NEWS

2007 Toyota RAV4: My Take

MMS ID 69305 (created by CM Utility) automatic-content-migration

The Toyota RAV4, which David Thomas recently reviewed, was redesigned for the 2006 model year and is so far selling strongly. I also had an opportunity to drive this no-longer-little SUV.

The RAV4 looks stylish to my eyes, though like Dave I’m not a big fan of the spare tire on the back of the cargo door. Buyers do get a full-size spare with this setup, though, and that’s definitely a nice-to-have feature. 

The 3.5-liter V-6 feels very strong and not at all burdened by the SUV’s weight, though there’s some mild torque steer under hard acceleration. The V-6 isn’t daunted by a full load of passengers, either, and its gas mileage estimates are impressive: 22/29 mpg (city/highway) for FWD versions and 21/28 for 4WD models. During a 100-mile stretch of flat highway driving at speeds between 75 and 80 mph, I averaged 26 mpg in a 4WD Sport.

1991260875-1425510841053

It’s interesting to note that EPA estimates for the 2007 Honda CR-V’s 2.4-liter four-cylinder — the only engine offered in that redesigned SUV — are only slightly better than the RAV4 V-6’s. The archrival CR-V’s four-cylinder, however, offers nowhere near the performance of the RAV4’s V-6, and its responses are weak at highway speeds. For readers who’ve sampled four-cylinder- and V-6-powered RAV4s, I’d be interested to hear how you think they compare.

The Sport version I tested — the same one Dave spent a week testing for his review — had a comfortable driver’s seat with manual adjustments, though I would have liked a tilt adjustment (offered with the power seats) for the seat cushion to dial up more thigh support. I also wished the seat went farther back for more legroom. Visibility is impressive and headroom is very good with the optional moonroof. Even with the Sport model’s sport-tuned suspension, riders aren’t subject to a punishing experience; it’s definitely taut and can get bumpy on rough pavement, but it rides a lot like a Camry, only taller. Wind noise gets a bit intrusive above 70 mph on the highway, but the RAV4 feels stable at this speed.

Most interior materials and switches are first-rate. The dashboard has detailed graining and a low-gloss appearance that lend it a high-end look, though I could have done without the silver-colored insert in the center of the dash that surrounds the audio and climate controls. 

MMS ID 69301 (created by CM Utility) automatic-content-migration

My 18-month-old nephew, Austin, loves riding in cars, and he didn’t seem to have any complaints when I took him for a trip in the RAV4. However, rear visibility was obscured by the top tether that anchored his child-safety seat. Many SUVs locate the top tether anchor low on the back of the seatback, but the RAV4’s pokes through the headliner, so I saw that strap every time I looked through the rearview mirror.

Clearly, my issues with this SUV are relatively minor. Though some fans of the RAV4 may lament how the once-small ute has grown up into a practically midsize SUV, I came away impressed with what Toyota’s done with this model.

Photo of Mike Hanley
Mike Hanley has more than 20 years of experience reporting on the auto industry. His primary focus is new vehicles, and he's currently a Senior Road Test Editor overseeing expert car reviews and comparison tests. He previously managed Editorial content in the Cars.com Research section. Email Mike Hanley

Latest expert reviews