2016 Toyota RAV4 Review

Pros & Cons

  • Roomy interior for people and cargo
  • strikes a good balance between ride comfort and secure handling
  • well-sorted tech interface.
  • No engine upgrade option
  • trails class leaders in fuel economy and driving dynamics.
List Price Range
$12,500 - $25,900

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Although the 2016 Toyota RAV4 isn't a standout in any one area, its combination of features, passenger space and everyday utility warrant a closer look if you're shopping for a small crossover.

Vehicle overview

As any sports fan will attest, sometimes you can have a well-rounded team, play at a competitive level, pack the stands and still fail to find glory. Well, we hereby present that as a metaphor for the 2016 Toyota RAV4. It's spacious, versatile, decent to drive, comfortable and well-equipped, and it also enjoys one of the best reliability reputations in its segment. Trouble is, there are competitors that match or beat it in those areas while going a few steps further in others.

To its credit, Toyota has tinkered with the RAV4 this year in hopes of improving its appeal. The exterior styling has been subtly massaged, especially up front, where there's a more streamlined look that modernizes this crossover's mien. The 2016 RAV4 also adds an SE trim to its portfolio. The SE, following in the footsteps of Toyota's popular Camry and Sienna SE trims, boasts sporty styling flourishes and a suspension tuned for better handling.

What thankfully carries over is the RAV4's impressive cabin space. The cargo area is large, boxy and its load floor is low, making it one of the most versatile compact crossovers available. Need to carry the box for a Little Tikes playhouse or lug around a vivacious Weimaraner? The RAV4 is well suited to the task. It also offers one of the most accommodating cabins for passengers. It's this spacious interior, along with the RAV4's history of dependability, that constitutes this compact crossover's primary appeal.

Yet, the RAV4 isn't the only model with a polished resumé. The Honda CR-V is just as spacious and dependable, but it can also claim superior fuel economy and an even more versatile cabin. To a lesser extent, the same can be said of the rugged Subaru Forester, which also boasts best-in-class acceleration with its optional turbocharged engine. Then there's the Mazda CX-5, which isn't quite as utilitarian but offers a more dynamic, carlike driving experience. The 2016 RAV4 is a well-rounded, solid competitor that's popular for good reason, but a few of the other members of this league may stand a better chance of winning you over.

2016 Toyota RAV4 models

The 2016 Toyota RAV4 is a five-passenger compact SUV available in LE, XLE, SE and Limited trim levels. There is also a RAV4 Hybrid reviewed separately.

The LE comes standard with 17-inch steel wheels, an integrated driver blind-spot mirror, rear privacy glass, roof rails, air-conditioning, a rearview camera, cruise control, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a 60/40-split folding and reclining rear seat, a 6.1-inch touchscreen interface (Entune), Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack, a USB port and a media player interface.

Optional for the LE is the Entune Audio Plus package, which adds satellite and HD radios, traffic and weather information, Siri Eyes Free for iPhones and the Scout GPS Link navigation smartphone integration app.

The XLE includes the Entune Audio Plus package plus 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, heated mirrors, a sunroof, a height-adjustable power liftgate, dual-zone automatic climate control, more aggressively bolstered front seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

This year's new SE adds to the standard XLE equipment a sport-tuned suspension; different exterior styling; 18-inch wheels; LED exterior lighting (automatic headlights, running lights and taillights); keyless ignition and entry; heated front seats; an eight-way power driver seat (with power lumbar); driver memory settings; synthetic leather (SofTex) upholstery; steering wheel paddle shifters; a blind-spot warning system; and rear cross-traffic alert.

The Limited shares the XLE's suspension and styling, but includes the SE's other equipment along with chrome-clad 18-inch wheels and exterior trim, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, the Toyota Safety Sense package (see Safety section), adaptive cruise control, a 7-inch higher-resolution touchscreen, a navigation system and smartphone app integration.

Optional for the XLE and SE is the Entune Premium Audio package, which adds the bigger touchscreen, nav system and smartphone app integration. The XLE's Convenience package bundles those features with keyless ignition and entry, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors and the Safety Sense package.

The SE and Limited can also be equipped with an 11-speaker JBL sound system as well as the Advanced Technology package that includes that system plus a 360-degree top-down parking camera system, front and rear parking sensors and, on the SE, adaptive cruise control and the Toyota Safety Sense package.

2016 Highlights

The Toyota RAV4 gets updated styling for 2016, including a sleeker front fascia. There's also a new SE trim that boasts sharper handling, LED headlights and additional distinctive styling elements inside and out. A new Toyota Safety Sense package available on the SE and Limited includes a variety of high-tech accident avoidance technologies. Finally, a new RAV4 Hybrid also debuts.

Performance & mpg

The 2016 Toyota RAV4 is motivated by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that produces 176 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive are standard, and all-wheel drive is optional.

In Edmunds testing, an all-wheel-drive Toyota RAV4 took 9.2 seconds to hit 60 mph, an average time for a small crossover with a four-cylinder engine of this size.

The EPA estimates that the front-wheel-drive RAV4 returns 26 mpg combined (23 city/30 highway) while the all-wheel-drive version returns 25 mpg combined (22 city/29 highway). These estimates are slightly lower than those of certain competitors, notably the Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5.

Safety

Every 2016 Toyota RAV4 includes antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags, full-length airbags, a driver knee airbag, a rearview camera and an integrated driver blind-spot mirror. A blind-spot warning system and rear cross-traffic alert are optional on the XLE and standard on the SE and Limited.

The optional Toyota Safety Sense system (standard on the Limited) includes a forward collision warning system (with pedestrian detection), forward collision mitigation with automatic emergency braking, a lane-departure warning and intervention system and automatic high-beam headlight control.

In Edmunds brake testing, a RAV4 Limited AWD stopped from 60 mph in 128 feet, which is a few feet longer than average.

In government crash tests, the RAV4 received five out of five stars for overall crash protection, with four stars for total frontal protection and five stars for total side protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2016 RAV4 the best possible rating of "Good" in the small- and moderate-overlap frontal-offset crash test as well as the side-impact and roof-strength tests. It also received a "Good" rating for the performance of its head restraints and seats, as well as the best possible rating of "Superior" for its available forward collision warning and mitigation system.

Driving

The 2016 RAV4's 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine is powerful enough for most tasks and returns pretty good fuel economy. Toyota doesn't offer an optional V6 anymore, though, so if you want more pep you'll need to look elsewhere.

The engine's six-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly, but if you tend to drive assertively, you'll find it slow to downshift in passing situations. Additionally, when climbing steady mountain grades, we've noticed that the transmission has a tendency to hunt between gears (rather than picking one gear and sticking with it). Both of these characteristics are likely a consequence of the powertrain being tuned for maximum gas mileage.

We do like how the Toyota RAV4 feels refined and comfortable when cruising down the highway. It's also steady and composed going around turns. Although we've yet to sample the new SE trim, we suspect it will offer a ride-handling balance more akin to those offered by sportier rivals. At the same time, both the SE and Limited come with 18-inch wheels that some may find result in a ride that's too firm and jittery.

Overall, the RAV4 is similar in personality to Honda's ultimately more impressive CR-V, less entertaining to drive than rivals like the CX-5 and Ford Escape, and less capable of venturing off the beaten path than the Forester and Jeep Cherokee. Again, it's perfectly pleasant, but it's not a segment standout from behind the wheel.

Interior

The 2016 Toyota RAV4 features an interior design with pronounced angles and lines that form a streamlined and modern-looking dash. A few of the audio and climate controls feel slightly flimsy, however, and while the cupholder count is adequate, there aren't as many useful storage cubbies up front as you'll find in the Honda CR-V. If you want genuine leather upholstery, you're out of luck as the RAV4 comes only with cloth or leatherette.

Although all of the RAV4's audio systems have Toyota's Entune branding, only models with the bigger 7-inch screen include the Entune suite of smartphone-connected services, among these Pandora streaming radio and a navigation app. Thankfully, the touchscreen interface itself has straightforward menus, large virtual buttons and faster responses for 2016. All conventional controls are also easy to use.

Rear passenger comfort is hampered slightly by a low-mounted bottom cushion, but space is nevertheless abundant even for taller adults. We also like how the 60/40-split seatbacks provide a large amount of recline adjustment.

The cargo bay measures 38.4 cubic feet and opens up to a generous 73.3 cubes when the second row is folded. That's one of the largest capacities in the class. There's also a payoff for that low-mounted rear seat: a very flat load floor and low load-in height, both of which help minimize the strain of loading heavy items or help dogs jump aboard. The power-operated and height-adjustable liftgate is especially convenient.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2016 Toyota RAV4.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Good long trip SUV
Leo J. T.,08/03/2016
Limited 4dr SUV (2.5L 4cyl 6A)
The Rav4 limited is a rare compact in that it is comfortable for long drives, both front and rear. Braking is about average as is the shift of the transmission. Road noise is average and some holes in the road were felt with the 18 inch tires. Emergency handling is great as I unfortunately had the experience of finding out. A truck pulled out in front of me, I was at about 55mph and the swerve I took to avoid the crash was quite radical and the Rav 4 held the road and felt as if it was in control. The EPA estimates of 23 city and 30 highway were lower than actual mileage. I regularly get 26 mpg city and easily 38 mpg highway. It should be noted that I drive gently with a light foot on the pedal. The technology takes some time to master especially the navigation system, it is confusing at times, too many options, and when vehicle is in motion many options are grayed out and are unusable not only in navigation but other apps as well. My wife could not enter a point of interest in navigation where we wanted to stop on the way without pulling over to a complete stop. Toyota dropped the ball on this system and I would recommend not wasting your money and buying an aftermarket hand held unit such as a Garmin instead. The load floor at the rear is low making it easy to load heavy items and the cargo area is huge for a compact. If not for the navigation and some road noise, I would have given this vehicle a full 5 stars. The price I paid was $29,716 plus a $995 dealer fee.Try negotiating the dealer fee and even eliminating it at some dealerships. I used true car.com and offered the lowest price possible. I have now owned this vehicle for 15 months and have noticed one other issue. The automatic headlight on feature works well after dark but when the light is low such as dusk or heavy rain the lights must be turned on manually. Apparently the light sensor on the dash is not sensitive enough to low light.
Chose Rav4 XLE over 8 others tested
Russell,08/14/2016
XLE 4dr SUV (2.5L 4cyl 6A)
The Rav4 xle had the best interior and smoothest ride. Also had the most cargo area. Loved that leather wrapped steering wheel, too. (much better feel than all the other cars) Also more head and foot room in back seats. You can also adjust back seats. Tested Honda Crv, nissan rogue, ford escape, mazda cx-5, kia sportage and others.
Should have purchased a Rav4 a long time ago.
john Jacoby,09/07/2016
XLE 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl 6A)
The vehicle grows on me every time I drive it. I love the styling, the performance and the overall comfort. The rear seats recline which is nice for my grandsons when we are returning from skiing. Sport mode is quicker, but I have found the performance in Eco mode more than adequate. I am averaging about 26mpg and I use the gas pedal freely. The entertainment/navigation has a fairly sharp learning curve, but the dealership employs a guy to come to your house and show you exactly how to use it and once you learn to operate the navigation it works great! If you want a sportier SUV then maybe this is not for you, but I will trade a little sportiness for a quiet, comfortable ride all day long. I would have bought the LE but I like Alloy wheels which were not available on the LE, but it turns out I like the features that come with the XLE a lot!
RAV4 3 years and running.....
Darci S,08/02/2016
Limited 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl 6A)
I decided on a RAV4 after having owned Tercels, Camrys, and 4 runners....I did test a Honda CRV (do much noise and sloppy steering). Three years running and NOT a single problem!! I think it's a great price for what you are getting. I personally don't like the 18 inch tires on my limited but there was no option for 17 at the time which works better for me in Montana on the snow and dirt roads. Much better ride. Not as much clearance as I would like but that 4 runner spoiled me..:) Other than that, I have been very happy with the great cargo space and the sound system rocks!!

Features & Specs

MPG
22 city / 29 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
176 hp @ 6000 rpm
MPG
22 city / 29 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
176 hp @ 6000 rpm
MPG
22 city / 29 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
176 hp @ 6000 rpm
MPG
22 city / 29 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed shiftable automatic
Gas
176 hp @ 6000 rpm
See all Used 2016 Toyota RAV4 features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    Overall4 / 5
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    Overall5 / 5
  • Side Barrier Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front Seat5 / 5
    Back Seat5 / 5
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover17.4%

More about the 2016 Toyota RAV4

Used 2016 Toyota RAV4 Overview

The Used 2016 Toyota RAV4 is offered in the following submodels: RAV4 SUV. Available styles include XLE 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl 6A), SE 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl 6A), Limited 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl 6A), LE 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl 6A), LE 4dr SUV (2.5L 4cyl 6A), XLE 4dr SUV (2.5L 4cyl 6A), SE 4dr SUV (2.5L 4cyl 6A), and Limited 4dr SUV (2.5L 4cyl 6A).

What's a good price on a Used 2016 Toyota RAV4?

Price comparisons for Used 2016 Toyota RAV4 trim styles:

  • The Used 2016 Toyota RAV4 LE is priced between $13,695 and$25,900 with odometer readings between 17323 and110877 miles.
  • The Used 2016 Toyota RAV4 XLE is priced between $15,000 and$20,997 with odometer readings between 28300 and114239 miles.
  • The Used 2016 Toyota RAV4 Limited is priced between $12,500 and$22,960 with odometer readings between 29180 and197597 miles.
  • The Used 2016 Toyota RAV4 SE is priced between $16,992 and$20,000 with odometer readings between 55346 and72615 miles.

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Which used 2016 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) 2016 Toyota RAV4 for sale near. There are currently 67 used and CPO 2016 RAV4s listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $12,500 and mileage as low as 17323 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 2016 Toyota RAV4.

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Find a used Toyota RAV4 for sale - 7 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $14,912.

Find a used Toyota for sale - 9 great deals out of 20 listings starting at $14,349.

Find a used certified pre-owned Toyota RAV4 for sale - 6 great deals out of 16 listings starting at $24,813.

Find a used certified pre-owned Toyota for sale - 2 great deals out of 15 listings starting at $14,912.

Should I lease or buy a 2016 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