The RAV4 was launched nearly three decades ago. The compact crossover is among the best-selling in the CUV category. But which is the best year Toyota RAV4?

The RAV4 is one of the smallest compact crossovers sold by Toyota. It offers seating for five and comes in a wide range of trim levels with several features. With all the features of an SUV, the RAV4 offers a car-like driving experience, which makes it a popular choice among families.

2017 is the best year for Toyota RAV4 as it offers many modern safety features like adaptive cruise control. The vehicle comes in five trims and a hybrid variant, which offers good fuel economy and All-wheel-drive as standard. The RAV4 is a family-oriented CUV that is a pleasure to drive.

Over the years, Toyota RAV4 has kept up with the dynamic market trends and has on several occasions maintained the number one spot as the most sold SUV. It offers utility, reliability and is fun to drive around the city and on highways. It offers a lot of space in the cabin, despite looking compact on the outside.

Car experts believe that the major selling point of RAV4 is the utility it offers, which is more than most competitors on the market. It can hold a respectable amount of cargo along with five passengers. Another selling point of the vehicle is the neat exterior dimensions, which allow it to squeeze into tight parking spaces and make tight turns with a turning radius of only eighteen feet.

Best Year Toyota RAV4

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2017 Toyota RAV4

The 2017 RAV4 features a comfortable and spacious interior. It earns great safety ratings, houses plenty of features, and delivers a smooth ride. However, some critics complain of the vehicle's somewhat tepid acceleration, which ranks the crossover in the middle among other vehicles in its class.

The RAV4 is one of the most popular names in the small crossover category. It has kept up with the changing trends and offers many options and features, including a hybrid version. The RAV4 comes in five trims, which means there is something in the RAV4 for almost everyone.

Style

The 2017 RAV4 carries forward the same exterior shape it has flaunted for decades. However, with added details and modern design tweaks, the vehicle looks stylishly aggressive. The front end of the RAV4 seems inspired by the signature look seen on many Toyota sedans. The rear end, however, remains chunky and upright. The rear end has been revised from the previous year's model, but only keen eyes notice the difference.

The top-of-the-line RAV4 Platinum features a minimalistic appearance with matching rocker panels, giving the crossover a more upscale look. The Platinum trim has unique synthetic leather trim on the inside.

On the SE trim, an optional two-tone exterior was available. It added silver to the rocker panels, wheel arches, and front and rear bumpers. This color design gave the vehicle a retro look, considered modern twenty years ago, but is a little unusual and distinctive to find these days.

The previous models of the RAV4 received numerous complaints. Toyota redesigned the crossover in 2016 and added further refinements in the 2017 model. This model uses better quality materials and improved soft-touch surfaces.

The dashboard seems quite full, and the cabin is equipped with many storage areas. The material is not exactly upscale, but it does the job of giving a nice ambiance to the interior. However, some critics complained of the material quality on the base LE trim.

Performance

The 2017 RAV4 can be had with two powertrain options. The standard engine is a 2.5-liter inline-four, which produces 176 hp. It is coupled with a six-speed automatic transmission. The powertrain on this variant can take the RAV4 from zero to sixty in less than nine seconds, which is considered acceptable for a family-oriented vehicle. There was also an optional all-wheel drive available on the RAV4.

The sporty SE trim features paddle shifters and a suspension tuned to improve handling. However, there is no change in the powertrain of the vehicle. The tweaks in the suspension are also hard to notice unless one drives two variants one after the other.

Hybrid RAV4

The Hybrid version of the vehicle employs that same powertrain found on the premium Lexus NX 300h, a compact crossover by Toyota's luxury brand. The Hybrid RAV4 is more powerful than the standard one. The 2.5-liter, inline four-cylinder engine is paired with Toyota's two-motor Hybrid Synergy Drive, which produces 194 hp.

The all-wheel-drive option is not mechanical and uses a third motor on the rear axle to power the wheels when required. The Hybrid is the fastest trim in the RAV4 lineup, hitting 60 mph in around 8.1 seconds.

The vehicle can run up to 20 mph on battery power, but surely the acceleration rate will irritate a lot of car drivers behind you. But pushing it even slightly will cause the engine to turn on at 10 mph. The powertrain still offers many benefits like efficient braking and boosted acceleration. However, like most Toyotas, you will notice a unique growl when the RAV4 is floored.

The RAV4 is one of the few crossovers to offer an all-wheel-drive option on a hybrid vehicle and hence has gained immense popularity.

Quality and Comfort

The 2017 RAV4 features a much better interior than its predecessors, making it a cozy place to spend lots of time during long drives.

The Platinum trim, added in 2017, is equipped with a heated steering wheel and features Toyota's SofTex upholstery, which feels and looks like natural leather, but is more durable and long-lasting.

The lower trims, LE and XLE, seem a little low in quality and overall feel. Nevertheless, they are not too bad and suit the entry-level crossover quite well.

The higher trims, Limited and Platinum, offer a power-adjustable driver seat with lumbar support and memory function. Both the front seats are also equipped with heating.

The rear seat can be compared to the one found on Honda CR-V. It features light bolstering and is quite supportive for adults riding in the back. The entry and exit are easy, without crouching your legs or ducking your head. The rear seats can be reclined or folded forward with a simple flick to a lever.

The RAV4 offers 38.4 cubic feet of cargo space. But once the rear seat is folded away, the cargo space increases to 73.4 cubic feet. Most RAV4s come with a power tailgate, and the Platinum adds the nifty feature of opening it up with the swipe of the foot underneath the rear bumper.    

Safety

The 2017 RAV4 comes equipped with many safety features as standard, including:

  • Antilock Braking System prevents the wheels from locking up during hard braking. This feature ensures that the vehicle maintains traction and does not enter into an uncontrollable skid, especially on wet and slippery surfaces.
  • Stability Control System monitors the vehicle's handling. If it notices that the limits have been exceeded, the system can reduce power and even apply brakes to ensure that the driver maintains control.
  • There are eight airbags equipped inside the RAV 4's cabin. These include:
  • Frontal Airbags keep the front passengers safe from the head and upper torso injury in the event of a frontal impact.
  • Knee Airbags protect the lower body of the occupants in case of an impact.
  • Side Airbags keep the occupants safe in case of an impact from either side of the vehicle.
  • Overhead airbags keep occupants' heads safe in case of a side impact or a rollover.
  •  Seatbelt Pretensioners tighten seat belts to keep passengers safe when the system detects an unavoidable crash.
  • Rearview camera

In addition to these standard safety features, all trims of the RAV4 come equipped with Toyota's modern Safety System. This system features:

  • Frontal collision detection with emergency braking control
  • Adaptive cruise control, which detects other vehicles in the lane. The system can speed up or slow down the vehicle by measuring the distance from the vehicle ahead. It can control brakes if the vehicle needs to slow down abruptly.
  • Lane departure warning system, which detects yellow and white lines on the road and alerts the driver if the vehicle veers off course.
  • The automatic high beams system detects oncoming headlights and red tail lights ahead before switching on high beams.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded the 2017 RAV4 mostly "Good" scores for crashworthiness tests conducted on the vehicle. However, the RAV4 received a low rating for passenger side frontal impact due to the front passenger door opening up during frontal impact. Despite this low rating, the 2017 RAV4 was given the Top Safety Pick+ award for 2017, partially thanks to the "Superior" collision warning and prevention system.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) seemed to agree with the IIHS and awarded the 2017 RAV4 with a five-star overall safety rating. The vehicle received four stars for frontal impact and rollover.

Features

The RAV4 is available In five trims; LE, SE, XLE, Limited, and Platinum trim introduced in 2017.

The base trim, LE, offers several features like:

  • Power windows, door locks, and mirrors
  • Tilting/Telescoping steering wheel with buttons to control audio settings and connected phone
  • Air conditioning
  • Cruise control with adaptive technology
  • LED lighting in the cabin
  • Power outlet for front passengers
  • A good infotainment system
  • Alloy wheels

The XLE trim adds on the LE and gives the following features:

  • Dual-zone climate control for air conditioner
  • Fog lights
  • A moonroof

The SE trim is more sport-oriented, but it does not change the vehicle's powertrain. It, however, adds:

  • Paddle shifters located behind the steering wheel
  • The suspension is tuned to offer sportier handling and responsiveness
  • The unique grille and front bumper design
  • A black headliner in the cabin with contrasting seat covers
  • Red needles and lighting in the gauge cluster
  • 18-inch alloy wheels

Some additional optional features can be found on the SE trim; these include:

  • LED taillights and headlights
  • Black and tan combination interior
  • Power adjustable driver seat

The Limited trim takes the RAV4 a little towards luxury as it features an auto-dimming rearview mirror and Toyota's SofTex fabric on the seats.

The Platinum trim features a monochromatic exterior, JBL speakers for the infotainment system, a heated steering wheel, and standard navigation.

The infotainment systems are well-equipped on the RAV4 and come in four different levels. The top trims feature an App Suite with Pandora and iHeartRadio for audio streaming, OpenTable and Yelp for restaurant bookings, traffic, fuel prices, weather, stocks, sports updates, and MovieTickets.com for booking tickets at a cinema.

Fuel Economy

The fuel efficiency of the RAV4 varies among the trims due to different wheel sizes. There is also a considerable difference between the standard and hybrid versions of the vehicle.

The thirstiest trims are the SE, Limited, and Touring, which flaunt larger 18-inch wheels. These trims get 23 mpg in the city, 29 mpg on the highway, and 25 mpg combined. Add in the optional All-wheel-drive, and the fuel economy numbers drop to 22 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway, and 24 mpg combined.

The LE and XLE trims achieve EPA ratings of 23 mpg in the city, 30 mpg on the highway, and 26 mpg combined for FWD. With AWD, the numbers go down to 22 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway, and 25 mpg combined.

The most fuel-efficient variant of the RAV is the Hybrid. This variant achieves 34 mpg in the city, 30 mpg on the highway, and 32 mpg combined with the standard All-wheel-drive.

Price Range of 2017 RAV4

To purchase a 2017 Toyota RAV4, you are expected to shell out between $18,000 and $29,000, with the average price at around $23,000. It is important to note that vehicle prices vary due to many factors such as trim level, mileage, location, optional features installed, and vehicle condition.

Running Costs of 2017 RAV4

The 2017 RAV4 will require an estimated $4,400 annually. This amount comprises fuel, insurance, maintenance, repairs, and spares. The annual cost translates to around $22,000 for five years, which is the lowest in the compact crossover category.

About THE AUTHOR

Charles Redding

Charles Redding

I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.

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