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Toyota's 2013 RAV4 has been redesigned with major improvements

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With the appreciable pre-holiday snow southeast Pennsylvania and New Jersey received, a 4WD or in the least an AWD vehicle would have been nice to have. And Toyota’s new RAV4 AWD offers one feature many other compact SUV’s don’t.

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Having undergone a complete redesign for 2013, Toyota’s RAV4, offers both a roomy interior, increased cargo capacity, sure-footed traction and the spare tire on the tailgate is finally gone. Most importantly, the RAV is one of the few compact crossovers to offer an AWD lock feature for when the going gets really tough.

As the fourth-generation RAV, it comes in base LE, XLE, Limited and an EV electric model. We tested the classy Limited that comes standard with a power lift gate (no more side swing gate).

Gone is the previously offered V6. The only powertrain available is a 2.5L, 176-hp (172 lb/ft of torque) four cylinder that is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission that replaces the original 4-speed. And kudu’s to Toyota for now going to a CVT trans. The combination provides EPA mileage estimates of 22 city, 29-highway mpg. That’s not bad for a vehicle weighing 3,535 pounds and has a tow capacity of 1,500 pounds.

I should add here that the RAV is available in FWD or AWD, the latter of which was tested.

Not only is the new RAV sleeker looking, but it has a more roomy interior for both people and cargo capacity, which now measures 36.5 inches deep, 44.5 wide and 33.5 high. Drop the 60/40 seats and depth extends to a full six feet. Cargo load height is 26 inches while step-in is an easy 18 inches.

Interior wise, the saddle brown and black leather seats add a zesty look to the cabin, while the remainder of interior trim was done in the same two-tone motif. The front bucket seats are supportive and comfy while the back seats are more flat although nicely padded.

With the optional GPS nav system, the system displayed streets in a light purple coloration, which made it tough to read the streets. The nav system plus the rearview camera and some audio functions display on a 5.25x3-inch LCD screen. All HVAC controls are easy to use and see but the rear seat outboard headrests should be of lower profile as they do hamper rear vis somewhat.

Shod with Toyo 18-inch Open Country tires, the RAV4 rode exceptionally smooth and quiet on highways, but on secondary roads bumps and bruisers reverberated into the cabin. But that’s no different when compared to other compact SUVs in its class. Honda’s CR-V and Ford’s Escape, two popular selling short wheel based models, all exhibit similar traits.

Power wise, the 2.5L four cylinder had sufficient spunk and decent acceleration from a standing stop to highway passing situations with two adults aboard. Load it with four adults and the engine breathes hard.

The RAV parked easily, was nimble and is an enjoyable vehicle to drive. And it’s reasonably priced.
Starting with a base of $28,410, the test car came with a host of standard features and niceties. Add the FJ package for $1,660 and it’s loaded with Toyota’s Entune system, XM radio, JBL audio, GPS nav, Bluetooth and much more. To that another $500 gives you Blind Spot Monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, which is really helpful and worth the extra money. All totaled, the RAV4 bottom-lined at $31,415 including an $845 delivery charge.

Of course this price doesn’t reflect Toyota’s reliability and build quality that the company is noted for.

To check out a RAV stop by Krause Toyota in Fogelsville or Bennett on Lehigh Street in Allentown. And to automatically receive auto news and reviews from Nick Hromiak, click on the “Subscribe” notation on this page.

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