2015 Toyota RAV4 – Test Drive, Spec, Rating, Price

Exterior 2015

2015 Toyota RAV4 – The Pioneers of the Cross-over

There’s one distinct element Toyota is really good at, and that’s the plan and execution of what people might want in the near future.  The Prius hybrid being the major one, but it was also the migrated mindset of turning the traditional heavy-duty SUV trend into something that was more compact-friendly and easy to use.  From then on, the Toyota RAV4 cross-over SUV was born – and that was over 20 years ago!

side view

You either plagiarize, or a pioneer.  A few cycles of squint and stare will quickly convince you that the Toyota RAV4 falls into the latter category.  Its rugged looks and height offset is a visual proof that the Toyota RAV4 is is not just a point A-B car, but is also harsh-climate capable and built to last.

Built to Last

Ruggedness makes its way into the cabin space as well.  From the floor mats to center console, the looks and feel suggests the Toyota RAV4 is ready to tackle  any off-road expenditure. Even the component layout reflects this with its climate and audio controls, and infotainment screen kept squared and simple.

Interior Console

Torque delivery is motivated by a natural-aspirated 2.5 liter four cylinder engine producing 176 horsepower and 172 ft.lbs of torque.  Mated to the engine shaft is a standard 6 speed automatic gearbox.  Choice of powertrain configuration includes either a FWD or AWD.  A bonus to the AWD configuration is Toyota’s Active-Torque-Control system capable of dynamically transferring torque to between the front and rear wheels from either 100:0 or 50:50 ratio.  By default, the traction control system engages in a pure FWD configuration for best fuel efficiency, but switches into AWD mode when extra traction is needed.

A quick spin out of the lot juggled memories of the Toyota FJ I had driven nearly two years ago.  Perhaps it was the unique off-road buggy-like feel with its lumberjack vibe toned down.

The Quirks

Acceleration has always been an underpinning point on the Toyota RAV4.  One of the major fallback to the Toyota RAV4 from previous models was the limited 4 gear automatic transmission.  But even with the new 6 speed, the Toyota RAV4 still struggles.  Maybe it was the added complexity of the AWD system, but trying to pass and merge with the Toyota RAV4 remains a frustrating task.  It was as if the engine RPM was locked and caged in the lower spectrum even though the tachometer needle was pointing above the 2500 range.

The Toyota RAV4 allow three drive mode selections: Eco, Normal and Sport mode.  Sport mode sharpens throttle response and allows more freedom in the upper RPM range.  It’s only a partial solution as my main complaint was the step-like throttle response rather than being smooth and linear.  The automatic transmission is likely to be blamed for not making better use of all its gears.

2.5l I4 engine

A few other quirks  in the Toyota RAV4 was the unpleasant pinching tone from the infotainment control, and the lack of heat available from the climate control system.  The rear tonneau panel also proved to be a difficult procedural task to fold down the rear seats.

Final Impressions

The Toyota RAV4 ticks all the boxes that classifies itself as a cross-over SUV.  But this check list doesn’t quantify quality.  Toyota continues to follow its Arcadian descents and chooses not to explore unbounded territory.  And I believe this is the reason why I think The Toyota RAV4 can only offer a satisfactory driving experience.  Whereas, other manufactures have moved on with incorporating turbos to boost both performance while maintaining good fuel efficiency.2015ToyotaRAV4_03

Not to say that the RAV4 isn’t good at dieting.  EPA is rated at 22/29/25 in the city, highway and combined respectively.  This still falls a tad short from its competitors including the Mazda CX5, but better than the Hyundai Santa Fe.

rear view

Perhaps, it’s Toyota’s trusted and proven design principles that has earned itself an unbeaten track record on reliability.  But on a consumer’s perspective, reliability is an abstraction.  I can see how the strong believers of the Toyota brand would opt for the RAV4, but for fresh minded consumers, there are a lot of choices out there that offer a more energetic and satisfying driving experience such as the Ford Escape, Mazda CX series.


  • Vehicle : 2014 Toyota RAV4
  • Model : RAV4 AWD Limited
  • Price as Tested : $37,307
  • Vehicle Type : Crossover
  • Seating Capacity : 2+3
  • Powertrain Configuration : AWD
  • Engine : 2.5L I4 Engine
  • Transmission : 6 speed Automatic
  • Horsepower : 176 Hp
  • Torque: 172 Ft.Lbs
  • Fuel Economy: 22/29/25 city/highway/combined
  • Wheelbase : 104.7″
  • Height : 67.1″
  • Width : 72.6″
  • Weight: N/A
  • Additional Features : Premium JBL Audio , 11 Speakers in 7 Locations , Lane Departure, Alert , Blind Spot Monitor , Rear Cross Traffic Alert , Back-up, Sensors , Automatic High Beam


  • Modern looks
  • Rock Solid build
  • Roomy interior


  • Sluggish acceleration
  • Lack of luxury for price point.
  • Mediocre end user experience.