2021 Toyota RAV4 review: Satisfying if not quite superb

The RAV4 is a sharp hunting little SUV.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 is a great deal like that one particular friend absolutely everyone appears to have: generally there to lend a hand, supply a shoulder to cry on or show up at a moment’s see if you uncover by yourself in very hot water at 2:00 a.m. in Tijuana. No, the RAV4 won’t really guide the compact SUV course in any one particular area, but it’s well rounded, flawlessly able and prepared to serve.

Table of Contents


  • Eye-catching inside design
  • Standard driver aids
  • Included capability

Really don’t Like

  • So-so infotainment system
  • Gritty reversing digital camera
  • Grumbling motor

Supplying motorists a lot of selection, 3 essential flavors of RAV4 are out there. You can find the regular product, an economical hybrid and then the RAV4 Primary, the plug-in hybrid variant with up to forty two miles of electric powered-only selection. The example observed listed here is the most rugged of the bunch, the TRD Off-Highway, which functions a non-hybrid drivetrain and some further functions to make it carry out far better out on the trail.

For 2021, the TRD Off-Highway product gains a swanky stainless-steel front skid plate, a initially for the RAV4. This should assist shield some of its delicates whilst thrashing around in the grime. This Toyota’s system is supported by a uniquely tuned suspension, which functions racy-hunting crimson springs that supposedly supply far better little-bump isolation on tough roadways. This automobile also offers re-valved twin-tube shock absorbers for far better system management in excess of large surface area irregularities. Giving and excess serving to of traction is a established of Falken Wildpeak A/T Trail all-terrain tires mounted to 18-inch TRD wheels. These rubbers seem tremendous intense but are surprisingly agreeable. In truth, the TRD Off-Road’s suspension tuning is entirely livable, supplying an impressively easy on-pavement trip with little tire noise. If towing is your matter, this RAV4 can drag up to 3,500 pounds, enough for a few snowmobiles or a little trailer.

My tester is also fitted with what have to be the most useless running boards in automotive heritage. The RAV4 sits lower enough that they’re absolutely unneeded. Generating issues even worse, these things are certain to get in the way whilst off-roading, as well as they stick out far enough to streak your pant legs with regardless of what slop you last drove by way of. But this is the kicker: All this added inconvenience fees an excess $549.

Get previous individuals optional running boards and you may uncover this SUV’s inside is well built and the in general design is quick on the eyes, devoid of any frou-frou add-ons or unneeded sculpting. Mazda’s CX-5 is plainly a lot more upscale and the Honda CR-V’s cabin is nicer, as well, but there’s no shortage of smooth products in this Toyota and I like the racy-hunting crimson stitching that runs across the dashboard, door panels and seats. This is complemented by crimson accents around the cup holders and out there wi-fi charging plate as well as on the rubber flooring mats.

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

Craig Cole/Roadshow

An 8-inch touchscreen is perched on the dashboard where by it’s quick to achieve and see (decrease trims element a seven-incher). However, this exhibit is property to an out-of-date infotainment system that is difficult to use and fairly unattractive. But hey, at minimum Apple CarPlay, Android Vehicle and Amazon Alexa are all supported. I recognize the rubbery temperature- and audio-management knobs, which truly feel good in my arms, but some of the other HVAC buttons are a little bit as well little to effortlessly see whilst driving. Further than all that, this RAV4 also functions the $1,620 Quality Audio bundle, which includes an eleven-speaker JBL seem system, embedded navigation and a number of other goodies.

As in other Toyotas, the RAV4’s again-up digital camera is lousy, supplying a lower-resolution picture of what’s guiding you. The $1,950 TRD Off-Highway Technologies Package deal includes a 360-diploma digital camera system, which is beneficial, but just as gritty hunting. This options team is made up of other goodies, as well, like a electronic rear-check out mirror, parking sensors, a wi-fi charging plate and a lot more, so it is really worth the excess outlay even if the digital camera system is just so-so.

The RAV4’s front chairs are supportive and comfy, serving to supply a good check out of the road forward. This SUV’s backseat is also roomy, with a lot of place for knees and noggins, although the rear cushion is just a tad as well lower for it to be entirely accommodating. Also, the again door openings are slender, so it can be difficult to access the rear accommodations.

This Toyota’s 4-cylinder motor will work surprisingly well, even if it’s a little bit noisy whilst doing work.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

This example’s wide, electrical power-opening hatch can make it a snap to access the cargo keep, which presents 37.5 cubic-feet of storage house guiding the rear backrests or 69.8 cubes with them folded down. Which is a lot more house than you get in a CX-5 or Ford Escape, but individuals scores do fall a little guiding the capacious CR-V.

The RAV4 is propelled by a familiar drivetrain, one particular utilised to good benefit through Toyota’s automotive empire. Nestled involving this SUV’s front fenders is a by natural means aspirated 2.5-liter 4-cylinder that delivers a sensible 203 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. The motor is backed by an eight-speed automated transmission that is, for the most part, fast-witted and easy, although at times gearchanges can truly feel a little bit uneven. The general performance this powertrain delivers is flawlessly high-quality unladen, the RAV4 has no hassle receiving up to freeway speed. Truly, I have no issues about this SUV’s get-up-and-go, fairly, I am not a large supporter of its refinement. The motor is gruff sounding when on the boil and often you truly feel uncouth vibrations.

But hey, at minimum the RAV4 is efficient. TRD Off-Highway products occur with torque-vectoring all-wheel generate, a element that should make them reasonably able little mountain goats. Even with the added pounds and friction of 4-corner traction, this SUV is rated at twenty five mpg town, 32 mpg freeway and 28 mpg merged. In mixed (although generally freeway) driving, I am averaging about 31.5 mpg, which is, frankly, stellar for a automobile this tall fitted with these intense tires. 

The infotainment system is one particular of the RAV4’s major weaknesses. 

Craig Cole/Roadshow

At interstate speeds a little bit of wind noise can make its presence recognized, but this is rarely objectionable. The RAV4’s trip is generally supple and the brake pedal feels good beneath your tootsies. This vehicle’s steering is crisp and fast, but a tad as well light for my style and the wheel’s rim is just about dainty its cross-section is so little.

Helping maintain the RAV4 shiny facet up, Toyota Safety Feeling 2. is regular fare on every single 2021 product. This suite of driver aids includes lane-departure warning, automated superior beams, road-indication recognition and a lot more. The headline functions, although, are adaptive cruise management and lane centering. With each other, these two amenities make very long freeway drives a breeze, keeping the automobile from wandering and effortlessly matching the speed of bordering targeted traffic.

Preserving pace with rival SUVs, an entry-level, front-generate 2021 Toyota RAV4 begins at 27 grand and change such as $1,one hundred seventy five in desired destination expenses. As it sits, the loaded TRD Off-Highway product observed listed here checks out for $forty two,622. That figure includes a number of options like the Off-Highway Climate Package deal ($1,015), the Quality Audio options team ($1,620), the TRD Off-Highway tech pack ($1,950), door sill guards ($140), mud flaps ($129) and, yes, individuals foolish running boards ($549).

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

Craig Cole/Roadshow

With added capability and commendable refinement, the RAV4 TRD Off-Highway is a likable SUV. I even now like the CX-5, which feels considerably a lot more quality and I believe the CR-V is almost certainly a little bit a lot more practical, but as generally, the ever-preferred RAV4 stays an great selection.

Maria J. Danford

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