When the Toyota RAV4 debuted in 1997, it was one of the first car-based mini-SUVs on the market. Since that time, it has gone through a few redesigns. The 2004 version boasts ample power and generous standard features, which means it can compete with other mini-SUVs like the Honda CR-V and Ford Escape. Unfortunately, there is only one base model and nothing else; although there are options of manual or automatic transmission and front- or all-wheel drive.
Body Style: mini-SUV
Engine: 2.4-liter four-cylinder
Transmissions: five-speed manual, four-speed automatic
Model: Toyota RAV4
The 2004 Toyota RAV4 features plenty of updates. Most noticeable is the larger engine that has been upgraded from a 2,0-liter to a 2.4-liter four-cylinder. This boosts the horsepower to 161. It also has a more aggressive appearance with a redesigned front bumper, headlights, black grille, foglamps, taillights and spare tire cover. There is also retuned suspension and steering, all-disc brakes, and an updated instrument panel. There are a host of new standard features, most noticeably stability and traction control. Finally, the 2004 now has multistage front airbags, side airbags for front passengers, and optional full-length head curtain airbags.
The 2004 Toyota RAV4's exterior features more aggressive styling: more sharp creases rather than curved lines. Body-colored front and rear bumpers and colored body side moldings complete the look. It also features 16-inch, silver-styled steel wheels and all-season tires. A full-size, rear-mounted spare tire is provided as well. There is a side-hinged rear door. This SUV is 166.2 inches long on a 98-inch wheelbase. It is 63.3 inches wide and 65 inches tall.
The 2004 Toyota RAV4 seats five comfortably. There are cloth-covered bucket front seats and a 50/50-split folding rear seat. The six-way driver’s seat is height adjustable and the rear seats recline. There is also a four-way front passenger seat. Power steering is standard. The steering wheel is tilt-adjustable and has embedded audio controls. A new metal-look instrument panel includes a clock, tachometer, trip odometer, and low fuel level warning. Storage features include a front console with storage, front and rear cup holders, front and rear door pockets, and front seatback storage. There are 12-volt front and cargo power outlets, a cargo-area light, front reading lights, dual vanity mirrors, and day/night rearview mirror. Other features include a center front armrest, carpet floor trim, a locking glove box, dome light, and a driver footrest. With the back seats up, it has 29.2 cubic feet of cargo space. When the rear seat is folded down, cargo space jumps up to 68.3 cubic feet. It has plenty of convenience options including air-conditioning, cruise control, a six-speaker audio system with a cassette/CD player, fog lamps, heated power windows and power locks, and a hard spare tire cover.
Performance & Handling
The redesigned 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine has 161 horsepower with 165 lb-ft of torque. Properly equipped, it has a max towing capacity of 1500 pounds. There is a MacPherson strut front suspension and double wishbone rear suspension. It comes in front drive or full-time all-wheel drive. Overall impressions show this mini-SUV is easy to drive and maneuver with agile steering. Ride comfort is decent, but there is some typical short-wheelbase choppiness. The automatic transmission has good acceleration from a stop and at low speeds, but it is not quite as good at higher speeds, which can make passing difficult. There is also some slight transmission hesitation at lower speeds.
The 2004 Toyota RAV4 features four-wheel ABS with ventilated front disc and solid rear disc brakes as well as emergency brake assist and electronic brake force distribution. Stability and traction control are now standard features. There are also front and rear headrests, child seat anchors, rear door child safety locks, front seat belt pretensioners, and daytime running lights. It has plenty of warning systems including oil pressure, tire pressure, key in ignition, door ajar, and service interval warnings. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rated a perfect five-out-of-five star rating for front and rear side impact, and four stars for passenger and driver safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated this car its best rating of ""good"" for frontal offset crashes but gave it the lowest rating of ""poor"" for side impact crashes.
EPA Fuel Economy
Toyota RAV4 (front-wheel drive): 21/27 mpg city/highway
Toyota RAV4 (all-wheel drive, four-speed automatic): 20/24 mpg city/highway
Toyota RAV4 (all-wheel drive, five-speed manual): 19/25 mpg city/highway
- Excellent build and materials quality
- Stronger engine
- Steers and handles like a car
You Won't Like
- Cramped interior
- Some high repair costs
- Some safety concerns
Revs up its standard features.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Ford Escape
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