There’s no denying that Toyota is a popular choice thanks to their lineup of cars, trucks, and SUVs that deliver a fantastic driving experience with power and precision you can depend on for many years. The RAV4, in particular, is one of their most popular options. In 2020, Toyota hit a milestone of 10 million total RAV4 sales worldwide since it was first released in 1994. Just in 2019 alone, the RAV4 was the world’s best-selling SUV and the fourth best-selling passenger vehicle overall; that year, more than half a million RAV4 models sold in North America and well over 100,000 in Europe.
With such incredible sales numbers, you might be wondering what makes the RAV4 the best-selling SUV in the US and around the world, year after year. Well, you’re in luck because I’m here to take you through some of the things you should have in mind before heading to your favorite Toyota RAV4 dealer to see it for yourself. Of course, there’s a lot more to it than this, but I’ll go over some of the main points that make the RAV4 a worldwide favorite.
#1 Great Drivetrain Options
There’s no shortage of compact crossover SUVs on the market these days, but one thing that helps separate the RAV4 from the rest is its impressive engine and overall drivetrain options. While the engines packed into the RAV4 have certainly changed a lot since it debuted nearly 30 years ago, one thing has remained the same: it’s always been a good one. Buying a RAV4 means getting an SUV that’s fun to drive, offers sporty and rugged performance, and delivers enough power to take you where you need to go.
The 2023 RAV4 has three different engines to choose from–we’ll get into the two available options next–with a standard choice that provides excellent power and efficiency. The SUV comes equipped with a 2.5L 4-cylinder engine mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission and delivers 203 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. That’s plenty of power for a compact like this and makes it incredibly fun to drive, whether you opt for the standard Front-Wheel Drive (FWD) or available All-Wheel Drive (AWD). Altogether, it’s a great standard engine that averages 27 MPG in the city and 35 MPG on the highway with FWD.
#2 Two Hybrid Engines Available
The standard engine in the RAV4 is excellent and the perfect choice if you’re looking for a conventional, gas-powered compact crossover. What’s remarkable, and one of the reasons so many people flock to the RAV4, is that you have two hybrid options available. The RAV4 Hybrid comes with a 2.5L 4-cylinder engine with a pair of electric-drive motors: one on the front axle and one on the rear. This means the Hybrid comes standard with AWD, delivers 219 hp, and boosts efficiency to an estimated 41 MPG in the city and 38 MPG on the highway.
If you really want something exceptional, the Toyota RAV4 Prime is a Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) that gives you fantastic performance and all-electric functionality. This model also comes with AWD, but the advanced PHEV powertrain delivers 302 hp for incredible performance and an estimated 94 MPGe, making it the most efficient version of the RAV4. What’s more, the Prime has a 42-mile all-electric range, so you can run errands without touching your gas tank. Plus, since this is a plug-in model, it can qualify for federal electric-vehicle tax credits and effectively cost less than many standard RAV4 and Hybrid models.
#3 A Spacious Interior
Choosing a compact crossover model typically means you don’t have room in your life for a midsize or large SUV, which is pretty understandable. Sometimes that means you’re giving up a lot of functionality when you end up with a model that’s so compact that you really can’t fit much in it. The Toyota RAV4 isn’t one of those models; this is a two-row crossover with seating for up to five people, giving you nearly 99 cu.ft. of total passenger volume inside. You get just over 37 cu.ft. of cargo volume in the rear area, with nearly 70 cu.ft. of cargo space inside behind the front seats. Best of all, with the rear seats down, you get 40 inches of total cargo length, which gives you plenty of room to cram things into the RAV4.
#4 Comfort and Luxury
Not only do you get plenty of space inside the RAV4 for passengers or to load up with everything you need, but the interior is gorgeously appointed and comfortable. Looking at the starting trim, the LE, you get fabric-trimmed seating with a 6-way adjustable driver’s seat and a 4-way adjustable front-passenger seat. The LE also comes with a climate control system with a dust and pollen filter, including rear vents, and carpeted flooring with a driver-side footrest.
Looking at the highest trim, the Limited, the RAV4 delivers luxury features such as heated and ventilated front seats with SofTex-trimmed seating that includes an 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support and an 8-way power front-passenger seat. The Limited features a dark brown-accented interior with accent stitching and a soft-touch dash for subtle touches of elegance and comfort. You also get dual-zone automatic climate control in the Limited, plus a leather-trimmed shift lever and leather-trimmed steering wheel with available heating.
#5 Innovative Technology Throughout
While the Toyota RAV4 has always been a fantastic option packed with impressive technology, it’s become even better in recent years. The 2023 model, in particular, has featured many standard and available tech upgrades to make it the best version of the RAV4 I’ve ever seen. For starters, the SUV now comes with an 8-inch infotainment display, rather than the 7-inch screen that used to be standard. Similarly, a 7-inch display in the gauge cluster is standard on the starting trim and similar models.
Available features have also been upgraded for higher trims, so no matter what your budget looks like, you’ll get more in the RAV4. A gorgeous 10.5-inch infotainment display can be found in the highest trims, like the Limited, with an incredible 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster packed into the dashboard of high-end models. While a six-speaker sound system is standard for the RAV4, high-end trims come with a stunning 11-speaker JBL premium audio system that includes a subwoofer and amplifier.
#6 Fantastic Safety Features
There’s a lot to like about the RAV4, but for me, the most important thing about any vehicle is how well it can keep you safe on the road. Nothing else really matters if you’re driving around in a car that’s a moment’s distraction away from taking you to the proverbial “Game Over” screen. The 2023 RAV4 is packed with fantastic standard and available features that make it one of the safest compact crossovers on the road.
Every model comes with Toyota Safety Sense 2.5, a package of advanced features designed to help keep you safe. This suite includes a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection that can detect and warn you of potential collisions with vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists. If you don’t react quickly enough, it can engage Automatic Emergency Braking to help you avoid a crash or lessen the severity of an impact. You also get Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, an adaptive cruise control system that uses vehicle-to-vehicle distance controls to maintain a preset distance between you and the traffic ahead.
This package also includes a Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist to warn you when you might be drifting from your lane and to provide gentle corrective steering if you don’t take action. You also get Road Sign Assist, which detects speed limits and other road signs, providing you with information and alerts about them. Available safety features include Front and Rear Park Assist with Automatic Braking to help keep you safe in parking lots and a Panoramic View Monitor that provides you with a virtual look around your vehicle.
Will You Join the Craze?
These features are only the start of what you can get in the 2023 RAV4. The SUV’s spacious and well-equipped interior, fantastic safety features, and innovative technology help illustrate why so many people, year after year, have chosen the RAV4 as their compact crossover. Are you ready to join them?