2021 Toyota RAV4 review: Satisfying if not quite superb

The RAV4 is a sharp wanting modest SUV.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 is a lot like that just one good friend anyone appears to have: generally there to lend a hand, give a shoulder to cry on or clearly show up at a moment’s see if you find you in scorching water at two:00 a.m. in Tijuana. No, the RAV4 will not truly direct the compact SUV class in any just one space, but it really is very well rounded, perfectly capable and ready to provide.

Table of Contents


  • Eye-catching inside structure
  • Normal driver aids
  • Added capacity

Will not Like

  • So-so infotainment program
  • Gritty reversing camera
  • Grumbling motor

Supplying motorists lots of decision, three standard flavors of RAV4 are obtainable. There is the normal product, an economical hybrid and then the RAV4 Key, the plug-in hybrid variant with up to 42 miles of electrical-only variety. The example observed right here is the most rugged of the bunch, the TRD Off-Highway, which attributes a non-hybrid drivetrain and some added attributes to make it complete far better out on the path.

For 2021, the TRD Off-Highway product gains a swanky stainless-steel entrance skid plate, a 1st for the RAV4. This must support defend some of its delicates although thrashing close to in the grime. This Toyota’s entire body is supported by a uniquely tuned suspension, which attributes racy-wanting pink springs that supposedly give far better modest-bump isolation on tough streets. This automobile also features re-valved twin-tube shock absorbers for far better entire body regulate about big floor irregularities. Furnishing and additional supporting of traction is a set of Falken Wildpeak A/T Trail all-terrain tires mounted to eighteen-inch TRD wheels. These rubbers seem super aggressive but are incredibly agreeable. Certainly, the TRD Off-Road’s suspension tuning is fully livable, giving an impressively smooth on-pavement experience with minor tire sound. If towing is your detail, this RAV4 can drag up to three,five hundred lbs ., ample for a pair snowmobiles or a modest trailer.

My tester is also equipped with what have to be the most useless jogging boards in automotive background. The RAV4 sits very low ample that they’re absolutely unwanted. Earning matters worse, these points are guaranteed to get in the way although off-roading, moreover they adhere out much ample to streak your pant legs with whatever slop you final drove by way of. But this is the kicker: All this additional inconvenience expenses an additional $549.

Get earlier people optional jogging boards and you are going to find this SUV’s inside is very well created and the overall structure is effortless on the eyes, without having any frou-frou add-ons or unwanted sculpting. Mazda’s CX-five is obviously much more upscale and the Honda CR-V’s cabin is nicer, far too, but there is no lack of comfortable supplies in this Toyota and I like the racy-wanting pink stitching that runs across the dashboard, door panels and seats. This is complemented by crimson accents close to the cup holders and obtainable wireless charging plate as very well as on the rubber ground mats.

The 2021 Toyota RAV4’s inside is handsome and practical.

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An 8-inch touchscreen is perched on the dashboard in which it really is effortless to arrive at and see (decrease trims element a 7-incher). Sad to say, this display is property to an outdated infotainment program which is challenging to use and relatively unattractive. But hey, at least Apple CarPlay, Android Car and Amazon Alexa are all supported. I appreciate the rubbery temperature- and audio-regulate knobs, which experience wonderful in my fingers, but some of the other HVAC buttons are a little bit far too modest to quickly see although driving. Past all that, this RAV4 also attributes the $one,620 Quality Audio package deal, which features an 11-speaker JBL audio program, embedded navigation and a several other goodies.

As in other Toyotas, the RAV4’s back-up camera is inadequate, giving a very low-resolution image of what is at the rear of you. The $one,950 TRD Off-Highway Technologies Bundle features a 360-diploma camera program, which is beneficial, but just as gritty wanting. This options team contains other goodies, far too, like a electronic rear-watch mirror, parking sensors, a wireless charging plate and much more, so it is value the additional outlay even if the camera program is basically so-so.

The RAV4’s entrance chairs are supportive and comfy, supporting give a superior watch of the road in advance. This SUV’s backseat is also roomy, with lots of area for knees and noggins, nevertheless the rear cushion is just a tad far too very low for it to be fully accommodating. Also, the back door openings are slim, so it can be challenging to access the rear accommodations.

This Toyota’s 4-cylinder motor works incredibly very well, even if it really is a little bit noisy although performing.

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This example’s large, energy-opening hatch tends to make it a snap to access the cargo keep, which supplies 37.five cubic-toes of storage house at the rear of the rear backrests or 69.8 cubes with them folded down. That is much more house than you get in a CX-five or Ford Escape, but people scores do tumble a little bit at the rear of the capacious CR-V.

The RAV4 is propelled by a familiar drivetrain, just one made use of to wonderful gain all through Toyota’s automotive empire. Nestled concerning this SUV’s entrance fenders is a naturally aspirated two.five-liter 4-cylinder that provides a sensible 203 horsepower and 184 pound-toes of torque. The motor is backed by an 8-velocity automated transmission that is, for the most part, quick-witted and smooth, nevertheless occasionally gearchanges can experience a little bit uneven. The general performance this powertrain provides is perfectly fantastic unladen, the RAV4 has no hassle finding up to highway velocity. Definitely, I have no issues about this SUV’s get-up-and-go, relatively, I am not a large supporter of its refinement. The motor is gruff sounding when on the boil and at times you experience uncouth vibrations.

But hey, at least the RAV4 is productive. TRD Off-Highway versions occur with torque-vectoring all-wheel travel, a element that must make them reasonably capable minor mountain goats. Inspite of the additional bodyweight and friction of 4-corner traction, this SUV is rated at twenty five mpg city, 32 mpg highway and 28 mpg put together. In blended (nevertheless primarily highway) driving, I am averaging about 31.five mpg, which is, frankly, stellar for a automobile this tall equipped with this sort of aggressive tires. 

The infotainment program is just one of the RAV4’s biggest weaknesses. 

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At interstate speeds a little bit of wind sound tends to make its existence recognized, but this is barely objectionable. The RAV4’s experience is primarily supple and the brake pedal feels superior beneath your tootsies. This vehicle’s steering is crisp and quick, but a tad far too light-weight for my style and the wheel’s rim is almost dainty its cross-part is so modest.

Supporting continue to keep the RAV4 shiny aspect up, Toyota Basic safety Perception two. is normal fare on each 2021 product. This suite of driver aids features lane-departure warning, automated large beams, road-sign recognition and much more. The headline attributes, nevertheless, are adaptive cruise regulate and lane centering. With each other, these two amenities make lengthy highway drives a breeze, holding the automobile from wandering and effortlessly matching the velocity of surrounding visitors.

Maintaining rate with rival SUVs, an entry-amount, entrance-travel 2021 Toyota RAV4 begins at 27 grand and transform including $one,one hundred seventy five in location expenses. As it sits, the loaded TRD Off-Highway product observed right here checks out for $42,622. That figure features a quantity of options like the Off-Highway Climate Bundle ($one,015), the Quality Audio options team ($one,620), the TRD Off-Highway tech pack ($one,950), door sill guards ($one hundred forty), mud flaps ($129) and, certainly, people silly jogging boards ($549).

Perfectly, what do you consider of the 2021 Toyota RAV4?

Craig Cole/Roadshow

With additional capacity and commendable refinement, the RAV4 TRD Off-Highway is a likable SUV. I still prefer the CX-five, which feels substantially much more top quality and I consider the CR-V is possibly a little bit much more reasonable, but as generally, the at any time-well-known RAV4 continues to be an outstanding decision.