The 2014 Toyota RAV4 is all about utility and delivers a level of multi-purpose use for the family who is going places. The small crossover SUV offers useful space and cargo carrying ability for small families or singles. RAV4 received a major overhaul last year and this week we’re test driving the 2014 RAV4 Limited AWD model ($29,720). This tester comes with a Navigation Package ($785) and the Technology Package ($725).
What’s New for 2014?
For the 2014 model year, RAV4 gets a new Technology Package for the Limited model and bundles last year’s blind-spot monitoring system with Rear Cross Traffic Alert with a lane departure alert and auto high-beam control. Otherwise, the 2014 Toyota RAV4 remains unchanged.
The RAV4 Limited adds a number of features to make life more comfortable in this small crossover. Limited features Softex trimmed eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats, backup camera, four-way power front-passenger seat, leather-trimmed steering wheel, leather trimmed shifter lever, push button start, power liftgate and 18-inch alloy wheels.
Getting inside the RAV4 we can see the upgrades Toyota made to this new generation model. There is a new leather band running the entire length of the dash that effectively breaks up the trim between leather and plastic and makes the cabin feel more expansive. The Limited model adds SofTex (which is a leather substitute) to the sportier seats and it adds a bit more luxury to the cabin. The Limited’s leather-wrapped steering is tilt/telescoping and it’s easy for any driver to get comfortable and to find the perfect driving position.
The push button start on the Limited model is a welcome addition as more cars are going to this convenience feature. It’s almost annoying having to dig the keys out of your pocket to insert a key. In the back, second row seating is comfortable with decent legroom (37.2 inches). If you are looking for a third row, you will need to look elsewhere as Toyota dropped the seating option in the RAV4.
RAV4 shines in utility
The Toyota RAV4 is designed for utility and the new generation model gets even more space that allows for excellent storage and cargo-carrying ability. With the rear seats up, you have two additional inches of space compared to the old model (38.4 vs. 36.4 inches). With the second row folded flat, cargo space increases by 0.4-inches, giving it a class-leading total of 73.4-inches. And the new height-adjustable power liftgate makes it easy to load groceries and other cargo when your hands are full.
The RAV4 is an ideal vehicle for those who need to carry cargo like a small business owner who has merchandise to pick up and load often. The new liftgate now opens from the top, and Toyota did away with the spare tire on the back. With the seats folded flat, or removed altogether, there is lots of room for cargo. RAV4 has a taller roofline that makes getting taller items in easier. For those who want a recreational vehicle, this small crossover will hold lots of recreation equipment. The roof rails make it ideal for attaching a mountain bike, snowboards or a small canoe.
On the road
On the road, the 2014 RAV4 is a good commuter vehicle and handles like a small SUV. It’s not a sports model like some of the competition offers, (like the Mazda CX-5) and it doesn’t engage the driver. The 4-wheel independent suspension provides a offers a comfortable smooth ride. RAV4 still uses the same 2.5-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine, producing 176 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque. Toyota no longer offers the more powerful V6 option. Fuel economy has been improved, earning an EPA-estimated 22/29 mpg city/highway for a 2014 Toyota RAV4 AWD.
The 2.5-liter powerplant comes mated to a 6-speed automatic. Thankfully Toyota updated the gearbox from the outdated 4-speed transmission. The 6-speed automatic uses the last two gears as overdrive for increased fuel-efficiency. The RAV4 has good acceleration in the city, but seemed a bit sluggish at altitude going up I-70. It’s likely due to a revised first and second gear ratio to aid with city fuel efficiency.
AWD will improve handling
The RAV4’s AWD system is not built for off-road use, but works well for most driving situations. It will help aid in handling in wet or dry conditions. It features a Dynamic Torque Control AWD system that effectively manages torque transfer between the front and rear wheels via an electromagnetically controlled coupling. When the front wheels begin to slip, the system automatically increases torque transfer to the rear wheels by up to 50 percent.
Overall, the 2014 Toyota RAV4 Limited AWD is a comfortable small crossover. Where this vehicle shines is in its useful space and cargo carrying ability. It delivers a level of function, comfort and usability that would suit a small active family or single well. RAV4 features excellent storage and cargo-carrying ability. For those who live in cold climates, the AWD system works good for any adverse weather you might encounter. And if you want more luxury this Limited model provides a bit more comfort.