Toyota RAV4 ’13: Feels like SUV, but drives like a sedan
The 2013 Toyota RAV4 is definitely one of those crossover vehicles that feels like an SUV, but drive like a sedan. This year’s redesigned edition offers spacious interiors, sleek exteriors and a powerful, fuel-efficient engine that makes the behind-the-wheel experience as comfortable as it is practical.
During a recent test drive, this reporter got the chance to fully experience the fourth-generation of the 4-door, 5-passenger sport-utility that is available in three trim levels: LE, XLE and Limited.
Upon first glance, the changes in the 2013 edition RAV4 are obvious — a progressive silhouette and a sleek-sloping roofline that leads the way to a noticeably absent side-hinged rear door and spare tire holder, which have been replaced with a roof-hinged lift-gate that stores the spare under the cargo floor.
“The new RAV4 2013 is an evolution of the precedent this compact wagon established when it first came to market,” said Toyota de Puerto Rico President Mario Dávila. “Times have changed and so have the needs of our consumers, so we’ve launched a completely redesigned model updated with a variety of features for a quality, fun and stylish ride.”
All three RAV4 models are available in front- or all-wheel-drive. Each trim level is well-equipped with standard and convenient features and very few options, through which Toyota seeks to offer value, and a simple ordering process to meet the needs and budgets of a variety of buyers. In Puerto Rico, the entry-level RAV4 starts at $25,995, Dávila said.
All RAV4’s are equipped with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a new six-speed automatic transmission that offers improved fuel efficiency in comparison to its predecessors. A new Eco mode also promotes more efficient driving for maximum miles per gallon.
The RAV4 front-wheel drive models have received EPA-estimated fuel efficiency ratings of 24 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway, while all-wheel-drive models are EPA-estimated at 22 city/29 highway mpg. On our test drive, we averaged about 26 mpg on the highway, using up less than half a tank of gas on a daytrip from Carolina to the mountains of Utuado.
Generally speaking, the RAV4’s suspension system is on par with its competitors. RAV4 has a MacPherson strut front suspension and double-wishbone rear suspension engineered and calibrated to compliment the roll and handling traits of the front suspension.
Power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering with vehicle-speed-sensitive electric power steering is standard. The EPS has been tuned for a precision feel and quick response. In Sport Mode, steering has a firmer feel and sharper response to steering input.
Premium look, driver-centric controls
Inside, the new RAV4 integrates a premium look with soft-touch accents and driver-centric controls. Depending on the model, the vehicle features a slew of technologies: Display audio with a 6.1-in. touchscreen, AM/FM/CD, Bluetooth connectivity, USB and AUX mini-jack, and six speakers. The display audio, as well as primary and secondary gauges, features clear blue illumination for easy reading.
The display audio feature allows the driver and front passenger to operate the audio system, display heading, ventilation and air conditioning settings, engage navigation systems, when available, and access the available Entune multi-media system that features advanced voice recognition in the XLE and Limited edition RAV4’s.
All RAV4′s feature 60/40 split/fold second-row seats that recline several degrees to heighten passenger comfort and retractable head restraints for improved driver rear visibility.
In contrast to 2013 RAV4′s compact exterior dimensions, the cargo area is deeper, larger and easier to access than in the previous generation, with just over 38.4 cubic feet of cargo capacity behind the rear seats. With rear seats folded, RAV4 has a maximum cargo capacity of 73.4 cubic feet.
For greater safety, all RAV4 models come with a standard back-up camera, another one of those features that makes driving in Puerto Rico a less-risky experience.