2013 Toyota RAV4
First and Second Impressions
By Ron Amadon
GREAT CACAPON, WVA. – Sometimes you do get a second chance to make a first impression.
When first driving the redesigned RAV4 around town on errand running day, I found nothing really wrong with the RAV but nothing really jumped out either. A mid-pack small sport ute, I thought.
But things changed on a day long trip over interstates and favorite back roads to this unincorporated little hamlet of 386 on the banks of the river that carries its name.
Out on I-70 the standard 2.5-liter four with 176 horsepower and 172 lb-ft of torque hummed along quietly with enough grunt to pass semis on the long hills even if it sometimes took a smooth two gear downshift from the standard six-speed automatic.
Right there are two major changes for 2013. The previous model’s V6 is gone from the power lineup, and the old four speed automatic is also history. Not to mention the RAV’s more contemporary exterior style helped by relocation of the spare tire off the liftgate that is now hinged at the top instead of the side. Toyota also eliminated the very cramped third row seat.
Out on the interstate, fifth and sixth gears acted as an overdrive generating an EPA estimated 22-29 miles per gallon with our all-wheel drive Limited Edition. I checked in at 24.7 mpg.
Like many of the RAV’s competitors, acceleration is not a major factor with 0-60 runs a touch over 9 seconds. One does not buy a compact SUV to burn tires after all. Nonetheless, another ten horsepower or so would be welcome.
The independent MacPherson strut suspension in front with a double wishbone layout to the rear and 18 inch wheels produced a ride that was stiffer than one might expect, especially in the “Sport” setting. This was particularly noticeable on rough surface concrete highways that sent vibrations back through the hood and cabin. While the ride was not stiff enough to be a deal breaker, most RAV owners will probably want to ignore the Eco and Sport setting options. The buttons are hidden low in the center stack anyway.
In West Virginia, long straight stretches of highway are as rare as a Lamborghini, so it was nice to see that the stiff suspension resulted in better than expected handling aided by the all-wheel drive and torque control.
What became clear when I stopped for refreshment at the one and only store in Great Cacapon was how comfortable the RAV was for a small ute.
The top-of-the-line Limited comes with an eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat with memory and lumbar support. The breathable “Softex” covered seats looked durable, in line with Toyota’s long standing reputation for long life.
A small and sporty leather wrapped wheel was a nice touch along with “Clear Blue” illumination of the instruments. Stitching abounded inside and all in all, the appearance was that of a more upscale vehicle.
There was ample room for two adults to the rear on 60/40 split fold seats that also reclined. The RAV’s 73.4 cubic feet of cargo space with the second row folded tops the competition and the lift over height is low.
The RAV also equated itself well during some mild off roading, something that is almost mandatory in this part of the world. The AWD drive system allows the operator to lock torque distribution in a fixed, 50/50 ratio at speeds up to about 25 mph. Ground clearance is 6.3 inches.
At the end of the day back at base camp, I came away more impressed with the updated RAV. Consumers seeking a durable well-built crossover in a wide range of prices should definitely trek to the RAV for a test drive.
From a base price of $28,410 our test vehicle sported a $1,660 audio package, $500 Blind Spot Monitor, $229 worth of roof rack crossbars and $225 for various floor mats.
With transportation, that brought the price to $31,869, and that is in line with the competition. A base model can be had for $23,300 yet if the budget allows I would recommend a step up to the Limited Edition for the long list of standard equipment that brings.