Toyota’s versatile RAV4 is designed to handle everything from everyday errands to yearly getaways. This SUV has been in production since 1994, so it’s certainly undergone its fair share of changes over the years. We could look back on the major styling changes and engine upgrades of generations past, but instead, we’re going to keep our eyes on the present and focus on what’s important for anyone looking to buy a new RAV4 today.
The 2023 Toyota RAV4 isn’t drastically different from the 2022 model when it comes to body design and style. However, there are some updates to the vehicle’s tech that can make a big difference in driver comfort and convenience. Toyota has also introduced a new trim to the lineup of the RAV4 hybrid that proves you don’t have to give up your sense of adventure just because you’ve opted for a more fuel-efficient SUV. Let’s dive in and dig deeper into all of these recent changes.
The 2023 RAV4
The RAV4 is a compact SUV that’s well-known for its versatility. There are several different versions available, from affordable trims that are designed for getting around town to more rugged trims that are built for off-roading. Those looking for the best possible fuel economy can check out the RAV4 Hybrid, a traditional hybrid with a battery powered by regenerative braking, and the RAV4 Prime, a plug-in hybrid with up to 42 miles of EV-only driving range. The 2023 RAV4 has been named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and received a five-star overall safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
No matter which trim you go with, you can expect the 2023 RAV4 to come with Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.5, a suite of driver assistance features including automatic emergency braking, dynamic radar cruise control, and automatic high beams. Other features are optional or come standard on higher trim levels, like all-wheel drive, which can provide extra traction on wet or uneven surfaces. The available multi-terrain select feature lets you alter the vehicle’s settings to suit a range of environments, including mud, sand, rock, dirt, and snow. A “normal” mode optimizes efficiency for everyday driving on dry, paved roads.
The 2023 RAV4 is getting an all-new generation of Toyota’s infotainment interface. One change that’s easy to see as soon as you step inside the cabin is that the touchscreen display is now larger. While the old standard screen was seven inches, the new one is eight inches, and an even bigger 10.5-inch screen is a perk of upgrading to trims like Limited, TRD Off-Road, or XSE. A larger screen makes vital information easier to take in at a glance, so you don’t have to keep your eyes off the road for any longer than necessary while checking your navigation directions or pausing your podcast. It also makes camera views easier to see, so you can navigate tight spaces and tough parking spots with confidence.
A standard seven-inch multi-information display sits right behind the wheel, putting the most important information, including warnings and alerts from driver assistance features, directly in the driver’s natural line of sight. Higher trim levels give you a chance to get a larger 12.3-inch version of this digital gauge cluster, allowing for more customization and an improved layout. The two screens work together to give the driver a variety of information without either screen feeling crowded or overwhelming.
Underneath the surface of what’s actually visible in the interior, there are a few more upgrades to the RAV4’s infotainment setup. First off, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility now come standard. In previous models, you would have to plug your smartphone in if you wanted to use your navigation, music streaming, or messaging apps through the RAV4’s interface. Now you can do all that wirelessly with a compatible device. With an optional wireless charging pad, you can also keep these devices fully powered without needing a cable. While USB cables are pretty cheap to buy and easy to keep on hand, they also aren’t too hard to break or lose, so there are definitely advantages to being able to go cordless.
Finally, the new infotainment system is capable of over-the-air updates. Technology is always moving at a swift pace, and it doesn’t take long for a system to become obsolete. If you want to keep your car for more than a year or two, it can seem inevitable that its onboard tech will feel stale before long. However, while hardware takes some significant effort and expense to replace, upgrading software is quick and easy, so you can keep your system evolving as new features are developed. Without over-the-air updates, you would have to take your vehicle to a dealership to get the new software, but with the 2023 RAV4, you don’t have to do a thing. The updates will simply be downloaded and installed on your vehicle over the internet.
Up until the 2023 model year, drivers had to choose between getting a RAV4 in a rugged, off-road-ready trim or getting a RAV4 with the fuel-efficient hybrid powertrain. Now, there’s an option that combines off-road adventuring and clean electric power into a single SUV. The RAV4 Hybrid Woodland Edition comes loaded with a TRD-tuned suspension that’s ready to tackle bumpy trails and twin-tube shocks that are designed to provide roll control so that the driver can stay in command of the vehicle, even when dealing with bigger dips and bumps. Coil springs are also tuned specifically to provide a smooth ride while off-roading.
Beyond the upgrades to the mechanical design, the Woodland Edition also comes with parts and accessories that maximize its usefulness for adventure. It comes with a set of all-terrain tires, of course, as well as raised roof rails and cross bars to help campers bring along all of the equipment they need. A 120V inverter is onboard to make sure that you can power a range of electronics in case you want to inflate an air mattress or charge an electric lantern while on the go. All-weather floor and cargo mats make the interior easy to clean, even if you track in dirt and mud.
Beyond the more practical aspects, Toyota has also given the Woodland Edition some aesthetic touches that set it apart from other trims. Bronze-colored wheels provide a touch of earth tone to signify the model’s off-road chops. Black badging replaces the usual chrome Toyota logo, and the back of the vehicle features black outlines of leaves along with an exclusive green “Woodland Edition” badge.
We Are Excited for the 2023 RAV4
While these changes certainly don’t constitute an all-new RAV4 generation, we think that they do add a lot to the SUV. Across the lineup, the new infotainment setup is fresh and intuitive, and over-the-air updates mean that it can continue to keep up with the times as technology continues to evolve. Since the RAV4 is well-known for its adventurous side, the addition of a more rugged model to the RAV4 Hybrid’s trim options is a welcome change. As electric power becomes ever more present in the auto industry, all kinds of vehicles need to embrace the new era of green powertrains, not just compact urban vehicles but off-road SUVs and trucks too. We’ll certainly be keeping an eye on the ever-popular RAV4 as it continues to evolve and respond to new trends, tastes, and technologies.