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Toyota RAV4

The SUV always performed well for Toyota. The smallest of the Toyota SUV line is the RAV4, the true suburbanite’s SUV. In fact, the RAV4 was one of the first SUV crossovers ever introduced to the car market. The RAV4 performs very well in comparison to competitors, perhaps due to the years it was in development.

More on the Toyota RAV4
About the Toyota RAV4

The first generation of the RAV4 was introduced in 1996 and was still in production as of 2012. The engine choices as well as the fuel efficiency set the RAV4 above the rest.

The 2012 RAV4 comes in three separate trim lines: Base, RAV4 Sport, and RAV4 Limited.

Toyota RAV4 Features

All trim lines are available in two-wheel or four-wheel drive. Two engine models are available as well. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder 16-valve engine produces a whopping 179 horsepower, with 172 lb-ft of torque. A 3.5-liter V-6 24-valve engine significantly increases the horsepower to 269, with 246 lb-ft of torque at 4700 rpm. Fuel efficiency isn’t great, but it isn’t altogether bad; the 2.5-liter gets 22/28 mpg city/highway on the two-wheel drive and 21/27 mpg city/highway on the four-wheel drive. The 3.5-liter gets 19/26 mpg city/highway on the two-wheel and 19/27 mpg city/highway on the four-wheel.

Differences between the vehicles begin to appear on the exterior. Halogen headlamps come standard, but the Limited versions are the only trim line to offer the auto on/off feature as standard. The Sport does have added blackout sport trim on the lamps and an automatic on/off as an option. A black grille is featured on the Base and Sport model. The Limited exchanges the black grille for chrome. The mirrors are black and foldable on the base and sport, while the Limited offers color-keyed heated mirrors with an integrated turn signal. A moonroof is offered as a package option on all of the trim lines.

The 16-inch wheels come standard on the Base line. The 17-inch wheels with different alloy options are also available for a higher price. The Limited provides 17-inch wheels standard. The Sport gives you an added lift with 18-inch, five-spoke alloy wheels.

Air conditioning with a filter is standard on the Base and Sport. The Limited offers the luxury of a dual climate control with a micro-dust and pollen filter. Like almost all Toyota models this year, iPod connectivity, an AM/FM radio and CD player comes standard. The Etune connectivity system is offered on the Limited model.

The seats are fabric trimmed on all models, but the Sport and Limited have premium cloth. Six-way adjustable driver’s seats and four-way adjustable passenger seating is standard. The Limited version offers better comfort for the driver by offering an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat. All models have a 60/40 split back seat for extra cargo space when lugging around the kids or household goods.

The Smart Key entry system with push start is offered on the Limited models. Auto-dimming mirrors with an integrated backup camera add extra luxury. The Rav4 is decked out for safety. Front driver and passenger airbags, seat-mounted side and front airbags, active headrests and three-point seat belts are the golden standard on all trim lines. Crumple zones are also installed throughout the vehicle that collapse in an accident.

The RAV4 doesn’t exactly come cheap. The Base model starts at $22,650, the Sport at $24,350 and the Limited model at $25,330.

Toyota RAV4 Evolution

The first generation RAV4 ran from 1996 until the 2000 model year. It was one of the first crossover SUVs offered on the market. The RAV4 was available in a two-door and four-door model. A convertible was offered for a short period as well. The first generation was a powerful vehicle, but it had very little to offer someone with a family. The body was narrow, the interior cramped as the first generation RAV4 was meant for young, single drivers.

The second generation RAV4 ran from 2001 until the 2005 model year. The body was enlarged to increase cargo space. Styling inside the vehicle was also improved. Included were removable second-row seats to increase cargo space. The first vehicles came with a 148-horsepower engine with four cylinders. A 2.4-liter engine that produced 160 horsepower was introduced in 2004. This increased acceleration and power, making the RAV4 one of the best in the market.

The third generation was introduced in 2006. This is the largest line since the RAV4 introduction, bucking the trend to shrink vehicles for fuel economy. Front and side airbags, as well as curtain airbags became standard during this generation.

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