- Generous cargo space
- Corners with confidence while remaining comfortable
- Advanced safety features are now standard on all models
- Feature-rich and easy-to-use infotainment systems
- Power output is only adequate, and there's no upgrade available
- Not as fuel-efficient as some rivals
It's easy to see why the 2017 Toyota RAV4 is a popular choice among those shopping for a compact SUV. It simply delivers everything expected from full-time family transportation, including a comfortable ride, strong fuel economy, plenty of cargo space, an abundance of safety features, ease of operation, and a good reputation for reliability.
This segment in the marketplace is highly competitive, however. That’s why the RAV4 has been significantly upgraded for 2017. Now standard on all models is Safety Sense, Toyota’s suite of advanced safety features that includes an adaptive cruise control system that is either an expensive option on the RAV4’s rivals or not offered at all. There's also a new top-of-the-line Platinum trim that adds luxury and convenience features typically found on more expensive vehicles.
These additions should help the 2017 Toyota RAV4 hold a slight advantage over other B-rated alternatives in its class such as the Ford Escape, Hyundai Santa Fe Sport and Kia Sportage. The Toyota is also more competitive against the class-leading Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5, both of which earned strong Edmunds "A"-ratings.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2017
Toyota Safety Sense is now standard, featuring forward collision warning and mitigation, automatic high beams, lane keeping assist and adaptive cruise control. New Platinum trim level also debuts.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2017 Toyota RAV4 is a compact SUV with seating for five. It is available in LE, XLE, Limited and Platinum trim levels. The RAV4 Hybrid is covered in a separate review.
Standard features for the base LE trim include 17-inch steel wheels, automatic headlights, cargo rails for the roof, cruise control, keyless remote entry, full power accessories, air-conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, cloth upholstery, a six-way manually adjustable driver seat (four-way front passenger seat), 60/40-split folding rear seats, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio, a 6.1-inch touchscreen interface, Toyota's Entune infotainment system, a rearview camera, and a six-speaker audio system with a CD player and auxiliary/USB input.
The Toyota Safety Sense suite is also standard, and it includes forward collision warning and mitigation, automatic high beams, lane keeping assist and adaptive cruise control.
The XLE trim includes all of the above, along with alloy wheels, foglights, heated mirrors, a sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, additional side bolstering for the front seats, a 4.2-inch driver information display, a smartphone-based navigation app, satellite and HD radio, and Siri Eyes Free iPhone control.
The Limited trim adds 18-inch wheels, LED headlights and running lights, front and rear parking sensors, a power-operated liftgate, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, keyless entry and ignition, remote ignition, SofTex synthetic leather upholstery, eight-way power-adjustable driver seat, heated front seats, integrated navigation with real-time traffic and weather, a 7-inch touchscreen, Entune mobile apps (internet streaming radio, information, social media and reservations) and a universal garage-door opener.
The range-topping Platinum trim includes a hands-free power-operated liftgate, a heated steering wheel, a surround-view exterior camera system and an 11-speaker JBL premium audio system. Many of the features included with higher-trimmed models are available on supporting models as options.
INTERIOR & SAFETY
The 2017 Toyota RAV4's interior features a selection of decent materials for the cabin, though the overall impression is utility, not style. Front passengers enjoy an abundance of space, and the seats are nicely cushioned for long road trips. By comparison, the rear seats seem narrow, and the seats themselves are positioned very close to the floor. On the plus side, the rear seats can be reclined to a significant degree to improve comfort.
Toyota's Entune infotainment system is easy to operate, and the more advanced units in higher trim levels add plenty of apps such as iHeartRadio, Pandora, and sports and stock updates to keep passengers occupied. Also included are OpenTable, MovieTickets.com and Yelp to help you settle in at your destination. Other controls in the cabin are well labeled and logically placed, though some feel flimsy to operate.
Cargo capacity is generous for the class, with 38.4 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats and 73.4 cubic feet behind the front seats. As an added bonus, the low liftover height and available hands-free power liftgate make loading bulky items surprisingly easy.
Standard safety features for all 2017 Toyota RAV4 models include antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags, full-length curtain airbags, a driver knee-type airbag, a rearview camera, and a driver mirror with a blind-spot view. New for this year, the Toyota Safety Sense suite is also standard and adds forward collision warning and mitigation, automatic high beams, and lane keep assist. A blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors, and a surround-view camera system are available on higher-trimmed RAV4s.
In Edmunds brake testing, a RAV4 Limited AWD stopped from 60 mph in 128 feet, which is a few feet longer than average.
In government crash tests, the RAV4 was awarded five out of five stars for overall and side-crash protection, as well as four stars for front-impact and rollover protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named it a Top Safety Pick+, with the top score of Good in the small- and moderate- overlap front-impact, side-impact, roof strength and head restraint (whiplash protection) tests. The RAV4 also earned a Superior rating for front crash avoidance and mitigation.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
Powering all 2017 Toyota RAV4 models is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that produces 176 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque, and it’s matched with a six-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is available at additional cost.
In Edmunds testing, an all-wheel-drive Toyota RAV4 accelerated to 60 mph in 9.2 seconds, which is comparable to other small SUVs in this class.
The EPA estimates fuel economy at 25 mpg combined (23 city/29 highway) for the front-wheel-drive RAV4 and 25 mpg combined (22 city/28 highway) with all-wheel drive. These figures come in just below EPA estimates for its chief rivals.
Most drivers will find that the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine delivers power that’s adequate for moving people and cargo around town. Throttle response isn't as immediate as we'd prefer, and the transmission has a tendency to indecisively hunt for the correct gear on inclines. Unlike other compact SUVs, the RAV4 does not offer a more powerful engine in an upgraded model.
On the highway, the RAV4 is well mannered, and the abundance of sound insulation keeps the interior pleasantly quiet. The ride also draws praise for its smooth, compliant feel, though the 18-inch tires do transmit more road imperfections than the 17-inchers. At the same time, the well-tuned suspension keeps the RAV4 composed through turns, so this crossover feels reassuring even when you’re beyond the city limits.
On the whole, the 2017 Toyota RAV4 is capable and easy to drive, and it's especially easy to park in confined spaces. If you’re thinking about adventures out of town, the all-wheel-drive version has some limited off-road capability. The RAV4 is really about safe, all-around transportation at the right price, so don’t expect the engaging personality found in its competition. Nevertheless, the all-around capability of this crossover will surely satisfy the majority of drivers.
The 2017 Toyota RAV4 ups the ante in the fiercely competitive compact SUV class by including advanced safety features for every trim level. Once you factor in the RAV4’s reputation for reliability, this carlike crossover is definitely worth your consideration.