2015 Toyota RAV4 XLE FWD

Susan Frissell
womenwithwheels.com

The 2015 Toyota RAV4 is available in three trim levels: LE, XLE and Limited, prices range from $23,680-$29,850. Our test RAV4 XLE came equipped with front-wheel-drive, and the only engine the RAV sports: a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, which at times seems underpowered, however, it’s pulling a 3400-lb. car that feels lightweight.

Into the1990s, the RAV4 appears to have kept up with the newest features and curves, however, so have its competitors, the likes of the Mazda CX-5, Ford Escape, Subaru Forester and Hyundai Santa Fe Sport. While the RAV4 is a nice compact Ute, it pales in comparison to the competition. Very popular among female buyers, the RAV sells itself by manufacturer alone.

Our XLE came equipped with two options, one the Entune Premium Audio with Navigation package which also includes App Suite, Entune Multimedia Bundle: 6.1-inch high resolution touch-screen with split screen display, integrated backup camera display, AM/FM/ CD and six speakers, Auxiliary audio jack, USB 2.0 port with iPod connectivity and control, advanced voice recognition, hands-free phone capability, phone book access, music streaming via Bluetooth radio,HD predictive traffic and Doppler weather overlay, AM/FM/Cache radio, SiriusXM, alt access radio, Gracenotes album cover art, $585. The second option was carpet floor mats/cargo mat ($225).

The Entune has four different levels, touch-screen audio, two top levels incorporating App Suite, Bing for search, HeartRadio and Pandora for audio streaming. MoveTickerts.com, OpenTable, Yelp, real-time traffic, weather, fuel prices, sports and stocks.

Gone from six models to three trim levels, the 2015 RAV4, now a small crossover can be linked to its bigger brothers: Highlander and Venza. The lines are identifiable and have a resemblance. The XLE version was added in 2013. The back door no longer opens to the side. Rather, a top-hinged hatch is the new look and the tire is located under the cargo floor.

The RAV4’s interior isn’t terribly inspiring and upon closer inspection, resembles those features popular in the 1980s. The leather upholstery is lower grade than expected, as are the plastics. While this isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, this writer would hesitate to spend upwards of $25,000 when opting for a small ute. Maybe we are just weary of the RAV4 whose time seems to have come and gone. When it first appeared, we especially liked the two-door version, discontinued after a few years.

Driving our test RAV4 during the recent Chicago 20-inch snow proved to be satisfactory. It held the road well and the latest in safety technology-enhanced vehicle stability control, traction control, anti-lock brakes, Brake assist, smart stop technology and Electronic brake force distribution all aided in slippery, icy streets.

The standard backup camera is a welcome addition, as was the fold-flat second row seating when needing to tote some much-needed wood from Home Depot. We didn’t get an opportunity to test the power moonroof, but appreciated the power heated outside mirrors on chilly, icy mornings.

The RAV4’s new styling cues are an improvement but not enough to make this writer lust for one. While the RAV is not a bad option at all in the CUV lineup, it’s just not first in line. As with many vehicle classifications today, there are so many contenders, one really has to do some serious thinking.

SPECS:

MSRP: $25,240; total vehicle price $26,935; destination $885
Engine: 2.5-liter, DOHC, 4-cylinder, 16-valve w/Dual VVT-I, 176 hp., 172 lb.ft torque
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 104.7 in.
Length: 179.9 in.
Width: 72.6 in.
Height: 65.4 in.
Weight: 3,435 lbs.
Wheels: alloy, 17-inch Superchrome finish
Tires: 235/55R18.0 front; 225/65HR17.0 rear
EPA fuel economy: 22-24/29-31 mpg.
Gas tank capacity: 15.9 gal.
Warranty: 60 mth/60,000-miles powertrain; 24 mths/25,000-mile maintenance; 24 mths/25,000-mile roadside assistance; 60 mths/unlimited corrosion perforation; 36 m

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