Yes I know – the Toyota RAV4 doesn’t blow up the skirt of automotive enthusiasts. On the other hand, there’s a lot about the RAV4 that consumers dig. I can’t argue with that and neither can you. Toyota builds good machines and the RAV4 is one of their better ones.
Among the better challengers in the segment, the Subaru Forester, Dodge Journey, Honda CR-V, KIA Sportage, Ford Edge, Nissan Rogue, GMC Terrain and even the painfully slow Mitsubishi Outlander Sport – the RAV4 is a standout. It’s not because the Toyota RAV4 is better at any one thing, it simply does many things well.
Here are 10 reasons the 2011 Toyota RAV4 is a TFLCar.com favorite:
1. The 269 horsepower, 3.5 liter V6 is a revelation in this class. It puts out a beefy 246 lbs-feet of torque at 4,700 RPM. The base model’s 179 hp, 2.5-liter, four-banger makes 172 lb-ft of torque and works nicely in the RAV4 – but you WANT the V6. The V6 hooked up to all-wheel drive (AWD) in our tester is rated at 19 mpg city and 26 mpg highway. That’s damn good for a V6 AWD.
2. I like the five-speed automatic transmission. A four-speed unit is available with the base model four-cylinder. With the V6, AWD and Mr. Bigazz (me) at the helm, 0 to 60 mph is dispatched in about 7.7 seconds. That’s measured at over 5,200 feet elevation. Not too shabby and almost best in class.
3. The load-in height is one of the best I’ve experienced for loading kids and, even more irritating – – – old folk. Seating is ideal for my Lilliputian sister (she’s about five-feet tall) and not too bad for someone just over six-feet. Any taller and the front legroom might be troublesome.
4. Trunk space is huge. There is an issue which Toyota has yet to remedy: the tailgate is hinged on the right. This works great in countries where they drive on the opposite side of the road – but it sucks for the civilized world as it blocks entry when parked at the curb. Being that we are one of the biggest markets for the RAV4, you would think they would fix this issue.
5. Interior build quality is mediocre at best. Gaps are big; some components look like afterthoughts and sound deadening material sounds like Toyota skimped. Even of the higher end LTD models, the hard plastics are not tempered by leather seats. Toyota needs better feeling materials internally. Many Korean and American competitors now build better interiors.
6. Despite short-ish bottom cushions on the front seats, the overall comfort is pretty good. Back seat comfort is very good and passengers will love the adjustability of these seats. The third row seat is optional and it only works with small kids.
7. The exterior design has been around for a while. It’s always looked like a vehicle for the young – especially in white. It’s not the most exciting design, but it’s not ugly either. Toyota is rumored to do one more refresh before an all new model.
8. Steering has always been my pet peeve with this vehicle. For such a sprightly crossover, the RAV4 has very vague steering. It’s not bad for folks who just want simple point-and-click steering, but those who like steering feel will be disappointed. On the plus side, AARP folks will have no problem maneuvering the RAV4.
9. Prices start at $22,575. Realistically, you can get a damn good AWD model for under $26,000. My fully loaded AWD V6 LTD came in at $31,579.00. Considering what you get for the money, that’s not too bad. Unfortunately for Toyota, many automakers are building cheaper models with more content, fresher designs and nicer looking interiors. Fortunately for Toyota, they build great drive-trains which still beat out a majority of players.
10. This is a perfect vehicle for a teenager or young adult to inherit – with one exception: where the hell is the MP3 input? Seriously Toyota, an auxiliary input? Oy.
I know I complain, but it’s for a good cause.
You may think I have issues with the RAV4 and therefore condemn it. Nothing could be further from the truth. I like the RAV4 so much; I recommended it for my favorite niece. It’s a good, safe, AWD crossover with lots of room and tons of utility. Minor quibbles aside, the power, efficiency and easy to maneuver character of the 2011 Toyota RAV4 is outstanding.
It may be long in tooth, but it’s still one of the best available.
Automotive media, racing, vehicle evaluation, wrecking yards, and car sales are just a part of Nathan Adlen’s vehicular past. He writes out of high octane passion! To read more reviews by Nathan Adlen or just to enjoy more of excellent writing please visit him on at his examiner.com page HERE.
If you like the Toyota RAV4. Check out our mashup video review below as we compare it head to head with the 2011 Subaru Forester.