The 2009 Toyota RAV4 is a small-to-midsize SUV that offers a nice ride, good handling and available all-wheel drive and can carry seven passengers in some configurations.
Our tester had a V-6 engine; a four-cylinder is standard.
While it was nice to have the extra power offered by the six banger, most people who drive this type of vehicle really don't need it, and in fact would benefit from the improved fuel economy from the four cylinder.
If you are doing hauling, towing or off-roading, you probably would not select a RAV4.
But if you just need to shuttle the family around, occasionally pick up some stuff at the home improvement store and a few groceries, and want something bigger than a small sedan, this is the vehicle for you.
The RAV4 of today is far superior to its ancestor, a little two-door odd-looking thing that came out in the mid-1990s.
But give Toyota credit, though; that little RAV4 created a whole new category, crossovers, that is thriving today.
Today, the RAV4 has a much more conventional style, and is more of a family vehicle than the one that was originally targeting active, young single folks.
For 2009, the Sport and Limited trim models get new options that include a lower-cost navigation system, and a rear backup monitor.
Also on the Limited, you can get a Smart Key entry system standard.
There is a new uphill/downhill shift control system that eases the strain on the transmission.
Overall, Toyota has done an excellent job of combining the best attributes of its cars with the functionality of an SUV.
Toyota says it uses high-strength steel to raise the body rigidity and improve steering, handling and ride.
Also improved as a result of the frame enhancements is the crash energy management, vehicle weight, vibration and noise.
The four-cylinder engine makes 179 horsepower, while the V-6 makes 269.
Gas mileage is 22 mpg city, 28 highway for the four-cylinder with two-wheel drive, and 19 and 27 for the V-6 2wd.
The RAV4 starts at just under $22,500 and goes all the way up to about $37,000.