Car Review: 2015 Toyota RAV4 XLE

2015 Toyota RAV4 red

The Toyota RAV4 was the first compact crossover SUV, debuting over 20 years ago. This popular vehicle is now on its fourth generation in a very crowded and growing segment. We tested the XLE model with the Dynamic Torque Control All-Wheel Drive system.

Over the years, the look of the RAV4 has evolved considerably, as it now sports more of a lower, car-like stance. This sleeker design is becoming more common in this category, and we suspect many buyers will use design as a differentiator in making their decision.

One of the reasons the compact crossover segment is growing has to do with the roominess you get for a smaller vehicle. Like others in this segment, the RAV4 comfortably seats five adults, and we filled up the vehicle several times during our test. It also has plenty of cargo capacity with 38.4 cubic feet behind the rear seats. With the 60/40 split rear seats folded, the space expands to 73.4 cubic feet. This practical feature plus the roominess for passengers in a smaller, affordable vehicle makes the RAV4 and other options in this segment irresistible to many buyers.

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Car Review: 2013 Toyota RAV4 XLE AWD


From first glance last year, one could tell there was something special about Toyota’s fourth-generation RAV4. We spent a week driving the 2013 Toyota RAV4 XLE AWD in some pretty harsh weather conditions and this SUV knows how to handle snow and sleet.


The new RAV4’s design achieves strong proportions while conveying the agile and fun character. Sophisticated and dynamic, the exterior features a progressive silhouette, with a sleek-sloping roofline and an aggressive character line. The RAV4 pursues a modern design with aggressively sculpted front and rear fenders and boldly proportioned taillights that define itsathletic presence. The stance looks stronger and much more in tuned with today’s customers.

In a significant break with its heritage, the RAV4 switches from its side-hinged rear door to a convenient roof-hinged liftgate with a space-saver spare tire will be stored under the cargo floor. Standard on the Limited grade is a one-touch power rear liftgate with driver-selectable memory height settings. As on other recently introduced Toyotas, RAV4 engineers paid special attention to aerodynamics — the most obvious detail being small vortex generators molded into the taillight cases and near the base of the A-pillars. Less obvious are the aerodynamic undertrays beneath the passenger cabin that help smooth and control airflow. From the 17-inch alloy wheels, to the Barcelona red metallic paint, the RAV4 has a skin that is light years ahead of past models when it comes to styling and substance.


The RAV4 XLE model we tested did not have leather seating, or heated seats, for that matter, but the new cabin was nonetheless very impressive. The new RAV4’s dash panel is driver-centric and asymmetrical, with primary and secondary controls all within easy reach. On the passenger side, the sculpted dash panel creates a sense of airy spaciousness.

The RAV4’s dash panel and gauges all feature Clear Blue illumination, which provides crisp visibility in most ambient light conditions, and a unified, coherent appearance at night. The RAV4 XLE driver and front passenger ride in premium bucket seats with sport bolstering, providing ample support of the lower hips, lower torso and shoulders during cornering. The XLE has premium fabric with French stitching on the seats and portions of the dash panels. All RAV4s feature 60/40 split/fold second-row seats that recline several degrees to enhance passenger comfort. In contrast to the 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 cu. ft. of cargo capacity behind the rear seats. With rear seats folded, the RAV4 has a maximum cargo capacity of 73.4 cu. ft. This is a very large area, and you really need to see the back seats folded down to appreciate this space.

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