round-trip I got almost 28 mpg. The 2009 is much more refined and significantly roomier than my old 1999 model. Rear-seat room is significantly improved, as is cargo room, and it is great for families with children and pets. The only disappointment for me is the ride. You feel every little bump, but I think that is specific to the sport model. And hey, it's an SUV after all, not a Cadillac.

Features & Specs

MPG
22 city / 28 hwy
Seats 5
4-speed automatic
Gas
179 hp @ 6000 rpm
MPG
22 city / 28 hwy
Seats 5
4-speed automatic
Gas
179 hp @ 6000 rpm
MPG
19 city / 26 hwy
Seats 5
5-speed automatic
Gas
269 hp @ 6200 rpm
MPG
21 city / 27 hwy
Seats 5
4-speed automatic
Gas
179 hp @ 6000 rpm
See all Used 2009 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
    Good
  • Roof Strength Test
    Acceptable
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Good
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2009 Toyota RAV4

Used 2009 Toyota RAV4 Overview

The Used 2009 Toyota RAV4 is offered in the following submodels: RAV4 SUV. Available styles include Sport 4dr SUV (2.5L 4cyl 4A), 4dr SUV (2.5L 4cyl 4A), 4dr SUV 4WD (3.5L 6cyl 5A), 4dr SUV 4WD (2.5L 4cyl 4A), Sport 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 5A), Limited 4dr SUV 4WD (3.5L 6cyl 5A), Limited 4dr SUV (2.5L 4cyl 4A), Limited 4dr SUV 4WD (2.5L 4cyl 4A), Limited 4dr SUV (3.5L 6cyl 5A), Sport 4dr SUV 4WD (2.5L 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 2009 Toyota RAV4?

Price comparisons for Used 2009 Toyota RAV4 trim styles:

  • The Used 2009 Toyota RAV4 Base is priced between $6,299 and$11,216 with odometer readings between 69024 and141988 miles.
  • The Used 2009 Toyota RAV4 Limited is priced between $7,999 and$10,500 with odometer readings between 103349 and153134 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 2009 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) 2009 Toyota RAV4 for sale near. There are currently 7 used and CPO 2009 RAV4s listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $6,299 and mileage as low as 69024 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 2009 Toyota RAV4.

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Find a used Toyota RAV4 for sale - 10 great deals out of 13 listings starting at $12,939.

Find a used Toyota for sale - 7 great deals out of 17 listings starting at $20,149.

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Should I lease or buy a 2009 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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