2014 Toyota Rav4 Review and Prices
The 2014 Toyota RAV4 is the best SUV for you if you want a passenger-friendly compact crossover still fresh from its model-year 2013 redesign.
The 2014 Toyota RAV4 should return virtually unchanged a year after undergoing its first full redesign since 2006. It’ll continue to emphasize style, roominess, fuel-economy, and upscale cabin decor. It will also repeat an aged four-cylinder as its only engine and thus remain undistinguished for performance.
Should you wait for the 2014 Toyota RAV4 or buy a 2013 Toyota RAV4? Don’t expect meaningful changes to the 2014 RAV4, but waiting for it may be a good investment. The 2013 RAV4 hit showrooms in January 2013, rather late in the year for a new model. The 2014 RAV4 likely will go on sale in the third-quarter of 2013. So waiting will net you an SUV with the resale advantage of a later model year. Some of that residual bump, of course, would be offset by the almost-inevitable model-year price increase. In any event, the 2014 RAV4’s base-price range won’t wander from the $23,000-$30,000 heart of this competitive segment.
2014 Toyota Rav4 Changes back to top
Styling: The 2014 RAV4’s styling will be a mirror image of the 2013’s. It’ll repeat the body that came with the redesign, one that traded rounded forms for a more creased, aerodynamic shape. Lost in the redesign was RAV4’s trademark side-hinged cargo door, replaced by a conventional liftgate.
The 2014 RAV4 will fit nicely within a class that’s moved from junior-truck styling to sleeker, high-riding-hatchback looks. Leaders will again include the 2014 Ford Escape, 2014 Honda CR-V, 2014 Mazda CX-5, and the redesigned 2014 Nissan Rogue.
This fourth-generation RAV4 kept the same basic exterior dimensions as its 2006-2012 predecessor so it remains among the most spacious compact crossovers, with an especially roomy rear seat. The third-generation’s optional, child-sized third-row seat was discontinued, leaving today’s RAV4 a five-passenger wagon.
Its dashboard will continue among the more contemporary in the class and include a 6.1-inch-diameter screen for audio, climate, and available navigation displays. Cabin materials also will remain a high point, with a mix of richly padded and stout plastic surfaces and even French-stitched seams on the seats and instrument panel.
Expect the 2014 RAV4 to reprise a three-model lineup consisting of the base LE, volume-selling XLE, and top-line Limited. Visual differentiators should remain confined to touches like standard fog lamps and body-colored turn-signal mirrors on XLE and Limited models. The 2014 LE is likely to return with 17 inch steel wheels with wheel covers while the XLE continues with 17-inch alloys and the Limited with 18-inch alloys.
Mechanical: No mechanical changes are anticipated for the 2014 RAV4. It’ll retain one engine, a 2.5-liter four-cylinder carried over from the third-generation. Output should remain 179 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque (consider torque the real key to acceleration).
The 2.5-liter matches the output of most competing entry-level four-cylinder engines. And it’s linked to a modern six-speed automatic transmission with a shift-lever that can be toggled to replicate manual-type gear control. But the 2014 RAV4 probably will remain slightly heavier than most rivals and continue to suffer mediocre acceleration for merging or passing.
Toyota dropped RAV4’s available V-6 engine with the 2013 redesign and joined a compact-crossover trend toward all-four-cylinder powertrains. But the 2.5-liter is not a particularly smooth-running engine. And lacks some advanced technology found on many competitors, such as direct fuel injection and turbocharging. Toyota probably will continue to direct buyers who want more power – or three rows of seats -- to its midsize, seven-passenger Highlander crossover, which offers a V-6.
The RAV4’s all-wheel-drive system is fully up-to-date. Available on all three models and called Dynamic Torque Control, it’ll be ordered on about 65 percent of 2014 RAV4s in place of front-wheel drive. Typical of AWD systems in this class, Dynamic Torque Control operates in fuel-saving front-wheel drive until sensors detect tire slip, whereupon power is automatically reapportioned front-to-rear until traction is restored.
Dynamic Torque Control, however, is also designed to enhance grip by reapportioning power during cornering and acceleration. The RAV4 is not intended for serious off-road use (virtually no compact crossover is), but its AWD system does include a button to lock in a 50/50 front/rear torque split for maximum low-speed traction.
And Toyota will again include on all 2014 RAV4s a dashboard button that activates Eco and Sport modes. Eco mode is designed to save gas by calming throttle response, remapping shift points, and regulating the air conditioner. Sport mode reduces power-steering assist, sharpens throttle response, and modifies transmission shift points to maintain higher engine rpm. On AWD models, Sport mode also recalibrates front/rear torque distribution as another way to improve handling and control.
The result should again be a compact crossover with road manners that, overall, fall short of the sportiest class leaders, the Escape and CX-5. Expect steering that overreacts to subtle inputs at highway speeds, and a ride that’s stable but a little too hard over big bumps and ruts.
Features: The 2014 RAV4 should again follow a simplified features strategy in which even the LE comes with a nice array of standard amenities and no model has a lengthy options list.
Every 2014 RAV4 will again come with USB-iPod and Bluetooth hands-free mobile-phone and music-streaming connectivity. Also included will be cruise control, a backup camera that displays on the dashboard screen, and a six-speaker CD audio system with satellite radio.
Expect standard equipment on the 2014 XLE and Limited models to again include a sunroof and dual-zone automatic climate control, plus front bucket seats with extra side bolstering. Toyota probably will continue to confine to the Limited’s standard-equipment list a power liftgate, leather-wrapped steering wheel, power driver’s seat, heated front seats, and keyless entry with pushbutton ignition.
Similarly, the Limited likely will again be the only RAV4 available with a blind-spot monitor with rear-cross-traffic alert. This system warns of unseen vehicles in adjacent lanes or approaching from the sides when backing from a parking space.
Toyota’s Display Audio with Navigation and Entune setup should again be an option exclusive to the XLE and Limited. This combines a voice-activated navigation system with Toyota’s Entune infotainment interface. Entune works with an onboard smartphone to access to a variety of mobile apps, including Pandora Internet radio, iHeartRadio, and the Bing search engine.
We applaud Toyota for offering navigation on a model other than the top-line version, as do many competitors. But we wish the system itself employed a screen with greater size and better resolution than the standard 6.1-inch dashboard display.
2014 Toyota Rav4 Prices back to top
Prices for the 2014 Toyota RAV4 were not released in time for this review but they shouldn’t stray far from 2013 levels. That suggests a 2014 RAV4 base-price range of $24,500-$29,600.
(Estimated base prices in this review include the manufacturer’s mandatory destination fee. Toyota’s fee for the 2013 RAV4 was $845. Toyotas in certain Gulf and Southeastern states are delivered by independent suppliers and may carry different destination fees.)
Estimated starting price for the 2014 Toyota RAV4 LE is $24,500 with front-wheel drive and at $25,900 with AWD. As before, LE factory options will likely be limited to roof cargo rails, at around $150, and a cargo-area tonneau, at about $90.
Base price for the 2014 RAV4 XLE is an estimated $25,500 with front-drive and $26,900 with AWD. Display Audio with Navigation and Entune, priced at around $1,030, probably will repeat as the XLE’s only factory option.
Estimated base price for the 2014 RAV4 Limited is $28,300 with front-drive and $29,700 with AWD. Expect the Limited’s only options to again be the blind-spot and cross-traffic alert system, a good deal at around $500, the $1,030 navigation-Entune system at $1,030 -- or around $1,660 combined with a JBL-premium-audio upgrade.
2014 Toyota Rav4 Fuel Economy back to top
EPA fuel-economy ratings for the 2014 Toyota RAV4 were not released in time for this review, but anticipate a repeat of the 2013 ratings.
Expect the 2014 RAV4 to rate 24/31/26 mpg city/highway/combined with front-wheel drive and 22/29/25 with AWD.
That should sustain the 2014 RAV among the more fuel-efficient compact crossovers with similar power. Note that the EPA ratings are not calculated with the Eco mode activated. Toyota says Eco mode will improve fuel economy slightly in real-world driving.
2014 Toyota Rav4 Release Date back to top
Look for the 2014 Toyota RAV4 in showrooms during the fourth quarter of 2013.
What's next for the 2014 Toyota Rav4 back to top
Don’t figure on much change to this fourth-generation RAV4 until model-year 2017 or so. That’s when it’ll likely get a midcycle freshening on its way to its next full redesign, probably for model-year 2019.
The typical midcycle freshening includes no more than minor appearance and trim revisions. We hope, however, that Toyota finds a way to give the RAV4 a bit more oomph, maybe with a powered-up 2.5 liter or, better yet, by making available stronger, smoother 2.7-liter four-cylinder used in the Highlander as well as in the Toyota Venza crossover and the Sienna minivan.
A turbocharged four-cylinder doesn’t look likely in the short-term. But Toyota has promised a gas-electric hybrid version of each of its models. Whether a hybrid RAV4 arrives during this generation’s lifecycle is conjecture.
The RAV4 is a crossover because it uses a unified body-and-frame design typical of automobiles rather than the separate body-and-frame construction of a truck. Virtually all SUVs were body-on-frame when Toyota introduced the original RAV4 in model-year 1996, and the company bills the RAV as the first true crossover.
In case you’re wondering, Toyota coined RAV4 to stand for “Recreational Active Vehicle with 4-wheel drive.”
2014 Toyota Rav4 Competition back to top
Ford Escape: It suffers tight rear-seat room, a problematic MyFord Touch infotainment interface, and prices that can get pretty steep. But Escape is a top choice for sporty handling and avant-garde design inside and out. Its all-four-cylinder lineup includes two turbocharged engines, one with 240 horsepower. For model-year 2013 Escape switched from an ancient U.S.-based design to a Ford-of-Europe platform. It won’t get major changes for several years and should remain a top-seller. Estimated 2014 Escape base-price range is $23,800-$33,700.
Honda CR-V: Honda hews to a formula of roomy refinement as it vies with the Escape for the No. 1-sales ranking among compact crossovers. The CR-V was redesigned for model-year 2012 and should continue through 2014 with few changes. Count solid quality, passenger comfort, and just-good-enough performance among its assets. That, and customer-satisfaction ratings up there with Toyota’s, make it a formidable entry. Estimated 2014 base-price range is $23,900-$31,500.
Nissan Rogue: Compact- crossover shoppers looking for terrific road manners ought to also consider the youthful 2014 Mazda CX-5. But Nissan’s Rouge has proved a popular choice, joining the Escape, CR-V, and RAV4 among the top-sellers. A redesigned Rogue comes for model-year 2014. Styling will be new and Nissan needs to move it beyond the pleasant but unadventurous jelly-bean form of the first-generation model. It’ll also need to upgrade the interior materials, though the cabin itself is likely to remain spacious for passengers if not for cargo. Nissan promises a new underskin structure that’ll be lighter and furnish better handling. A four-cylinder engine with more than the 170 horsepower of the outgoing version is likely and could be joined by a turbo variant of around 190 horsepower, as used in Nissan’s jiggy Juke crossover.