The Toyota RAV4 is in its fourth generation. Its name stands for “recreational active vehicle with four-wheel drive” – even though many models are only driven by the two wheels in front.
The current RAV4 has a sporty presence in front that’s marked with an upswept grille and flared headlamps. This model’s lower grille opening is larger than the top and is hemmed in by pockets containing the available fog lamps.
The RAV4 features flared wheel arches, a rising beltline, a sloping roofline, upper and lower profile character lines and alloy wheels. At the rear, the RAV4 has a liftgate spoiler, wraparound combination lights, reflectors and a single exhaust port.
Inside, the Toyota RAV4 offers very good room for five and has 101.9 cubic feet of passenger volume. Standard bucket seats are up front and a 60-40 split-folding bench seat is in the second row. The RAV4 has excellent cargo space, with 38.4 cubic feet of space behind the second row seat. That space is expandable to 73.4 cubic feet with the rear seat folded.
All Toyota RAV4s are powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that’s paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. This SUV makes 176 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque. A Toyota RAV4 Hybrid became available in 2016 and is marketed separately.
All models are equipped with an audio system that includes an auxiliary input jack, a USB port and Bluetooth connectivity. An integrated backup camera is also standard across the RAV4 line. Higher trims add features like heated front seats, navigation, a 7-inch color display, Siri Eyes Free integration and HD Radio.
Chief competitors to the Toyota RAV4 include the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, Chevrolet Equinox, Mazda CX-5, Nissan Rogue and Kia Sportage.
The first-generation Toyota RAV4 made its debut as a 1996 model and remained in production through 2000. The second-generation RAV4 was released in 2001 and was produced through 2005. In 2006, the third-generation RAV4 arrived and stayed in production through 2012. Initially, the RAV4 was offered in one trim level, with a convertible version added for 1998.
Upon its release, the first-generation Toyota RAV4 offered a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and paired it with a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission. Both transmissions were available with front- and all-wheel drive models.
The second-generation RAV4 maintained the same powertrain combinations as the first-generation model. However, the engine was tweaked to improve fuel economy and horsepower.
The third-generation model incorporated numerous changes, including extending the wheelbase and adding an available third-row seat. That seat, which is essentially large enough only for children, extended the standard seating capacity from five to seven.
Upon its debut, the third-generation RAV4 was offered with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that’s paired with a four-speed automatic transmission. Toyota also offered a 3.5-liter V6 engine and paired it with a five-speed automatic transmission.
Beginning in 2009, Toyota upgraded the base engine to a more powerful, 2.5-liter four-cylinder. Other updates that year brought in revised front and rear fascias and an available backup camera, as well as navigation, keyless entry and push-button start. Notably, the third-generation model is the only one to offer a V6 engine.
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