Hot Lava (Really!)
By Ron Amadon
DAMASCUS, MD. – If Toyota’s motivation was to produce a RAV4 that turned heads, all they had to do was paint it Hot Lava. Everywhere I went in this compact sport utility people were checking it out.
Fortunately, for the company, lots of people did more than that. They went to dealer showrooms last month to buy one, regardless of color, and the RAV4 had a record November sales wise.
And there are good reasons for this starting with the brand’s legendary record for reliability and quality build.
I found the standard 2.5-liter four with 176 horsepower and 172 lb-ft of torque felt stronger in acceleration than the stop watch would indicate. A 0-60 run of a tick or three over 9 seconds in most tests is on the slow side of things. The standard six-speed automatic performed well and six stars to Toyota for not succumbing to the current trend and installing a CVT.
With all-wheel drive the test RAV is EPA rated at 22 city, 29 highway for a combined 25 mpg. I hit 30 plus on the interstates frequently. Those seeking improved mileage should check out the RAV hybrid with an EPA of 34/30/32 mpg.
An abundance of safety equipment was packaged in a $3,030 “Advanced Technology Package” with a bird’s eye view camera, front and rear parking sonar, forward collision warning system including pedestrian detection, forward collision mitigation with automatic emergency braking, a lane-departure warning and intervention system and automatic high-beam headlight control.
Also an upgraded audio system, Toyota’s easy to use Entune system with navi, and a traffic and weather overlay on a large 7-inch screen among other goodies.
Second row passengers should find abundant room in the reclining seats, and if you fold them down, there is 73.3 cubic feet of hauling space, handy come that holiday trip to the relatives. The power lift gate is a must addition.
In fact, there wasn’t much that one could desire that wasn’t on the test RAV.
Drivers will find a comfortable multi-adjustable 8-way power adjustable seat and heated outside mirrors among other goodies.
Perhaps due to the 18” wheels and the “sport tuned suspension” the ride was on the stiff side with noise from bumps and expansion joints sent back to the cabin. Smaller wheels and standard suspension settings might be better.
But overall, the RAV was quiet inside during legal 70 mph interstate running, and certainly allowed one to enjoy the 11 JBL speakers and sound system.
Toyota recently upgraded the interior of the RAV but there was still hard plastic along the upper dash, and the material used on the visors and headliner did not match the asking price. The stitching along the lower edge was a nice touch.
With the above mentioned options package and delivery, the MSRP on the test RAV came to $34,595, again with just about every amenity one could ask for.
Even with the quibbles cited, you get a solid, long lasting, easy to drive errand runner. Sales of the RAV have been strong in what is the hottest segment of the market. And that says the masses are finding what they are looking for in the RAV, even if it is in Hot Lava. (I will admit I like the color.)
And with the purchase of a vehicle most likely being your second biggest outlay of cash ever, Toyota’s rep for years and years of dependable service is not something that should be overlooked.
2.5-liter 4 double overhead cam
176 hp @ 6,000 rpm
172 lb-ft @ 4,100 rpm
87 octane unleaded or higher
Front – Independent MacPherson strut
with stabilizer bar
Rear – Double wishbone with coil springs,
7.5 x 18 in