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2020 Toyota RAV4 Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader October 2019

Standing as one of the top-selling vehicles in America, the 2020 Toyota RAV4 was fully redesigned just last year for the 2019 model year. With the redesign, Toyota seems to have hit the nail on the head, offering an all-new attractively designed exterior, a new interior loaded with technology and a new range-topping Hybrid model that offers good performance (especially on the sporty XSE trim) and exceptional fuel economy. Additionally, Toyota offers two outdoor-oriented grades for the new RAV4: the Adventure and, new for 2020, the TRD Off-Road. Needless to say, there's a RAV4 for just about anyone, and it's safe to say the RAV4 should remain near the top of the market for years to come.

What's New for 2020?

After being fully redesigned for 2019, the 2020 Toyota RAV4 sees minimal changes. Android Auto enters the fray for 2020, joining Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa, which were added for 2019. Sirius XM is now standard on all trims and comes with a 3-month free trial.

The most exciting RAV4 news for 2020 is the addition of a new TRD Off-Road trim level, which builds off of the rugged-looking Adventure model with more capable tires and suspension components. See the 2020 Toyota RAV4 models for sale near you

What We Like

  • Engine options are both potent and efficient

  • Capable AWD systems

  • Standard active safety tech

  • Different looks for different trims

  • Android Auto, finally

  • New TRD Off-Road model that boosts capability

What We Don't

  • Slightly more expensive than rivals

  • Exceptional hybrid powertrain not available on all trims

  • Not as cavernous as some competitors

How Much?

$26,970-$41,385

Fuel Economy

In non-hybrid guise, the 2020 Toyota RAV4 comes with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that produces 203 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque and comes paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard on most trims, while all-wheel drive is optional.

The non-hybrid RAV4 is offered with two different AWD systems, dependent on trim level. Offered on the LE, XLE, and XLE Premium trims is a basic system that sends power to the rear wheels when front-wheel slippage is detected. Limited, Adventure, and TRD Off-Road trims come with a more sophisticated system that can not only send power to the rear wheels when necessary but also send torque from left to right depending on which wheel needs it the most. This is referred to as 'torque vectoring,' and theoretically it should help out off-road.

FWD models return an excellent 26 miles per gallon in the city, 34 mpg on the highway and 29 mpg in combined driving. The basic AWD system is basically the same. The more sophisticated AWD system returns a still-impressive 24 mpg city/32 mpg hwy/27 mpg combined.

The RAV4 Hybrid powertrain consists of a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and an electric motor powering the front wheels, while a second electric motor powers the rear wheels. As a result, every RAV4 comes standard with AWD. The total system output is 219 hp, which makes the Hybrid both more powerful and better performing than the non-hybrid RAV4.

The RAV4 Hybrid gets exceptional fuel economy. EPA ratings come in at 41 mpg city/38 mpg hwy/40 mpg combined.

Standard Features & Options

The 2020 Toyota RAV4 is available in seven trim levels: LE, XLE, XLE Premium, Adventure, XSE Hybrid, Limited and TRD Off-Road.

Standard equipment on the LE ($26,970) includes 17-in steel wheels, LED headlights, automatic high beams, roof rails, rear privacy glass, a backup camera, the Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 suite of active safety features and keyless entry. Interior equipment includes a height-adjustable driver seat, cloth upholstery, a 60/40-split reclining and folding back seat, a 7-in touchscreen, Sirius satellite radio capability with a 3-month trial subscription, one USB port, in-car Wi-Fi, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and a 6-speaker sound system with an auxiliary audio jack. The optional AWD system adds multiple traction settings: "Mud & Sand," "Rock & Dirt" and "Snow."

The XLE ($28,265) adds 17-in alloy wheels, an 8-way power driver's seat, automatic headlights, fog lights, heated mirrors, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, proximity entry and push-button start, a sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, upgraded upholstery, a cargo cover and four additional USB ports (two front, two rear). The XLE Convenience package adds an 8-way power driver seat and a height-adjustable power liftgate.

The XLE Premium ($30,970) adds 19-in wheels, a power liftgate, SofTex simulated leather upholstery and a leather-wrapped steering wheel.

Optional on the XLE trim is the Entune 3.0 Audio Plus package, which adds an 8-in touchscreen. On the XLE Premium, there is an optional 11-speaker JBL sound system.

The Adventure ($34,075) features distinctive styling, taller roof rails, an orange-accented interior trim, hill-descent control and a sophisticated AWD system as standard (described above in the Fuel Economy section). It further adds several tech upgrades, including an upgraded backup camera, a 7-in all-digital instrument panel and the 8-in touchscreen. For 2020, the Adventure gains a leather-wrapped steering wheel and can be had with the Convenience Package, which includes a sunroof and power liftgate in this case.

The XLE, XLE Premium and Adventure trims offer a Technology package that includes parking sensors and rear cross-traffic automatic braking. The XLE also gains an auto-dimming rearview mirror, while the other two add a rearview camera mirror, wireless smartphone charging and a JBL audio system.

The Limited trim ($35,500) gets its own, ritzier styling. AWD-equipped models use the same torque-vectoring system found in the Adventure and TRD Off-Road models. Otherwise, the Limited builds on the XLE Premium trim. Additions include heated front seats, a rearview camera mirror, blue ambient lighting, the Adventure's various tech upgrades and an integrated navigation system (optional on Adventure). The JBL sound system is now standard for 2020. The Limited's Advanced Technology package adds a birds-eye parking camera system, wireless smartphone charging, a hands-free power liftgate and proximity entry points on all doors.

The TRD Off-Road ($36,300) is a new trim for 2020. Additions are pretty straightforward. Relative to the other outdoorsy RAV4, the Adventure trim, the TRD Off-Road gains black 18-in wheels wrapped in Falken all-terrain tires, which give you added confidence when you barrel down a dirt road and the comfort of knowing that you're less likely to suffer a puncture from a stubborn rock. Toyota has also swapped out the springs found on the RAV4 Adventure for a set which they claim is more off-road capable. Finally, the Adventure trim's orange interior accents are now red on the TRD Off-Road. Altogether, while it isn't a substitute for the trucklike 4Runner, the RAV4 TRD Off-Road is probably as much off-road capability as most buyers realistically need, and its more resilient tire-and-wheel combination is its main selling point.

Available on all trim levels is some version of the Weather Prep package, which adds heated seats, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel and rain-sensing windshield wipers with a de-icer function. The XLE Premium version also includes heated front seats and driver memory functions. The Adventure and Limited versions add heated and ventilated front seats, while only the Limited adds heated rear seats.

Safety

In crash testing conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the RAV4 earned a Top Safety Pick+ designation, the Institute's highest award. The RAV4 earns top marks in all six crash-test subcategories, a perfect score for its standard collision-avoidance system, and the highest possible score for its LATCH child seat connection system's ease of use. The headlights need some work on certain trims, as only the Hybrid Limited trim is equipped with the adaptive front headlight package that earned a score of 'Good' in the Institute's testing -- all other trims earn either 'Marginal' or 'Poor.'

Every 2020 RAV4 comes with the second generation of Toyota's suite of active safety features, which the company brands as 'Toyota Safety Sense 2.0." Standard active safety tech on the RAV4 consists of automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection and road sign recognition, full-speed dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure warning with lane keep assist and lane centering assist and automatic high beams. Blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and a front-and-rear parking-assist system are both optional.

The 2020 RAV4 comes with eight airbags, a federally mandated backup camera and all the other safety tech you've come to expect on a modern vehicle.

Behind the Wheel

The new RAV4's stiffer body structure, redone suspension and improved steering result in a compact SUV that's more involving and responsive to drive. It's not as fun as the Mazda CX-5, which is great to drive, but most drivers should appreciate the new RAV4's poise around corners and improved steering feedback compared to past generations. The torque-vectoring AWD system offered on the Adventure, Limited, and TRD Off-Road trims further enhances on-road handling and also benefits off-road and poor-weather traction.

The 4-cylinder engine offers the most standard horsepower in the segment, but it doesn't feel overtly quick as a result. "Sufficient" sums it up best. The Hybrid is actually the better performing of the two powertrains, thanks to its offering of more power. Given its standard AWD, superior fuel economy and reasonable price tag, it's arguably the most appealing Toyota Hybrid of all time. The Hybrid XSE trim ups the ante with a sport-tuned suspension and sportier styling.

Inside, the RAV4 provides a comfortable carlike driving position and an abundance of rear-seat legroom. The roof is a bit low, though, so you may find your head uncomfortably close to the headliner. There's also less maximum cargo space than in rivals like the Honda CR-V or the Subaru Forester, but the cargo area is still plenty useful and benefits from a movable cargo floor that either lowers to increase space or flips to reveal a more easily cleaned surface. There's also an optional home-style 3-prong outlet for the cargo area. The material quality is excellent throughout (especially for the various new buttons and switches), and the touchscreen interfaces are pleasantly easy to use, see and reach.

Other Cars to Consider

2020 Honda CR-V - For those seeking a slightly more spacious compact SUV, the CR-V is the smartest alternative to the RAV4. A CR-V Hybrid joins the lineup for 2020, and it should offer similar fuel economy to the RAV4 Hybrid. Overall, the CR-V is a more conservative offering than the RAV4.

2020 Mazda CX-5 - The CX-5 is the most driver-focused of all the mainstream compact SUVs on sale today. It offers a luxury experience and three different powertrains, including a turbo and a diesel.

2020 Subaru Forester - Like the RAV4, the Forester was all new for 2019. AWD comes standard, but there's only one powertrain option; a rather underwhelming 2.5-liter four-cylinder paired with an even more underwhelming continuously variable automatic.

2020 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk - In its Trailhawk trim, the Cherokee is the closest competitor to the RAV4 TRD Off-Road. The Cherokee offers added off-road capability thanks to the inclusion of rock rails and a locking rear differential, but it uses an older design than the RAV4 and will likely fall short with regard to reliability and resale value.

Used Toyota Highlander Hybrid - If you need room for seven and are still looking for fuel efficiency, the Highlander Hybrid is a good call. A used or certified pre-owned example will likely carry a pricetag similar to that of a brand-new RAV4.

Autotrader's Advice

As we mentioned above, there's a RAV4 for just about anyone. All iterations come with an impressive array of active safety tech. As far as on-road driving goes, the Hybrid is both quicker and more fuel-efficient, and given that it commands an extremely small $800 premium when you factor in its standard AWD system, we encourage buyers to give it strong consideration over a non-hybrid model.

Unfortunately, the outdoorsy RAV4s are only available with the non-hybrid powertrain. The Adventure certainly looks cool, while the TRD Off-Road adds some actual functional improvements in the way of tires, wheels and suspension. Altogether, we think an XLE Hybrid probably fits the bill for most buyers, but we wouldn't hold it against you if you went for any of the specialized XSE Hybrid, Adventure or TRD Off-Road trims, as they all offer unique appeal. Find a Toyota RAV4 for sale

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2020 Toyota RAV4 Review - Autotrader
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