2016 Toyota RAV4: A Better, Quieter SUV Aiming to be Compact Crossover Sales King [Review]

2016 Toyota RAV4

With over 2 million sold this year – up 5 percent over last year at this time – the popularity of the compact SUV crossover continues to ascend. The top sellers, such as the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, have always been in a competitive frenzy battling for the top position. Holding the number one spot in sales since 2012 is the tried-and-true CR-V but the ardent RAV4 has been climbing up the ranks and now sits in the number two position not far behind. Enter the 2016 RAV coming in fresh after its mid-cycle update and Toyota’s compact crossover becomes a much more worthy challenger in a category that is heavy with competitors.

Under the hood is a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder paired with a 6-speed automatic. Max power of 176 horsepower and 172 lb-ft of torque is directed to the front wheels. All-wheel drive is available across all trims for those who need foul-weather capability. Toyota’s are not known for their engaging driving dynamics but for the way most people drive crossover SUVs, the 2016 RAV4 does the job exceptionally well. If towing and hauling heavy loads is on your list of must haves, buyers should be looking at the Subaru Forester and Ford Escape, which offer more powerful turbocharged engines.

2016 Toyota RAV4

Where RAV4 does excel is its combination of ride comfort, handling, and fuel economy. Smooth without being too mushy or bouncy, the compact SUV crossover responds well to steering input and maintains its composure on winding roads. Drivers demanding a sportier ride will have to look at the Mazda CX-5 to fulfill their driving enjoyment.

With the focus more on comfort than performance, passengers will be more impressed with the hushed ride, handsome cabin design, and the thoughtful use of quality materials. The RAV4’s front seats are comfortable and have plenty of support. The rear seats are just as comfortable as the front and provide enough legroom for full-size adults to ride in the back.

With the rear 60/40 split folding seats fully upright, the RAV4 offers a class-leading 38.4 cubic feet of cargo space. Fold the rear seats down and the max cargo space extends to 73.4 cubic feet, which is ample for a compact crossover and larger than what the Nissan Rogue and GMC Terrain can offer.

Overall, the RAV4’s mid-cycle update that it received for the 2016 model year shows an improvement in fuel economy, better ride quality, a quieter cabin, and subtle styling updates. Combine the SUV’s blend of roominess, safety, and reliability, and the RAV4 begins to outshine its competitors.

Starting at $24,350, the base price of the RAV4 LE trim is at the higher end of the pricing spectrum next to rivals like the Honda CR-V and Jeep Cherokee. There are three higher trims and multiple package options that can drive up the price, depending on which of the more advanced features you want with your compact SUV. The XLE starts at $26,270 and adds features like a moonroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, and satellite radio. The SE starts at $30,665. It comes standard with all-wheel drive, blind spot monitoring, and a sport-tuned suspension.

The highest trim is the Limited, which starts at $32,910 and comes standard with most features available in the RAV4. It builds on the SE trim with the addition of standard features like Entune Premium audio and navigation, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, and adaptive cruise control. The few features the Limited trim lacks are available as part of one of the option packages.

If you decided to go for the big banana, the RAV4 can surpass $37,000, which elevates itself even further up the price chain.

2016 Toyota RAV4 interior

For any trim, adding all-wheel drive costs an extra $1,400, and there are a few other option packages to choose from. Available are several Entune packages that get you the upgraded infotainment system and navigation at a cost of $500 to $1,300, depending on which trim you’re adding it to.

The 2016 Toyota RAV4 underwent a mid-cycle refresh. In this TFLcar Everything You Ever Wanted to Know video, our TFL videographer, Ian Chisholm, takes a ride in the refreshed 2016 Toyota RAV with a Toyota RAV4 expert to learn all about what is new for the model year.

2016 Toyota RAV4 Limited
MSRP $32,910
Price as tested $37,360
Engine 2.5L DOHC 4-cylinder
Power (hp) 176 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque (lb-ft) 172 @ 4,100 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Drivetrain layout AWD w/Dynamic Torque Control
Curb weight 3,630 lbs
EPA-estimated fuel economy mpg 22 / 29 / 25 (city/hwy/combined)
Ground clearance 6.3 inches
Approach/departure angle 28 / 21 degrees
EPA cargo volume max. 73.4 cu. ft.
EPA cargo volume 38.4 cu. ft.
Max towing capacity 1,500 lbs

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NEW FOR 2017

  • Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P) standard on all grades – incl. Pre-Collision System w/Pedestrian Detection Function; Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist Function; Automatic High Beams; Dynamic Radar Cruise Control
  • Front bumper redesigned for a more truck-like appearance on SE trim
  • New Platinum grade:
    • Exterior
      • Color-matched lower and upper body panels
      • Unique “Platinum” badging
    • Interior
      • Entune Premium Audio w/Navigation and JBL
      • Foot-well Ambient lighting
      • Heated steering wheel
      • 5-door Smart Key
      • Kick-type hands-free Power Back Door
      • Bird’s Eye View Camera
      • Plush floor mats
      • Door sill protectors w/Platinum badge
      • Grade-specific interior ornamentation (5 pieces)