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2003 Toyota RAV4 Sport Utility Crossover

4dr Manual (Natl)

Starting at | Starting at 25 MPG City - 31 MPG Highway

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  • $16,625 original MSRP
Printable Version

2003 Toyota RAV4 Sport Utility Crossover

Printable Version

2003 Toyota RAV4 Sport Utility Crossover


2003 Toyota RAV4

Source: New Car Test Drive


Toyota's RAV4 is stylish and useful, and comes with Toyota's reputation for quality, durability and reliability. RAV4 handles well and feels stable out on the open road. It's comfortable for running around town, easy to park, and its low load floor makes it convenient for hauling stuff.

Toyota completely redesigned and re-engineered the RAV4 for model-year 2001, producing a more refined and better-looking vehicle than the previous-generation model.

For 2003, RAV4 adds an optional Sport Package with unique trim inside and out, plus popular comfort and convenience features such as air conditioning, power windows and mirrors, six-speaker stereo, and carpeted floor and cargo mats.

Model Lineup

Toyota RAV4 is available as two models: 2WD ($16,525) and 4WD ($18,975). Various options and option packages allow you to tailor your RAV4 to your personal taste.

All RAV4s have four doors. There is only one engine, which was new for 2001: an all-aluminum, 16-valve, dohc inline four-cylinder with variable valve timing, displacing 2.0 liters and producing 148 horsepower. A five-speed manual is standard. A four-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission is available for the 2WD ($17,575); and 4WD ($18,975) models.

RAV4 sounds cheap, but options can add up. Air conditioning is not standard ($900). Other options: antilock brakes ($300); roof rack ($220); alloy wheels with slightly wider tires ($895); remote keyless entry ($230); leather ($840); limited-slip differential ($390) rear spoiler ($200); power moonroof ($900). The L package ($2,153) includes air conditioning, cruise control, a premium CD sound system, tinted windows, fog lamps, color-keyed body trim, and a hard spare tire cover. Quick Order Package ($1,433) adds air conditioning, a CD audio system, cruise control, power windows, locks and mirrors and carpeted floor mats.

The new Sport Package ($2,067) features a unique grille, aerodynamic headlamps, a hood scoop, and gray-painted overfenders.


The styling of the 2003 Toyota RAV4 is dynamic, striking and aggressive. It avoids the cuteness of the original (pre-2001) RAV4s.

Without the Sport Package, a 2003 RAV4 looks pretty much like a 2002 RAV4, which hadn't changed from the all-new 2001 model. Compared to pre-2001 models, the current RAV4 is larger in length, width, height, wheelbase, and track. The track was widened by nearly two inches but the height increased by just half an inch. The current RAV4 hugs the earth closer than the earlier generation as well, with about one inch less ground clearance. That sounds more stable to us.

At just 166.2 inches long, the RAV4 is still 9 inches shorter than a Subaru Forester and 12.4 inches shorter than a Honda CR-V. (Opt for the hard spare tire cover, and the RAV4 grows an inch.)

The styling suggests a vector or wedge shape, which is pretty hard to do with what is basically a 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.

The cladding and body molding are smooth, the fender flares around 16-inch wheels are beefy for a mini SUV, and sculpted scoops in the sides and hood try to be eye-catching. Combination tail lights wrap nicely around the sides. At the nose, the headlights are shaped like wasp eyes, angling upward. Optional fog lights are built into the air dam, which 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 is hinged on the right side. That means the door swings open toward the curb, inconvenient at airports because you have to walk around the door.

Interior Features

Getting in and out of the Toyota RAV4 is easy thanks to the low floor. Once in, you'll find a roomy cabin.

Legroom is ample, and the driver's footrest allows even more stretch. The front bucket seats fit nicely, and the gray leather with dimpled black trim in our test vehicle was classy. The seats are narrow at the hips, 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. 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 on the right, and nicely balanced between and above them in a smaller circle is the neat-looking tach.

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 cup holders 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 cell phones. In the rear as in the front are two cup holders and one power outlet.

Storage compartments are provided on both sides of the cargo bay as well as under its floor. There's a net pocket on the rear door, pockets in all four doors, and a sunglasses holder under the steering wheel. Visors are fitted with extensions and illuminated vanity mirrors.

With the 50/50 split bench rear seats removed, there's 68.3 cubic feet of cargo volume available. The low load floor means it's easy to load groceries or gear without excessive effort or back strain. We found the cargo cover constantly in the way. But it features a nice two-piece pullout design that makes it easy to remove.

Driving Impressions

Toyota RAV4 is not the quickest vehicle on the planet, but its engine is a winner. Made of aluminum, the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is modern and lightweight. It's powerful and efficient, delivering an EPA-estimated 25/31 mpg City/Highway.

RAV4 feels responsive and pleasant around town. The engine makes 148 horsepower and 142 foot-pounds of torque. It revs relatively high, but offers good torque at low rpm. Acceleration in the 4WD model with automatic transmission is lively and feels almost effortless, as if this 2976-pound vehicle were a featherweight. It could use more power at higher elevations, however, as we found while driving one near Yellowstone National Park.

The water-cooled, electronically controlled, four-speed automatic transmission fully complements the smoothness of the engine. Every shift felt seamless.

Around-town handling and parking lot maneuvering is wonderfully nimble. The RAV feels even lighter than its 2976 pounds. On the highway, the power rack-and-pinion steering is precise, with no dodginess. In gusty winds, however, the it wanders quite a bit.

The 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. There's little that's truck-like about the suspension. The independent front end uses MacPherson struts with L-shaped lower control arms, while the rear suspension is a double wishbone layout with coil springs and nitrogen-filled shock absorbers.

The brakes are plenty big enough for the RAV4's 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 anti-lock brakes, a good value ($300), especially since the ABS comes with EBD. Electronic brake force distribution adjusts the braking force on the rear wheels according to how the vehicle is loaded, and also modulates the rear brakes as the vehicle's weight shifts forward while stopping. EBD can help reduce stopping distances and improve stability, while ABS helps the driver maintain control in an emergency stopping situation.


Toyota RAV4 looks aggressively cool. When popular options are added, it isn't the cheapest small utility. But it's a pleasant companion and comes with Toyota's legendary levels of quality, durability and reliability.


Model Line Overview

Model lineup: 2WD manual ($16,525); 2WD automatic ($17,575); 4WD manual ($17,925); 4WD automatic ($18,975)
Engines: 2.0-liter dohc 16-valve inline-4
Transmissions: five-speed manual; four-speed automatic
Safety equipment (standard): driver and passenger front airbags, front seatbelt pre-tensioners and force limiters, side-door impact beams; center high-mount stop lamp; child seat anchor brackets
Safety equipment (optional): ABS with EBD
Basic warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles
Assembled in: Toyota City, Japan

Specifications As Tested

Model tested (MSRP): RAV4 4WD automatic ($18,975)
Standard equipment: 4-speed automatic transmission; full-time 4WD; power-assist rack-and-pinion steering; dual mirrors; tinted glass; multi-reflective Halogen headlamps; spare tire cover; reclining front fabric bucket seats; driver's seat height adjustment; 50/50 split forward folding, sliding removable rear seat; full cut-pile carpeting; dual front door pockets; tach/trip/coolant temp gauges; front and rear cup holders; rear defogger; digital clock; passenger vanity mirror; front and rear intermittent wipers; tilt steering wheel; deluxe AM/FM cassette with 4 speakers; interior metallic trim; 4 grocery bag hooks
Options as tested (MSRP): L package ($2153) includes air conditioning, cruise control, 6-speaker CD sound system, power windows and door locks, heated outside mirrors, fog lamps, color-keyed door handles and spare tire cover, painted front bumper and body side molding, privacy glass, tonneau cover, carpet floormats, and badging; ABS ($300), roof rack ($220); alloy wheels with P235/60R16 tires ($895), remote keyless entry ($230), leather upholstery ($840), limited-slip differential ($390), rear spoiler ($200), power moonroof ($900), daytime running lights ($40)
Destination charge: ($510)
Gas guzzler tax: N/A
Price as tested (MSRP): $25,653
Layout: four-wheel drive
Engine: 2.0-liter dohc 16-valve inline-4
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 148 @ 6000
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm): 142 @ 4000
Transmission: four-speed automatic
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy: 22/27 mpg
Wheelbase: 98.0 in.
Length/width/height: 167.1/70.3/65.7 in.
Track, f/r: 60.0/59.8 in.
Turning circle: 35.4 ft.
Seating capacity: 5
Head/hip/leg room, f: 41.3/53.4/42.4 in.
Head/hip/leg room, m: N/A
Head/hip/leg room, r: 38.4/46.5/32.6 in.
Trunk volume: 68.3 cu. ft.
Payload: N/A
Towing capacity: 1500 Lbs.
Suspension, f: independent MacPherson strut with L-shaped control arms and stabilizer bar
Suspension, r: independent double wishbone coil spring with trailing arms, stabilizer bar and gas-filled shock absorbers
Ground clearance: 6.7 in.
Curb weight: 2976 lbs.
Tires: P235/60R16
Brakes, f/r: disc/drum, with ABS and EBD
Fuel capacity: 14.7 gal.



Unless otherwise indicated, specifications refer to test vehicle.
All prices are manufacturer's suggested retail prices (MSRP) effective as of August 12, 2002.
Prices do not include manufacturer's destination and delivery charges. N/A: Information not available or not applicable.
Manufacturer Info Sources: 1-800-GO-TOYOTA - www.toyota.com

Copyright © 1994-2003 New Car Test Drive, Inc.


Printable Version

2003 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 n/a
Passenger Crash Grade n/a
Rollover Resistance

No consumer rating

Rate & Review
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
Fog Lamps Opt
Electrochromic Rearview Mirror Opt
Intermittent Wipers Std


Alarm Opt
Anti-theft System Opt
Printable Version

2003 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.

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

2003 Toyota RAV4 Sport Utility Crossover

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