2016 Toyota RAV4

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$15,375–$28,035 Inventory Prices

Key Specs

of the 2016 Toyota RAV4 base trim shown

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • New front styling
  • Availability of hybrid powertrain
  • Lack of hybrid system intrusion into cargo area
  • Bird’s eye view parking system
  • Promise of quieter interior

The Bad

  • Hybrid only available on XLE, Limited trim levels
  • Hybrids only all-wheel drive
  • New interior materials not totally apparent
2016 Toyota RAV4 exterior side view

Notable Features of the 2016 Toyota RAV4

  • All-new RAV4 Hybrid variant
  • All modes slightly restyled
  • Electric all-wheel drive system
  • New, sportier SE trim level
  • Available LED lighting
  • New interior materials
  • Additional sound deadening materials

2016 Toyota RAV4 Road Test

Bill Jackson

The verdict: The 2016 Toyota RAV4 is a useful compact SUV, but the SE trim level is let down by a stiff ride and a high price tag.

Versus the competition: The RAV4's slight update for 2016 brings it closer to the competition, but it still trails class leaders including the Chevrolet Equinox, Honda CR-V and Nissan Rogue.

We tested a 2016 Toyota RAV4 in the new, sporty SE trim level, also equipped with the optional Advanced Technology Package that includes sonar parking sensors, 360-degree cameras, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control. The test SUV cost $34,595 including a $900 destination charge. The RAV4 also is sold in a new-for-2016 hybrid version, which is reviewed here.

Exterior & Styling
The 2016 RAV4 is sleeker with a more angular, creased grille area than the previous RAV4. In profile and from the rear, the changes are subtler. The SE models get unique bumper and lower grille designs, plus 18-inch wheels and LED headlights and taillights.

The design changes are so subtle that unless you're viewing the RAV4 from the front, it's hard to tell that any changes were made. That's not a bad thing: I think the more fluid, wildly styled designs — for example the Nissan Rogue — might look more modern now, but that the RAV4's more conventional, angular design will wear better. You can compare the 2016 redesign to the 2015 model here.

How It Drives
If you're driving on rough roads, it bec...

The verdict: The 2016 Toyota RAV4 is a useful compact SUV, but the SE trim level is let down by a stiff ride and a high price tag.

Versus the competition: The RAV4's slight update for 2016 brings it closer to the competition, but it still trails class leaders including the Chevrolet Equinox, Honda CR-V and Nissan Rogue.

We tested a 2016 Toyota RAV4 in the new, sporty SE trim level, also equipped with the optional Advanced Technology Package that includes sonar parking sensors, 360-degree cameras, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control. The test SUV cost $34,595 including a $900 destination charge. The RAV4 also is sold in a new-for-2016 hybrid version, which is reviewed here.

Exterior & Styling
The 2016 RAV4 is sleeker with a more angular, creased grille area than the previous RAV4. In profile and from the rear, the changes are subtler. The SE models get unique bumper and lower grille designs, plus 18-inch wheels and LED headlights and taillights.

The design changes are so subtle that unless you're viewing the RAV4 from the front, it's hard to tell that any changes were made. That's not a bad thing: I think the more fluid, wildly styled designs — for example the Nissan Rogue — might look more modern now, but that the RAV4's more conventional, angular design will wear better. You can compare the 2016 redesign to the 2015 model here.

How It Drives
If you're driving on rough roads, it becomes apparent quickly that the SE models are different from other RAV4s. The SE versions get sport-tuned shock absorbers and coil springs in addition to the 18-inch wheels, and the result is a ride that's jarring on rough roads.

Non-SE models already felt more composed and sporty than the Equinox, Rogue and CR-V. By trying to "dial up" the suspension performance in the SE, Toyota seems to have gone too far. It jiggles a lot over rougher roads and greets potholes with a noticeable crash. The compliance that makes the other RAV4 trim levels enjoyable to drive is largely gone.

What doesn't help is that all RAV4 models are powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 176 horsepower and is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. While the SE models do get paddle shifters, there's no improvement in engine response to make the pain of the ride worthwhile. I couldn't help wondering if I'd accept the rough ride more if I knew that I was getting more power.

With all-wheel drive, the RAV4 gets an EPA-estimated 22/29/25 mpg city/highway/combined, and front-wheel-drive versions are rated 23/30/26 mpg city/highway/combined.

Looking at the combined mileage figures, the RAV4's 25 mpg beats the four-cylinder, all-wheel-drive Equinox (23 mpg), but it trails all-wheel-drive versions of the CR-V (27 mpg) and Rogue (28 mpg).

Interior
SE models get a power driver's seat, contrast stitching and a choice of two interior colors — black and black/cinnamon. For 2016, all RAV4s have a more uniform interior appearance across all trim levels. Gone are the sometimes mismatched trim pieces and, in a move that's particularly welcome to my eyes, the faux carbon-fiber inlays around the door lock switches are history.

I was comfortable both as a passenger and as the driver during my time in the RAV4, and the new upper door padding (on all but the base RAV4s) played a part. I also think the materials choices look at least as good, if not better, than what everybody else is offering in this class.

The Nissan Rogue is the most luxurious of the competitors, and the Honda CR-V comes closest to matching the Rogue's styling. The Equinox, depending on its trim level, can look pretty fancy, but base models are more utilitarian — like the RAV4 — than dressy.

And while Toyota has made a number of changes to the interior design, it still will look familiar to RAV4 owners, so those who wanted a complete transformation will be disappointed.

Toyota increased the amount of sound-deadening material in all RAV4 models for 2016, and it largely has paid off. There's very little wind noise, and while the road noise still is noticeable, it's improved over the previous model.

Backseat room is very good, with lots of room for knees, legs, hips and shoulders, though the seat itself is firm.

Ergonomics & Electronics
The RAV4 SE has a 7.1-inch touch-screen for controlling various functions. I found that the screen had good resolution and, just as important, responded quickly to inputs. I think Ford's revised Sync 3 system in the Escape is the best in the class, and I'd say the Toyota system is almost as good, both in responsiveness and also in the ease of switching among menus such as navigation and audio, for instance. The GM systems trail, owing mostly to a bit of lag, and I find the Honda systems almost unusable because of a pronounced lag. The Nissan Rogue is OK in this regard, but I give the edge to the RAV4 for general speed of response and graphic sharpness.

Our test model included a 360-degree around-view monitor that's noteworthy because it's one of several cameras systems — mostly found on luxury vehicles — that offer a true view of what's around the car, without black lines that segment the image. You really feel as if you're looking down from the top of the car at what's around you.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are, as of this writing, not available on the RAV4.

Cargo & Storage
Toyota also has worked a bit on the 2016's cargo area, and a height-adjustable power liftgate is standard on all RAV4s except in the base LE trim (where it's not offered as an option, either). What's neat about the Toyota feature is that you can adjust from the front seat how high the liftgate opens so that if you've pulled into a garage with lower clearance, you can make that adjustment without getting out.

Toyota also reworked the in-cabin storage with new cupholders, a no-slip mat on the center console tray and a few other tweaks. I've always found the RAV4 to be good at providing storage places for all the things you need during your daily life, and this updated version is no different.

Safety
The 2016 Toyota RAV4 got the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's highest rating in all tests, including "superior" performance in front-crash avoidance when fitted with the optional forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking.

This feature, which was included in our test model's Advanced Technology Package, detects pedestrians as well as cars, and it has active lane keeping assist. Browse through the complete safety feature list here.

The collision warning system kicked on a few times when I was driving and it was just obtrusive enough to get my attention. It flashes a block of bright orange warning lights on the instrument panel and center screen, as well as sounds an audio alarm. It was not, however, so sensitive or so jarring that I ever wanted to turn the feature off, which speaks well to how Toyota has executed the system. What's the point of having a system if you turn it off?

Value in Its Class
Our test model cost nearly $35,000 because of options, but starts at around $30,000 for the SE model. That's almost $5,000 more than the base LE version of the RAV4.

"Value" doesn't always equal lower "cost," but in this case, the RAV4 SE's high price really hurts it against the competition.

Comparing the RAV4 SE with  competitors in the same price range — the Chevrolet Equinox LT, Honda CR-V EX-L and Rogue SL — the Toyota rides the roughest and has the interior that looks the least luxurious, though it must be said the RAV4 is closer to the Equinox in terms of quality than Chevrolet should be comfortable with. The CR-V and especially the Rogue manage to look much richer. Compare their specs here.

The RAV4 is able to claw back an advantage in the utility area; the Equinox is the only one of the competitors that would rival the RAV4 in terms of a useful cargo area. Both the CR-V and Rogue have cargo areas that are not as easy to load things into and that also appear to show dirt more than the RAV4 did during my test.

The real rub with the SE is that it attempts to do something the competitors don't by offering a sportier version.

Unfortunately, since the focus of the sporty tuning is the ride, and the result is a ride that's not great, it's hard for the RAV4 to justify the SE's price premium.

Send Bill an email  



Latest 2016 RAV4 Stories

What Drivers Are Saying

Exterior Styling
(4.6)
Performance
(4.6)
Interior Design
(4.5)
Comfort
(4.6)
Reliability
(4.8)
Value For The Money
(4.4)

Latest Reviews

(5.0)

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(5.0)

Best vehicle I have ever had

by Oggysgirl19 from Shrewsbury, MA on April 18, 2018

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Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2016 Toyota RAV4 currently has 2 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2016 Toyota RAV4 LE

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Child Seat Anchors (Latch)

Ease of Use
marginal

Front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Hip/thigh
good
Lower leg/foot
good
Overall evaluation
good
Retraints and dummy kinematics
good
Structure and safety cage
good

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Small overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Hip/thigh
good
Lower leg/foot
good
Restraints and dummy kinematics
good
Small overlap front
good
Structure and safety cage
good
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 60,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    24 months / unlimited distance

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Toyota

Program Benefits

24-hour roadside assistance, trip-interruption services, Carfax vehicle history report, travel protection and toll-free assistance line

  • Limited Warranty

    1 year / 12,000 miles

    Comprehensive: 12 months/12,000 miles from date of purchase. Powertrain: 7 years/100,000 miles from original in-service date ($50 deductible) Note: In AL, FL, GA, NC and SC, 7-year/100,000 mile limited warranty coverage begins Jan. 1 of the vehicle's model year and zero (0) odometer miles and expires at the earlier of seven years or 100,000 odometer miles. Hybrid: 8-year/100,000 mile warranty on Factory HV Battery for Toyota Hybrid Vehicles.
  • Eligibility

    Under 6 years / 85,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 160 point inspection and reconditioning.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The RAV4 received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*

Third-row access

N/A

Infant seat

A

Booster

(second row)

A

Booster

(third row)

N/A

Latch or Latch system

A

Forward-facing convertible

(third row)

N/A

Forward-facing convertible

(second row)

A

Rear-facing convertible

A
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.
For complete details,

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker