2013 Toyota RAV4: Large Update for a Big Player in the Small-Sized Segment by Sue Mead
Outside, the all-new RAV4 has the profile of an Olympic cyclist, with a low front bumper shape that wraps up from below like handlebars and a roofline that slopes steeply back from the A-pillar like a hunched-over speed racer. Glistening headlamps have an asymmetrical shape that slants inward toward the nose, which features a V-shaped grille that emphasizes this “cute ute’s” more aerodynamic look. The rear of the ute, which features an integrated spoiler with LED lights, has a bulbous shape that belies the cargo space inside. We’re thrilled that a liftgate replaces the swinging rear door of previous model years which also held the spare tire; standard steel wheels are 17 inches, with 17- and 18-inch alloys available on higher-end trim lines. The spare is now tucked under the cargo floor.
Inside, you’ll find a comfortable cabin with soft-to-the-touch surfaces and some smart design features, like the slim driver and front passenger seats, which provide more legroom for rear riders. The steering wheel has been redesigned and is now tilted and more angled toward the driver. Standard upholstery is fabric, with a higher grade fabric or leather available on up-market versions. Rear seats tilt and are split-folding 60/40; cargo space behind the rear seats is ample enough for a trip to the warehouse shopping club, and overall cargo space is bigger than all other vehicles in the class, says Toyota. Cargo room is 38.4 cu.ft. behind the rear seats, which expands to 73.4 cu.ft., with the second row folded. Standard on all RAV4 models is a stereo system with a 6.1-in. touchscreen, AM/FM/CD, Bluetooth connectivity, USB and AUX mini-jack, and six speakers. A manual tilt/telescoping steering wheel includes integrated stereo and Bluetooth controls. Also standard is a six-way adjusting driver’s seat. A new four-cylinder engine making 176 horsepower and 172 lb.-ft. of torque is now matched to a 6-speed automatic transmission and the sport ute comes in either all-wheel ($1400 premium) or two-wheel drive.
The new all-wheel drive (AWD) has been bolstered with Toyota’s Dynamic Torque Control – a system that dispatches torque to the four wheels depending on road conditions and on the setting (Sport, Auto and Lock) that the driver selects. So for example, slippage under the rear wheels would automatically deliver more power to those wheels, but smooth and dry roads would not require additional power to be sent to the wheels. This system, along with the angles of approach and departure ma ke the RAV4 a modest off-roader. Fuel efficiency is improved over last year’s model, now rated at 24/31 for the two-wheel drive and 22/29 for AWD drivetrain. Stability control, traction control, ABS with brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution, as well as eight airbags and a rear backup camera all are standard.
We found the ride and drive companionable and especially appreciated the bigger wheel/tire package. Of note, the 4-cylinder is not sprightly, but moves well and benefits from the Eco and Sport settings that change the steering input and driving feel. The RAV4 is available in three trim levels: LE ($23,330), XLE( $24, 290) and Limited ($27,010). LE comes with 17-inch steel wheels, daytime running lights folding exterior mirrors and the 6.1-inch display audio unit with integrated back-up camera. The XLE adds 17-inch alloys, tilt/slide power moonroof, fog lamps, roof rails, dual zone automatic climate control and premium bucket seats that are bolstered for extra support. Voice-operated audio, Bluetooth and voice recognition are available in the optional Entune audio package. The highest-level Limited offers a height-adjustable power liftgate, faux-leather seating with leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift lever, 8-way power driver’s seat with memory, and heated front seats. The Entune audio system is an option on Limited models, as is Blind Spot Monitor.