Review: 2013 Toyota RAV4 Limited AWD – No Longer Small, But Good

2013 toyota rav4 limited awdTFLcar was one of the first to bring you initial impressions video review of the all new 2013 Toyota RAV4.  Now, it is in our home state of Colorado for a proper and extensive review.  Check out this review to see how the 2013 RAV4 holds up in the challenging Rocky Mountain environment.

STATS Starting Retail Price As Tested Price HP / Lb-Ft
2013 Toyota RAV4 Limited $28,410 $31,964 176 / 172
EPA Rating MPG As Tested MPG
Rating: BUY IT! 22 / 29 Combined 25  22.2

First Impressions

The 2013 Toyota RAV4 Limited appears big from the outside and is spacious inside. The running boards make for lower appearance and from the driver’s seat this Toyota feels more like a tall wagon than an outright crossover.


2013 toyota rav4 limited awe interior dash review

Toyota took a significant design step with the 4th generation RAV4, and the biggest changes are in the back. Gone are the swinging rear gate and the gate mounted spare tire. The new conventional lift-gate is big and open up to wide and flat cargo area.  The load floor is surprisingly low, considering that there is a spare tire hiding underneath.  The styling of this crossover kept growing on me.  My kids (5 and half and 2 and half) were thankful for the side running board steps.  It made very easy for them to get in and out of the spacious rear seating area.  There is plenty of room back there to kids or adults.

The driver’s seat is a comfortable place to be, but those with long legs should make sure their seat is adjusted correctly to avoid hitting their right knee into the stylish new dashboard.  This test vehicle had the optional $1,660 Navigation and Entune entertainment system.  It is well integrated into the overall design, and all systems are straight forward to use. However, the interior material quality was not a slam dunk for me.  There are soft material inlays, but there are also some hard plastics near the top of the dash and on the center console.  The interior is good and functional, but I expected a little more this top of the line Limited model.


The 2.5-liter 176 horsepower / 172 lb-ft of torque four cylinder in this Limited model is the sole engine across the entire RAV4 model range. Efficiency is the name of the game across the industry, but Toyota chose its 6-speed automatic for small crossover duty (versus a CVT that many of the competitors use). There are Eco and Sport modes with a very noticeable performance differential between them. The Sport mode makes for more aggressive gear shift points as well as quicker throttle response. The power is just adequate for around town errand runs and highway merging and passing maneuvers.  Don’t expect to win many stop light races.  (Remember: this reviewer is from Denver where there is less air density and engines struggle for power.)


2013 toyota rav4 limited awd rear tail review

Although those running boards make this RAV4 look like a wagon, there are still around 6.5 inches of ground clearance (actually it’s nearly seven in the rear).  Nonetheless, this crossover has the handling characteristics of a wagon.  The body lean is very controlled and high speed bends are not a problem whatsoever.  The ride quality is good.  It does not ride as smooth as a Lexus, but it will not beat you up on the rough roads.  The steering feel is surprisingly good for a family mover.  It is a little vague just off center, but this new electrical power steering does a good job communicating what the front wheels are doing.


Starting Retail Price City/Hwy MPG HP / Lb-Ft Interior cu-ft
2013 Toyota RAV4 Limited $29,270 22/29 176/172 100.7
2013 Chevrolet Equinox LTZ $33,595 20/29 182/172 99.7
2013 Ford Escape SEL $30,815 22/30 173/184 98.1
2013 Honda CR-V Ex-L $29,625 22/30 185/163 101.5
2013 Hyundai Tucson Auto $27,950 20/27 170/163 101.9
2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited $30,990 NA 184/171 104.4
2013 KIA Sportage SX $29,250 20/25 260/269 100.0
2013 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring $29,390 25/31 155/150 102.3
2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport LE $25,720 24/29 148/145 97.5
2013 Nissan Rogue SV $24,895 22/27 170/175 97.5
2013 Subaru Crosstrek Limited $25,290 25/33 148/145 97.5

This is obviously a tough segment to play in. There are others that are fast – KIA Sportage, there are others that are more affordable – Nissan Rogue.  The Mazda CX-5 is more fun in the corners.  And there are some that are more efficient – Subaru Crosstrek.  In order to be a serious player in this game, you have to do a lot of things very well.  And this is where the RAV4 is using its decades of experience to excel in many areas, though it does not stand out in any particular subject.

2013 toyota rav4 limited field

On the TFLcar scale of:

  • Buy it!
  • Lease it!
  • Rent it!
  • … or Forget it!

I give the 2013 Toyota RAV4 Limited AWD a Buy It! 

The 2013 Toyota RAV4 Limited does all the tasks well.  It is roomy and comfortable.  It rides more like a tall wagon, and it’s not really a bad thing.  I was not able to get a very good MPG result during my week with it, but I did more city driving than usual.  I did not find that the RAV4 stands out far above the competition, but it also does not falter.  My Buy It! rating here is on the weak side, because this small crossover did not truly excite me.

Use TFLcar Marketplace to locate your next vehicle.

Check out this TFLcar mile high 0-60 MPH test of the 2013 Toyota RAV4 Limited AWD.  We even did it three times!

And see this RAV4 take to our Rocky Mountain off-road trail:

Andre Smirnov
Andre Smirnov

Andre Smirnov is a life-long automotive enthusiast, writer, reporter, and software engineer. He has been a contributor at TFLcar since 2011. When not working or spending time with the family – you can find him tinkering in the garage or simply ‘going for a drive’.