$19,314 - $27,945

2017 Toyota RAV4 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2017 Toyota RAV4 was new.


Performance: 7.4

Toyota offers only one engine with the 2017 RAV4 and while it isn’t anything special, it delivers solid driving power in most situations, with average acceleration and power. It offers an enjoyable ride with smooth and secure handling, taking turns and bumps with ease. As a family-focused SUV, the RAV4 focuses more on comfort, space, and safety than performance. However, if you’re looking for more power and sportier handling, there are better choices out there.

  • "On the whole, the 2017 Toyota RAV4 is capable and easy to drive, and it's especially easy to park in confined spaces. If you're thinking about adventures out of town, the all-wheel-drive version has some limited off-road capability. The RAV4 is really about safe, all-around transportation at the right price, so don't expect the engaging personality found in its competition. Nevertheless, the all-around capability of this crossover will surely satisfy the majority of drivers." -- Edmunds
  • "The RAV's 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine isn't as powerful as some competitors, but it can move the RAV4 to 60 mph in about 10 seconds, which is average for this class." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "[The SE] … may not be the fastest RAV4 money can buy, but it's certainly the most entertaining to drive. We'd consider it a worthy competitor to the Mazda CX-5 when equipped like this, but keep in mind that Mazda doesn't have an SE equivalent. Any CX-5 you buy is the sporty one." -- Left Lane News (2016)

Acceleration and Power

The 2017 RAV4 has a 176-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a six-speed automatic transmission in all trims. The RAV4 gets an EPA-estimated 23 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway, which are average numbers for the class. With available all-wheel drive, it drops a bit to 22/28 mpg city/highway.

The RAV4’s engine is adequate but doesn’t have the same response or power as those found in competitors such as the Ford Escape and Chevy Equinox. There is some engine noise and a slight humming when getting up to highway speeds.

Reviewers note that the throttle can be slow to respond, and the transmission can struggle on inclines as it searches for the right gear. There is an included Sport mode that is designed to improve throttle response and hold shifts longer.

  • "Most drivers will find that the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine delivers power that's adequate for moving people and cargo around town." -- Edmunds
  • "As for performance, the 2.5-liter is acceptable in most circumstances -- although we found that when left in Eco mode, 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 (2015)
  • "Acceleration is tepid but acceptable, with the RAV4 making the 0-60-mph run in just under 10 seconds. To help when passing or merging, Toyota equips the RAV4 with a Sport mode that quickens throttle response and holds shift points longer; the Sport setting also firms up the steering feel. The system includes an Eco mode aimed at maximizing fuel economy at the expense of acceleration. Eco mode is fine if you're not in a hurry, but we found the lazy throttle response annoying, leaving the system in the Normal mode for most of drive." -- Kelley Blue Book (2014)

Handling and Braking

Front-wheel drive is standard in the 2017 RAV4, and all-wheel drive is available. The RAV4 is comfortable and stable around corners thanks to a finely-tuned suspension. It is more than capable on the road, delivering a smooth ride that absorbs most road imperfections. The available all-wheel drive isn’t made for off-roading, but it handles deep snow well.

  • "The ride also draws praise for its smooth, compliant feel, though the 18-inch tires do transmit more road imperfections than the 17-inchers. At the same time, the well-tuned suspension keeps the RAV4 composed through turns, so this crossover feels reassuring even when you're beyond the city limits." -- Edmunds
  • "Overall, the 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 uncontrollably when pushed hard." -- AutoTrader (2015)
  • "Handling is easy, yes, but somewhat bland; cornering lean is fairly well moderated." -- Consumer Guide (2015)

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