Wednesday, January 23, 2013

First Drive: 2013 Toyota RAV4

After two years of CarJunkie's Car Review, it is time that I reveal my everyday vehicle. I drive a 2007 Toyota RAV4 with the optional 3.5L V6 that produces 268 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque. It has been a workhorse. It help me get from Houston to San Antonio and back to Houston when I was in college. It help move my grand mother from her house of 55 years into her new place. It help me move into my new apartment. I have the sports edition which includes charcoal colored clothe seats and sports-tuned suspension. One feature I like on my RAV4 is the swing-out gate in the back with the spare tire on the exterior of the gate. I will get back to this fact later. But, today is the first day of the 2013 Houston Auto Show and as part of the auto show is Ride and Drive. Most participating manufacturers hold their test drives on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Two manufacturers started their test drives today. One being Toyota. Toyota has seven vehicles for test drives. I already test drove the Prius last year and did not want to be bored again. Toyota has the new RAV4 available for test driving. As someone who currently drives an older RAV4, I had to take this car out for the spin.

The first I notice about the RAV4 is the exterior design. One issue with my RAV4 is its boxy styling. The new RAV4 has a more sporty aggressive design. The front looks meaner than the previous RAV4s. I like how the grill and headlights are integrated into the design. The swing-out gate is replaced by a lift gate in the back. The spare tire that had previously been located on the rear gate is now located under the floor in the trunk.The interior is nothing special. You can get touchscreen navigation system as an option.

As far as drive quality, it is a Toyota and it is an SUV. The RAV4 handles bumps rather well. I hardly felt the bumps and I went over them. The car has responsive handling. I felt comfortable behind the wheel. The seat and suspension is softer in the new RAV4 than in my RAV4, but I have the sports-tuned suspension.

For the new RAV4, the only engine available is a 2.5L I4 engine that produces 176 hp and 172 lb-ft of torque. It goes from  0 to 60 mph in 8.9, which is on the slow side. Gone from the new RAV4 is the optional 3.5L V6 engine, yet the current Toyota Camry has the optional V6. The RAV4 I test drove did not feel as quick as my current RAV4. It also is not as much fun to drive as my RAV4. 

For as improved as the new RAV4 is on the outside, I still prefer my RAV4. Why Toyota decided not include an optional V6 for the RAV4, I have no idea. The RAV4 needs the optional V6. Car companies can get away with using I4 engines on compact cars and subcompacts because they are lightweight. As far as SUVs and mid-size car, they need to have either a V6 as the standard engine or an optional engine. My RAV4 has a 0-60 mph time of under 7.0 seconds. Not having that extra power really hurts the driving experience of the RAV4. Also, the swing-out gate and the spare tire on the outside of the gate give the RAV4 personality. It helps RAV4 stand out. What really hurts in the extra storage space under the floor in the back. Instead of having that extra storage space, you get the spare tire storage. I like the swing-out gate because if my two hands are carrying items, I can close the gate with my hip. I cannot do that with the lift gate. That ends my rant on the new RAV4.

Overall, the new RAV4 is not the same vehicle as older RAV4s. It is much easier on the eyes, but it does not have the features that make a RAV4 what it is. If you prefer the lift gate over the swing-out gate, then take the new RAV4 on a test drive. If you want a reliable vehicle that is good for road trips or a good car for college, the RAV4 is still a good option. The RAV4 still needs more power from 2.5L I4 engine, but it is comfortable to drive. Toyota kept the all-wheel drive system as an option of the new RAV4, which has front-wheel drive as standards. Prices for the new RAV4 start at $23,300. A fully loaded RAV4 Limited with all-wheel drive costs $28,410. The RAV4 is still good value for a compact SUV, it just can be so much better with the addition of a V6 engine.

Photo was taken by a digital camera.
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1 comment:

  1. That’s what I felt, too, when I test drove the latest generation of the Toyota Camry. Though the latest one has a lot of good features, such as a bolder look, high-tech interiors and more, I still want to stick to my 2010 Hybrid Camry. Maybe it’s because I’ve already gotten used to handling it, and because I’ve grown attached to it. Anyway, your RAV4 rocks! ->Arlyne Nelms