2014 Toyota Rav4 LE FWD
2.5L L4 DOHC 16-valve - 6-Speed Auto
176 @ 6000
172 @ 4100
8.7 / 6.4
1090 - 2080
Back in 1994, Toyota created a new segment in the automotive world by launching the Rav4, the very first crossover.
Maneuverability, a better visual from higher up and increased cargo space in a rather compact body was the vision and as such the Rav4 was born. Today, the Rav4 in its fourth generation comes softer and with further improved road manners. The only odd thing is that Rav4 still stands for Recreational Active Vehicle with 4-Wheel-Drive, but my test vehicle is strictly FWD.
The base model is the LE FWD which will set you back $23,870 and adding the one and only available “Upgrade Package” will up the price by $1,500. The LE with AWD is $2,265 more, while the top of the line AWD Limited is a very reasonable $33,210.
On the safety front, standard equipment includes ABS, traction and stability control alongside the last line of defense; 8 airbags. Equipment-wise, even in the base model you get USB Input, Bluetooth®, steering wheel controls, tilt & telescopic steering column, cruise control, air conditioning, Eco Drive Monitor, 17-inch steel wheels with nice looking covers, six-way adjustable driver’s seat, 60/40 split/folding rear seats and power mirrors and windows. The available Upgrade Package includes a 6.1″ Display Audio System with 6 speakers, heated front seats, backup camera, tonneau cover, privacy glass, silver painted roof rails and voice commands.
Bold and very sculptured, the body is busy and looks very dynamic compared to the much simpler designs of the past. Bigger, longer and lower the latest Rav4 has strong road presence and a kind of sporty stance.
Inside the cabin, the design gets simpler to benefit ergonomics. The doorless pocket on the passenger side and simple cut windshield air vents are surely interesting but definitely not distracting. The materials used are all hard plastics of iffy quality, but fit and finish between them seems very good. Three discrete accent trims co-exist in harmony but the overall feeling of the interior is just not very exciting.
A comfortable driving position is easy to find thanks to the tilt and reach steering adjustments and the seats are both comfortable and supportive enough. Forward visibility is good but the small back window and thick pillars need some getting used to. When the sun goes down the headlights light up the road well and the blue tone lighting of the dash is pleasant to the eyes.
Space and practicality are the two aces up this crossovers sleeve as five passengers and the entire luggage in the world can fit no-problemo inside. The back seat is also reclinable to make matters even better. The minimum trunk space is 1090L and by folding the rear seats the maximum is 2080L. Under the cargo floor, there is more space for smaller stuff. Kudos to Toyota for realizing that the side hinged door was just stupid and now not only is it a proper tailgate, but the opening is huge and all the way to the bottom.
Driving the Rav4 is a very pleasant experience. The 2.5L 4-cylinder VVT-I motor is refined and plenty capable of moving around the big body as the 176 BHP and 172 lb-ft of torque offer descent performance. 0-100km/h is completed in 11.3” and when driven in a mixture of heavy traffic and open roads it requires an average of 11.0L/100km of regular unleaded. The 6-Speed automatic transmission is smooth and well geared while the ECO and Sport buttons do have an obvious effect on the way it shifts. The all-around independent suspension is tuned for comfort but very near that sweet sport versus driving dynamics. Or at least that is what if feels like at first. Over rough surfaces, most of the shock is absorbed well and only shallow sharp hits can be felt a bit. Road noise is minimal but the same does not apply for wind noise. Around corners, the well weighted steering and crisp brake pedal feel, inspire the driver to push hard but is then when you soon realize that the soft suspension allows body roll which in turn slows the pace down. Sporty it might not be, but surefooted it is. Understeer comes relatively early in the FWD model, but traction limits are smooth and predictable making it very safe vehicle to drive. The brakes performed well as from 100km/h it came to a complete stop in 42m.
Buyers who prefer a base model in a reliable brand over affordable brands with more bling are the type of buyers this Rav4 is looking for. Space and comfort are class leading, so if reliability is the only other requirement and you are absolutely sure you will not miss the AWD system, the Rav4 LE is a no brainer.
FWD Handling and traction
"Cheap" looking interior