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As one of the original compact crossovers with roots dating back more than two decades, the RAV4 continues to be one of the most popular choices in the Toyota showroom. It is hard-earned popularity: the RAV4’s spacious cabin, straightforward controls, and the added perk of advanced standard active safety tech such as automated emergency braking and adaptive cruise control help widen its appeal. Dynamically, the RAV4 leans heavily toward the soft and easygoing end of the performance spectrum, and its two powertrain options—a 2.5-liter four-cylinder and a hybrid version with that same engine—don’t provide much giddyup. As far as capability goes, though, there are few crossovers in this class with the cargo space or maximum towing capacity of the RAV4, which makes it attractive to weekend warriors and pragmatic types alike.
Spacious, well built, and comfortable, the RAV4’s cabin offers what most crossover buyers are looking for but with few delightful surprises. Although the RAV4’s cabin is lined in quality materials—leather-grained plastics, a stitched-vinyl dash pad, and nicely chosen cloth or leatherette fabrics—the design strikes us as busy with a focus on function versus style. The driving position is comfortable and straightforward; ergonomically, the RAV4 suffers a few missteps; for instance, the power mirror controls are mounted on the dashboard just out of reach of a seated driver, and the interior door handle manages to protrude far enough to hinder easy access to the power window controls. Disappointing cubby and bin storage inside the RAV4 is unfortunate because the rest of its cargo-hauling chops are quite impressive. To make loading easier, the RAV4 offers one of the lowest lift-over heights of the SUVs we’ve measured. When it comes to hauling gear—or groceries—the RAV4 is king in this comparison.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the RAV4 five out of five stars in the side crash test, and four stars in the frontal crash and rollover tests. Standard advanced safety features include adaaptive cruise, lane departure, lane keeping assist and blind spot.
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