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2015 Toyota RAV4 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2015 Toyota RAV4 was new.


Performance: 5.9

Reviewers say the 2015 Toyota RAV4’s engine provides sufficient power for the average commute. However, they point out that some rivals offer more powerful engines. While some auto writers think the RAV4’s six-speed transmission provides smooth shifts, others wish it were more responsive. Automotive journalists are impressed with the RAV4’s composed handling and sharp steering. Many test drivers also appreciate its comfortable ride, though some say that Limited models have a harsher ride quality.

  • "Overall, the RAV4 is similar in personality to Honda's CR-V, and more demanding drivers might find it less enjoyable to drive than sportier crossovers like the CX-5 and Escape, which have more responsive steering and sharper acceleration. If comfort is your overriding priority, though, the Toyota should do right by you." -- Edmunds
  • "With the introduction of this generation, Toyota dropped the available V6, putting the RAV4 at a power disadvantage against the Subaru Forester and Ford Escape, both of which offer turbocharged engines with significantly more power, and are more fun to drive in general." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The RAV4's suspension has received plenty of tuning adjustments, but it's still geared toward smooth running in lieu of sporty handling and road feel." -- Autoblog (2013)
  • "The combination of the updated powertrain and revised suspension (beefier stabilizer bars, revised spring and damping rates, and tweaked struts and bushings) results in a RAV4 that is much more fun to drive than the outgoing model." -- Truck Trend (2013)

Acceleration and Power

The 2015 RAV4 has a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine that makes 176 horsepower. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard. The RAV4 has three drive modes (Eco, Normal and Sport), which adjust throttle response and transmission behavior. The 2015 RAV4 earns up to an EPA-estimated 23/30 mpg city/highway, which is just above average for the class.

Reviewers say the 2015 RAV4’s engine makes adequate power for the typical commute. Still, a few reviewers note that acceleration can feel a bit sluggish from a stop. The transmission generally provides smooth shifts, reviewers report. However, some say it can hesitate when driving at higher speeds or on inclines. Test drivers also say Sport mode makes the engine more responsive.

  • "Most small crossover shoppers will find this Toyota's 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine adequate for most tasks and sufficiently fuel-efficient. The six-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly, but if you tend to drive assertively, you'll find it slow to downshift in passing situations. Additionally, when climbing steady mountain grades, we've noticed that the transmission has a tendency to hunt between gears (rather than picking one gear and sticking with it)." -- Edmunds
  • "The 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine doesn't make a lot of power, but acceleration is acceptable if not blazing, and you'll get from a standstill to 60 mph in a little less than 10 seconds." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "As for performance, the 2.5-liter is more than sufficient in most circumstances. When left in Eco mode, however, the 6-speed transmission delivered a rather sluggish and unresponsive feel. Leave it in Sport mode and you'll be much happier, with almost no real difference in fuel economy." -- AutoTrader (2014)
  • "The problem is that there's not a lot of grunt in reserve, and with what should be a svelte 3,500 lbs. to lug around, the RAV4 feels a bit pokey." -- Left Lane News (2013)

Handling and Braking

Auto journalist like the RAV4’s secure handling and responsive steering. A few report that models equipped with available all-wheel drive are even steadier. According to reviewers, the base 2015 Toyota RAV4 has a smooth, compliant highway ride. However, test drivers agree that Limited models, which are equipped with larger wheels, have a more unsettling ride.

  • "The 2015 Toyota RAV4 handles well and feels refined and comfortable when cruising down the highway. A potential exception is the Limited model, which can get a little jittery on rough pavement due to its big 18-inch wheels. In spite of that, the cabin remains very quiet, making Toyota's crossover a good option for families with young children who tend to sleep in the car." -- Edmunds
  • "The 2014 Toyota RAV4 rides and handles very well, especially considering its tall ride height and 6.3-in ground clearance. The electric power steering doesn't feel numb or disconnected, providing good feedback in tight turns. Likewise, the suspension soaks up most road distortions and bumps, yet it doesn't allow the car to lean or bob about uncontrollably when pushed hard.” -- AutoTrader (2014)
  • "Steering is linear and sharp across all modes (Eco, Sport, and normal)." -- AutoWeek (2013)
  • "The assist is very subtle, but the AWD RAV4 does seem a bit more composed through fast turns than the front-drive models." -- Truck Trend (2013)

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