After considering and test driving a lot of small SUV's including the Jeep Liberty, Chevy Equinox, Ford Escape, and Cadillac suv, I ran across the RAV4. I had always read good reviews but I hated the look of the tire on the back. The Sport model solves that with run flat tires and no spare tire. Pickup is good in the V6 and I like that it doesn't look like the "mommy crossovers". It's built on its own frame. Dashboard controls are easy to reach and black. After about 4 months I am getting 19 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. The paint on this car is amazing and durable. My only complaints are road noise is a little more than I would like and the gas tank is a little small.
I wasn't planning to get another car for another year or so, but when the postcard came in the mail, I went to check this vehicle out. Took the test drive and liked the ride. I was coming out of a Honda Fit, so driving this around felt like driving a beast, but I kinda liked it. The Fit was a nice little car with great gas milage, but I just wanted something a bit more capable. Also, the Fit was rather a slow vehicle for something so small. I'm happy to say The Rav4's base 4 cylinder actually is quicker than the Fit. The handling is good, not as good as the CRV I once drove, but still solid. The ride is smoother than either of the other vehicles. Still, the gas milage is pretty low.
I have owned my RAV4 for a week now. Left my comfy Tahoe LT and I am very happy with my purchase. Already took it on long road trip 1000 miles. The RAV4 was amazing!! Did not feel the bumps in the road. Very smooth. Easy to handle. Gas mileage was good. Visual clearance was excellent. No noticeable road noise. Lots of get up and go! The tailgate is NOT too heavy. I am a small person too! There is so much room back there. Also extra mini-trunk is a bonus. Driver's seat was a little hard after a few hours, but had pillow to help. Also steering wheel is like holding onto a metal bar, but also fixable! Back seat is very comfortable with lots of leg room. RAV4 is excellent!
Here's the thing with Toyota. It's ALWAYS been their thing. Unless you upgrade to "Limited" (or in the old days LE, etc) - you get the cheapest stuff around as far as fit and finish of the interior. Time was, under the hood all things were equal. Not anymore. Anyone who owns the BASE MODEL 4cyl 4WD MUST know how much of a lag there is if you need quick acceleration. This thing is THE slowest responding dog I've ever driven. Off the line, it's okay but if you need a passing gear, wow, it's bad. This is directly the result of Toyota keeping selling costs down but it completely sacrifices the performance not having at least a 5 speed transmission. I had a 2008 Corolla S before this which had better acceleration. Thankfully, if you switch the shifter to 'sport' it downshifts more rapidly. Traction control and safety features are great on this car. The standard headlights are pathetic. No fog lights standard either. I've upgraded to better lights and also have installed foggers. Makes a major difference. The wheels are simply painted steel which I was fine with until three years in, they are already rusting. Again - irritating. OEM tires (Kumho) were also pure junk. Finally, the stereo. Now, I didn't expect a massive sound system but again - always with Toyota - it's not a Limited so they install something you would have found in an American car from 15 years ago. Piece of absolute junk. There are component speakers in the front doors and ONE WAY speakers in the back. The sound in the rear is just terrible. I've upgraded the rears and it made a good improvement. A compass on the rearview mirror also would have been handy. Don't get me wrong, I DO like this SUV. Overall, I'm picky but those are the things for me that stick out. It rides smooth, it's ultra reliable, it's quiet, very good in poor driving conditions, love the swinging rear door, plenty of room, AC blows SO COLD, lots of storage. For those complaining of the cup holders, take the rubber insert out. Simple. Those were only there so one COULD use a can if you wanted to. Also, like that it came standard with electronic fuel economy readings. We have been driving Toyotas in my family since we owned a 1979 Supra. Amazingly reliable.
I just purchased, or leased, my Rav4, so I can only give my initial impressions. I had narrowed my search to Equinox, Outback, and Rav4 - they are similar in size, price, and features. My choice ended up being based on the deal; my Toyota dealership was willing to deal. My Rav4 is base model, with upgrades of moonroof, leather seats, tinted glass, 17" mags, mult-disc cd. My impression is that it performs well, and is the peppiest of the three (I only tested 4 cylinder models). The Chevy and Subaru have enough power, too, but they feel and sound like 4 bangers winding out the rpms. The Toyota felt like a 6, with no straining or revving out. I also think the Rav is by far the quietest o