2017 Toyota RAV4

2017 Toyota RAV4 Review

The 2017 Toyota RAV4 remains a quiet and versatile entry in an increasingly competitive segment.
3.5 star edmunds overall rating
author
by Jason Kavanagh
Edmunds Editor

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.



what's new

For 2017, the Toyota RAV4 gains a host of driver assistance features as standard equipment, including a forward collision mitigation system, lane departure warning, automatic high beams and adaptive cruise. The range-topping Platinum trim level is new this year.

we recommend

Like many such compact crossovers, the 2017 Toyota RAV4 is available with all-wheel drive. However, we give the nod to the front-wheel-drive variant unless you live in a frequently slick region or other such limited-traction environments. We recommend going for the XLE trim level, which offers a nice bump in equipment (such as improved seats and dual-zone climate control) over the base LE. We also prefer the XLE's 17-inch wheels to the less forgiving 18-inch wheels and tires found on the uplevel Limited trim.




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.



trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions, although trim levels share many aspects. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2013 Toyota RAV4 Limited (2.5L 4-cyl.; AWD; 6-speed automatic).

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.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall3.5 / 5.0

Driving

3.5 / 5.0

Acceleration3.0 / 5.0
Braking3.0 / 5.0
Steering3.0 / 5.0
Handling3.5 / 5.0
Drivability3.0 / 5.0

Comfort

4.0 / 5.0

Seat comfort4.0 / 5.0
Ride comfort3.0 / 5.0
Noise & vibration4.5 / 5.0

Interior

4.0 / 5.0

Ease of use3.5 / 5.0
Getting in/getting out4.0 / 5.0
Roominess3.0 / 5.0
Visibility3.5 / 5.0
Quality3.5 / 5.0

Driving

edmunds rating
Overall performance is quite good in the RAV4. It handles as well as most competitors and only trails the turbocharged entries in the class when it comes to acceleration.

Acceleration

edmunds rating
Acceleration from the 176-horsepower four-cylinder is about average for the crossover segment; the V6 option that was an option last year is no longer available. The engine can feel coarse at higher rpm, and noise is prevalent.

Braking

edmunds rating
At about 125 feet to stop from 60 mph, the RAV's panic-braking performance is just about average. The pedal feel in normal use, on the other hand, is better than that of most competitors.

Steering

edmunds rating
The electric power steering provides decent feel in the RAV4. Steering effort is adjustable but defaults to light. You can select Sport mode if you prefer more steering weight.

Handling

edmunds rating
Handling is a strength in AWD RAV4s. It's well balanced and predictable, making it easy to drive.

Drivability

edmunds rating
The RAV's six-speed transmission provides good gear spacing, but response to requests — especially downshifts — is sluggish. It tends to hunt for the correct gear on grades.

Off-road

edmunds rating
A lockable center differential and short overhangs give the RAV4 a slight edge compared to its direct rivals. But it is still a light-duty off-roader at best.

Comfort

edmunds rating
Overall, the RAV4 is exactly as comfortable as we expect. Its accommodations are spacious, and its seats are soft enough for hours in the saddle. Its agreeable ride quality is also a plus.

Seat comfort

edmunds rating
The RAV's seats are not hugely supportive, but they are quite comfortable on longer trips.

Ride comfort

edmunds rating
It's quite good, though our Limited model's 18-inch wheels and tires compromised ride quality to a small degree.

Noise & vibration

edmunds rating
Noise suppression is good in the RAV4. No potential noise source draws undue attention to itself, and it's quieter than many competitors.

Interior

edmunds rating
Our Limited example offered a leather-covered dash, shifter, seats and steering wheel. Overall, this is big step up for the RAV4 in both materials and design.

Ease of use

edmunds rating
Most controls are well placed and easy to reach. The primary controls for the climate control and audio systems are large and obvious but have a slightly flimsy feel to them.

Getting in/getting out

edmunds rating
Large, wide-opening doors make it easy to get in and out of both the front and rear seats.

Roominess

edmunds rating
The RAV's cabin is large for the driver and the front passenger. Rear seat room is generous.

Visibility

edmunds rating
No significant blind spots are present in the RAV4. Even rear-quarter visibility is good. The rearview camera helps. It's remarkably easy to park.

Quality

edmunds rating
The build quality is better than in the previous RAV4 but no better than that of most competitors.

Utility

Outstanding cargo area size and versatility are tempered by cabin storage options that are so-so by comparison.

Small-item storage

Compromised cupholder placement and limited small item storage leave the RAV a step behind its competitors.

Cargo space

edmunds rating
Class-leading cargo space and rear seats that fold nearly flat are very good. The liftover height is low. A power liftgate is rare in this segment.

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.