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Toyota spent most of its effort revising and updating the RAV4's interior last year, which came in response to negative customer feedback. The RAV4 now uses improved materials, including more soft-touch surfaces. It added trim around certain dashboard and console elements, a digital display in the revised instrument cluster, an available 7.0-inch touchscreen, and a 12-volt outlet for the rear plus another USB port.
The RAV4's exterior also got a thorough nip-and-tuck along with new wheel designs. Its tail is chunky, upright, and has unusual taillights that stand proud of the body. Inside, the dashboard is busy; to our eyes, the simplest RAV4 LE is more coherent than the many trims and surfaces of the top-of-the-line RAV4 Platinum.
The base engine remains a 176-horsepower 2.5-liter inline-4 matched to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Though perfectly adequate, the RAV4's engine can feel strained with a full complement of passengers and cargo aboard. Unlike the Ford Escape and Subaru Forester, there's no higher-zoot powertrain on offer aside from the hybrid.
The automatic is tuned for efficiency, shifting up to third or fourth as soon as it can when driving around town and dropping into a low-rpm lull just as soon as it can when speeds allow. It's a little better in Sport mode, where the transmission smooths out downshifts by blipping the throttle.
Toyota revised and updated the RAV4's interior last year with better materials and more lavish trim, which helped make an already well-packaged crossover a much nicer place to spend time.
Regardless of trim, the RAV4's driving position is agreeably car-like, although the standard tilting and telescoping steering wheel doesn't extend as far toward the driver as it should. On more Limited and Platinum trims, the driver seat gets power adjustment and memory functions and lumbar adjustment, while the front passengers get heated seats.
The rear bench seat is less satisfying, and some adults may find a lack of support. The back seats about equal those in the Honda CR-V, meaning that entry and exit are easy, but they contouring is flat and there's not that much cushioning. The seats recline, and fold forward with the flip of a lever—and the doors are cut tall and wide, so it's easy for taller passengers to slide in and out or for parents to strap in a child seat.
RAV4s offer about the same amount of usable space as the Honda CR-V, including a low cargo floor that opens up from 38.4 to 73.4 cubic feet with the split-folding rear seat tumbled to the floor. Most RAV4s now come with a power liftgate, which is operable via the sweep of a foot under the rear bumper in the Platinum.
*This vehicle is Certified Pre-Owned and is eligible for our third party warranty program.