MPG-o-Matic Toyota RAV4 Review Summary: The Toyota RAV4 is one of the best-selling five-seat SUVs for good reason. Solid gas mileage, a roomy interior, and a generous cargo capacity are among its most appealing attributes.
The Toyota RAV4 competes with the Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, Ford Escape, and Jeep Liberty, among many others in the five seat SUV market.
Our 2008 RAV4 Limited test unit was fitted with the 3.5 liter DOHC VVT-i V6 engine, which produces 269 horsepower (HP) and 246 foot pounds of torque. A more economical 2.5 liter inline 4 is available.
The official gas mileage estimates for the 2008 AWD V6 RAV4 Limited are 19 city/26 highway miles per gallon (MPG) with the 5-speed automatic transmission.
In hundreds of miles of driving, we eased past the official estimates for our Pacific Blue Metallic RAV4 Limited, scoring a very respectable average of 29.7 MPG on the highway, with 24.3 MPG combined. If you keep your foot out of it, you’ll be rewarded with good mileage. When you put your foot in it, the VVT-i V6 makes the merge.
The RAV4 rides and handles well, both in and out of town, with a less truck-like feel then some of competition.
The somewhat space age cockpit offers an interesting mix of design touches, with a double glove box, happy robot center dash, nothing but the business gauges, and reassuringly unfettered steering wheel.
iPod integration consists of a center console mounted audio jack. There are two power outlets up front, and one in the rear.
The RAV4 is roomy and comfortable for five, with reclining rear seats. While a third row seat is available, it’s strictly for the wee ones.
The fold flat rear seats allow for a remarkably large cargo capacity of 73 square feet.
For many folks, the tailgate will be what sells the RAV4. The wide opening allows for easy loading — as long as you don’t need to load from the curbside while parallel parked, as the tailgate swings to the right– and the RAV4 gets props for passing the crucial test of accommodating four-foot-wide building materials. (There’s nothing quite like the feeling you get in the Home Depot parking lot after you’ve rolled out a cart of lumber, only to find that it won’t fit in the back of your brand new SUV.) While you won’t fit a full 4×8 foot sheet of plywood inside the RAV4’s cabin, you’ll have no problem handling four foot squares.
All-in-all, we found that the RAV4 offers a solid value. When outfitted with the more powerful V6, the RAV4’s drivability, comfort, cargo capacity, and reasonable fuel economy add up to a winning combination.
– by Daniel Gray