The RAV4 arrived in the US in the mid-1990s, as one of the pioneers among compact SUVs. In the ensuing two decades, the RAV4 has grown steadily larger and more capable. A fifth-generation RAV4, based on Toyota's versatile TNGA platform, was introduced in 2019. Toyota offers the RAV4 in six models, plus six Hybrid versions. The base 2022 RAV4 LE starts at $26,975 and ranges up to the $38,075 Limited Hybrid. For outdoor enthusiasts, Toyota offers the RAV4 Adventure ($33,230) and TRD Off-Road ($36,915).
We tested a 2022 RAV4 Adventure ($32,780 per the MSRP sticker), equipped with the Adventure Grade Weather Package ($815), Audio Plus package ($1,670), Adventure Grade Convenience Package ($1,265), two-tone exterior color ($500), all weather floor liners and cargo liner ($269), cross bars ($315), door sill protector ($199), spider cargo net ($59), mudguard ($129), and door edge guard ($140). The total MSRP including the delivery fee ($1,215) added up to $39,356.
Notable standard equipment such as LED headlights, fog lights, 19-in. alloy wheels, power liftgate, 8-way power driver's seat, heated front seats, heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, 9.0 in. touchscreen display, JBL 11-speaker audio system, navigation, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) active safety technologies include pre-collision pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, dynamic radar cruise control, vehicle stability control, ABS, and blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert.
An all-aluminum 2.5L inline-4 powers all RAV4s. Dual overhead cams, variable valve timing (VVT-iE and VVT-i), direct and port fuel injection result in 203-hp @ 6,600 RPM and 184 lb.-ft. @ 5,000 RPM. Taking advantage of the eight available ratios from the automatic, first gear is an exceptionally short 5.250:1, while overdrive ratios in seventh (0.808:1) and eighth (0.673:1) gears are optimized for fuel efficiency. A 3.177:1 final drive ratio sends power to all four wheels. The torque-vectoring AWD system primarily drives the front wheels, or all four wheels on demand with up to 50% torque sent to the rear axle. EPA fuel consumption estimates are 25/33 MPG (city/hwy.). We averaged 25 MPG in mixed urban and highway driving.
An all-independent suspension consists of MacPherson struts and stabilizer bar in front, and a wishbone-type multi-link layout with coil springs, dampers and stabilizer bar. The electric power-assist rack-and-pinion steering system is geared for 2.65 turns lock-to-lock. Brakes are all-disc with 12.0 in. dia. front rotors and 11.1 in. dia. rear rotors. The RAV4 Adventure gets 19-in. dia. alloy wheels shod with P235/55R19 all-season Toyo A39 Open Country tires. Both the RAV4 Adventure and TRD weigh in at 3,655 lbs. Towing capacity is 3,500 lbs. (Adventure & TRD only), a significant increase over the 1,500 lbs. rating of other RAV4 models
Further distinguishing the Adventure from other RAV4s are the two-tone interior colors and unique seat trim. Toyota's Softex (synthetic leather) front seats offer excellent comfort, and decent lateral support. Front and rear headroom is adequate for occupants up to 6 ft. Ample rear legroom coupled with excellent seat comfort are sure to please back seat passengers. However, the center rear position is only suitable for short trips due the rigid seatback. Overall build quality is excellent, but we noted that the right rear seatback did not match the left (perforated vs. embossed seat surface).
The RAV4's instrument cluster is simple: a backlit LCD central speedometer, flanked by a tachometer, and smaller fuel level and coolant temperatures gauges on the right. Integrated within the leather-wrapped steering wheel are buttons for audio, phone, cruise control, and lane departure warning. A 9-in. touchscreen display sit prominently upright on the dashboard. Navigation is an optional downloadable app (not configured on the test vehicle). Toyota wisely kept knobs for audio volume and tuning, along with buttons for other frequently used functions. The climate controls use large rubberized knobs for temperature adjustments and smaller buttons for other settings. On the center console is a knob to switch between Eco, Normal, Sport and Snow powertrain modes, along with terrain settings for mud, rock and descent control. Most of our driving was in Sport or Normal mode. During the test period in winter, the AWD system delivered excellent traction and stability in light snow.
Toyota chassis engineers prioritized a comfortable ride but optimized damping for excellent body control. The wider track and longer wheelbase of the new platform contribute to a calmer ride than the previous RAV4, but the attention to spring and damper settings are likely the most significant factors. The chassis is tuned for moderate understeer and body roll, similar to other compact SUVs in its class. Steering turn-in response feels delayed as the chassis settles in going around a curve or highway onramp. Decent steering feel and moderate assist provide reassuring stability on the highway. Excellent chassis tuning ensures superb stability at 80 MPH, even over patched road surfaces and potholes, all of which the RAV4 handles with ease. Cross winds require significant steering correction, but that's typical for SUVs. Braking performance from the all-disc system is reassuring, with a progressive actuation and progressive pedal actuation.
The available 203-hp from the inline-4, coupled to the wide ratio 8-speed automatic moves the RAV4 with decent acceleration from a stop. Midrange passing performance is also impressive, as the extra horsepower is harnessed effectively by the smooth-shifting transmission. At full throttle the 2.5L gets buzzy like other large displacement inline-fours. Since the AWD system transfers torque to the rear axle automatically, torque steer was nonexistent.
Toyota's redesign of the RAV4 has certainly been successful, as it is currently the best-selling vehicle in the lineup. A choice of twelve RAV4 models ensures the right model is available for every buyer. The RAV4 Adventure is arguably a superior value relative to the TRD, but cost-conscious customers should skip the option packages and order the base RAV4 Adventure.