2013 Toyota RAV4

By February 20, 2013
2013 Toyota RAV4

The fourth-generation Toyota RAV4 arrives for 2013. While the 2013 RAV4 may look a touch better than the outgoing model, and drive better too, in true Toyota fashion it remains remarkably vanilla.

The RAV4 was introduced to the U.S market back in 1995 as the world's first crossover SUV. Since then, three progressive generations have been developed, including the current generation 2006 RAV4. Light cosmetic surgery has been performed during this last generation's reign, but the all-new fourth generation has been totally reborn.

For 2013, RAV4 loses its third row seating due to a lack of demand, as well as ditching the more powerful V6 engine option, again due to a low take rate, with customers favoring the more efficient 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine.

That engine remains, boasting 176 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque. A 6-speed automatic has replaced the four-speed automatic transmission; with the top two cogs being used as overdrive gears to aid fuel efficiency.

Fuel economy has been increased throughout the board with City/Highway/Combined EPA rating 24/31/26 miles per gallon with front-wheel drive (compared to 22/28/24 mpg for the pre-2013 RAV4) and 22/29/25 mpg for the all-wheel-drive 2013 RAV4 AWD (21/27/24 mpg for the outgoing model).

The 2013 RAV4 exterior receives tweaks in an effort to create more emotion and lust. The spare wheel is no longer stored on the tailgate but in the more commonly used location under the trunk floor. Despite the changes, it still looks remarkably uninspiring and bland.

The 2013 RAV4 interior gets some nice upgrades, including a SofTex leather band that runs the entire width of the dash. While the feel doesn't scream luxury, it does stack up well against the competition, and comfort is good too.

On the road, the 2013 RAV4 is nice step forward in terms of handling. It's feels far firmer and planted than before. The steering feels a touch rubbery, but braking is good. Despite the improvements, the car still fails to engage the driver. It's better, but not fun.

Overall, the new 2013 RAV4 is a solid improvement over the outgoing model. But it is still a means of transportation, and not a vehicle that you will particularly enjoy driving. It is, however, practical, efficient and competitively priced (starting at $23,300), making it a car that will sell like a Lightning McQueen toy at Christmas.

Model Lineup

The 2013 Toyota RAV4 comes in three models: LE, XLE and Limited.

RAV4 LE ($23,300) comes standard with air conditioning, fabric-trimmed six-way power adjustable driver's seat, four-way front-passenger seat, 6.1-inch touchscreen with rearview camera, remote keyless entry, day/night rearview mirror, Eco/Sport mode, AM/FM CD player with MP3/WMA playback, six-speaker audio, auxiliary jack, USB port with iPod connectivity, Bluetooth, 17-inch steel wheels. (All prices are MSRP excluding $845 destination charge.)

RAV4 XLE ($24,290) upgrades with dual-zone climate control, premium fabric seats with bolstering and French stitching, power tilt/slide moonroof with sunshade, roof rails, power heated outside mirrors with integrated turn signal, chrome accented grille with silver highlighted lower grille, fog lights, 17-inch alloy wheels.

RAV4 Limited adds Softex trimmed eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat with French stitching and sports bolstering, four-way power front-passenger seat, leather-trimmed steering wheel, leather trimmed shifter lever, Softex covered armrest and console box, dual sun visor extensions, push button start, power liftgate, 18-inch alloy wheels.

Options include navigation with Sirius XM Radio, HD radio, voice recognition and text-to-speech ($1,030), 11-speaker JBL audio system, blind spot monitor and an all-wheel drive system ($1,400).

Safety equipment on all models includes stability control, traction control, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, eight airbags (driver and front passenger, driver knee, front passenger seat cushion, driver and passenger side, front and second row side curtain), seatbelt pre-tensioners, LATCH anchors on second row and whiplash injury lessoning seats, tire pressure monitor system. The optional rearview camera can help the driver spot a child behind the car when backing up. Optional all-wheel drive can improve handling stability in slippery conditions.