The RAV4 from Toyota has come a long way from the bland, generic styling of the first few generations. With bold new styling, three trim levels to choose from and less plastic than ever before, the 2013 Toyota RAV4 offers many surprises new and previous owners will surely enjoy.
The rear door of the 2013 RAV4 is now a lift-up tailgate, rather than the side-to-side swing arrangement from previous models. A power lift gate is also available on higher trim levels. Using higher-quality materials and more satisfying control locations, the RAV4's interior has also been greatly improved.
The bad news, depending on your needs, is that the third-row seat is no longer available on the RAV4. However, it does have everything else a crossover buyer is looking for, including a standard rear parking camera, optional navigation and dual-zone climate control.
Under the hood, the only available engine is a 176-horsepower, 2.5-liter 4-cylinder. Also, only one transmission is available, a 6-speed automatic, but standard front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive is available for any trim level.
The RAV4 has multiple driving modes, including both ECO and Sport. In ECO, the RAV4 offers more of a mellow ride, while Sport sharpens the crossover's responses and makes it slightly more fun to drive.
With three trim levels, there is a RAV4 for almost any budget. The base LE trim starts at $23,300, while the top-shelf Limited all-wheel drive will set you back another five grand. The Limited trim does come with 18-inch wheels and low-profile tires that look good but offer a jittery feel on rough roads. However, it comes with a power lift gate unlike the mid-level XLE, which has smaller wheels and cushier tires.
Competition is tough in this crossover market, and includes the Honda CR-V that comes standard with a backup camera, the Ford Escape that has many engine options and even the classy looking Hyundai Santa Fe.
The new 2013 Toyota RAV4 is a huge improvement over the model it replaces. Even though it no longer comes with the thirsty but powerful V6 engine, the third-row seat and the classic swing-out rear door, the RAV4 has everything you'd expect and want in a crossover.