The third-generation RAV4 compact sport utility vehicle enters its third year with minor enhancements after its first launch over a decade ago. For added anti-theft security, the RAV4 Limited grade adds a standard immobilizer, which is optional on other models.
The RAV4 is among the most versatile compact crossover-type SUVs. 2008 RAV4 is offered in three distinct grades - Base, performance-oriented Sport and top-of-the-line Limited - and with a choice between four-cylinder and V6 engines and either front- or electronic on-demand four-wheel-drive.
The available 269-hp 3.5-liter V6 engine makes RAV4 one of the most powerful vehicle in its segment. Equipped exclusively with a gated-shift five-speed automatic transmission, the V6 RAV4 models offer fuel efficiency comparable with some less powerful four- and six-cylinder competitors.
"Toyota pioneered the car-based compact SUV segment with the first RAV4, and the current model stands above its class with a hard-to-match combination of performance, room, value, and proven Toyota quality," said Jim Lentz, Toyota Motor Sales executive vice president.
Style, Room and Comfort
Built on a generous 104.7-inch wheelbase, the roomy RAV4 offers optional third-row seating on base and Limited grade models. The high-strength body structure and exterior details were engineered with a focus on enhancing quiet ride quality. For example, eliminating outer moldings from the windshield and door glass enhances aerodynamics and reduces wind noise. A two-ply hood insulator with a middle air layer helps to further reduce noise transmission into the cabin.
The RAV4's contemporary design strongly conveys the Toyota identity in an aerodynamically efficient shape. The trapezoidal grille, four-bulb headlamps and distinct, sharp character lines give RAV4 a rugged yet sporty look. The 0.33 coefficient of drag (Cd) is among the best in its segment and a major factor in minimizing wind noise and maximizing fuel economy. The rear view conveys a more traditional SUV look, with LED tail lamps and an externally mounted spare tire in a color-keyed shell.
The RAV4 Sport grade stands apart with P235/55 R18 tires on 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels; color-keyed door handles and fender flares; fog lights; roof rails and cross bars; color-keyed heated and foldable power outside mirrors; rear privacy glass; smoked headlamp trim, sport-tuned suspension and unique dark charcoal fabric seats.
Externally, the Limited grade is distinguished from the Sport grade by 17-inch aluminum six-spoke alloy wheels with P225/65 R17 tires and a chrome grille. The Limited also adds a number of interior amenities and offers a wider range of comfort-enhancing options.
Most Powerful Optional Engine in Its Segment
The RAV4's standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is equipped with variable valve timing with intelligence (VVT-i) and teamed exclusively to a gated-shift four-speed automatic transmission. The smooth four-cylinder engine delivers 166 horsepower with 165 lb.-ft. of peak torque at 4,000 RPM. Fuel efficiency is excellent for the class, with EPA mpg estimates of 21 city/27 highway on 4x2 models and 20 city/25 highway on 4x4 models.
The available 3.5-liter V6 is the powerhouse of its segment, generating a best-in-class 269 horsepower at 6,200 RPM and 246 lb.-ft. of peak torque at 4,700 RPM. The dual VVT-i system affects intake and exhaust valve timing to optimize torque and fuel efficiency.
The V6 is paired exclusively with a gated-shift five-speed automatic transmission. The shift logic reduces the frequency of gear shifting during winding uphill and downhill driving. The V6 RAV4 can accelerate from zero-to-60 mph in under seven seconds and yet has an estimated EPA fuel economy mpg ratings of 19 city/27 highway for 4x2 models and 19 city/26 highway for 4x4 models. Both RAV4 engines use regular-grade (87 AKI) fuel for customer value, and both are EPA certified as Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV II).