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1998 Toyota RAV4 Sport Utility Crossover

4dr Auto 4WD

Starting at | Starting at 22 MPG City - 26 MPG Highway

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  • $18,758 original MSRP
Printable Version

1998 Toyota RAV4 Sport Utility Crossover

Printable Version

1998 Toyota RAV4 Sport Utility Crossover

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1998 Toyota RAV4

Source: New Car Test Drive

A small, spunky head-turner.

by Sue Mead

Base Price $17,218
As Tested $23,590

While it's no longer the new kid on the block, Toyota's RAV4 is upgraded for 1998 and is still a head-turner. More than 100,000 RAV4s have been sold in the U.S. since its introduction in 1996. With Toyota's reputation for quality, durability and reliability, it's no surprise that sales of this cute mini-utility continue to grow despite new and upgraded entries in its class.

Although it has already made big waves in the small sport-utility segment, Toyota has gussied up the RAV4 for the new year. New are exterior design changes, performance upgrades, safety enhancements and a revised interior. It also shines in four new colors.

When it was introduced, industry analysts weren't sure how to categorize the RAV4. Today, this new mini-utility segment is not only more established, but increasingly popular for its fuel-efficiency, compact size, and full-time four-wheel-drive system.

In its two-door version, the RAV4 looks like an off-road toy, with an image akin to the Geo Tracker and the Suzuki Sidekick. Removable sunroof panels give it a beachy look. The two-door RAV4 offers a snug cockpit for four.

The four-door RAV4 offers a more aerodynamic stance and is comparable to the Kia Sportage and the larger Honda CR-V. It offers some of the versatility of the mainstream compact sport-utilities, but with less room for people and parcels. The four-door model is 16 inches longer and rides on a longer wheelbase than the two-door and offers seatbelt hardware for five people.

The RAV4 uses front-drive Camry sedan components and a unibody chassis, which give it a car-like demeanor. Two- and four-wheel-drive variations of the RAV4 are available. The four-wheel-drive models feature a lockable center differential (on manual transmissions) and an available torque-sensing, limited-slip rear differential. Even though the RAV4 lacks a low-range set of gears, its ground clearance (7.5 inches for the four-door, 7.7 for the two-door) is sufficient to make off-road driving feasible. The locking differential gives the RAV4 traction advantages over the all-wheel-drive Honda CR-V and Subaru Forester. The RAV4 has been compared to the Jeep Wrangler, though it cannot compete with the Wrangler in really rough going.

There doesn't seem to be a consensus on the RAV4's unique styling, considered everything from cute to ugly duckling to extra-terrestrial. No matter what you call it, Toyota calls it a success.

Walkaround

The RAV4 has been hailed as a welcome visual departure from a crowded highway of SUV lookalikes. Its wide body has tucked-in sheetmetal at the windows, a sloping hood with large air intakes, kicked-up rear quarter panels sculpted around big 16-inch tires. The rear is dominated by a side-opening door, which swings from the left.

All models receive notable changes for '98 with a more aggressively styled grille and front fascia and bolder wheel treatments. Headlamps and taillamps are redesigned for added prominence. Two-door versions now come with a swing-open window on the rear driver's side. All versions offer privacy glass. The hood on our all-wheel-drive model wrapped around built-in tow hooks, ready for a tug off the tundra.

New front seatbelt pretensioners and force-limiters are designed to enhance safety in the event of an impact. With the split-folding rear seat folded flush, it can handle 57.9 cubic feet of goods. However, rear seat leg space is the same as the two-door.

Powered by a 2.0-liter twin-cam DOHC four-cylinder engine, the RAV4 comes with either a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic. Horsepower and torque have been increased for '98, while engine noise has been reduced -- weak points on the '97 model.

Six styling packages are available that include a mix of interior and exterior components for customizing. For instance, the All Weather Guard Equipment Package adds a heavy-duty battery, a big 4.5-liter windshield washer tank, a heavy duty front heater and a rear-seat heater duct for a mere $70. Our test model came equipped with the Upgrade Package, which included power windows, locks and mirrors along with a tilt steering wheel for a more substantial $1050.

The Inside Story

You'll forget the funky design outside once you're inside the RAV4. You'll quickly notice Toyota's traditional attention to quality and safety. Its cockpit is more like a sporty sedan, with a new three-spoke steering wheel. Unibody construction lowers the step-in height, making it easier to get in and out, yet it carries a higher ride height than a sedan for traversing obstacles.

The sloping hood and generous greenhouse front and rear make visibility excellent. Our only caveat on the visibility score is the tailgate-mounted spare, which blocks rear vision just a bit.

Door trim panels are freshened and four-door models receive upgraded fabric trim. Cloth seats are contoured and comfortable and controls and gauges are well located. The revised instrument cluster incorporates a digital odometer and dual trip meter and upgraded radio features.

Our test car had full carpeting with carpeted floor mats. Standard are dual outside mirrors, intermittent front and rear wipers and a rear window defogger. Front door pockets provide storage, while dual cupholders are integrated into the lower instrument panel. New on four-door versions is a auxiliary power outlet in the rear cargo area for battery-powered coolers, inflators and other devices.

All major safety bases are covered with dual airbags (depowered to meet '98 safety standards), three-point seatbelts and headrests, side-impact door beams, energy absorbing steering column, strategically located chassis impact-absorbing reinforcements and a rear center-high mount stop light. Adjustable seat anchors are added to the front seats on the four-door model.

Ride & Drive

The RAV4 is not simply a sport-utility wannabe. It has proven itself to be a standard-bearer for this new breed of mini-utes. A well-designed independent suspension and rack-and-pinion power-assisted steering make it nimble on and off the road.

Standard brakes are power-assisted front disc and rear drum; ABS is available as a $590 option. We were impressed with the all-wheel-drive traction, very useful in snow and slush. Automatic transmission models have a center differential that automatically locks up when excessive slip is sensed between the front and rear axles. On manual transmission models, the driver utilizes a switch to manually lock or unlock the center differential. A limited-slip rear differential is optional and recommended for improved traction off road.

The fun-to-drive quotient remains high on this unique mini-utility. Its unibody construction gives it a handling advantage over truck-based sport-utilities with body-on-frame construction. The longer wheelbase on the four-door RAV4 smoothes some of the choppiness found in the two-door version. The engine feels peppy and can cruise at 80, but it runs out of power in the higher rpm range. Still, the RAV4 accelearates from 0 to 60 mph quicker than the Sidekick, Tracker and Sportage.

We enjoyed the five-speed manual, logging miles at Pocono International Raceway and all over New England.

Final Word

The RAV4 may not have the off-road capability of a Jeep Wrangler, but sales figures show it's a package that buyers like. It's tougher than a car, softer than a truck and as big as a small wagon. It offers some of that rugged image that's so popular today in a smaller package, while delivering a measure of spunk and fun with unique styling.

Comfortable for carpooling, commuting and collecting groceries, the RAV4 is ideal for light action on the beach or in the backcountry. Compared with compact sport-utilities, the RAV4 falls short in towing capacity (1500 pounds), passenger space and cargo space. The already pricey tag on the RAV4 has climbed higher this year. Our test model retails for $23,590.

On the other hand, it offers Toyota ruggedness, reliability and build, with 26 mpg on the highway, which makes it much cheaper to run after you've signed the contract.

Order our 200+ page magazine of reviews. Send $8.00 (S&H included) to New Car Test Drive, 2145 Crooks Rd. Suite 200, Troy, MI 48084

©1998 New Car Test Drive, Inc.

Printable Version

1998 Toyota RAV4 Sport Utility Crossover

Safety Ratings help

What do the Safety Ratings mean?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) performs independent crash testing of new vehicles and then assigns them a score based on their performance. The overall crash test rating is based on how a vehicle performs in the following tests:

Driver Crash Grade:

Measures the chance of a serious injury to a crash test dummy that is placed in a driver's seat and driven into a fixed barrier at 35 MPH. A five-star rating means there is 10 percent or less chance of injury.

Passenger Crash Grade:

Similar to the driver crash grade, only now the focus is on the passenger.

Rollover Resistance:

Simulates an emergency lane change to measure the likelihood of a vehicle rolling over. A five-star rating means there is 10 percent or less risk of rollover.

Side Impact Crash Test - Front:

Focuses on the front side of a vehicle. It simulates crashes that can occur in intersections by striking a 3,015-pound weight against the side of a vehicle at 38.5 MPH. A five-star rating means there is 5 percent or less chance of injury.

Side Impact Crash Test - Rear:

Similar to the front side impact test only now the focus is on the rear passenger.

Driver Crash Grade
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Passenger Crash Grade
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Side Impact Crash Test - Front
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Side Impact Crash Test - Rear
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Safety Features & Equipment

Braking & Traction

4-Wheel ABS Opt

Passenger Restraint

Driver Air Bag Std
Passenger Air Bag Std
Child Safety Locks Std

Road Visibility

Intermittent Wipers Std

Security

Alarm Opt
Printable Version

1998 Toyota RAV4 Sport Utility Crossover

Original Warranty  help
Original Warranty
An original warranty is the warranty associated with a vehicle when it is brand new. In addition to the original warranty, select items, like tires, are typically covered by respective manufacturers. Also, an act of Federal law sometimes provides protection for certain components, like emissions equipment.
The original warranty is often broken down into multiple sections, including:
Basic Warranty:
Typically covers everything except for parts that wear out through normal use of the vehicle. Examples of non-covered items are brake pads, wiper blades and filters.
Drivetrain Warranty:
This warranty covers items the basic warranty does not protect. Wear and tear items such as hoses will not be covered, but key items like the engine, transmission, drive axles and driveshaft often will be.
Roadside Assistance:
The level of service differs greatly with this warranty, but many manufacturers offer a toll-free number that helps provide assistance in case you run out of gas, get a flat tire or lock your keys in the car.
Corrosion Warranty:
This warranty focuses on protecting you from holes caused by rust or corrosion in your vehicle's sheet metal.
Please check the owner's manual, visit a local dealership or look at the manufacturer's website to learn more about the specifics of the warranties that apply to a vehicle.

Basic 3 Years/36,000 Miles
Drivetrain 5 Years/60,000 Miles
Corrosion 5 Years/Unlimited Miles

Toyota Certified Pre-Owned Warranty  help
Certified Pre-Owned Warranty
To be eligible for Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) status, vehicles generally must be recent models with relatively low mileage. CPO vehicles must also pass a detailed inspection, outlined by the manufacturer, which is measured by the number of inspected points.
Warranty coverage can vary from one manufacturer to the next. While most certified pre-owned programs transfer and extend the existing new car warranty terms, others offer a warranty that simply represents an additional year and mileage value. Always check with the manufacturer for the specific warranties they offer.
Common features and benefits of Certified Pre-Owned warranties include:
Age/Mileage Eligibility
To even be considered for certification, a car must be a recent model year and have limited mileage. The exact requirements are established by individual manufacturers.
Lease Term Certified
Some manufacturers offer certified pre-owned cars for lease. The length of the lease is often shorter than a new car lease, but it will cost you less.
Point Inspection
These inspections entail a comprehensive vehicle test to ensure that all parts are in excellent working order. The point inspection list is simply a numbered list of exactly what parts of the car are examined. While many inspections range from a 70- to 150-point checklist, most are very similar and are performed using strict guidelines. Ask your local dealer about specific details.
Return/Exchange Program
Some manufacturers offer a very limited return or exchange period. Find out if you will get the sales tax and licensing/registration fees back should you return or exchange the car.
Roadside Assistance
Most certified pre-owned programs offer free roadside service in case your car breaks down while still under warranty.
Special Financing
Reduced-rate loans are available through many certified pre-owned programs. Manufacturer-backed inspections and warranties help eliminate the risks involved with buying pre-owned, so buyers who qualify can take advantage of the great offers.
Transferable Warranty
When a new car warranty transfers with the certification of the car and remains eligible for the next owner, it is known as a transferable warranty. Once the original transferable warranty expires, an extended warranty takes effect.
Warranty Deductible
This is the amount for which you are responsible when repair work is performed under the warranty. Some manufacturers require a deductible while others don't, so always ask.

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12-month/12,000-mile Comprehensive Warranty*

7-year/100,000-mile Limited Powertrain Warranty**

1-year of Roadside Assistance***

160-Point Quality Assurance Inspection

CARFAX® Vehicle History ReportTM****

Certified customers are eligible for standard new car financing rates*****

*Whichever comes first from date of Toyota Certified Used Vehicle purchase. The Comprehensive Warranty covers any repair or replacement of components which fail under normal use due to defect in materials or workmanship. (Program not available in Puerto Rico and Hawaii.)

**Whichever comes first from original date of first use when sold as new. See your Toyota Certified Used Vehicles dealer for warranty details. Program not available in Puerto Rico and Hawaii. For AL, FL, GA, NC & SC, warranty coverage differs in the following ways: 7-year or 100,000-mile Toyota Certified Limited Powertrain Warranty coverage begins on January 1st of the vehicle's model year and zero (0) odometer miles and expires at the earlier of seven years or 100,000 odometer miles.

***From date of Toyota Certified Used Vehicle purchase. Covers most services, including flat tires, lockout service, jump starts, fuel delivery up to 3 gallons and towing for mechanical breakdown or collision recovery to the nearest Toyota dealership. Services provided exclude any parts required. Coverage not available in Mexico. See Certified Warranty Supplement for warranty details.

****Beginning December 1, 2005 CARFAX® Vehicle History ReportsTM are a required part of every Toyota Certified Used Vehicle. See your local dealer for details.

*****Rates mentioned are for standard new car rates, and do not include new car specials or subvented rates. Not all buyers will qualify. Financing available through Toyota Financial Services for qualified buyers only.
Age/Mileage Eligibility 7 years / 85,000
Lease Term Certified Yes
Point Inspection All TCUV vehicles must pass a comprehensive checklist that includes a 160-point inspection. This way you can rest assured that your pre-owned Toyota is in perfect condition. To see full inspection list visit http://www.toyotacertified.com/inspection.html
Return/Exchange Program No
Roadside Assistance 1-year of Roadside Assistance from date of TCUV purchase.
Transferrable Warranty Yes
Warranty Deductible $50

Learn more about certified pre-owned vehicles

Printable Version

1998 Toyota RAV4 Sport Utility Crossover

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