The Toyota RAV4 got a full makeover last year, but returns for the 2014 model year with a few extra safety features, addressing a concern that the previous model faced.
The design that the RAV 4 picked up last year is definitely much more crossover-ish, and less SUV-ish. That’s been the trend in the small SUV market for the past couple of years.
While we favor crossovers that embrace their SUV-ness more, it can also be said that the more wagon-like look has plenty of fans as well.
The new RAV4 design has lots of folds and tapers, large headlight groupings and a sweeping front grille.
Gone is the spare tire that was affixed to the back gate; it now sits inside the cargo area, under the floor.
The RAV4 features a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 176 horsepower and is linked to a six-speed automatic transmission.
Fuel economy is rated at 24 mpg city, 31 highway for front-wheel drive models and 22 and 29 for models with the optional all-wheel drive.
Cargo space is 38.4 cubic feet, expanding to 73.4 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down.
The interior is sharp and sporty looking, with well-placed dashboard controls and comfortable seating.
In fact, despite its relatively compact size, the RAV4 proved to be fine for a weekend road trip that included a handful of family members and their bags.
The RAV4 comes standard with a backup camera and a touch screen audio control center.
Optional features include the Entune multimedia system, heated front seats, navigation system and dual-zone climate control.
The RAV4 was previously dinged by Consumer Reports for not having strong enough safety chops, but this year’s model is an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety top safety pick.
There are eight standard airbags, antilock brakes and electronic stability control. If you opt for the technology package, you also get lane departure warning, automatic high beam headlights, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic warnings.
The RAV4 starts at around $24,000 and ranges to a little more than $30,000.
For a stylish, practical small SUV, the RAV4 is worth raving about.