Take pickup trucks out of the mix, and the 2022 Toyota RAV4 is the top-selling vehicle in Canada.
That’s not all that surprising; it’s in a very competitive segment, but it certainly holds its own. It’s available as a hybrid as well as a plug-in hybrid (PHEV), but this is the gas-only version. It starts with the entry LX trim in front-wheel drive (FWD) or available all-wheel drive (AWD), while all other models are AWD only. I was in the top Limited trim, starting at $44,880 including a non-negotiable delivery fee of $1,890. I further had a coat of Ruby Flare Pearl paint for $255, bringing my tester to $45,135 before taxes.
The RAV4 doesn’t have the segment’s prettiest face, and its wheel-arch cladding is a bit out of step with that on the lower edges, but it still looks functional overall. The angular rear view has just enough chrome, and I like that the hatch is long and wide. That makes it easier to load items in, especially since you don’t have to lift them as high to clear the bumper.
The cabin is similar: a bit plain but it gets the job done. The dash angles mimic the exterior styling, and the metallic accents give it character and are positioned so that I didn’t have issues with the sun hitting them and creating glare, as can happen in some vehicles.
The RAV4 earns the highest five-star crash-test rating from the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Institute (NHTSA), along with a “Top Safety Pick” award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
All trim levels come standard with emergency front braking with pedestrian and bicycle detection, adaptive cruise control, lane departure assist, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and automatic high-beam headlights, along with the rearview camera that’s mandatory on all new vehicles. The Limited further adds rear parking sensors with low-speed cross-traffic braking and a bird’s-eye-view camera system. The top trim line also includes a digital display rearview mirror, which broadcasts a camera video feed of what’s behind the vehicle. It can be handy if rear-seat passengers or cargo are otherwise blocking your view, but I find it takes a moment to focus on it when I look up. I generally just switch the mirror to a conventional reflective view.
Along with the safety features, the base LE trim includes heated front seats, a seven-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, five USB charging ports, auto up/down windows, and LED interior lighting. Moving up the trim line adds such items as dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-way power driver’s seat, heated steering wheel, cargo privacy cover, sunroof, rain-sensing wipers, power tailgate, and wireless charger.
The Limited exclusively includes a power passenger seat, driver’s side memory, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, remote engine start, hands-free power tailgate, approach lights, and a nine-inch touchscreen with navigation and premium audio.
User Friendliness: 8.5/10
The RAV4’s controls are refreshingly simple, with buttons and dials for almost all functions – and those for the cabin temperature are wrapped in knurled rubber so they’re easy to grab and turn with gloves. The centre touchscreen has hard buttons to bring up the menus, along with dials for volume and tuning. The steering wheel controls are equally simple, including the buttons for the adaptive cruise control. Visibility is good all around and, as mentioned, you can adjust the Limited’s rearview mirror to a camera view if your regular rearward view is blocked with passengers or cargo.
The RAV4 isn’t the segment leader for interior space, but it holds its own against some of its top competitors. It has slightly less front headroom than the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, or Hyundai Tucson, but virtually the same rear-seat head space as those. Front-seat legroom is almost on par with them, but with slightly less rear-seat leg space.
All are fairly generous with their cargo space, but while the RAV4’s volume of 1,062 L is the same as the Escape’s, the CR-V takes the crown with 1,110 L. With the rear seats folded, the RAV4’s 1,976-L capacity is more than the Escape’s, but it trails the CR-V and Tucson, and those seats don’t fold completely flat.
The Limited’s chairs are clad in faux leather, and they’re comfortable and supportive – even during long drives. They’re heated and ventilated in the Limited, which also has heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel.
The ride is smooth and the suspension soaks up all but the very nastiest of potholes, and the cabin is relatively quiet when cruising. Overall, it’s a pleasant ride for both driver and passengers.
The RAV4 uses a 2.5L four-cylinder that makes 203 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. That’s more horsepower than some competitors, where the CR-V makes 190 hp and the Tucson has 187. The Ford Escape’s lower trims have a 181-hp engine, and you can move up to higher models with an optional 250-hp engine.
The RAV4’s engine can get a bit noisy under hard acceleration, but it’s strong and quick, and with good passing power on the highway. The transmission shifts smoothly and unobtrusively. The RAV4 can tow 680 kg (1,500 lb), the same as the CR-V but below the 907-kg (2,000-lb) capacity of the Tucson. The slightly rugged RAV4 Trail, meanwhile, can pull 1,587 kg (3,500 lb). Depending on the engine in the Escape, it can pull between 680 kg and 1,587 kg (3,500 lb).
Driving Feel: 8/10
The RAV4 doesn’t have a great deal of steering feel but it’s responsive nevertheless, taking curves and corners smoothly and with a well-planted feel. The brakes are well-modulated and the vehicle feels tight.
The AWD system primarily drives the front wheels but can send up to 50 per cent of available torque to the rear wheels as needed for traction. When it’s not needed, the rear driveline electronically disconnects to save fuel, and reconnects immediately when required. Drive modes can be activated for normal, eco, sport, and snow. The RAV4 isn’t intended as an off-road warrior, but if you do go off the beaten path, you can also set it for mud and sand, rock, or hill descent control.
Fuel Economy: 8.5/10
The RAV4 with AWD is rated by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) at 8.8 L/100 km in the city, 7.1 on the highway, and 8.0 in combined driving. In my week with it, I finished above the official rating at 9.3 L/100 km. The fuel recommendation is 87-octane gasoline.
Its AWD competitors are all pretty close, but the RAV4 does a bit better than them. Against its 8.0 L/100 km, the CR-V is rated at 8.1; the Escape with 1.5L engine at 8.4 and its 2.0L at 9.2; and the Tucson at 9.0.
The RAV4 in base trim starts at $30,880 in FWD and at $32,980 in AWD, while my top-line Limited is $44,880, and with a lot of features for that. The Tucson has a lower range, from $29,274 to $39,124; while the Escape is $31,694 to $43,044; and the Honda CR-V tops the list at $32,695 to $46,595.
The compact SUV segment is the hottest in the market, and it’s more of a buyer’s market as the automakers stuff in as many features for the price as possible to get your attention. The 2022 Toyota RAV4 comes by its bestseller title honestly, with good driving performance, a comfortable interior, and lots of features for the price. It might not be your final selection, but when you’re shopping in this segment, it should be in your consideration.
|Peak Horsepower||203 hp @ 6,600 rpm|
|Peak Torque||184 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm|
|Fuel Economy||8.8 / 7.1 / 8.0 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb|
|Cargo Space||1,062 / 1,976 L seats up/down|
|Model Tested||2022 Toyota RAV4 Limited|
|Price as Tested||$45,235|
$255 – Ruby Flare Pearl paint, $255