The 2011 Toyota RAV4 is the company’s smallest crossover, although this “compact” sport utility has ballooned from its early years to the point where it holds a third row and offers seven seats.
Last redesigned for 2006, the RAV4 was modestly updated a couple of years ago. Its styling is fresh and up-to-date, but it retains a tall, truck-like stance and old-school SUV cues like the spare tire mounted on the side-opening rear hatch. (The Sport Appearance Package lets you delete the external spare.)
It offers both four- and six-cylinder engines, but only with automatic transmissions, and there’s no hybrid model as yet. The 179-hp, 2.5-liter four is mated to a distinctly behind-the-times four-speed automatic transmission. That model is rated at 22 mpg city, 28 mpg highway, and 24 mpg combined with front-wheel drive, and 21, 27, and 24 mpg when the optional all-wheel drive is specified.
The powerful 269-hp V-6 is paired with a five-speed automatic, and is the most powerful compact crossover on the market. Given the upright, boxy stance, it’s not surprising that its mileage numbers fall to 19 mpg city, 27 mpg highway, and 22 mpg combined for the front-wheel drive model, and—even worse—19, 26, and 21 mpg if you go for all-wheel drive.
Given how tall it is, the RAV4 handles well, and the four-cylinder is smooth and responsive, with plenty of power for all but the most demanding situations. There’s little reason to order the V-6 unless you enjoy hot-rodding around in what is, when you come down to it, a family crossover.
The 2011 RAV4 offers a good upright driving position, comfortable seating, a quiet cabin, and superb assembly quality. The third row is predictably cramped and awkward to reach; it’s for agile children, not adults. That third seat stows neatly into a recess in the cargo floor, so it’s there if you need it but otherwise out of the way when you need to load up with groceries, luggage, or anything else your family carries.
Three trim levels are offered, though even the base model is decently equipped, with remote keyless entry, a steering wheel that tilts and telescopes, power mirrors, cruise control, three 12-Volt charging outlets, and a jaw-dropping 10 cupholders. An Upgrade Value Package offers the most popular options in a single package that can be ordered with either engine. At the top of the range, the Limited model offers luxury options like leather upholstery, heated seats, and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system.
For more details, see the full review of the 2011 Toyota RAV4 on our sister site, TheCarConnection.
|4WD 4-Door 4-cyl 4-Speed AT (3)||MSRP||Invoice||MPG City||MPG Hwy|
|4WD 4-Door 4-cyl 4-Speed AT Specs||$23,875||$22,324||21||27|
|4WD 4-Door V6 5-Speed AT (3)||MSRP||Invoice||MPG City||MPG Hwy|
|4WD 4-Door V6 5-Speed AT Specs||$25,910||$24,225||19||26|
|FWD 4-Door 4-cyl 4-Speed AT (3)||MSRP||Invoice||MPG City||MPG Hwy|
|FWD 4-Door 4-cyl 4-Speed AT Specs||$22,475||$21,015||22||28|
|FWD 4-Door V6 5-Speed AT (3)||MSRP||Invoice||MPG City||MPG Hwy|
|FWD 4-Door V6 5-Speed AT Specs||$24,510||$22,916||19||27|