2003 Toyota RAV4

  • 2003 Toyota RAV4 Base Sport Utility

    Base Sport Utility

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      2.0L I4
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2003 Toyota RAV4 Review

A convenient compact SUV for city commutes and driving in traffic.

Reviewed by Automotive on


The 2003 Toyota RAV4 is a compact crossover SUV. Production began in 1994, and it is still part of the Toyota lineup. Models are built on a front-engine front-drive or all-wheel-drive layout. The first generation included model years 1995 to 2000. There were three body styles available, two-door SUV, four-door SUV, and a two-door SUV convertible in some markets. These models were smaller than more recent versions and recognizable for the deep grooves on the sides and the Toyota logo and grille in the front. Engines include a 138-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder and a 177-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder. These were paired with either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic. The second generation included the models from 2001 through 2005. The convertible style was eliminated from the lineup leaving only the three-door and five-door compact SUV body styles. It's redesigned with different color bumpers, side panels, and other exterior details than the body color. The front end was redesigned as well with a new grille area and new headlights, but the overall profile remained similar to past models. Engines included a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel, or a 2.4-liter four-cylinder. These were fitted with similar transmissions as the previous models, a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic. The third generation included the models years 2006 to 2012. All but the four-door SUV body style was eliminated, and the RAV4 got another exterior makeover, larger all around with body-color bumpers and moldings for a consistent solid look, and a new grille with body-color horizontal bars. Toyota added a range of engine options starting with several 2.0-liter four-cylinders plus a couple 2.2-liter turbodiesel four-cylinders, a 2.4-liter four-cylinder, a 2.5-liter four-cylinder, and a 3.5-liter V-6. These could be paired with a five- or six-speed manual or a four or five-speed automatic. The 2013 models may mark the fourth generation RAV4, and an electric model is expected late 2012.

The 2003 Toyota RAV4is known for its convenient size, room for a compact SUV, reliability, and fair pricing. There were no notable changes to the 2003 models, but it receives significant modifications for 2001 and moderate changes the following year.

The Range

Body Styles: SUV
Engines: 2.0-liter four-cylinder
Transmissions: four-speed automatic, five-speed automatic
Models: Toyota RAV4

What's New

The 2003 Toyota RAV4 makes no significant changes.


The 2003 Toyota RAV4 is a compact four-door crossover SUV. It is 166.2 inches long total with a 98-inch wheelbase. It stands 68.3 inches wide and 65 inches tall. The RAV4 features rounded edges, body-color bumpers and moldings, and a non-descript flat black grille with the Toyota logo in the center, long intakes with vertical body-color bars beneath, and large headlights wrapping around the sides. It has 16-inch wheels standard. Exterior features include lightly tinted windows, rear defrost, available fog lights, and a rear windshield wiper.


The 2003 Toyota RAV4 seats five people with two front bucket seats and a rear 50/50-split folding bench seat. It has 29 cubic feet of cargo space in the rear and 68 cubic feet of cargo space with the backseats folded down. Some of the available interior features include a six-speaker sounds system with CD player, power windows and locks, heated power mirrors, optional leather upholstery, optional moonroof, and power front drive and front passenger seats.

Performance & Handling

The 2003 Toyota RAV4 has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, which produces 148 hp. It has a four-speed automatic transmission or a five-speed manual transmission. Acceleration is moderate but smooth except at lower speeds, and it has a car-like feel to the steering and handling. On most surfaces, it’s a comfortable ride. It has a front strut suspension and double wishbone rear suspension. Models come with either front- or full-time four-wheel drive, but off-road capability is minimal. It's a convenient SUV for city driving due to its size and gets good gas mileage.


The 2003 Toyota RAV4's standard safety features include the required front-impact driver and passenger airbags plus front seat pretensioners. Available safety features include anti-lock brakes and daytime running lights.

EPA Fuel Economy

Toyota RAV4: 22/27 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Drivable dimensions
  • Reliable
  • Fuel economy
  • Roomy interior for a compact SUV

You Won't Like

  • Acceleration at highway speeds
  • Feel of automatic transmission at lower speeds

Sum Up

A convenient compact SUV for city commutes and driving in traffic.

If You Like This Vehicle

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See the New 2017 RAV4.

Front & Driver Side View

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