When Toyota introduced the RAV4 (Recreational Active Vehicle All-Wheel Drive) in 1994, it effectively invented the compact SUV. And the brand probably didn’t know what kind of phenomenon it was going to turn out to be.
More than two decades later, most automakers have a small SUV in their range; some have several. Toyota is now in the fifth iteration of its RAV4, and the car is more luxurious and spacious than ever. So far, it is also proving to be very reliable, as one would expect from a manufacturer known for its reliability.
The RAV4 is not a top of its class when new, but in many ways a good choice with an extremely generous 10-year / 100,000-mile guarantee. Toyota introduced this new warranty in 2021 but it applies to all UK registered Toyota with a full dealer service history that meets age and mileage requirements. Even cars with a service history at independent repairers can get a one year warranty by having a major dealer service.
Looking for a used Toyota RAV4 SUV? Here we are going to show you how to find a used sound that was produced between 2006-2018.
The Toyota RAV4 was first launched in 1994 and is now in its fifth generation. For this review, we’re focusing on the Mk3, which was in production between 2006 and 2012, and the Mk4 model, which was sold between 2013 and 2018 – including the 2015 facelift. Check out the latest model in our RAV4 review.
Car group tests
- • Toyota RAV4 Mk3 (2006-2012) – Long-established SUVs still make a good used purchase
- • Toyota RAV4 Mk4 (2013-2018) – The fourth generation version of the original compact SUV scores with reliability and quality
Toyota RAV4 Mk4
The fourth generation RAV4 hit UK showrooms in March 2013. When it was launched, there was a choice between a 2.0 gasoline engine and a 2.0 or 2.2 liter D-4D diesel engine. Buyers could choose between the Active, Icon and Invincible equipment, but from January 2015 there was also a Business Edition based on the Active.
Originally the 2.0 D-4D only came with front-wheel drive; from January 2014 there was an option with all-wheel drive. At the same time, the Icon and Invincible received an additional kit and other optional driver assistance systems.
A facelift in December 2015 brought a new 2.0-liter diesel engine, an exterior redesign, and a revamped cabin, while the Excel trim replaced Invincible. A month later, the RAV4 Hybrid came on the market, which combines a 2.5-liter gasoline engine with an electric motor. In September 2017, this model accounted for 65% of sales, making the engine available for the full range.
Three-year-old cars on BuyaCar cost anywhere from £ 20,000 to £ 26,000, depending on the specification, while a four-year-old RAV4 with around 50,000 miles is closer to £ 15,000.
• Visit our sister site BuyaCar for the latest used Toyota RAV4 prices and deals
Toyota RAV4 Mk4 reviews
Which one should I buy?
All gasoline engine models are all-wheel drive automatic transmissions while the 2.2 liter diesel RAV4s are all-wheel drive, but there is a choice of manual or automatic transmissions. All hybrids are cars and the 2.0 diesel has a manual transmission, but both are available with front-wheel or all-wheel drive.
Toyota doesn’t skimp on standard equipment; Even the entry-level Active has 17-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth, air conditioning, privacy glass and heated mirrors.
The Icon also has an electric tailgate, 18-inch wheels, touchscreen multimedia, folding exterior mirrors, cruise control, sports seats and automatic windscreen wipers. Invincible trim adds leather upholstery, heated front seats, rear parking sensors and Keyless Go.
Alternatives to the Toyota RAV4 Mk4
While the Audi Q3 and Volkswagen Tiguan are on the more expensive end of the spectrum and are very powerful, well-built, and equipped with great engines, they’re also more clinical. When it comes to driving enjoyment, build quality, standard equipment and smart styling, you have to far surpass the Mazda CX-5. This car also has an excellent reliability record.
The Ford Kuga is also dynamically savvy and reasonably priced, plus plenty of choices, many of which are prime examples. Nissan’s Qashqai is another hit that is good to drive, abundant and well-equipped.
What to look for:
The cabin is a winner in terms of practicality as the seats are comfortable and there is plenty of space in the front and back. But the dashboard design was not what the Toyota’s asking price would be; it looks a bit dated, while some of the plastics feel disappointingly thin – although this can be less of a problem when buying a used one. The trunk volume is good at 547 liters – or 501 liters for hybrid models.
Problems with the display of the tire pressure monitor are mostly due to the fact that the system was not set correctly after installing new tires.
Slight condensation can form in the headlight glass, but this should disappear very quickly after the headlights are switched on.
Some owners have reported rattles and vibrations that appear to be a failed dual-mass flywheel – it’s usually just the exhaust or manifold cover.
A tire repair kit was only offered at launch, but Toyota changed this to a space saver based on customer feedback. So check out every purchase.
All RAV4 must be serviced every 12 months or 10,000 miles for private owners; Fleet users can extend the latter to 12,500 miles. The first check-up costs £ 180 and then services switch between smaller and larger services for a whopping £ 330 and £ 390, respectively.
However, when these cars reach five years old, they are eligible for inexpensive maintenance, with service costs dropping to £ 100 and £ 180 respectively. The brake fluid needs to be changed every two years, while the coolant needs to be changed every 100,000 km and then every 50,000 km; these are both included in the respective main service. Thankfully, there aren’t any cambelts to worry about.
Toyota has an unmatched reputation for building reliable cars and the Mk4 RAV4 has proven it as it doesn’t need to be remembered just yet. Several Toyotas have been recalled since that version of the compact SUV hit the market in early 2013, but most are cars built up to a decade earlier. A total of nine recalls were made across all four generations of RAV4. In 2017, Toyota (and several other manufacturers) had to recall many models because of their Takata airbags.
Potential breakdowns included tire damage and airbag failures, as well as the accelerator pedal problem that occurred within Toyota’s range in 2010. But the car’s record is flawless.
Driver Power owner satisfaction
The newest RAV4 made a strong debut in our Driver Power Satisfaction Survey, finishing in 29th place in 2015. A few years later it fell back to 39th place. Aside from a 114th place for running costs, the Toyota landed in the top half across the line, including 20th place for reliability, 25th place for practicality, and 30th place for build quality. Toyota as a brand, meanwhile, took an impressive sixth place on our 2020 list.
Over the years, the RAV4 shifted further upwards as the focus shifted more to luxury and away from off-road capabilities for the budget conscious. While this contributed to Toyota’s profits, it also set the car right up against a number of very talented compact SUVs, each of which are also much more capable on the road.
However, when you have to tackle rough terrain, the Toyota is surprisingly dexterous off the beaten path. Plus, every RAV4 of this generation has less than 100,000 miles of warranty coverage, so you can have peace of mind if something goes wrong.
Click through to page two for our complete Buying Guide for the Toyota RAV4 Mk3, which was sold from 2006 to 2012 …