Reviews

2014 Toyota RAV4 Walk Around

Visually, the 2014 RAV4 is a combination of the contemporary and the conservative. Toyota is consciously trying to inject more passion into their vehicles, but the company also understands the ramifications of alienating their loyal crop of current customers. The RAV4 is most definitely designed with them in mind.

Toyota describes the RAV4 as dynamic, sleek, and aggressive. It is, of course, none of those things. The protruding front overhang looks like a boxer with a swollen lip, and little has been done to portray emotion or modernization from the front angle. Headlights are relatively plain-looking halogen units, eschewing techy-looking (albeit increasingly common) projector beams or LEDs. The XLE and Limited models come with simple round fog lamps.

The fender flares are round and open, and a character line runs above the front wheel arch to the top of the rear taillight, becoming more pronounced closer to the rear of the car. The roofline slopes back from the front window, with a rear spoiler extending the roofline's arc, as well as enhancing the RAV4's aerodynamic co-efficiency.

Furthering the car's aerodynamic prowess are small vortex generators, molded into the taillight cases and near the base of the A-pillars. Aero undertrays beneath the passenger cabin help smooth and control airflow. Such attention to detail results in an CD of 0.329 (vs. 0.334 for the previous generation), aiding in improved fuel economy.

Interior

The 2014 RAV4 interior isn't luxurious, but for the most part, it doesn't feel cheap, either. It's nicely in line with its competitors.

As you step into the car, the first thing you may notice is the SofTex leather band running the entire length of the dash. It breaks up the monotony of plastic, lending a more expensive feel to the cabin.

All interiors feature contrasting colors (more or less). Parts of the dash, parts of the inner doors, along with the carpet and floor console are always black. Then depending on the trim level and exterior color you choose, the seats, the leather dash pad, and the rest of the inner doors can be Ash (gray), Latte (beige), Black or Terra Cotta. The gray/black and beige/black combinations are attractive, but the two-shades-of-black/black looks odd and simply doesn't work. The Terra Cotta, on the other hand, is limited to the Limited but without question the most sophisticated in appearance.

The seats in the RAV4 LE are fabric-trimmed, while the RAV4 XLE adds a better quality fabric, bolstering and French stitching to the sides of sportier seats. This in itself is a good reason to choose the XLE over the LE model, not withstanding the additional equipment you receive for less than $1,500.

The Limited model adds SofTex to the sportier seats, adding a chunk more luxury to the cabin. SofTex is a leather substitute that is fractionally cheaper to make. While the feel may be slightly inferior to real leather, it isn't sacrificing much.

The steering wheel is telescopic and in the RAV4 Limited model it is wrapped with leather. In the LE and XLE models the wheel feels flimsy and cheap, making the Limited another worthwhile step if you can reach that far.

Driving position is comfortable and easily obtainable. The center console is well laid out and all the dials are intuitive. The 6.1-inch touch-screen looks a little 2005, but at the same time, we appreciate that it comes as a standard feature in all models.

The gear lever on the Limited model is draped in leather, but in all models, the lower part of the center console is made of a very cheap, flimsy plastic. The sun visors are also the worst quality we have ever seen. They feel like they were derived from Wal-Mart.

Poor quality plastic continues in various places throughout the cabin, and it feels like it undoes some of the sophistication added by the leather on the dash and door panels. It's like buying a Hugo Boss suit from Nordstrom, then finishing the look off with a Tommy Bahama shirt.

On a brighter note, the push button start on the Limited model is a nice touch, and the second row seating is comfortable with decent legroom (37.2 inches).

Third-row seating is not available, as it was not often ordered on the previous-generation model. If space and/or passenger capacity are really what you are after, then the Toyota Highlander might be a better option.

The 38.4 cubic feet of space behind the second row seats allows for excellent storage. With the second row folded flat, cargo space increases to a class-leading total of 73.4 cubic feet.

In general, the 2014 RAV4 is a comfortable, pleasing place to be. We just wish Toyota hadn't skimped on the quality of the plastic utilized, as that really neutralizes an otherwise excellent job.

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