Pre-Owned: 2013 to 2017 Toyota RAV4
The Toyota RAV4 is one of those vehicles that is so incredibly popular we almost take it for granted. For a compact crossover that’s super-reliable while being affordable to buy and run, the RAV4 is hard to beat. It virtually invented this class of vehicle. We call it “compact” because that’s the categorization, but there’s plenty of passenger and cargo space. It’s small enough to be suitable for a single person or a couple, yet big enough to work for a family with two (maybe three) kids.
We’re looking at the current generation of RAV4, the fourth, before it’s superseded by the next generation starting with the ’19 model year. And we’re using ’17 as our cut-off point because there aren’t likely to be many pre-owned ’18 examples around at this time. The cool thing is that a really recent RAV4 could be available through Toyota’s certified pre-owned (CPO) program, which is almost as good as buying a new vehicle. It would have been subjected to a 160-point inspection and then guaranteed for 1 year/12,000 miles, plus a powertrain warranty of 7 years/100,000 miles. And someone else has taken that initial depreciation hit.
Generation four launched in 2012 as a ’13 model. There was no V-6 option this time around, just a 2.5L four-cylinder engine making 176 hp and 172 lb-ft of torque. This output is workable rather than remarkable, but people living in hilly areas should find it punchy enough. The engine links up to a six-speed automatic transmission; front-wheel drive is the basic setup, with all-wheel drive available as an option.
The cabin is pretty quiet, the ride is fairly comfortable, the second-row seats recline as well as split and fold in the usual 60/40 way, and at last the tailgate is hinged at the top instead of at the side (and the wrong side at that, for left-hand-drive countries). Its cargo area measures 38.4 cubic feet behind the rear seats and 73.3 cubic feet when they’re folded down, which is great for the class. And that space is made all the more practical by a flat load floor and low load height.
A tweak to the body’s construction in ’15 was implemented so the RAV4 could perform better in the small overlap front impact test carried out by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The mid-cycle revamp in ’16 entailed styling revisions, an upgrade to the interior, and the introduction of a hybrid version in higher trims with all-wheel drive as standard.
A new range-topping Platinum trim (not available with the hybrid drivetrain) arrived in ’17, bringing an eight-way power-adjustable driver seat, heated steering wheel, hands-free tailgate, JBL audio setup, and a 360-degree camera system. This model year also marked the inclusion of forward collision mitigation with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assistance, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high beams as standard throughout the range.
Apparently, of all the RAV4s built in the last 10 years, 90 percent of them are still being driven. That says a lot about the vehicle’s reliability and durability, but those are just two aspects of an extremely well-rounded package. The RAV4 doesn’t excel at one or a few things—it’s not the fastest or the biggest or the best-handling—but it scores a solid 85-percent mark in virtually every area that’s relevant to a mainstream compact crossover. And as we can see by the amount of examples on the road, that counts as an acceptable grade for a lot of people.
Complaints, therefore, have been relatively rare. The ’13 model year seemed to have an issue with some vehicles’ navigation systems, while the ’14 had a glitch in a few audio setups. A handful of owners also thought the paintwork wasn’t up to Toyota's usual standards. These would be good areas to pay extra attention to when checking over any possible purchase. This generation is new enough to expect full maintenance and repair records. If not buying from the CPO program, an inspection by an impartial expert would be money well spent.
Taking a front-drive ’15 XLE version in good condition, we’re looking at $15,546 if purchased from a private party. Applying the same criteria to a Honda CR-V brings up a virtually identical figure. A similar Mazda CX-5 is valued at $13,971. The CX-5 is also a superb compact crossover, but this illustrates how Toyota and Honda usually enjoy the best resale values.
2013-2017 Toyota RAV4Body type: 4-door compact crossover/SUV
Drivetrain: Front engine, FWD/4WD
Airbags: Driver, front passenger, front side
Engines: 2.5/176hp DOHC I-4; 2.5 DOHC I-4, one 141hp electric motor (front axle), one 67hp electric motor (rear axle), nickel metal hydride battery pack/total 194 hp (hybrid)
Brakes, f/r: Disc, disc, ABS
Price range, whlsl/retail (KBB): $12,273/$14,330 (2013, FWD, 2.5 I-4, LE), $24,684/$28,650 (2017, AWD 2.5 I-4, Platinum)
NHTSA frontal impact rating, driver/fr pass: Four stars/four stars