‘RAVE REVIEWS ALL AROUND’
The Toyota RAV4, already a leader in the crossover SUV segment it launched nearly 15 years ago offers even greater value for 2011. The 2011 RAV4 is offered in three distinct grades-Base, Sport, and top-of-the-line Limited-and with a choice between the 2.5 liter four-cylinder engine and a 3.5 liter V6. Both engines can be teamed with either front-wheel drive or electronic on-demand four-wheel drive, giving consumers a wide array of vehicle choices. The roomy RAV4 offers an optional third-row seating on Base and Limited grades. I tested the V6 powered Limited AWD model and now know why it is such a huge seller. It just does it all so well.
Built on a 104.7 inch wheelbase, the roomy RAV4 is engineered with a focus on quiet ride quality. By eliminating outer moldings from the windshield and door glass enhances aerodynamics and reduces wind noise. The RAV4’s contemporary design strongly conveys theToyotaidentity in an aerodynamically efficient shape.
The Limited’s unique grille with chrome accents, multi-reflector headlamps, distinct sharp character lines, color-keyed door handles and overfenders, integrated foglamps, rear privacy glass, LED tail lamps, swing-out rear door, color-keyed power heated outside mirrors with turn-signal indicators, and roof rack, all riding on 17X7 inch aluminum six-spoke alloy wheels wrapped with 225/65R17 all-season tires combine to give the new 2011 RAV4 Limited a look like no other small sport utility on the road.
The inside is roomy and very ergonomic. A brushed silver finish around the center stack to the center console, door trim and two steering wheel spokes give the RAV4 a more contemporary style. Three-tiered Optitron gauges are easy to see and provide an upscale look. Visibility outside is excellent all-around you. Useful touches are also evident with the addition of a large vanity mirror with ‘eye-friendly’ ceiling lights, illumination on two extra-large front cupholders and a cell phone holder in the center console. The Limited also offers an additional level of refinement with an A/C vent dial, chrome accented A/C vent garnish and a chrome parking brake tip. All of the dials, switches and buttons are large, easy to reach and fully illuminated for safe nighttime travel.
The RAV4 offers numerous seating configurations, under-floor storage (on models without the third-row seat), and provides 73 cu.ft. of cargo area with all rear seats folded down. The 60/40-split second row seat features reclining seatbacks and a pull-out armrest with dual cupholders. The seats slide fore and aft to maximize room for passengers or cargo. The second row seats fold flat using convenient tilt-down levers on the side of the seatbacks; two-row models include an additional one-touch fold-flat lever in the cargo area for convenience when needed. The optional 50/50 Split-and-Stow third-row seat accommodates two passengers and folds flat under the rear deck.
Abundant interior storage includes a dual-tiered glovebox, front door compartments, a large center console storage box with armrest, front seatback pockets and a rear door storage pocket. On two-row models, two storage compartments are concealed under the rear cargo area floor by a water repellant foldable deck board for security.
Propelling the RAV4 Limited forward is a powerful 3.5 liter DOHC V6 that generates a healthy 269hp at 6,200rpm and 246lb.ft. of torque at 4,700rpm. This V6 is also equipped with dual VVT-i to maximize performance and efficiency while reducing emissions. The V6 is equipped exclusively with a five-speed automatic/sequential shifting transmission that offers better fuel economy than some less powerful competitors. The V6 RAV4 can blast out to 60mph from a standstill in just 6.8 seconds, yet has estimated EPA fuel economy ratings of 19mpg/city and 26mpg/highway, besides all RAV4 V6 models meet Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV II) certification.
A strong, stiff body structure, a unique four-wheel independent system and electronic rack & pinion steering (EPS) give the RAV4 agile, sporty handling and a comfortable car-like ride. The unique suspension system features a MacPherson strut setup in the front with a 1.0 mm. stabilizer bar. The rear independent setup features double-wishbones, coil springs, gas-charged shocks and a 0.87 mm. stabilizer bar. This system gives the RAV4 excellent ability to travel over off-road obstacles, give a quiet and controlled ride on the highway, and maintain control during hard cornering in the back roads. The compact EPS unit contributes to fuel economy by eliminating the traditional power steering pump and provides computer-controlled assist only when required. In addition, EPS is interfaced with Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) for handling control under adverse road conditions.
My RAV4 Limited came equipped with AWD on-demand that uses an electronically controlled coupling to distribute torque between the front and rear wheels, depending on road conditions and driver input. The system can continuously and seamlessly switch from front-wheel-drive to four-wheel-drive mode, maximizing fuel efficiency. In Auto mode, torque distribution to the rear wheels is decreased during low speed cornering for better maneuverability.
A 4WD manual locking switch maximizes torque distribution to the rear wheels. When vehicle speed reaches 25mph, the system reverts to Auto mode. Lock mode also disengages when the brakes are applied, optimizing ABS and VSC operation. Also standard is Hill-start Assist and Downhill Assist Control.
Quickly slowing the new RAV4 down from speed are large, 4-wheel, power-assisted steel disc brakes. Up front are11.8 inch vented discs clamped with dual-piston calipers while 11.2 inch solid discs are clamped with single-piston calipers. Standard ABS, EBD and BA work together with the VSC system to help you maintain control of the RAV4 on slick or wet pavement.
My RAV4 Limited came with a long list of standard features including a leather-trimmed, tilt/telescoping steering wheel with audio controls, a leather-trimmed shift lever with metallic insert, cargo area tonneau cover, leather-trimmed 6-way powered driver’s seat/4-way powered passenger seat, dual-zone climate control system with air-filtration, cruise-control, an auxiliary audio jack, outside temperature gauge, remote keyless entry, engine immobilizer, ten bottle/cupholders, power windows/door locks, illuminated entry system with lighted footwells, remote/heated sideview mirrors, three-12-volt auxiliary power outlets, chrome interior door handles, Smart Key system with push button start/stop, JBL premium AM-FM/6-CD changer with MP3/WMA playback/six speakers, XM radio, roof rack, rear privacy glass, power tilt/slide moonroof, touch screen DVD navigation system, Bluetooth connectivity, heated front seats, 120V power outlet, backup monitor with rearview camera, auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual map lamps, dual lighted vanity mirrors, grab handles above each door, variable-speed-sensitive wipers/washers, rear wiper/washer, front and rear floor mats.
Standard safety features include driver/front passenger airbags, side-impact airbags, front/second row roll-sensing side curtain airbags, front active headrests, front/rear crumple zones, side-impact beams, 3-point safety belts for all 5-passengers with front pretensioners/load limiters, tire pressure monitoring system, child protection rear door locks and the LATCH system for child seats.
For those consumers looking to purchase the best all-around compact sport utility vehicle can look no further than the new Toyota RAV4 Limited AWD model. It can’t be topped!