Toyota RAV4 (2013-..) – Mini-review



Toyota RAV4 4th generation, model #XA4#, produced since 12.2012 for all markets except the domestic Japanese. Sales in the post-soviet countries started in March 2013. In October 2015 the first major restyling was performed.


It is doubtful that the basic look of #A40 attracted more fans. The neutral profile with preserved features of the predecessor, ponderous stern with bulging lights, but the front… the victim of Toyota corporate style have to be parked facing to a blind wall.

Design refinements did not injure service performance criticality, but some affected the functionality. Trendy sloping roof forced to pull down the rear seat and together with narrowed “stern” made visibility worse. High window line even further raised to aft. Unpainted plastic along the bottom perimeter – is practical, but unattractive for light-colored cars, doorway threshold overlay by doors and shields seems good. European version disadvantage – bulging spoiler / molding under the front bumper (for US version this garnish, conversely, was firstly recessed into the bumper, so angle of approach is larger and are not so painful consequences of contact with snowdrifts).

 Restyled “stormtrooper’s helmet” style front end is clearly more fun (especially in white). The balance between painted and black plastic on bumpers was changed, the lower “botox” lip was installed in American model too.


Today inside almost every non-premium Toyota the brand can be unmistakably identified without view to steering wheel – by characteristic eclecticism and feeling of cheapness. Hard to believe that to early-2000s this company created a nice-looking interiors of quality (or apparent quality) materials even for low class models.

Depressive dark lower part (European versions), absolutely incoherent jumble of disparate shapes, hard plastic, rough texture of lower trim panels, traditionally unpleasant to the touch and easily soiled rag upholstery (though artificial leather at top grade also does not delight), easy-to-scar pseudo-carbon trims… But the major design elements – a hefty hollow in the instrument panel and covered with leatherette dashboard ledge (at low grades Toyota was greedy for even oilcloth so stitching simulation was printed on the plastic).

 Restyling is mainly manifested in the soft plastic on top of the door (front only), leatherette on the ledge is already at basic grade,replacement of pseudo-carbon by primitive matte (in Europe) or polished (in USA) plastic – it is difficult to say what better.


Driver . Longitudinal adjustment range and space above the head are enough for people no taller than average who like lower position. We usually try to get “command position”… – but without success. First, the seat cushion max height is about 350 mm (instead ideal 400+) – even lower than in RAV4 #A30, and the declared “increasing the vertical adjustment range” means the ability to even more lower seat. Second, the seat cushion height above the road surface is rather small, so the traditional SUV benefits (comfort entrance/exit, good visibility) is minimized. Unpleasant moments – the overhanging front edge of the roof, a modest space above the head, low doorway – you feel every millimeter of the height reducing beside to predecessor. In addition, the longitudinal adjustment range is completely exhausted (cushion lift moves it up and forward, so you have to push the seat back). Not pleased the high window-line and massive instrumental panel. And for some strange reason, the steering wheel was installed even lower than in #A30, so it is almost lying on the driver’s laps.

May be Toyota’s designers doesn’t know? – you can not break the door armrest in the middle with stupid vertical handrail. You can not install the door lock internal handle/lever in the way that customer have to bend hand unnaturally around the handrail to open the door. You can not hide the set of control buttons in the lower part instrument panel and behind the wheel. That fixed armrest and lack of “leather” cover on the steering wheel at low grades – disgustingly petty savings.

It is clear, that RAV4 is entry-level SUV – as for the main North American market. Where it is in the same class and the same price category with Sportage / Tucson etc.

Rear passengers . As expected, the “extraordinary comfort at rear seat” is just advertising. Yes, longitudinal space, wide doorway, the absence of floor tunnel, rather long seat cushion and adjustable backrest – it’s good. But it does not compensate low cushion (330 mm) feeling aggravate by high window line. And of course the “shaker” of rear suspension.

Was it possible to imagine 10-15 years ago, the phrase “Subaru interior size, quality and ergonomics superior the Toyota ones” will cease to be a joke? At least when compared #A40 and Forester S13.


Due to lack of “command position” the front visibility is no more than acceptable (left front pillar some interferes, hood shape conceals a front dimensions, a considerable field of view is obscured by mirror).
Rear visibility can be compared to to unsuccessful in this regard Sportage/Tucson. Rear windows mainly decorate the car exterior but from inside small glass area made it useless. The impressive space of the rear quarters from the side door to loophole of tailgate window can be considered completely blind, despite the formal existence of a tiny and useless glass triangles. Well, at least the door mirrors have the excellent size, and when manoeuvring, can rely on the assistance of rear parking sensors and a rear view camera (available since mid-grade).


Noticeable contrast to previous generations – lifting tailgate instead swing, and lack of a spare wheel on the door (electric door is only available for top-grades, the door glass does not open separately).

But there was a nightmare behind the door. At the vast majority of the markets, #A40 can be equipped whether repair kit or small spare tyre, but general export countries also can be equipped with full-size spare wheel. For rus-market Toyota chosen full-size – itself is good, but – because of the stupid error in the shape of the hollow for spare wheel, it had to be covered with the hefty podium – as a result at least fifty liters of volume lost , the floor is above the door threshold, loading height increased and this cover fits not as tight as usual.

 After restyling full-size spare wheel was finally replaced by smaller one (unfortunately the owner has not a spare wheel disk and original spare tyre more), and the floor of the luggage compartment was lowered to a normal level.


In the post-soviet countries was delivered cars in specifications both for Europe and for general export. Since the beginning of production there was next engines:

Engine Displacement, cm3 Bore x Stroke, mm Compression ratio Output, hp Torque, Nm Configuration Drive Trans.
1AD-FTV 1998 86.0 x 86.0 15.8 124 / 3600 310 / 1600-2400 D-4D DPF 2WD 6-MT
2AD-FTV 2231 86.0 x 96.0 15.7 150 / 3600 340 / 2000-2800 D-4D / DPF 4WD 6-MT / 6-AT
2AD-FHV 2231 86.0 x 96.0 15.7 150 / 3600 340 / 2000-2800 D-CAT 4WD 6-AT
3ZR-FE 1987 80.5 x 97.6 10.0 146 / 6200 187 / 3600 DVVT 2WD/4WD 6-MT/CVT
3ZR-FAE 1987 80.5 x 97.6 10.0 151 / 6200 195 / 4000 DVVT Valvematic 4WD 6-MT/CVT
2AR-FE 2494 90.0 x 98.0 10.4 180 / 6000 233 / 4100 DVVT 2WD/4WD 6-MT/6-AT

Over time, there were a hybrid version and BMW diesel added.

Engine Displacement, cm3 Bore x Stroke, mm Compression ratio Output, hp Torque, Nm Configuration Drive Trans.
2AR-FXE 2494 90.0 x 98.0 12.5 160 / 5700 213 / 4100 DVVT 2WD/4WD Hyb
2WW 1995 84.0 x 90.0 16.5 143 / 4000 320 / 1750 2WD 6-MT

More info about Rav4 engines you can find here.


Carefully guarded by Toyota schedule of compulsory service at every 10.000 km deserves only obscene epithets due to loss of time and finances. Sure we do not advise to drive 15-20.000 km between services – motor oil should be replaced every 8-10.000 km, but the rest of the work can wait.

Additional, but extremely necessary for RAV4 item – autocasco – is much more expensive than for korean analogs.


Make reservation – it may seem that the author considers RAV4 worst in its class. Not at all – under no circumstances we do not recommend Chevrolet Captiva, Opel Antara, SsangYong etc due to technical reasons. But we have long ceased to forgive with fanatical devotion all the shortcomings of Toyota and do not have any corporate commitments so we can be fairly unprejudiced.

– Off-road abilities primarily? Then, in principle, forget about Toyota light SUVs – the first and last successful in this regard car was RAV4 #A10 (1st generation). The company has wide model range of real SUVs (HiLux, LC Prado, LC, American market “elephants”t) and do not need to improve pseudo-off-road of light cars.

– Diesel SUV? – No doubts – Hyundai / Kia only – the best modern diesels (specs and reliability). Other properties of HMC are also not bad in comparison to RAV4 exactly: stiff suspension – as Toyota, geometry – as Toyota, 4WD – more effective, interiors quality – better…).

 Frankly, the whole crossover class at 2013-2015 can be closed by several iconic models: Relatively: primitive / affordability – Duster, reliability / design / affordability – Sportage 2.0, dynamics / driveability – CX-5 2.5, reliability / capacity / benefit – Sorento 2.2, off-road / capacity / comfort – Forester 2.5, off-road / comfort / premium – Freelander 2.2.

It can be said about some unique advantages of Pajero Sport and Murano, but what unique have many japanese crossovers… in the presence of analogs more favorable – practical – reliable – active driving – off-road – comfortable – premium? Exemplary ergonomics and driveability of VAG cars and all major reliability problems? Why look for the positive in Korando, if you just need to once and for all abandon even the thought to purchase it? If exist today at least one reasonable argument in favor of CR-V?

RAV4 is in this series, without any exceptional advantages over classmates – middling, not the most profitable (during purchase, and during maintenance). Actually, its best part – the brand and reputation.

Once again – the legendary reliability of Japan cars – thing of the past 1990s, modern Toyota – is a mix of structural defects, strangeness of design, cheapness of materials, strangeness of ergonomics, mediocre specs and unjustified overpayment for the brand. But, unfortunately, when it comes to TOYOTA – many local citizens simply refuse the rational perception.

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