This marks the 20th anniversary of the Toyota RAV4's introduction, and the creation of the crossover SUV market segment. After 20 years, the 2015 Toyota RAV4 remains a top seller, combining the usual Toyota qualities of good resale value and durability with an upscale interior, good fuel economy, excellent audio and infotainment, and a clever use of space.
You'll Like The 2015 Toyota RAV4 If...
The Toyota RAV4 offers up the traditional values of Toyota reliability and resale value, combining it with good cargo space, a comfortable ride, and a reasonable price. The straightforward Entune audio system includes apps and Bluetooth audio streaming.
You May Not Like The 2015 Toyota RAV4 If...
The Toyota RAV4 doesn't have the off-road chops that you'd get from a Subaru Forester, nor does it have that crossover SUV's available turbocharged power. The Honda CR-V offers an interior that's at least as flexible (and with better fuel economy), while the Ford Escape is more fun to drive.
The 2015 Toyota RAV4 arrives with a new Blizzard Pearl Premium Package for Limited models, adding a special Blizzard Pearl paint scheme coupled with new 18-inch wheels. A new Hot Lava paint color also joins the lineup, and XLE buyers can now equip their RAV4 with the power liftgate.
With high-quality plastics and soft-touch surfaces, the 2015 Toyota RAV4 offers a comfortable and inviting SUV interior. Base LE models get contrasting colors, adding an upscale look at a price level that usually sentences the buyer to blandness. However, we're not fans of the faux carbon-fiber cladding around the doorsills and gearshift lever. Interestingly, leather isn't available, substituted with something called Softex, which does a pretty good impression of the real thing. The driver's seat is comfortable and supportive, especially the Limited model with its added lumbar support. Rear-seat passengers have good legroom, and there's plenty of cargo space.
Overall, we like the looks of the newest RAV4, and its sharp lines are positively aggressive compared to previous models. Owners of those older models may notice that there's no rear-mounted spare tire on the current generation. However, despite it being a fixture since the RAV4's introduction, Toyota was smart in dropping it, since it allows for a swing-up rear door instead of the swing-out design on previous versions, making it easier to load the cargo area with groceries, or whatever else you have. A power assist is standard on Limited models, and available on XLE models this year.
The 2015 Toyota RAV4 offers up a comfortable and balanced ride that's quiet at highway speeds and smooth over most surfaces. The 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine doesn't make a lot of power, but acceleration is acceptable if not blazing, and you'll get from a standstill to 60 mph in a little less than 10 seconds. A Sport mode doesn't add power, but it does sharpen the engine's response to the gas pedal, and it makes the 6-speed automatic transmission hold onto a gear longer into the powerband before shifting. There's also an Eco mode if you're looking to save fuel, but many of us thought the lazy throttle response was too annoying, so we kept it in the Normal mode.
The base price for a 2015 Toyota RAV4 LE is about $24,500, including the $885 destination charge. On the other end of the price ladder, the top-of-the-line Limited model starts with AWD and option packages can extend to more than $31,000. Those prices are right in line with competitors like the Honda CR-V and Ford Escape, two of its strongest competitors. Other compact SUVs like the Kia Sportage and Mazda CX-5 start lower, but the RAV4's simplified trim levels keep even a loaded RAV4 well below the mid- to high-$30,000 prices that afflict other vehicles in this segment, like the Volkswagen Tiguan. Be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for the new Toyota RAV4. The RAV4 should retain its value on par with the Honda CR-V and better than Ford's Escape, but below the Subaru Forester.
All 2015 Toyota RAV4 models come with the same 4-cylinder engine and 6-speed automatic transmission. Base RAV4 LE models come with Entune, which includes a 6.1-inch display, Bluetooth connectivity, AM/FM/CD system with six speakers, and auxiliary and USB inputs to control your iPod. XLE models add a power moonroof, upgraded Entune with satellite and HD Radio, dual-zone climate control, and better front seats with French stitching. Limited models add the power liftgate, Softex upholstery on the seats, Entune Premium audio with navigation and apps, push-button start, and more. All 2015 RAV4s have eight airbags, stability/traction control, and two years/25,000 miles complimentary maintenance.
All wheel drive (AWD) is available on all Toyota RAV4 models, enhancing the SUV's traction in wet weather and on dirt roads. Other options include a navigation system with Toyota's Entune telematics – which includes voice recognition and various apps for everything from making reservations to finding sports scores – JBL premium audio system with 11 speakers, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. New this year, mid-level XLE models can be ordered with the power liftgate from Limited models.
REAR VIEW AIDS
As fashion and safety rules emphasize thicker pillars, cars are getting harder and harder to see out of. The RAV4 comes standard with a backup camera, and ups the ante with available blind-spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert, warning you when other vehicles are approaching as you reverse.
CAVERNOUS CARGO CAPACITY
Despite being a compact crossover SUV, the Toyota RAV4 offers up a lot of cargo space behind the second row. If that's not enough, fold those seats and you'll get a class-leading 73.4 cubic feet, all of it usable thanks to a flat load floor.
Under the Hood
The only engine available in the 2015 Toyota RAV4 is a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine with 176 horsepower. Coupled with the standard 6-speed automatic transmission, it's enough to get the SUV from a standstill to 60 mph in a little less than 10 seconds, not exactly quick, but good enough. The standard front-wheel drive (FWD) can be replaced with an all-wheel drive system, and the RAV4 will tow up to 1,500 pounds.
176 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
172 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/31 mpg (FWD), 22/29 mpg (AWD)
The 2015 Toyota RAV4 offers very good interior materials and ergonomics, and we especially like the Entune infotainment system and the standard rearview camera. However, while the RAV4 remains a top seller, other compact crossover SUVs have surpassed it in some key areas. Fuel economy, while good, is bested by competitors like the Mazda CX-5, the all-wheel-drive Subaru Forester, and the RAV's longtime rival, the Honda CR-V. With the introduction of this generation, Toyota dropped the available V6, putting the RAV4 at a power disadvantage against the Subaru Forester and Ford Escape, both of which offer turbocharged engines with significantly more power, and are more fun to drive in general.