Test Drive: 2015 Toyota RAV4 XLE Review

2015 Toyota RAV4

Today we are driving the 2015 Toyota RAV4. It’s essentially a carryover model from last year with the exception of a few features. We’re driving the XLE trim level, which is the middle trim level of the RAV, and has a starting price right around $25,000.

Under the hood is a 2.5 liter 4-cylinder engine that delivers 176 hp and 172 lb-ft of torque. It’s adequate power. For most people, for basic driving around town, it’s going to feel just fine. Solid and comfortable, if a little sluggish with jerky shifting, especially when climbing hills.

I like to push my car a bit to see what it can handle, and I have to say when taking a hard corner or attempting to accelerate quickly, it felt a little clumsy. I would opt for the AWD model to give myself a little more stability, and for those of you that deal with inclement weather, for the add-on of $1400, the AWD is a no-brainer. And it doesn’t effect your gas mileage that much. The FWD model is rated at 24 and 31 and you’ll only drop a few miles with the AWD.

The interior of the cabin is fine, it’s spacious with great visibility. It’s a little noisy, and I have been hearing some rattles here and there. I have to say, I’m not a fan of how it looks. There is just too much going on. With the combination of the satin finish, the lighter soft-touch materials, the metallic accents…it’s just too busy. It’s distracting from what could be a clean, simple, straightforward look (and it looks cheap!).

The overall dimensions of the RAV body make it barely one of the larger in the class, but the actually seating specs are average. To me, the back seat is a little hard and the initial seating position is a little too straight up and down and not that comfortable. BUT, the seat reclines. A lot. So you can easily adjust accordingly, which should make everyone happy, particularly on road trips.

There is a ton of cargo room, in fact one of the best in class. Behind the rear seats you have 38.4 cu ft and with the second row folded (almost flat!), you have a whopping 73.4 cu ft. That’s eight suitcases in our suitcase test.

This model has the optional power-lift tail gate with a height adjustment, which is awesome. Basically you program the gate to be at the height you want. For me, I’m tall (wink, wink), and I need the full clearance to use the cargo space. But, for many people, you may not want that full height, especially when it comes to fitting the RAV into your garage. So it’s a nice option to be able to adjust the height to fit whatever your space needs.

This XLE has also been upgraded to have the Entune Premium Audio with App Suite. What that means is that you can use your compatible SmartPhone to access certain apps through the vehicle system. You do have to set-up an Entune account online, but once you handle all that, you’ll have access to Pandora, iHeart radio, movie ticket info, stock updates, sports scores, etc.

There is also HD Traffic and Weather updates, plus a Navigation system added on. I think it’s quite user friendly, with very clear voice prompts for the turn-by-turn directions.

Plus, there is a great feature where you can do a quick Voice Training to get the system to understand your voice a bit better for easier use of the voice commands. And the system will advise you of traffic on your route and even ask you if you’d like to re-route to avoid the traffic. Overall, I was really impressed with how useful the technology in the RAV is.

The compact crossover segment is really quite competitive anymore, and the RAV4 falls pretty squarely in the middle of them all. It’s been a sold contender and sold well for years. On Toyota’s website, they say that 90% of the RAVs sold in the last 10 years are still on the road. And if that doesn’t speak to the practicality and reliability of the vehicle, I don’t know what does.

BUT, overall, nothing really “stands out” to me, except the technology. Everything feels good, not great. It’s a smart, reliable crossover that will fit many people’s needs, and can easily be owned for years. Toyota does what they do well: they build reliable, practical, affordable vehicles, and the RAV is no exception. With that said, I’d give the Toyota RAV4 a 4 out of 5 stars.

Photo Credit: Toyota
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