There’s more mechanical variety than before. While the lineup still consists of just two powertrains—a base 2.5-liter inline-four mated to an eight-speed automatic and an Atkinson-cycle version of the same engine paired with a hybrid transaxle—Toyota is attempting to diversify the RAV4’s capabilities with a choice of three all-wheel-drive systems. Front-wheel drive remains standard, and the LE and XLE models offer a fairly typical all-wheel-drive system as an upgrade. The more sophisticated setup that’s optional on the Limited and standard on the Adventure incorporates torque vectoring and can disconnect the rear axle at times. The third system is present on all RAV4 hybrids, and uses an electric motor mounted to the rear axle to power the rear wheels. The hybrid also offers an XSE trim level with a sportier suspension tune.
The standard 2.5-liter four is significantly more powerful and torquier than before—it now makes 203 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque, 27 horses and 12 lb-ft more than its predecessor—but neither its character nor its performance is all that different. The RAV4 Adventure hits 60 mph in 8.0 seconds. An eight-speed automatic shifts smoothly and helps improve fuel economy. oyota redesigned its popular RAV4 just last year. This new model gained a variety of improvements such as a more powerful engine, more safety features and bolder styling. These changes have no doubt bolstered the RAV4’s popularity, and it continues to be one of the best-selling vehicles in America. But when we’ve compared it to the competition, we’ve found it falls short of the mark set by the class leaders.
Certainly, it has some appealing qualities. The RAV4 is roomy inside and has plenty of space for rear passengers and cargo. It also comes standard with an array of advanced driver safety aids such as forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking. For 2021, Toyota has also added Android Auto smartphone integration (a boon for Samsung, Pixel and other non-iPhone users) and introduced a new RAV4 TRD Off-Road model.