The RAV4 was modestly refreshed in 2016 with updated exterior styling and redesigned cabin, but it hasn't been fundamentally changed under the skin since it was introduced in 2013. The segment has heated up in recent years, though, and the RAV4's well-rounded middle-of-the-road-ness has left an opening for the competition. There are sportier or equally versatile choices that offer better fuel economy, but there isn't one single compact crossover that tops all the charts, so the RAV4 is still very competitive.
trim levels & features
The RAV4 comes in LE, XLE, SE, Limited and Platinum trim levels. All are available with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, and all are equipped with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine (176 horsepower, 172 pound-feet of torque) and a six-speed automatic transmission. Accordingly, the decision on which trim level is right for you comes down to creature comforts rather than mechanical fortitude.
The LE has a decent array of standard equipment, but most shoppers will want to set their sights on the XLE and up. The XLE grants you dual-zone climate control, improved seat contours, the enhanced Entune multimedia system and 17-inch aluminum wheels.
The SE is purportedly the sport-tuned version, though in our experience the handling difference is not significant. In the bargain, the SE comes with different exterior trim, LED headlights and premium vinyl upholstery.
Limited models add 18-inch wheels, navigation and driver-seat memory functions, while the range-topping Platinum trim level (new for 2017) provides yet more amenities and unique trim.
NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current RAV4 has received some revisions, including a cabin and styling refresh for 2016, additional features, and the addition of the Hybrid variant and SE and Platinum trim levels. Our findings remain broadly applicable to this year's RAV4.
noise & vibration
ease of use
getting in/getting out
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.