The Toyota RAV4 is the top-selling compact SUV in a very competitive segment for a reason. It’s hard to beat when it offers plenty of room inside, has Toyota’s reputation for quality, and comes standard with a boat load of safety features. It also has an option for all-wheel drive, making it an ideal all-weather vehicle.
The Toyota RAV4 continues to beat its closest rivals, the Honda CR-V and Nissan Rogue, in sales. The RAV4, CR-V, and Rogue are among the top 12 best-selling vehicles in the United States. Other RAV4 rivals include the Ford Escape, Subaru Forester, Mazda CX-5, and Hyundai Santa Fe Sport.
So how does it stack up? This week, we drove the new, top trim 2017 Toyota RAV4 Platinum AWD.
The Toyota RAV4 gains a host of driver assistance features as standard equipment, including collision mitigation, lane departure warning, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control. The range-topping Platinum trim level we drove is also new this year.
Features & Options
The 2017 Toyota RAV4 Platinum AWD ($36,150) comes standard with SofTex seats, paddle shifters, 18-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats and steering wheel, 8-way power driver’s seat, pushbutton start, LED headlamps and tail lamps, a hands-free power-operated lift gate, and a blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert.
The Platinum adds an 11-speaker, JBL premium audio system with navigation and an app suite, a 7-inch touchscreen, and driver’s seat memory. Safety features include Forward Collision Warning with automatic braking, Lane Departure Alert, adaptive cruise control, a pedestrian pre-collision system, and automatic high beams. A new, four-camera Bird’s Eye View Monitor gives a 360-degree view of the area surrounding the vehicle.
It came with a number of smaller options too, like Remote Start ($499), Roof Rack Cross Bars ($315), and special color and paint protection ($790). Total MSRP including destination: $39,666.
Stepping inside the RAV4 Platinum revealed that new car smell with lots of soft-touch surfaces, including the SofTex synthetic leather. The larger, 7-inch touchscreen was easier to read – something we noticed right away. The RAV4 cabin is well organized, there’s above average interior room for a compact SUV, and good build quality overall. We could tell Toyota used quality materials for this top-trim model. We felt the warmth from the heated seats and steering wheel during the cold Colorado mountain mornings this week.
We chose having a higher, SUV-like view over a car-like position after adjusting the 8-way power seats. The adjustments let us have a more commanding view of the road. The SofTex synthetic leather seats in the Platinum are comfortable and supportive for any longer trips you might take with the family. Our passengers this week complained about the rear seats being flat, a bit hard, and unsupportive for their liking. But these guys would complain no matter what! Thankfully, the seatbacks did recline for them and the rear doors were wide for their big frames as they slid in.
One of the RAV4’s strong points has always been its ability to carry cargo, and the low floor made loading it easy as we slid in some big boxes to transport. The rear seats fold flat for additional cargo space, which is already abundant with 38.4 cubic feet with the seats up, and 73.4 cubic feet with them down.
Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs
The RAV4 Platinum is powered by 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, making 176 horsepower and 172 lb-ft. of torque. The plant comes mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission with a sport-shift mode that drives all four wheels. The RAV4 with all-wheel drive gets an EPA-estimated 22/28 city/highway and 24 combined mpg using regular unleaded fuel.
This is quite a bit less than a comparably equipped Subaru Forester (26/32 city/highway, 28 combined).
At least in the mountains at altitude, the 2.5-liter engine is not all that quick, and it took longer than we thought to get up to 65 mph, but we are driving at 8,300 feet above sea level too. Those living on the flats likely won’t notice any power shortage. The four-cylinder motor is smooth and refined until we really pushed it hard, then we found ourselves wanting a turbo.
The advantage of the all-wheel drive was evident as we traveled a dirt road this week. The RAV4 splits power between the front and rear axles at the press of a button, at speeds below 25 mph. The wheels gripped the loose gravel and kept us from sliding into the ditch. It’s a must for those living in cold climates with ice and snow.
The ride is smooth for an all-wheel drive vehicle and the suspension is tuned more for comfort than sport. The larger 18-inch wheels look cool, but did make the ride a bit rougher, so 17-inch wheels on the lower trims will have a smoother ride quality. There’s good outward visibility from the driver’s seat even with the raked roof.
The RAV4 is still one of the best choices in the compact SUV segment, and the Platinum trim comes with a more luxurious feel. It’s roomy, comfortable, good-looking, and makes for a nice commuter vehicle. With a host of standard safety features, it’s a good choice for families too.
Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. Follow his work on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy