Buyer's Guide

2021 Toyota Rav4
Select a Different Model (10 Available): Adventure AWD
Fuel Economy $ 25 / 33 mpg
Cargo (Std/Max) 38/70 cu.ft.
Seating (Std/Max) 5/5
Horsepower 203@6,600
See All Specs
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2021 Toyota RAV4 MODEL OVERVIEW

Pros

  • Strong fuel economy for the segment
  • Generous standard safety tech
  • Sharp design

Cons

  • Coarse powertrain
  • Stiff ride quality
  • Not as nimble as its rivals

The RAV4 is Toyota's compact SUV and its best-selling vehicle overall. This current, fifth-generation car debuted for 2019 and added Android Auto capability and a TRD Off-Road trim last year. For 2021, updates on the standard RAV4 are limited to a new front skid plate for the TRD variant, and the RAV4 Hybrid lineup gains a new XLE Premium trim. This model year, Toyota also welcomes the plug-in hybrid RAV4 Prime to the lineup.

In the ultra-competitive compact crossover segment, the RAV4 competes against a number of options including the Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester, and Ford Escape.

What We Think

The fifth-generation RAV4 represents a massive improvement over its predecessor, but this is still not our favorite compact crossover. Toyota's best-selling little ute finished fourth in an eight-vehicle compact SUV comparison in 2019, held back by an unimpressive (and loud) powertrain, packaging faults like rear seats that don't fold flat, and rear doors that fail to open as far as we'd like.

We do appreciate the RAV4's adventurous interior and exterior design. The cabin is full of contrasting accents and chunky control knobs that differentiate the RAV4 from its competition. Rear seat room is generous, despite measurements that suggest otherwise. Toyota engineered surprising off-road capability for a car-based crossover, too, especially in the cool, if overpriced TRD Off-Road trim. Factor in the wealth of standard active safety features and the RAV4 is a compelling package, but we'd still rather drive a CR-V.

Performance and Fuel Economy

Most RAV4s are powered by a 2.5-liter non-turbo four mated to an eight-speed automatic with FWD standard and optional AWD. The four-cylinder engine develops 203 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque that, in the evaluation of our long-term one-year RAV4, helped the Toyota reach 60 mph in a respectable 8.0 seconds. FWD variants return up to 28/35 mpg city/highway, but those numbers drop as low as 25/32 mpg in the AWD-only TRD Off-Road.

For greater efficiency, more power, and slightly better dynamics, try the RAV4 Hybrid. Positioned as a sporty option within the lineup, the 219-hp has standard electric AWD and 41/38 mpg. Then there's the RAV4 Prime, Toyota's new plug-in hybrid option. As the flagship RAV4 model, the quick Prime makes 302 hp, yet has a 42-mile electric range before the 2.5-liter I-4 helps the Toyota deliver a driving range of 600 miles.

More on the hybrids: 5 Reasons to Splurge on the Prime and 5 More to Get the Hybrid

Safety

Based on its performance in IIHS safety testing, the RAV4 has a great chance of keeping you safe in a crash. It earns the highest possible scores in crashworthiness and front crash prevention, though the headlight rating is unexceptional. Even with standard LEDs and automatic high beams, the RAV4 receives a Marginal rating due to inadequate visibility on curves. The RAV4 Hybrid's Adaptive Front Headlight System achieves a Good score, which makes the compact Toyota a 2020 Top Safety Pick.

The RAV4 is also a five-star overall safety rating recipient from the NHTSA. That said, it earned four-star ratings in frontal crash safety and rollover tests.

In addition to strong crashworthiness, the RAV4 is noteworthy for its standard driver-assist features. Adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, lane centering, and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection are included on all models. Every RAV4 save the base LE also features blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

Cargo Space and Interior Room

Cargo volume in the RAV4 measures up to 37.6 cubic feet behind the rear seats, a number that falls behind the Honda CR-V (39.2 cubic feet) but ahead of the Subaru Forester and Ford Escape at 33.0 and 33.5 cubes, respectively. Folding down the rear bench expands cargo volume to 69.8 cubic feet. The RAV4's cargo figures are about the same in hybrid form but fall to 33.4 and 63.1 cubic feet in the RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid.

The Toyota seats five with 41.0 inches of legroom up front and a tight-for-the-segment 37.8 inches in the rear.

Technology

Standard tech for the RAV4 includes a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility plus connectivity via Bluetooth or USB. Higher trims add an 8.0-inch display with navigation and swap the standard 4.2-inch instrument cluster display with a 7.0-inch screen.

Key Competitors:

2021 TOYOTA RAV4 SPECIFICATIONS
OVERVIEW
FEATURES
WARRANTY/RECALL
SAFETY
REBATES
Engine Name
Engine: 4-Cyl 2.5 Liter
Transmission Name
Transmission, ECT-i 8 Speed Automatic Mode Select with Manual Mode
Trim
Adventure AWD
Class
Mid-Size Utility
Horsepower
203@6,600
Standard MPG
25/33
Body Style
SUV/Crossover
Drivetrain
AWD
Fuel Type
Unleaded Regular
Seating Capacity
5/5
Package Invoice Retail
Show Full Specs
Corrosion Warranty Miles
Unlimited
Maintenance Warranty Months
none
Corrosion Warranty Months
60
Powertrain Warranty Miles
60,000
Full Warranty Miles
36,000
Powertrain Warranty Months
60
Full Warranty Months
36
Roadside Assistance Miles
unlimited
Maintenance Warranty Miles
N/R
Roadside Assistance Months
24
IIHS Best Pick
0
NHTSA Rating Front Driver
Not Rated
IIHS Front Moderate Overlap
N/R
NHTSA Rating Front Passenger
Not Rated
IIHS Front Small Overlap
N/R
NHTSA Rating Front Side
Not Rated
IIHS Overall Side Crash
N/R
NHTSA Rating Overall
Not Rated
IIHS Rear Crash
N/R
NHTSA Rating Rear Side
Not Rated
IIHS Roof Strength
N/R
NHTSA Rating Rollover
Not Rated
Amount Description Expiry Date
$500 Toyota announces a College Graduate Rebate on select models. [Regional Incentive. See dealer for availability.] 01-04-2021
$0 2.9% Financing for a maximum term of 72 Months - Toyota announces special APR Financing on select models. [Regional Incentive. See dealer for availability.] 01-04-2021
$0 0% Financing available for varying term lengths : 36, 48 Months - Toyota announces special APR Financing on select models. [Regional Incentive. See dealer for availability.] 01-04-2021
$500 Toyota announces a Bonus Cash offer on select models when financing through SETF. [Regional Incentive. See dealer for availability.] 01-04-2021
$0 0.9% Financing available for varying term lengths : 36, 48, 60 Months - Toyota announces special APR Financing on select models. [Regional Incentive. See dealer for availability.] 01-04-2021
$0 1.9% Financing available for varying term lengths : 36, 48, 60, 72 Months - Toyota announces special APR Financing on select models. [Regional Incentive. See dealer for availability.] 01-04-2021
$1250 Toyota announces a Customer Cash offer on select models. [Regional Incentive. See dealer for availability.] 01-04-2021
$750 Toyota announces a Military Rebate on select models. [Regional Incentive. See dealer for availability.] 01-04-2021
$750 Toyota announces Bonus Cash on select models for eligible current owners. [Regional Incentive. See dealer for availability.] 01-04-2021