This week, we're driving Toyota¹s 2015 RAV4 Limited AWD, one of the most popular compact SUVs in existence.
Available with either 2WD or 4WD mechanicals, RAV4 features impressive exterior and interior designs and is now three years into its fourth generation. Three trims are available, starting with the entry LE at $23,680, a mid-class XLE at $25,240 to top line Limited which starts at $28,450. If you want an AWD RAV4, add $1,400 to the base price.
Toyota hit a home run with this new generation RAV4, which comes powered by a 176-horse 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 172 lb. ft. of torque. RAV4 transfers power to the wheels thanks to an upgraded six-speed automatic transmission that replaces the last generation¹s four-speed automatic.
The additional transmission gearing results in better fuel mileage with 24/31 2WD and 22/29 AWD the estimated EPA numbers. The AWD system is automatic featuring a Dynamic Torque Control component united with a fully independent suspension and driver activated Sport or Eco driving modes.
The RAV4 Limited features many safety and amenity features, some notables a power moonroof, height adjustable power liftgate, safety backup camera, privacy glass, SiriusXM satellite, cargo tonneau cover and heated outside mirrors.
The previous generation V6 engine is no longer available as the four-cylinder meets all demands.
Considering its six speeds of automatic gearing instead of four and impressive fuel mileage, Toyota made the right decision to drop the V6 from the RAV4 line. If your heart is set on a V6, you¹ll move up to the Highlander which starts at $29,765.
Our top line Limited AWD RAV4 came with just about every feature and retails for $33,246. However, I urge all potential buyers to start at the entry RAV4 in either 2WD or AWD dress to allow for better buying comparisons as when you arrive at $30K for a RAV4, the Toyota Highlander might be the better buy considering future depreciation and trade-in value.
Inside RAV4 Limited¹s cabin you¹ll find features like leather stitched steering wheel with audio and Bluetooth and Toyota¹s heralded Entune Premium stereo system. This standard stereo features navigation, a 6.1-inch touch screen and lots of goodies.
However, our tester added the $785 Entune Premium stereo JBL upgrade, including a multimedia bundle, voice recognition, 11 speakers, special subwoofer and amplifier and much more. Your Toyota dealer will fully explain this option and also any end of year incentives available.
All Limited models come with 18-inch tires on nice alloys, heated front seats, split and reclining fold flat back seat, pushbutton start, cruise, all the powers, dual zone air conditioning, privacy glass, and much more.
A $725 Technology option adds blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert and lane departure warning, which is recommended. Other options that brought the final tally to $33,246 include a $209 body side molding, $128 mudguards, $359 security system and $304 Preferred Accessory with carpet/cargo mat set and a first aid kit. Delivery and processing is $885.
On the road, our AWD RAV4 is nimble, easy to park and fun to drive. However, the ride can be a bit harsh over rough roads which is not uncommon for the AWD models. The standard safety items that result in Five Star overall crash ratings include four-wheel ABS disc brakes, stability control, traction control, electronic brakeforce distribution and Smart Stop technology with brake assist.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 104.7 inches, 6.3-inch ground clearance, 3,500 lb. curb weight, 15.9 gallon fuel tank, 1,500 lb. tow capacity and 38.4 to 73.4 cu. ft. of cargo room.
The 2015 RAV4 receives a Test Drive ³Best Buy² thanks to an excellent entry price, enhanced safety features and the Toyota legacy of reliability and consumer satisfaction. The new 2016 RAV4 receives a new AWD Hybrid powertrain and an SE model, yet we urge buyers to consider the value of a 2015 leftover as it may well be your best RAV4 deal.
2015 Toyota RAV4
Entry Price: $23,680
Price as tested: $33,246
Likes: Fuel mileage, easy to park/drive, owner satisfaction.
Dislikes: $33K RAV4 gets you into a Highlander, Entune system learning curve, not much else.
Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto columnist