Toyota’s RAV4 continues to surprise me

I think Toyota’s trying to make me a fan of the RAV4. I didn’t like the crossover the first time I drove it, but they’ve just kept sending me new versions to try.

I described a white Toyota RAV4 as the perfect vehicle for the Tooth Fairy a few years ago, but despite that, about a year ago, they sent me another one to test. When I reviewed that one, I said it would be a great ride for a five-foot-tall nun who likes to fish occasionally.

Even in those earlier years, when I gave the RAV4 the least favorable reviews, it’s never been a bad vehicle. It’s a crossover, rather than a true SUV, and that sets it at a disadvantage for my reviews. For a hunting and fishing rig, I prefer a true four-wheel-drive with plenty of ground clearance, but crossovers are generally all-wheel-drive, and they sit lower to the ground in order to increase their fuel efficiency.

But despite all that, and despite the fact that the RAV4 is a smaller vehicle than what I generally like, it’s actually a pretty sweet ride. It comes in a wide range of packages, including a hybrid version. There also are trim packages from the $25,000 LE all the way up to the Platinum, which starts at $35,000, so you can get a lot of options for a lot less than you’d pay for some of the other vehicles on the road.

I drove the Limited version a few weeks ago, and as happens each time Toyota sends one to me, the RAV4 impressed me more than I thought it would. The Limited is toward the top end of the RAV4 range, starting at $32,000, and the one I drove was listed a bit over $37,000. It was comfortable, handled well, got about 28 miles to the gallon, and most importantly, it had no trouble with the forest roads I took it on in order to get to a couple of fishing holes. And that’s all you really need, right?