Car Review: 2013 Toyota RAV4 XLE AWD

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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.

EXTERIOR

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.

INTERIOR

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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Car Review: 2013 Toyota Sequoia

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The 2013 Sequoia has made a statement of power, with all models for 2013 now boasting the 381-hp 5.7-liter V8 as standard. We had the opportunity to test drive this beast of a SUV for a week and have grown accustomed to this power trip.

EXTERIOR

There is certainly no mistaking the super white 2013 Toyota Sequoia on the open road. The Sequoia’s 0.36 drag coefficient (Cd) is comparable to smaller crossover-type vehicles. The vehicle’s mirrors, wipers, A-pillars and roof header are shaped to help maximize aerodynamic efficiency and minimize wind noise. Vehicle underside airflow is optimized to reduce drag and wind noise and to help improve directional control.

Headlamp washers are standard on all grades for improved visibility. The wide rear door-opening angle provides easy passenger ingress/egress and child seat installation. Our test model also included power heated outside mirrors, multi reflector halogen headlights with auto-off feature, fog lamps, tilt slide moon roof with sunshade, roof rack, rear spoiler, privacy glass, 18-inch alloy wheels and running boards. Yes, those running boards are worth every penny, as getting inside of the Sequoia is no joke!

INTERIOR

The Sequoia dash features a finish similar to that in fine luxury cars. Each of Sequoia’s eight seating positions provides space sufficient to comfortably accommodate people well above normal height. The same efficient packaging that allows exceptional interior comfort also allows carrying items up to 11 feet long. Folding the second- and third-row seats flat opens the cargo area to 120.1 cubic feet of carrying capacity.

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Car Review: 2013 Toyota Highlander Limited 4WD

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We drive a lot of cars, and sometimes, redesigned aren’t always much better than outgoing models, but that’s not the case with the 2013 Toyota Highlander Limited 4WD. The first-generation Highlander pioneered the midsize crossover utility vehicle segment, ushering in car-like performance, comfort and fuel efficiency with SUV-like roominess and versatility. The current, second-generation Highlander amplifies those attributes and is among the leaders in the segment in standard active and passive safety features. Toyota has really taken serious steps forward with the Highlander as this is one very impressive vehicle.

EXTERIOR

The Highlander now has that wow factor that you don’t regularly see in an SUV, but it’s real. Designed at Calty Design Research in Newport Beach, Calif., the second-generation Highlander conveys a contemporary, dynamic presence via clean, sculpted lines, a wide, stable stance and muscular contours. The Highlander grade could be mistaken for an upgrade model with its six-spoke, 17-inch alloy wheels, color-keyed power outside mirrors and silver-painted front grille.

The Highlander Limited as tested has a luxurious appearance with sporty 19-inch alloy wheels, chrome door handles and roof rails, puddle lamps and rear spoiler. The 2013 Highlander Hybrid is distinguished from the gasoline model by its own unique grille and bumper design, color-keyed rockers with chrome accents, plus vertically stacked fog lamps. The projector-beam headlights and taillights feature blue lens covers. Our classic silver metallic test model looked refined and upscale with an overall sleek look.

INTERIOR

Continuing with that upscale feel, the 2013 Toyota Highlander Limited really hit a homerun with the cabin quality, design and fit and finish. All Highlander models feature a standard 50/50 split third-row seat and rear climate control. Generous standard features on the Highlander grade include front and rear air conditioning; eight-way adjustable driver’s seat; power door locks and windows with driver’s window jam protection and auto-up/down feature; manual tilt and telescopic steering wheel; cruise control; multi-function keyless entry system; UV-reduction windshield and rear privacy glass; digital clock; conversation mirror; illuminated entry system; scheduled maintenance indicator light; full-size spare tire and more.

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