The RAV4 is a pointy trying small SUV.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 is quite a bit like that one buddy everybody appears to have: all the time there to help, present a shoulder to cry on or present up at a second’s discover if you end up in sizzling water at 2:00 a.m. in Tijuana. No, the RAV4 does not actually lead the compact SUV class in anybody space, nevertheless it’s nicely rounded, completely succesful and able to serve.

Like

Engaging inside designStandard driver aidsAdded functionality

Do not Like

So-so infotainment systemGritty reversing cameraGrumbling engine

Providing drivers loads of alternative, three primary flavors of RAV4 can be found. There’s the usual mannequin, a cost-effective hybrid after which the RAV4 Prime, the plug-in hybrid variant with as much as 42 miles of electric-only vary. The instance seen right here is essentially the most rugged of the bunch, the TRD Off-Street, which encompasses a non-hybrid drivetrain and a few further options to make it carry out higher out on the path.

For 2021, the TRD Off-Street mannequin features a swanky stainless-steel entrance skid plate, a primary for the RAV4. This could assist defend a few of its delicates whereas thrashing round within the grime. This Toyota’s physique is supported by a uniquely tuned suspension, which options racy-looking crimson springs that supposedly present higher small-bump isolation on tough roads. This car additionally boasts re-valved twin-tube shock absorbers for higher physique management over massive floor irregularities. Offering and further serving to of traction is a set of Falken Wildpeak A/T Path all-terrain tires mounted to 18-inch TRD wheels. These rubbers look tremendous aggressive however are surprisingly agreeable. Certainly, the TRD Off-Street’s suspension tuning is completely livable, offering an impressively easy on-pavement experience with little tire noise. If towing is your factor, this RAV4 can drag as much as 3,500 kilos, sufficient for a pair snowmobiles or a small trailer.

My tester can be fitted with what should be essentially the most ineffective working boards in automotive historical past. The RAV4 sits low sufficient that they are utterly pointless. Making issues worse, these items are positive to get in the way in which whereas off-roading, plus they stick out far sufficient to streak your pant legs with no matter slop you final drove via. However this is the kicker: All this added inconvenience prices an additional $549.

Get previous these non-compulsory working boards and you will find this SUV’s inside is nicely constructed and the general design is simple on the eyes, with none frou-frou add-ons or pointless sculpting. Mazda’s CX-5 is clearly extra upscale and the Honda CR-V’s cabin is nicer, too, however there isn’t any scarcity of soppy supplies on this Toyota and I really like the racy-looking crimson stitching that runs throughout the dashboard, door panels and seats. That is complemented by crimson accents across the cup holders and out there wi-fi charging plate in addition to on the rubber flooring mats.

The 2021 Toyota RAV4’s inside is good-looking and purposeful.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

An 8-inch touchscreen is perched on the dashboard the place it is simple to succeed in and see (decrease trims characteristic a 7-incher). Sadly, this show is house to an outdated infotainment system that is difficult to make use of and moderately unattractive. However hey, a minimum of Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Amazon Alexa are all supported. I admire the rubbery temperature- and audio-control knobs, which really feel nice in my palms, however a few of the different HVAC buttons are a bit too small to simply see whereas driving. Past all that, this RAV4 additionally options the $1,620 Premium Audio package deal, which incorporates an 11-speaker JBL sound system, embedded navigation and some different goodies.

As in different Toyotas, the RAV4’s back-up digital camera is poor, offering a low-resolution picture of what is behind you. The $1,950 TRD Off-Street Expertise Package deal features a 360-degree digital camera system, which is useful, however simply as gritty trying. This choices group incorporates different goodies, too, like a digital rear-view mirror, parking sensors, a wi-fi charging plate and extra, so it’s value the additional outlay even when the digital camera system is merely so-so.

The RAV4’s entrance chairs are supportive and cozy, serving to present view of the street forward. This SUV’s backseat can be spacious, with loads of room for knees and noggins, although the rear cushion is only a tad too low for it to be completely accommodating. Additionally, the again door openings are slim, so it may be difficult to entry the rear lodging.

This Toyota’s four-cylinder engine works surprisingly nicely, even when it’s kind of noisy whereas working.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

This instance’s huge, power-opening hatch makes it a snap to entry the cargo maintain, which supplies 37.5 cubic-feet of cupboard space behind the rear backrests or 69.8 cubes with them folded down. That is more room than you get in a CX-5 or Ford Escape, however these scores do fall barely behind the capacious CR-V.

The RAV4 is propelled by a well-known drivetrain, one used to nice benefit all through Toyota’s automotive empire. Nestled between this SUV’s entrance fenders is a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder that delivers an affordable 203 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. The engine is backed by an eight-speed computerized transmission that’s, for essentially the most half, quick-witted and easy, although often gearchanges can really feel a bit uneven. The efficiency this powertrain delivers is completely high quality; unladen, the RAV4 has no bother getting as much as freeway velocity. Actually, I’ve no complaints about this SUV’s get-up-and-go, moderately, I am not an enormous fan of its refinement. The engine is gruff sounding when on the boil and generally you are feeling uncouth vibrations.

However hey, a minimum of the RAV4 is environment friendly. TRD Off-Street fashions include torque-vectoring all-wheel drive, a characteristic that ought to make them fairly succesful little mountain goats. Regardless of the added weight and friction of four-corner traction, this SUV is rated at 25 mpg metropolis, 32 mpg freeway and 28 mpg mixed. In combined (although largely freeway) driving, I am averaging about 31.5 mpg, which is, frankly, stellar for a car this tall fitted with such aggressive tires. 

The infotainment system is likely one of the RAV4’s greatest weaknesses. 

Craig Cole/Roadshow

At interstate speeds a little bit of wind noise makes its presence recognized, however that is hardly objectionable. The RAV4’s experience is usually supple and the brake pedal feels good beneath your tootsies. This car’s steering is crisp and fast, however a tad too mild for my style and the wheel’s rim is nearly dainty its cross-section is so small.

Serving to preserve the RAV4 shiny facet up, Toyota Security Sense 2.0 is commonplace fare on each 2021 mannequin. This suite of driver aids consists of lane-departure warning, computerized excessive beams, road-sign recognition and extra. The headline options, although, are adaptive cruise management and lane centering. Collectively, these two facilities make lengthy freeway drives a breeze, maintaining the car from wandering and effortlessly matching the velocity of surrounding visitors.

Preserving tempo with rival SUVs, an entry-level, front-drive 2021 Toyota RAV4 begins at 27 grand and alter together with $1,175 in vacation spot charges. Because it sits, the loaded TRD Off-Street mannequin seen right here checks out for $42,622. That determine consists of plenty of choices just like the Off-Street Climate Package deal ($1,015), the Premium Audio choices group ($1,620), the TRD Off-Street tech pack ($1,950), door sill guards ($140), mud flaps ($129) and, sure, these foolish working boards ($549).

Properly, what do you consider the 2021 Toyota RAV4?

Craig Cole/Roadshow

With added functionality and commendable refinement, the RAV4 TRD Off-Street is a likable SUV. I nonetheless desire the CX-5, which feels far more premium and I feel the CR-V might be a bit extra smart, however as all the time, the ever-popular RAV4 stays a superb alternative.

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