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New Car/Review


Toyota RAV4 4X4 (2001)

SEE ALSO: Toyota Buyer's Guide

by Brendan Hagin and Mikele Schappell-Hagin


     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 18,665
     Price As Tested                                    $ 26,415
     Engine Type              DOHC 16-valve 2.0 Liter I4 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 122 cid/1998 cc
     Horsepower                                   148 @ 6000 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               142 @ 4000 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                   98.0"/68.3"/165.1"
     Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     3118 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  14.7 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                         235/60R16 mud-and-snow
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/drum (ABS)
     Drive Train                   Front-engine/four-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                       Four-passenger/five-door
     Domestic Content                                  5-percent
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A


     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            23/27/25
     0-60 MPH                                       11.0 seconds
     Maximum payload capacity                         760 pounds
     Top-speed                                       1500 pounds
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

BRENDAN - When the Toyota's Recreational Activity Vehicle with 4wd, or RAV4, was introduced in '96, it set other car companies scrambling to come up with their own versions of a crossover small passenger car/SUV. Now Toyota has come up with its second-generation "cute-ute" that expands on the original design and ups the ante for the competition. The 2001 RAV4's 2.0-liter sixteen-valve double overhead cam engine uses Toyota's variable valve timing and its horsepower has been upped from 127 to 148 ponies, making it able to hold its own against others in its class. It has 142 lb-ft of torque, an automatic transmission, and 40 less pounds in curb weight than the original, so the 2001 RAV4 was a blast to drive and got pretty good fuel mileage as well. I think Mikele will agree that those are good commuter numbers, especially its ability to "squirt" through traffic.

MIKELE - I do agree Bren, and I loved using the RAV4 for my trips to San Francisco, although thankfully, I don't have to commute much anymore. The new one rides better than the old version, and it seemed much tighter and not so choppy on sectional highways. I think it had to do with changes to its front and rear stabilizer bars and double- wishbone, coil-over rear suspension. The RAV4 also comes in a 2WD version, but our tester was the 4X4 model with full-time four-wheel drive and a limited-slip differential. Since the snow is pretty well gone now from the mountains, we didn't get a chance to try it up there - maybe next year. The optional roof rack would be OK for carrying skis or luggage, but safe inside would be better. Our RAV4 was cramped for cargo space, though it held enough stuff for a weekend jaunt. It comes with P215/70R16 all-season steel-belted radials, but ours had optional P235/60R16 tires for better grip. The front seats gave me a high and commanding view, and I loved the champagne-colored gauges with amber illuminations. It made the dash a pleasure to view.

BRENDAN - That's the designer in you talking, Mikele. Although the base model has lots of good stuff as standard equipment, our test unit had all the bells and whistles as part of Toyota's L Package. This put lots of goodies outside, like a color-keyed hard-shell spare tire cover, color-keyed door handles, heated power mirrors, fog lamps, and a rear spoiler. Inside, the package adds leather-trimmed seats and steering wheel, a moon roof with a sunshade, cruise control, and power windows and door locks. The package also provided a 3-in-1 AM/FM/Cassette/CD player with 6 speakers, although the hot setup would be the optional 6-disc in-dash CD changer because it's a lot easier loading discs from short range. The spare is full-sized but it tends to get in the way of rear vision a bit since it's mounted on the tailgate. I wouldn't recommend towing too big a boat unless it's a dingy, since it only has a 1500-pound towing capacity. That's not a lot. Maybe just enough to handle a couple of personal watercraft without too effort.

MIKELE - The new outer styling of the new RAV4 has lots of changes and they work to Toyota's advantage. It's stretched three inches and is about an inch wider. The new version has more legroom inside, and doesn't look as "squatty" as it did. Its tight turning circle makes it easy to park in small spaces. I like safe vehicles, and the RAV4 is strong on this subject. It has power-assisted ventilated front disc/rear drum brakes as standard equipment, but our tester had ABS for added assurance. I would have preferred discs in back too. The body structure has been reinforced with side-impact door beams, and the front of the cabin is equipped with driver and front passenger air bags. Also, there are child-protector rear door locks, and seat belt pretensioners with force limiters for added safety in case of a collision. Daytime running lights make everyone able to see you during the day, and underbody protection skid plates under transfer case and fuel tank save the bottom of the RAV4. I'd like to try it on some really rough roads.

BRENDAN - Somehow I don't think that the Toyota press people would approve a ride in a RAV4 over those boulder-strewn trails up in the Sierras, at least not without a helicopter available to retrieve it.