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With the RAV4, Toyota has given its customers a reliable and stylish two-row SUV. A lot of people in the market are looking for vehicles with a lot of interior space, a powerful engine, and high-tech features, and the RAV4 has all of those things and more. Even if most RAV4 drivers won't ever find themselves on rugged trails, the vehicle can handle itself quite well. It can be equally at home in the city and in the country, and for this reason, it has a broad appeal.
What's New for 2021?
Going back a few years, the RAV4 has been through a lot of changes. In 2019, the RAV4 got a new design, and for 2020, there were some modifications made to the trim lineup. For 2021, Toyota has left the RAV4 mostly untouched. In terms of the exterior, people now get a new color choice, which is Blizzard Pearl. This replaces Super White, though most people would have a hard time telling the two apart. More notably, there's the addition of the RAV4 Prime - a plug-in hybrid. Plus, there's a new trim, which is the Hybrid XLE Premium.
Top 10 Reasons to Buy a 2021 Toyota RAV4 – The Pros
1. Something for Everyone
When it comes to trim, the number of options for the 2021 Toyota RAV4 may make some people's heads spin. The fact that Toyota has made so many different kinds of RAV4s should be considered a good thing, since it means that the vehicle can attract people with a range of preferences.
Those who like things more basic will be totally satisfied with the LE, and those with refined tastes would likely lean towards the Limited. In between the two, there are the XSE, TRD Off-Road, Adventure, and XLE. Beyond that, there are some hybrids available, and there are even two plug-in versions of the RAV4. It's no wonder why there are so many RAV4s on the roads today.
2. A Competitive Price
A handful of Toyota RAV4 trims are priced under $30,000. It seems that this is a cut-off that many prospective buyers use to determine which vehicles are practical from a budgetary standpoint. The LE comes in at around $26,000, so it will definitely be of interest to many people with limited funds to spend on their next vehicles.
3. Quality Components Under the Hood
Every RAV4 is powered by a 2.5-liter engine. On the non-hybrid models, the engine generates a little over 200 horsepower along with 184 pound-feet of torque. Towing capacity is 1,500 pounds on most trims, and on the Adventure and TRD Off-Road, towing capacity is increased to 3,500 pounds.
If anyone was assuming that all hybrids are less powerful than their counterparts, it's time to change that type of thinking. Hybrid RAV4 models have even more capability than non-hybrids. Taking into account the gas-powered engine and the electric motor, there's a total of 219 horsepower. Topping the charts is the RAV4 Prime, which comes with 302 horsepower.
4. Goes Far on a Single Tank
Obviously, the plug-in hybrid and hybrid models of the RAV4 are going to have great fuel efficiency numbers. The hybrids can earn up to 41 miles per gallon, and for many drivers, this is going to be a huge selling point. The RAV4 Prime has about the same ability, and in its hybrid mode, it's actually not quite as efficient as the hybrid RAV4s. What the RAV4 Prime can do that the others cannot is rely on electric power alone. It can travel 42 miles without using any gasoline. Overall, its estimated MPGe is 94.
While the non-hybrids aren't going to be close to those high standards set by their efficient counterparts, they still do relatively well. A front-wheel-drive RAV4 can earn up to 35 miles per gallon on the highway and 27 miles per gallon in the city.
5. Rugged Good Looks
As mentioned above, the Toyota RAV4 was redesigned in 2019 to be a little boxier and more sturdy looking. The 2021 model looks athletic and muscular without being too over-the-top with its design, and it shares many exterior features with Toyota's Tacoma and 4Runner. The RAV4 can sit on 17-, 18-, or 19-inch wheels, and it can be outfitted with LEDs in the fog lights, taillights, daytime running lights, and headlights. Some trims have a two-tone look that really stands out, and others have special badging that seems to toughen them up even more.
6. Take Advantage of All-Wheel Drive
With the RAV4, Toyota has made all-wheel drive available. This is a key factor that optimizes handling and performance when the road is anything but clear, smooth, and straight.
Traditional RAV4s can come with a somewhat standard all-wheel-drive system. AWD comes with Multi-Terrain Select, which allows drivers to choose from different drive modes like Mud & Sand, Snow, and Rock & Dirt. The hybrids are automatically equipped with electronic on-demand all-wheel drive, and the higher (non-hybrid) trims of the SUV have more advanced systems. Toyota calls these systems TV-AWD; this stands for Dynamic Torque Vectoring all-wheel drive. The system improves traction by being able to send torque to individual wheels, and it comes with a rear driveline disconnect to enhance overall efficiency.
7. Advanced Infotainment System
Every RAV4 has a touchscreen that measures at least seven inches. Mid-level trims may have the option to upgrade to an eight-inch touchscreen, a component that's standard on the highest trims. Along with the touchscreen, drivers have access to Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Amazon Alexa. It's a bonus that SiriusXM is also standard because satellite radio opens up a lot of entertainment channels. On select higher trims, there could be navigation, a JBL speaker system, and wireless charging.
8. Modern Safety Elements
All RAV4s are built with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0. This package consists of various driver-assist technologies that can give people a lot of peace of mind as they head out onto the roads and face unpredictable situations. Monitors are ready to alert drivers about potential frontal collisions, vehicles in their blind spots, and vehicles crossing behind them while they're in reverse. If appropriate given the circumstances, the SUV could gently correct steering, turn on the high beams, adjust its speed, or hit the brakes, all in an effort to keep people safe.
9. Designed for Busy People
Toyota has imagined a RAV4 driver to be someone with a lot going on. To help those type of people, the company has put in a lot of convenient amenities. The RAV4 can come with a power outlet so devices can be charged while on the road, and there's an available hands-free power liftgate. This type of liftgate can be opened with the kick of one's foot underneath the sensor at the tail end of the SUV. It's handy for those times when someone has their hands full.
10. Comfortable Cabin
While the lower trims of the Toyota SUV have fabric seats, the higher trims have a SofTex material on their seats. SofTex is a lightweight synthetic leather that's soft and durable. Leather can be found on the steering wheel and shift lever, and the front seats can be heated and ventilated to help compensate for warm or cool weather.
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Reasons Not to Buy a 2021 Toyota RAV4 – The Cons
1. Base Option is Limited
The LE is the most affordable trim. It has the same engine as the other models, so consumers won't be sacrificing anything in this area when going with the LE. However, they could find themselves stuck with certain components. Analog gauges, a manually controlled climate system, and a manually adjustable driver's seat are some examples of features that won't make anyone jealous.
2. No Other Engine Choice
Some SUVs come with two, or more, available engines. This can be a smart move since it gives customers the option of getting a more powerful engine. The RAV4 does have the hybrid and plug-in hybrid models, but it still has only one type of engine.
3. Expensive Upgrades
When taking a look at the pricing structure, it's apparent that Toyota is trying to market the RAV4 towards a large audience. As mentioned, there are many RAV4s that are under $30,000, but the Limited Hybrid costs more than $37,000. There are two Prime (plug-in) versions, and they're priced around $38,000 and $41,000. This is fairly pricey and may turn some away.
How it Stacks Up to the Competition:
The RAV4 is stuck in a crowded market, but it does manage to stand out in a few notable ways.
2021 Toyota RAV4 vs 2021 Honda CR-V
For 2021, Honda has made several hybrid trims of the CR-V. This means that the Honda and the Toyota will initially attract attention from a lot of the same consumers. Upon further examination, though, there will be many who favor the RAV4 over the CR-V because of its capability. The hybrid RAV4 has a lot more kick than the hybrid CR-V does, just like the non-hybrid RAV4 outshines the CR-V in both horsepower and towing capacity.
2021 Toyota RAV4 vs 2021 Jeep Cherokee
Compared with the 2021 Cherokee, the Toyota RAV4 has more interior space and better efficiency. This doesn't even take into account the fact that the RAV4 has several hybrid trims that blow the Jeep out of the water in the fuel economy matchup. Further, the Toyota has more horsepower than the base models of the Cherokee have, and many would argue that most trims of the RAV4 are more rugged than the Cherokee is.
It's pretty hard to see any fault with what Toyota has done with the RAV4. For many years, it was a solid option, and many experts think the RAV4 is getting better and better every year. It helps that Toyota is focused on technology and safety, and with the RAV4, there's also plenty of capability. On top of all of the other benefits, the RAV4 has good efficiency and can come as a hybrid. Given all the trims available, most people should be able to find a RAV4 that they'll love.
• Why buy a 2020 Toyota RAV4? w/ pros vs cons