by Karl Furlong
Being a trailblazer in the automotive industry and maintaining that success 30 years later is no mean feat, but the Toyota RAV4 - which popularized the modern crossover concept in the mid-1990s - has done it. It's still been America's best-selling crossover/SUV in recent years, although estimates at the time of writing suggest the Tesla Model Y will soon overtake it. The new Honda CR-V is a more direct rival, which, like the RAV4, also comes with hybrid options (we review the plug-in RAV4 Prime separately).
The RAV4's bulletproof reputation for a spacious interior, reliability, and efficient powertrains remain appealing to thousands of shoppers in the USA. The range includes a gas-only 203-horsepower four-pot and 219-hp hybrid that returns up to 40 mpg combined. With multiple trims and front- or all-wheel-drive, there are over 15 RAV4 variants to cater to every budget and need. It's not the most emotive or exciting crossover, and the CR-V is fresher, so the RAV4's lead at the top is under threat. It won't go down without a fight, though.
Toyota has made a few changes to the RAV4 for the 2024 model year, several of which apply to the hybrid-only Woodland Edition. This model comes with new two-tone paint colors - Army Green or Ice Cap with a Midnight Black Metallic roof - and a standard 1¼-inch activity mount that can accommodate a tray-style bike rack or cargo carrier. Via a new Weather Package, the Woodland Edition can be upgraded with heated front seats, a windshield wiper de-icer, and a leather steering wheel.
As for the gas-powered lineup, the Adventure and TRD Off-Road trims also gain a rejigged color palette with Army Green, which can also be had with a white or black contrast roof.
The starting price for the 2024 Toyota RAV4 is $28,475 for the LE, only $200 more than last year. Sticking with the gas-only models, the RAV4's MSRP increases to $29,985 for the XLE, $32,875 for the XLE Premium, and $36,780 for the Limited. Adding AWD to any of these models will cost $1,400. The Adventure and TRD Off-Road go for $34,670 and $38,095, respectively, and both have AWD as standard.
Moving on to the hybrid range, the RAV4 starts at $31,475 for the LE. From there, the RAV4 Hybrid is $32,985 for the XLE, $34,170 for the SE, $34,695 for the Woodland Edition, $35,875 for the XLE Premium, $37,135 for the XSE, and $39,780 for the Limited. All hybrids get AWD as standard.
We recommend the TRD Off-Road if you want the most capable RAV4 for mild off-roading. If that's not a priority, the XLE or SE hybrids are decent options. They aren't as barebones as the base versions, and the very impressive gas mileage of the hybrids seems worth the small price bump. The Woodland Edition isn't expensive, but it does lose out on the superior fuel economy by virtue of its weighty off-roading additions - it is the one to go for if you want both hybrid and off-road boxes ticked.
There is little to criticize in the RAV4's solid and functional interior, while the top models enjoy some attractive materials and features.
The Toyota RAV4's interior is spacious, ergonomic and logical, and feels built to last. There are some harder plastics that remind you this isn't a Lexus, but the upper trims actually feel quite upscale. On the base model, you must stick with manually adjustable front seats and cloth upholstery. Still, most versions have SofTex imitation leather, and the top models have heated and ventilated front seats. As you progress through the trim ladder, the standard eight-inch touchscreen interface on the dashboard gets upgraded to a 10.5-inch one, but Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. Without breaking boundaries in any way, the 2024 RAV4's cabin ticks all the important boxes for a family of four.
The five-seater Toyota RAV4's interior boasts generous space, with excellent headroom and legroom in both rows. Although two adults will be more comfortable at the back, three can be accommodated in reasonable comfort, and nobody should have any issues with ingress or egress. The driver has a six-way manually adjustable seat in the base model, but an eight-way powered seat is standard on upper trims. From the pilot's seating position, the view out of the windshield is good, although large rear pillars obstruct the rear view. Fortunately, almost every RAV4 has standard blind-spot monitoring.
As with its seating, the cargo space in the new Toyota RAV4 is excellent for a compact crossover. The volume behind the rear seats is 37.6 cubic feet. This figure trails the commodious Honda CR-V's trunk, but it's still more than enough for a couple of large suitcases. Folding down the 60/40 split second row opens up 69.8 cu-ft of space, perfect for bicycles or other longer items. Despite the hybrid models' extra electric components, they offer identical cargo specs to the gas-only RAV4.
Inside, all models have four cupholders - two in the front and two at the back - and another pair of bottle holders in each row. There is a center console with covered storage for wallets and the like, plus door pockets and a conventional glovebox. Upper trims have an overhead console for storing your sunglasses. Overall, the RAV4 is an appreciably practical SUV.
|Toyota RAV4||Honda CR-V||Mazda CX-50|
|5 Seater||5 Seater||5 Seater|
|37.7 in. front (with moonroof)|
39.5 in. rear
|38.2-40 in. front|
38.2 in. rear
|38.6-39.1 in. front |
37.5-38.6 in. rear
|41 in. front|
37.8 in. rear
|41.3 in. front|
41 in. rear
|41.7 in. front |
39.8 in. rear
|37.5-69.8 ft³||39.3-76.5 ft³||31.4-56.3 ft³|
The urethane steering wheel, black door handles, and harder materials dotted around the cabin reveal the entry-level status of base RAV4s. However, these models are still capable of racking up the miles without the cabin looking shoddy. As you spend more on upper trims, the RAV4 gains a leather wrapping for the steering wheel and shift knob, silver door handles, and SofTex imitation leather upholstery instead of cloth.
Interior colors include black, Nutmeg, Ash, and Mocha, although availability and color schemes differ according to trim. For example, the TRD Off-Road has an exclusively black cabin with red accents. For the upscale Limited, there are Dark Brown interior accents, while most hybrids have blue interior accents.
There is a broad range of RAV4 trims, so the feature count differs quite substantially from the starting point of the range to the most expensive. Base models come with a six-way manually adjustable driver's seat, a four-way adjustable front passenger seat, single-zone automatic climate control, remote keyless entry, a 12V/120W auxiliary power outlet, and a seven-inch digital multi-information display. Higher up in the lineup, the RAV4 adds an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat, heated and ventilated front seats, heated outboard rear seats, dual-zone climate control, a heated steering wheel, a power moonroof, a powered liftgate, push-button start, and a digital rearview mirror.
The infotainment system begins with an eight-inch touchscreen on cheaper models. It features six speakers, wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, Bluetooth, and SiriusXM with a three-month Platinum Plan trial subscription. This is replaced with a 10.5-inch touchscreen on upper trims, while a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and 11-speaker JBL sound system are reserved for the pricier RAV4s.
|Single-zone climate control|
|Dual-zone automatic climate control|
|Heated front seats|
|10.5-inch touchscreen interface|
|Heated steering wheel|
The RAV4 and RAV4 Hybrid prioritize efficiency over raw power and acceleration, but they're both pleasant to drive, other than the drone of the four-cylinder.
Tuned more for daily drivability and efficiency than outright performance, the engine in the Toyota RAV4 is a reliable 2.5-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder producing 203 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. FWD is standard and AWD optional -although the off-road biased models are AWD only - while an eight-speed automatic transmission is standard. AWD models also get a special Snow driving mode, which optimizes traction in adverse weather conditions. While there are a few models that tout off-roading skills, these aren't trail-rated cars, so only mild adventuring should be attempted.
In independent tests, the Toyota RAV4 scooted from 0-60 mph in eight seconds, so it can't match certain turbocharged rivals. That said, it isn't so slow that it feels intolerable to drive. Hybrid models have the same 2.5L engine but add two electric motors to make 219 hp combined. Hybrids have a different drivetrain with standard AWD and a CVT - they can hit 60 in around 7.4 seconds, and the electric motors boost responsiveness. The top speed is of minimal importance, but expect the limiter to kick in at around 119 mph.
While most RAV4s can only tow 1,500 lbs, the Adventure and TRD trims can haul 3,500 lbs. This towing capacity exceeds the Nissan Rogue's maximum by 2,000 lbs, while trailering in the CR-V is also limited to 1,500 lbs.
There are no surprises in the RAV4 driving experience, but that's not a bad thing. Besides the slightly unrefined four-pot, the Toyota exhibits a stable, comfortable ride on the highway and composed handling. It can't touch the Mazda CX-50 for sheer enjoyment, but these aren't sports cars, so we can't hold this against the RAV4.
In LE guise with FWD, the Toyota RAV4 returns 27/35/30 mpg city/highway/combined. With AWD, the same trim returns 27/34/30 mpg, so powering two extra wheels barely has an impact on the RAV4's efficiency - unless you opt for one of the heavier, more feature-laden trims, which average out at around 27/33/29 mpg. The off-road upgrades for the TRD Off-Road do knock its gas mileage specs down to 25/32/28 mpg, based on the latest available data.
In its most efficient hybrid form, the RAV4 manages 41/38/40 mpg, matching the 40 mpg combined of the thriftiest Honda CR-V, according to 2023 EPA ratings. However, the AWD Woodland Edition is heavier, so it doesn't fare quite as well, managing on 38/35/37 mpg.
All models have a 14.5-gallon fuel tank capacity, equating to a maximum range of 435 miles for non-hybrids and 580 for Toyota RAV4 hybrid models.
|2.5L Inline-4 Gas|
|2.5L Inline-4 Gas|
|2.5L Inline-4 Hybrid |
|203 hp||203 hp||219 hp combined|
|27/35/30 mpg (LE, Limited)|
27/34/30 mpg (XLE, XLE Premium)
|27/34/30 mpg (LE)|
27/33/29 mpg (XLE, XLE Premium)
25/33/28 mpg (Adventure, Limited)
25/32/28 mpg (TRD Off-Road)
|28/35/37 mpg (Woodland Edition) |
41/38/40 mpg (all other trims)
|8 seconds||8 seconds||7.4 seconds|
The Toyota RAV4 wasn't perfect in the IIHS' latest crash tests, but its overall safety scores are exemplary.
The Toyota RAV4's safety reputation deserves high praise. The 2023 model achieved a Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS, and the 2024 version is likely to repeat this. It performed well in all crashworthiness categories besides the updated moderate front overlap and side tests, where the IIHS said the RAV4 was merely Acceptable. At the NHTSA, the 2024 RAV4 managed a five-star overall safety rating, a result mirrored by the RAV4 Hybrid.
Even though the cheapest RAV4s are light on comfort and convenience items, Toyota hasn't skimped on safety equipment. All models come with the Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 suite consisting of a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, full-speed range dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, lane tracing assist, automatic high beams, and road sign assist. In addition, the RAV4 has eight standard airbags, including a driver's knee airbag and rear side curtain airbags. A rearview camera with dynamic gridlines, tire pressure monitoring, dynamic stability control, trailer sway control, and hill start assist control are included, too.
Most models have blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, and these can be added to the models that don't have it as standard. By way of trim or package upgrades, the RAV4 can be equipped with downhill assist control, front and rear parking assist with automatic braking, and a panoramic view monitor.
|Dynamic radar cruise control|
|Lane departure alert|
NHTSA safety ratings are not available at this time.
The Toyota RAV4 has a superb reputation for reliability, although its JD Power quality and reliability rating is 76 out of 100, below the Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5 that are ranked in the 80s. At the time of writing, no recalls affected 2024 RAV4s, but the 2023 non-hybrids were recalled once for a valve stem that could be damaged, possibly leading to a tire failure. For the 2022 model, both the non-hybrid and hybrid were recalled for a front airbag that may not deploy properly. In addition, the hybrid had an issue where the stability control could erroneously deactivate when the car is started.
The 2024 Toyota RAV4 is covered by a three-year/36,000-mile comprehensive warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. A big plus in this class is the inclusion of complimentary maintenance for the first two years or 25,000 miles. Finally, the hybrid's battery has warranty coverage for ten years or 150,000 miles, while the hybrid system itself is covered for eight years or 100,000 miles.
If the Toyota RAV4 was less popular, its handsome and rugged design would probably be more appreciated. As it is, the SUV is such a familiar sight that it risks fading into the background, especially the base trim with its 17-inch steel wheels with covers, plainer black grille, and black exterior mirrors. Other variants have alloys ranging from 17 to 19 inches, with varying finishes from trim to trim. LED projector low- and high-beam headlights, along with LED daytime running lights, are standard. From the XLE, you can add a power tilt/slide moonroof with a one-touch open/close mechanism, a feature that's standard higher up in the range. A panoramic glass roof is available, too. A height-adjustable power liftgate with jam protection also becomes available from the XLE, and this feature gains foot activation on upper trims.
Rugged two-tone paint combinations with Army Green create a more outdoorsy vibe on models like the Woodland Edition, Adventure, and TRD Off-Road. The Woodland Edition is especially aggressive with its bronze-colored wheels and Falken Wildpeak all-terrain tires. The TRD Off-Road gets matte black wheels, unique black roof rails, and red-painted shock absorbers. By contrast, the Hybrid XSE has blue-painted shocks to match its blue-accented interior.
Ground clearance varies between 8.1 and 8.6 inches depending on the trim, and all models share a 105.9-inch wheelbase.
It's easy to see why the Toyota RAV4 is such a hot seller. Most shoppers in this segment aren't risk-takers and want something efficient, reliable, and safe. In that context, you can hardly go wrong with the RAV4's proven mechanicals and legendary Toyota badge. Its interior is also accommodating, it rides and handles in a composed manner, and there is some decent off-roading capability in the TRD. It's not massively exciting to drive, and the engine is rather noisy, but thousands of buyers have overlooked these aspects. If you aren't after an all-rounder, you may consider rivals with more performance (Mazda CX-50 turbo), more cargo space (Honda CR-V), or more audacious styling (Kia Sportage). For now, however, we can't see anything toppling the enduring RAV4 on the sales charts.
The most popular competitors of 2024 Toyota RAV4: