2013 Toyota RAV4 | road test

Posted on May 27, 2013 by

Quick Review

GoodGood Car like drive, peppy engine, refreshed design
BadBadLeather on seats feels a bit plasticky, edgy gear changes in sport mode
SpecsSpecs2.5 liter 4 Cylinder, 176 hp, 172 lb-ft, 6 Speed Automatic Transmission, AWD
PricePriceAED 89,900 - AED 124,900
RatingEditors Rating Three Star

The car that started it all

Back in 1994 when launched the RAV4, not many people took note of it. What they didn’t realise was, silently then gave birth to a new breed of cars – Crossovers. Probably the most popular segment in any car makers’ line up today.

2013 Toyota RAV4 - Challenged styling seems to be part of its winning recipe

2013 – Challenged styling seems to be part of its winning recipe

RAV4 – Recreational Activity Vehicle with 4 wheel drive. That is what the name stands for in case you were wondering. Over the last 2 decades the RAV4 has come a long way and now has a lot more creature comforts than its predecessors.

A quick spin in the car and you immediately notice that the 2013 Toyota RAV4 stays true to its roots – light body, peppy powerplant, sharp steering and a questionable design. The RAV4 was never a looker and not much changes for the year 2013. The 2013 Toyota RAV4 ditches the 3.5 liter V6 engine on the outgoing model for a smaller, economical 2.5 liter 4 pot, putting out 176 hp @ 6000 rpm and 172 lb-ft of Torque at 4000 rpm.

No colour coded bumpers. Yet.

No colour coded bumpers. Yet.

Toyota rarely falters with ergonomics. It takes little adjustment to the driving seat and tilt/ telescopic steering to feel comfortable behind the wheel. The leather wrapped steering wheel is small, chunky and a little heavy but feels excellent. Put your foot on the accelerator and it feels like an eager puppy jumping off its backside to go fetch the bone you just threw. The inline 4 cylinder loves to rev and a quick gear change makes sure you don’t feel the lack of power. Although this isn’t going to win you any midnight traffic light drag races, but for a car with a kerb weight of just over 1.5 Tonnes it does not feel underpowered.

There are three drive modes in the 2013 Toyota RAV4, selectable by the push of a button – Sport, Normal and Eco. Before you get too excited let me tell you what exactly the Sport button does. The Sport button makes the car jumpy and eager to downshift at the slightest prodding of the throttle. Handling remains unchanged, which is hardly a bad thing considering it drives fantastic. Press the Eco button and things are slightly different. Acceleration feels like that of a Lancer on sedatives. The 6 speed automatic transmission refuses to downshift unless you floor the pedal. This seemed like a nice mode to drive in while cruising around town as it kept the ride extremely smooth with no sudden downshifts. Perfect for not waking up your sleeping child you’ve just strapped into the child seat.

Don't judge a book by its cover. There is loads of space on the inside

Don’t judge a book by its cover. There is loads of space on the inside

The concept of a is simple. Offer the convenience and functionality of an SUV while keeping the drive feel as close to a sedan as possible. That is exactly how the 2013 Toyota RAV4 drives. Body roll is minimal while the chunky steering is responsive and manoeuvring around town in traffic or on the highway is great.

The suspension setup is tuned to neither too soft nor too stiff which makes it fairly comfortable at all speeds, as long as you keep within the posted limits. Cross the 120 km/h mark and the ride starts to get a little bouncy. There is considerable amount of road and wind noise that creeps in and suddenly it stops feeling as comfortable. To be fair, you don’t buy a 2013 Toyota RAV4 to take it to track days at the autodrome or to go dune bashing. The average buyer will most likely use it to take the kids to school, weekly grocery runs and the occasional camping trips. For all of that, the 2013 Toyota RAV4 delivers.

An attempt at luxury with a stitched double layered dash wrapped in leather.

An attempt at luxury with a stitched dual stacked dash wrapped in leather.

Toyota loves to make practical cars and the 2013 Toyota RAV4 is no different. Modern ergonomics allow for much better usage of the improved interior space giving both front and rear passengers plenty of space to seat even larger adults. The spare tyre is tucked away at the bottom of the cargo floor while the side hinged rear door has been replaced with a roof-hinged door for easier access to the massive boot. The controls and instrumentation are nicely placed with easy access to both the driver and passenger predominantly via buttons instead of completely relying on the touchscreen. The dual stacked dash comes in leather with stitching that tries to add luxury to the cabin. The quality of the leather on the dash and the seats could be better though.

Ignore the cheap leather. Toyota has the basics covered with airbags all around.

Ignore the cheap leather. Toyota has the basics covered with airbags all around.

The 2013 Toyota RAV4 comes with loads of options compared to its not so impressive predecessor. The test car was a VXR spec which came with all the goodies available on a RAV4. Keyless go, rear view camera, leather, sunroof, leather wrapped steering wheel, 6 speaker audio system with AUX and USB connectivity. Also available only on the VXR trim are side and curtain airbags. While these aren’t exactly options that make it stand out from the competition it sure is a step in the right direction for the new model. Surprisingly there was no option of rear air-conditioning.

In terms of pricing, it seems to be pretty much in line with competition. The 2WD variant is available in 2 grades ranging from AED 89,900 – AED 95,900. The 4WD variant is available in 3 grades ranging from AED 109,900 – AED 124,900. Although most folks will be happy with the 2WD variant, many options such as keyless go, cruise control, leather, etc are only available on the 4WD, making that the preferred option.

The 2013 Toyota RAV4 stays true to its roots. An eager to rev engine with a hatch like handling.

The 2013 Toyota RAV4 stays true to its roots. An eager to rev engine with a hatch like handling.

Although Toyota have tried to change things with the new RAV4, there are a few things atypical volume car maker. There are no earth shattering design changes of dramatic intrior upgrades. What Toyota promises with the 2013 Toyota RAV4 is the drive and utility aspect of a vehicle. The hatchback like drive with the convenience and functionality of an SUV was what gave birth to the RAV4 in the first place and Toyota is sticking to its roots with the new RAV4.

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