$17,443 - $24,094

2016 Toyota RAV4 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 Toyota RAV4 was new.


Performance: 7.3

The 2016 Toyota RAV4 offers adequate power for day-to-day driving, automotive writers say. They complain that the transmission feels lethargic and hunts for the appropriate gear at times. Test drivers say the RAV4 delivers a smooth ride and composed handling, and some praise the precise steering. Several critics acknowledge that Toyota focuses more on comfort than performance in the RAV4, but they still note that class rivals offer more powerful engines and sportier handling.

  • "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 (2015)
  • "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 (2015)
  • "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 … results in a RAV4 that is much more fun to drive than the outgoing model." -- Truck Trend (2013)

Acceleration and Power

The 2016 RAV4 features a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 176 horsepower. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard. The RAV4 gets an EPA-estimated 23/30 mpg city/highway, which is average for the class.

According to test drivers, the engine delivers decent power and provides acceptable acceleration, making the RAV4 a capable daily driver. Most agree that the transmission shifts smoothly, but some critics note that it is reluctant to downshift when passing, and it sometimes has to search for the correct gear.

  • "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 (2015)
  • "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 (2015)
  • "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

Front-wheel drive is standard with the 2016 RAV4, and all-wheel drive is available. Test drivers report that the ride is quiet and generally smooth, though some point out that it can get a little rough on the Limited trim because of the larger wheels. Most think that the handling is poised and the steering is sharp.

  • "There's a hint of reluctance when the driver demands quick directional changes, and the steering is a little numb in the first 10 degrees off center in either direction. The casual responses were particularly tangible after pushing the new SE model over the same sets of twists and turns. Thanks to firmer suspension tuning, the SE's transient responses are more decisive, and the steering feels more precise." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Handling is good but not great -- the MacPherson strut front/double wishbone rear independent suspension can feel a little floaty in curves, but the RAV4 delivers an overall quiet, serene ride." -- AutoTrader
  • "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 (2015)
  • "Steering is linear and sharp across all modes (Eco, Sport, and normal)." -- AutoWeek (2013)

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