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2001 Toyota RAV4 Sport Utility Crossover

4dr Manual 4WD (Natl)

Starting at | Starting at 22 MPG City - 27 MPG Highway

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  • $17,765 original MSRP
Printable Version

2001 Toyota RAV4 Sport Utility Crossover

Printable Version

2001 Toyota RAV4 Sport Utility Crossover

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2001 Toyota RAV4

Source: New Car Test Drive

All-new design increases size, power and visual appeal.

by Sam Moses

Base Price (MSRP) $16,215
As Tested (MSRP) $25,935

Toyota has completely redesigned and re-engineered its RAV4 for 2001. The all-new Toyota RAV4 is more refined than the previous-generation model and it's much better looking.

Toyota's RAV4 was a front-runner in the mini-SUV market from the get-go, and not entirely by default. True, it was the earliest of mini SUVs, which gave it a competitive advantage; but being built on the platform of the proven Camry certainly helped its reliability and its user friendliness. But during the five-year run of the first-generation RAV4, a steady stream of Asian challengers appeared, such as the Honda CR-V, Suzuki Grand Vitara and Kia Sportage. And now there's the highly rated Ford Escape, an Asian-American. It was time for Toyota to upgrade the RAV4 and attempt to raise the bar for the field.

Model Lineup

All RAV4s are four-doors, and the only two models are the 2WD and 4WD. There is only one engine, which is new for 2001: an all-aluminum, 16-valve, dohc inline four-cylinder with variable valve timing, displacing 2.0 liters and producing 148 horsepower, an increase of 21 horsepower. Two transmissions are available, a five-speed manual and a four-speed electronically controlled automatic.

The catch with the RAV4, and the explanation for the huge difference between the $18,665 base price of the 4WD model and the $26,415 price of our test model, is that much of what many buyers want is optional equipment, not standard. The sticker on our test model showed $590 for antilock brakes; $220 for a roof rack; $875 for alloy wheels with slightly wider tires; $220 for remote entry; $800 for leather; $390 for limited-slip differential (only available with 4WD); $200 for a rear spoiler; $815 for a power moonroof; $40 for daytime running lights; and a whopping $3120 for a package including air conditioning, cruise control, CD sound system, tinted windows, fog lamps, and smoother body trim including a spare tire cover. Plus $480 delivery, processing and handling.

Anti-lock brakes might be the best value in there. If you were trying to keep the price of your mini SUV mini, as one would think it should be, you might tell yourself you could do without most of the rest of those options. But you'd probably want air conditioning, and the lowest-cost package with air is $2295.

Walkaround

For 2001, the RAV4 has changed by every yardstick. The length, width, height, wheelbase, and track have all been increased. It's significant, in these times when buyers are growing wary of the higher center of gravity of SUVs, that the track has been widened by nearly two inches but the height increased by just half an inch-and it's lower, with about one inch less ground clearance. That sounds more stable to us. Contributing more to improved stability, at least on paper, is the fact that the wheelbase has increased 3.1 inches while the overall length has grown by just 1.3 inches to 165.1 inches, which is still 10.5 inches shorter than a Subaru Forester and 12.5 inches shorter than a Honda CR-V. The overall picture here is of an expanded cabin placed on a lower, wider platform.

The styling is dynamic, resulting from extensive sheetmetal reshaping. The old RAV4 might have been seen as either cute or cobbly, depending upon the eyes of the beholder, but the new one is striking and aggressive looking. In one overnight swoop, it's gone from endearing to sexy. The lines suggest a vector or wedge shape, which is pretty hard to do with a basic tall, small box. This is mostly accomplished by a sloping hood and downward cant from the rear quarter panels forward, under the side windows. When the arched roofline ends with the optional spoiler, the result is cool looking. And as if to celebrate the redesign, five of the seven colors in 2001 are new; only black and white are carried over.

The cladding and body molding is smoother, the fender flares around 16-inch wheels are beefy for a mini SUV, and styling scoops in the sides and hood show a big try at being eye-catching, maybe too much as the sheetmetal touches are pretty far beyond function. Combination taillights wrap nicely around the sides. At the nose, the headlights are shaped like wasp eyes, angling upward. Optional foglights are built into the airdam, which also contains a gaping grille with a few teeth. The gray body cladding looks good with some colors, but contrasts poorly with others.

The optional alloy wheels are a simple five-spoke star pattern, and the optional cover over the spare, hanging on the rear gate, serves its purpose in making the RAV4 look less rough, but therefore less rugged. The rear hatch swings horizontally, hinged at the right side (inconveniently against the curb), and the weight of the tire is noticeable; however the step up into the cargo compartment is made easy by the reduced ground clearance. Underneath, maybe to accomplish this, the gas tank has shrunk from 15.3 to 14.7 gallons.

Interior Features

An important object of the redesign was more cabin room. With the 50/50 split bench rear seats removed, there's now 68.3 cubic feet of cargo volume available, compared to 57.9 in the old RAV4. There's also more cargo space behind the rear seats than before, as well as 2.9 more inches of legroom in the front. The legroom is ample, and the driver's footrest allows even more stretch. But with more room in front of the front seats, and more room behind the rear seats, there's a loss of 1.3 inches of rear legroom.

Front seats are new and fit very nicely, and our gray leather with dimpled black trim was classy. The seats have been narrowed at the hips by 2.4 inches, but we didn't feel squeezed. The seating position feels confidently high and offers excellent visibility forward, although the spare tire intrudes into the view out the rear window. The tidy three-spoke leather-wrapped energy-absorbing urethane steering wheel tilted perfectly into place for drivers 4'-10" and 5'-10".

Instruments are easy to read and the instrument panel is handsome, trimmed as ours was in titanium. By day, the gauges are a sort of metallic off-white, and by night they glow sort of orange. Admittedly, these aren't quite as legible as boring old white on black gauges. Directly ahead are three circles: speedo on left, temp/fuel/warning lights and gear indicator in the circle on the right, and nicely balanced between and above them in a smaller circle is the neat-looking tach. Redline runs from 6500 to 8000 rpm, pointless because the power peaks at 6000 rpm.

Climate controls are mercifully simple. You got on, you got off, you got fan speed, you got blue for cold, red for hot; what else do you need? There's a stubby stalk for the cruise control on the steering wheel, under the wiper stalk on the left side of the steering column. There are two big cupholders forward of the natty leather-wrapped E-brake lever between the seats, an accessory power outlet, and a small space near the console that's intended for change but big enough for cellphones. In the rear as in the front are two cupholders and one power outlet.

There are storage compartments on both sides of the cargo bay as well as under its floor, a net pocket on the rear door, and pockets in all four doors. Sunglass holders too, under the steering wheel, and vanity mirrors with extensions and lights on each visor. Some 75 percent of RAV4 buyers have been women, but Toyota hopes to find more male buyers with the new RAV4.

Driving Impressions

This new engine is a winner. No surprise, given Toyota's track record-witness everything from the 1.5-liter Echo to the V8 Tundra to the 900-horsepower CART champ car engine. It's the same 2.0 liters as the previous generation RAV4 powerplant, but because it's all aluminum it weighs 40 less pounds. It's also more efficient, delivering 23/27 mpg, best in class.

It makes 148 horsepower (up by 21) and 142 foot pounds of torque (up by 10). It revs higher than the old engine, with the power peak coming at 6000 rpm as opposed to 5400, but because you get more torque at lower rpm (4000 vs. 4600), it's considerably less peaky and thus easier to drive. This also makes it way better for towing.

Acceleration in the 4WD with automatic transmission is lively and feels almost effortless, as if the 2943-pound vehicle were featherweight. The final drive ratio of this vehicle is 3.29, as opposed to 3.12 on the 2777-pound 2WD, so the 2WD (front-wheel drive) should feel about the same.

The water-cooled, electronically controlled, four-speed automatic transmission fully complements the smoothness of the engine. Every shift felt seamless, as you might expect in a sedan costing $10,000 more. The transmission never strained to stay with the power-well, maybe once, traveling up a long freeway hill with the cruise control set on 74 mph. When it shifted down into third there was a big gulp, like the little engine that paused to say, "I think I can." And it did.

Around-town handling and parking-lot maneuvering is wonderfully nimble; again, the RAV4 feels even lighter than its 2943 pounds. On the highway, the power rack-and-pinion steering is precise, with no dodginess; the stretched wheelbase likely contributes to the improvement here. In gusty winds, however, the RAV4 wanders quite a bit.

There's little that's truck-like about the suspension. The independent front suspension uses MacPherson struts with L-shaped control arms, while the rear suspension is a double wishbone with coil springs and nitrogen-filled shock absorbers. The redesign includes softer spring rates, larger bushings and a longer suspension stroke. Chassis and suspension take bumps with equanimity, and offer a ride as good or better than many larger SUVs. Maybe even more impressively, there's no detectable pitching or tipping, which is no mean feat for any SUV.

Finally, the brakes, which are plenty big enough for the weight, with 10.7-inch front ventilated discs and 9.0-inch rear drums. With a vehicle this good, it would be a shame not to include the optional ABS. At $590, it also might be penny wise but pound foolish, especially since the ABS includes EBD. That's electronic brake force distribution, which adjusts the braking force of the rear wheels according to load fluctuations for shorter stopping distances.

Final Word

There's little doubt that the RAV4 is improved at every turn. It's bigger, faster, safer, smoother riding and better handling. And its looks have been transformed from cobbly cute to aggressively cool. The base price has been increased modestly, but add key options, such as air conditioning and anti-lock brakes, and the price climbs quickly. But overall, it represents a huge improvement over last year's model.

© New Car Test Drive, Inc.

Printable Version

2001 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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Rollover Resistance
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Side Impact Crash Test - Front n/a
Side Impact Crash Test - Rear n/a

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

Daytime Running Lights Opt
Intermittent Wipers Std

Security

Alarm Opt
Printable Version

2001 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

2001 Toyota RAV4 Sport Utility Crossover

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