2007 Toyota RAV4: My Take

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The Toyota RAV4, which David Thomas recently reviewed, was redesigned for the 2006 model year and is so far selling strongly. I also had an opportunity to drive this no-longer-little SUV.

The RAV4 looks stylish to my eyes, though like Dave I'm not a big fan of the spare tire on the back of the cargo door. Buyers do get a full-size spare with this setup, though, and that's definitely a nice-to-have feature. 

The 3.5-liter V-6 feels very strong and not at all burdened by the SUV's weight, though there's some mild torque steer under hard acceleration. The V-6 isn't daunted by a full load of passengers, either, and its gas mileage estimates are impressive: 22/29 mpg (city/highway) for FWD versions and 21/28 for 4WD models. During a 100-mile stretch of flat highway driving at speeds between 75 and 80 mph, I averaged 26 mpg in a 4WD Sport.


It's interesting to note that EPA estimates for the 2007 Honda CR-V's 2.4-liter four-cylinder -- the only engine offered in that redesigned SUV — are only slightly better than the RAV4 V-6's. The archrival CR-V's four-cylinder, however, offers nowhere near the performance of the RAV4's V-6, and its responses are weak at highway speeds. For readers who've sampled four-cylinder- and V-6-powered RAV4s, I'd be interested to hear how you think they compare.

The Sport version I tested — the same one Dave spent a week testing for his review — had a comfortable driver's seat with manual adjustments, though I would have liked a tilt adjustment (offered with the power seats) for the seat cushion to dial up more thigh support. I also wished the seat went farther back for more legroom. Visibility is impressive and headroom is very good with the optional moonroof. Even with the Sport model's sport-tuned suspension, riders aren't subject to a punishing experience; it's definitely taut and can get bumpy on rough pavement, but it rides a lot like a Camry, only taller. Wind noise gets a bit intrusive above 70 mph on the highway, but the RAV4 feels stable at this speed.

Most interior materials and switches are first-rate. The dashboard has detailed graining and a low-gloss appearance that lend it a high-end look, though I could have done without the silver-colored insert in the center of the dash that surrounds the audio and climate controls. 


My 18-month-old nephew, Austin, loves riding in cars, and he didn't seem to have any complaints when I took him for a trip in the RAV4. However, rear visibility was obscured by the top tether that anchored his child-safety seat. Many SUVs locate the top tether anchor low on the back of the seatback, but the RAV4's pokes through the headliner, so I saw that strap every time I looked through the rearview mirror.

Clearly, my issues with this SUV are relatively minor. Though some fans of the RAV4 may lament how the once-small ute has grown up into a practically midsize SUV, I came away impressed with what Toyota's done with this model.

By Mike Hanley | October 20, 2006 | Comments (42)
Tags: Toyota


wait for the recall folks

I wish Toyota had kept the RAV4 smaller, and available with a manual transmission. I guess this is the first step in moving the Highlander (about the same size as the RAV4) upmarket, and much larger in it's next iteration.

Too bad.

The old small RAV4 4x4 with a stick shift was a fun urban run-about, with plenty of room and 4 wheel drive for the snow. Toyota lost my vote on this one.

Word is that the 2008 Highlander will be larger and built off the Avalon platform.

With the continued growth in current SUV models, there might be an opportunity for automakers to bring out some subcompact models in the U.S. just like we've recently seen on the passenger car side of the business.

Toyota Troll

Toyota is phasing out manual transmissions. An automatic always shifts at the most efficient shift point for a given amount of power. A manual driver can rev the engine unnecessarily. It's really bad for the environment. Manual transmissions are evil. Toyota offers them mostly in their youth-oriented line and small cars, because some youths have the misguided impression that a manual is cool. It's not--it's evil.

The spare tire on the rear door is a feature that enables Toyota to offer a capacious third-row seat in the new Rav4. This makes the Rav4 even more efficient, because now it can hold seven people plus luggage. Toyota has rolled out another perfect vehicle with the new Rav4.

Manuals are still fun, and true to performance enthusiasts. They are not "evil". I drive a hybrid right now and it is cool in some ways, but I really miss slogging through the gears.

My next car will definitely be a manual. They didn't put a manual in the new RAV because they moved it up to a family vehicle. Period. It is not longer youth-oriented.

A BMW might be the best choice for my next car. Even Volvo offers a decent manual in the S40 AND V50.


I own a 2006 Toyota RAV4-L and your review was dead on. I'm throughly pleased with the high-quality interiors that rivals that of some Lexus' that I've driven. The storage space is excellent, with two storage 'gloveboxes', a large 'hidden' compartment in the rear, 8 cupholders, and a deep two-tier center console.

I've averaged 30 MPG on the highway traveling 70-75 MPH on mixed terrain. It is possible to beat the EPA 'estimate' :)


If the RAV4 is anything like my Highlander then you can expect a very reliable car. I had 167,549 trouble free miles on mine when I traded it for a Honda Passport. I thought I would try something different and don't regret either purchase. I would never buy a Ford, General Motors or Chrysler product. Been there done that and would never consider it again.


I own a ’99 RAV4 and it has been a wonderful vehicle. It now has 106000 miles on it and has never been back to the dealer for a thing. It is a manual. I enjoy the physical act of shifting and I would not buy an automatic. It is a shame that Toyota does not offer a small SUV AWD with a manual transmission. I like Toyota but won’t buy an automatic. Toyota does not offer a manual because it is cheaper for them to produce just automatics. If Toyota cared about the environment then why do they sell the V8 Sequoia. The argument that automatics are better for the environment falls apart once you look at the huge SUVs Toyota sells. Automatics are less efficient in that there not a direct mechanical link between the road and the engine. There is an inherent efficiency loss in an automatic.


Why does Toyota sell a V8 Sequoia? Because people like myself buy them. My family has a boat along with 4 kiddies and we needed something that would tow the boat and keep our little ones safe and all of us comfortable. Not a lot of vehicles on the market to choose from. We selected the Sequoia as we believed it to be the best value. After towing our boat and most recently our horse trailer I can testify that it's a workhorse, rather a very comfortable reliable workhorse. Four years and 63,000 trouble free miles.
If you buy on price then you buy General Motors and/or Ford. If you buy on value then you buy Jap. Just as the Fram guy would say, "Pay A Little More Now... Or Pay A Lot Later."

'I'll never go back to Ford.'

Old Grump

I just purchased a 2007 Limited equipped with a V6 and drove it from North Carolina to Indiana the next day. Firm but comfortable ride; eight way power driver's seat is nice. Fit and finish is good; controls easy to access and comprehend. The V6 packs a whale of punch; whether you need it to get out of trouble or just 'turn it loose', put your foot to the floor and you're gone. Averaged 26 and 27 mpg on two fill ups; impressive considering the power under the hood. Highly recommend.

Derick Brown

Automakers don't care about the environment. If more drivers knew how to drive manual transmissions and wanted them then that is what they would make. The reason so may options are available for SUVs is because demand is high. The lack of manual transmissions is totally driven by the lack of demand for them. Nothing else.

Recently we've seen a trend that the mileage for automatics match that of manuals which has never been the case. this is especially true of economy (Read "non-sports cars) vehicles. I would guess we'll see even less manuals when the mileage becomes even less of a factor.


Just not to forget,in Europe RAV4 is available with manuals and 2.0 and 2.2L engines. And those guys do care about the mileage and environment.


I purchased a 2007 RAV4 in November. Love the car except two things. The first is the headreasts, too far forward for my tastes. My salesperson switched them for ones in a Scion XB, which I like.
The second is a rattle in the front passanger door or window. This starts once the car is at 40 mph. Took it back to Toyota, who says they cannot find the problem. I thought I would give it a couple more months to see if others had this problem and a solution had surfaced. What an annoying problem on an otherwise great vehicle.


Manual transmissions are bad (sorry "really bad") for the environment? Interesting: I googled "manual 'bad for the environment'" and couldn't find anything but this thread.

Don S.

Enter '"manual transmission" environment' into Google and you will find numerous sites providing data supporting the advantages of automatic transmission over manual transmission for fuel efficiency and environmental friendliness.


I bought a 2007 base model RAV4 2WD 4cyl with the available 3rd row seat as my first ever new car and I love it. I have had 7 adults in the car for a day trip, all of whom were comfortable. One problem: I bought the car in Mexico (because that is where I will use it)and the user manual is,of course, in Spanish. My Spanish is OK, but as a native English speaker I would like to get a manual in English. Any thoughts on how to get same?

RAV4 Driver

Drivers in the States are way too busy drinkin coffee, talkin on the cell phone or watchin a movie to drive a manual transmission. It's crazy that the automakers keep bumping up the safety features on cars but the human element is going down the tubes. Shut up and drive I say!!


I love my 2005 RAV4 (previous model), but it will be my last RAV4, unless they bring back the manual transmission and make it smaller again.

Maybe by the time my RAV4 dies Toyota will have brought out a sensibly sized (i.e. smaller) SUV with a manual transmission.

Or maybe I'll just have to trade down to a Scion XB.

Manual driver

Manual transmission bad for environment?

It is clueless ignorants like Toyota Troll that are not only bad for environment, but disgrace to homo sapiens.

Automatic transmissions drive trains have much higher power loss compared to manual transmissions. They are also heavier. That's why the same car with the same engine but with manual transmissions are faster than their automatic counterparts and more fuel efficient.

Of course fuel economy depends on the driver, but this is equally true for automatics.


I bought my 2006 silver RAV4 Limited 4x4 4cylinder almost 9 months ago. Wow, I must say, Toyota really hit the ball out of the park with this model, it works quite well during the harsh Connecticut winters, and the I've gotten mpg as high as 35 mpg (ultra-conservative driving). I wish that Toyota would add some features like heated windshield fluids (the only feature I have ever liked in a GM vehicle) and some other amenities that would make life easier for winter drivers. So far, I've put 12K miles on it, and I'm thinking of trading my '03 Pilot for another RAV4.

As far as the 4cylinder engine goes, I didn't mind the smaller engine. I thought that 270hp for a vehicle of this size was definitely overkill. I was content with the gas mileage and lower price of the 4 cylinder. Besides, I don't like the insinuation that the 4 cylinder is underpowered, It's peppy more than anything... I would never call the performance of the 4 cylinder sluggish.

Overall, in any configuration and engine size, the new RAV4 is car that will provide you with reliable and satisfactory performance.


The car seat tether in the roof liner is only there for the middle seat placement. I did the same thing, and placed it there for my car seat placed behind the driver. All I saw in the rearview was that darn strap. I finally read the manual and found the top strap hooks are actually in the back bottom of the seat, you have to push the seat all the way forward to even see the things. Of course the manual was worthless when it came time for the oil change, where I followed the oil filter instructions too literally, and tried to drain all the oil out of the filter housing. Yes virginia, there is a oil pan drain plug. You've got to be smarter than the manuals...

Right you are, IndianaDad, but as I only had one car seat in the second row I put it in the middle seat -- the safest spot -- and had to use the high-mounted tether.

the Smaller the better

In regards to the Troll's post and Environmentalists, when you look up the MPG of a Manual Transmission vs. the MPG of an Automatic Transmission, the Manual acheives a better MPG also the Automatics have a bad habit of being in gears unnecessarily meaning they can and do actually pollute more. Where as with a manual you have the control to prevent that, however it also differes between drivers.

theSmaller the better,
In most new cars we're seeing the mileage difference between manual and automatics is much less than it has been in even the near past.
Like 1 mpg difference in city driving.


I purchased a rav4 v6 sport 4x4 on april 14 2007.The engine failed after only 325 miles,


I test drive the 2007 RAV4 today... actually two of them, a base with the I4 and a Sport with V6.

I drove the base model first. Nice car/SUV, sort of enough power with two adults in it.

Then I drove the Sport V6... wow! Much faster and smoother acceleration! I'd love to get this one but its sticker is about $5k more than the base model, $28k vs $23k

I like the fact that the SUV is bigger for 2007 but the back seat needs a bit more room.


In response to Manda's post

We bought a RAV4 in June, and it also has a dash rattle. Toyota has tried to fix is a couple of times, but it is still there. We are having trouble pin-pointing its exact location and it doesn't always happen when it is hot out (we are in Arizona and its going to be 114 today...). So we are waiting for cooler weather, and thinking about getting a stethoscope to identify where the rattle is coming from.


The Driver's seat on my new 2007 Rav4 is extremely hard on my bottom and the lumbar is hard and too high up for my back. What can be done to remedy this problem. I have tried seat cushions and this isn't a good answer. I would hate to trade it in and loose lots of money on this new Rav4.


The Driver's seat on my new 2007 Rav4 is extremely hard on my bottom and the lumbar is hard and too high up for my back. What can be done to remedy this problem. I have tried seat cushions and this isn't a good answer. I would hate to trade it in and loose lots of money on this new Rav4.

We bought a Limited Rav4, 4 cyl, leather, moon roof etc in June. Love it but have found a couple things to comment on. The clock is implossible to read in daylight- needs a different backlight. Ride is somewhat rough- a long drive can leave you wishing for a more comfy seat. The backseat is not as deep as my previous Honda Accord, which is disappointing when we have pet carriers- we must put the seats down.
The only real annoyance has been a persistent issue with the driver side tires- losing air and nothing appears wrong. I am wondering if anyone else has had that problem? It started after the 1st month.
Despite this, love the car- fun to drive, so much room to carry things, and love the extra little compartments. Would like to see the cargo net redesigned - not worth lugging it around as is.
Hope this helps...


Me and my wife bought an '07 Rav4 V6 4WD Sport as our first new car. It handles decent being an SUV. However, as someone mentioned the thing that bothers me is the squeaky noise that comes from the rear door when you're driving on bumpy roads. Another annoying thing is you can't adjust the head rest. Other than that, I love the car. I can't wait to see how it drives during winter with the 4WD.


my mother has an '06 Rav4 I4 2WD limited.

so far-
it has been in the shop once to replace the radio
twice for two other minor electrical problems
twice for the check engine light being on, in the same week
once for a misfiring cylinder
once because of a defective tire that decided to explode at 75 mph.
and another time because of the rattles.

don't even get me started on my uncle's Avalon. on the other hand, both my grandmother and other uncle have had great experiences with their 4Runners, as both have had 0 problems sinc ehtey got them in '06.

i personally will never buy a Toyota. They tout their reliability record but my experience (not just with my family mind you) has told me otherwise.

Iris M. Gross

@AV: Toyota once had a sterling reputation for reliability, then someone got the bright idea to start building them here in the United States. I feel that once American workers got hold of them, things went south, so now they're just as buggy as Big Three cars. Toyota should take production back overseas; then they might save their reputation. After 20 years and two Toyotas with sterling repair and maintenance histories, I almost dread the thought of buying an American-built Toyota. I also feel the new generation RAV4's size is a result of it being built over here. I hate it - if people want more back seat room then get the Highlander, and stop trying to have your cake and eat it, too!


I own a 2007 Cruiser 2.4 Petrol Manual. I don't have third row seats as never offered in Australia. I like the car however compared to Honda CR-V etc interior plastics are hard and noisy and mark easily. Paint marks/scratches easily, window mechanism is noisy, only auto function on driver's window and no safety option on windows should someone jam their hand etc in it. This is my first Toyota and despite cheap servicing and parts, it may be my last. Unless of course they release the FJ Cruiser here! I'm also not sure how a manual transmission is 'bad' for the environment if they use result in reduced fuel consumption? Having said that, if Toyota offered a refined, true 5 or 6 speed Auto, I would have bought it for sure. If you've driven a new auto Corolla you'll know what I mean, it has 1 of the most frustrating autos I've ever driven.

Toyota facing these problem because of compilation in market.Toyota is reputed company but they have to shown their best.And it is happens in every kinda market.

Iwant to know why nobody in the Toyota dealer told me the the back tire outside can be stolen so easy. Why they did not offer a lock or something?Now what I can do? Keep it inside and lost the extra space? Hate this.

I have had toyota's for years, and my parents had them before I was even born. They are good cars, but certainly they need to handle their complications in business a little better. Best of luck to them!


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