Toyota RAV4 Leaves Surprising Impressions

Toyota builds a formidable phalanx of SUVs: the venerable Land Cruiser, the versatile Highlander, rugged 4Runner, crazy FJ Cruiser — a vehicle we declared an SUE (Sport Utility Enigma) — and today’s vehicle, the RAV4.
When first introduced, the RAV4 was considered by many an SUV junior. But while still less massive than most of the aforementioned Toyota passenger trucks, today’s RAV4 is a long way from small. Model after model, new muscle and mass have been added. The result is an SUV big enough to match performance on off-road trails with its bigger sibblings, with a more frugal flair.
Packing a generous power train, the RAV4 is ready for virtually any challenge it might confront. With its 3.5-liter, double-overhead-cam, variable valve timing, fuel-injected V6 engine, its five-speed, seamless-shifting automatic transmission, its sport-tuned suspension and 18-inch, five-spoke alloy wheels, the RAV4 is a very cool ride.
The RAV4’s quick steering and suspension response are the most impressive we have experienced in an SUV — with the exception of the awesome Audi Q7 and its little brother, the Volkswagen Touareg, both of which have suspension systems that automatically lower the body on the wheels as speed increases and prices to match.
With its powerful engine geared for towing and off-road trail climbing, the RAV 4 is not expected to deliver exceptionally high mileage numbers. During our test on the turnpike, however, we matched the Yaris’ 27 mpg — the miniscule Yaris had to be driven hard to keep up with turnpike traffic, which devastated the fuel efficiency.
As with most Toyota products, the RAV4’s body is built with virtually flawless fit and finish from the factory. Passenger comfort was exceptional. But more than any other feature, most memorable was the RAV4’s satisfying confidence of the hands-on-the-wheel feeling, drivewise.

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