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2013 Toyota RAV4

Toyota RAV4 2013-2015

VMR Scorecard (1 to 10 scale)

In typical Toyota fashion, there is nothing remarkable about the 2013 revisions to the RAV4, but small improvements most  everywhere result in a better vehicle.  Fuel economy is improved with the new six speed transmission as well as overall responsiveness when merging and passing.  Styling is more streamlined yet the physical dimensions have not significantly changed. Its greatest strength seems to be that it has few weaknesses. The RAV4 has ample cargo space, competitive fuel economy and a descent overall ride.  That said, it is not a standout in style, performance, interior design or price. It does, however, have Toyota’s strong reputation for dependability which helps to bolster used market values.
Overall Competence
Resale (sellers)
Rather dull road manners
Often overpriced (buyers)

What's Available
The 2013 RAV4 is a 5-passenger compact crossover available in three trim levels: All are powered by a 2.5L-160hp 4-cylinder engine backed by a six-speed automatic transmission.

LE – standard features included power folding mirrors, automatic headlights, cruise control, rearview camera, rear privacy glass, air conditioning, power windows and locks, a tilt and telescoping steering wheel, reclining 2nd row seat, 6 speaker sound system with six inch touch screen, CD player, USB/iPod audio interface,  Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and 17-inch steel wheels.

XLE – additional features included dual zone automatic climate control, heated side mirrors, fog lights, and power sunroof and 17 inch alloy wheels.  An optional navigation system package was available which included Toyota’s Entune smart phone integration system and satellite radio.

Limited – this top of the line model offered synthetic leather upholstery, 8-way power adjustable driver seat with memory settings, keyless ignition and entry, power lift-gate, auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated front seats, and 18 inch alloy wheels. Optional add-ons include the navigation system with Entune which can be bundled with a high-end JBL audio system.  Also available is a blind-spot alert with cross-traffic alert option. 
EV – a limited production all-electric model originally introduced in 2012 and continued for 2013 and 2014.  It did not receive the new design upgrade the other RAV4’s received in 2013. It carried a 154 hp electric motor mated to a single-speed transmission.

Most notable changes to the exterior are the redesigned lift gate and removal of the externally mounted spare tire.  The previously side-hinged cargo door was replaced with a roof-hinged lift gate which makes loading at curbside easier.  The spare tire is now stored under the cargo floor, taking some weight off the tailgate but also eliminating some interior storage.

2013 Toyota RAV4 interior, dash Limited interior
Gauges can be clearly read, and both the audio and climate controls are mounted high and within easy reach. The climate controls on LE models consist of three rotary knobs that make adjustments simple. However, the automatic climate controls on XLE and Limited transfer mode and fan speed to repetitive-step pushbuttons, which are not as easy to adjust. The standard dashboard screen turns most audio controls into “virtual” pushbuttons, but they’re relatively easy to use.

Hard plastic is abundant in LE models, and though XLE and Limited add a padded dash beltline, material quality is average at best for the class. However, two-toning and some bright trim help aid the overall look, and higher-line models offer nicer trim.

The front seat has good passenger room. Visibility is quite good, aided by rear headrests that can be flipped down. Still, the rear corners are a bit obscured by thick roof pillars, though the standard rearview camera helps with this. The rear seat has good headroom and legroom for adults. All models have a reclining rear seat back with center armrest. Interior storage consists of a small glove box, decent-size console box, a mid-dash tray, two cup holders, two small console bins, and map pockets.

The cargo area measures 38.4 cubic feet (though a speaker intrudes on Limited model with the JBL sound system), and there’s a good amount of space even with the rear seat backs up. When folded, the split seat backs rest flat and level with the cargo floor for terrific storage room (73.3 cubic feet).  The spare tire is now stored under the cargo floor eliminating some storage space.

Available with either front or all wheel drive, all models (except the EV) came with a 176 horsepower 2.5 liter 4-cylinder engine. A six speed automatic is standard.  The EPA rating for front wheel drive models was 24city/31highway (26 combined) and 22city/29highway (25 combined) for all wheel drive versions.  
Most models included Normal, Eco and Sports modes.  The Eco mode adjusted shift points and throttle response for more efficient driving. The Sport mode quickened throttle response, held gears for a longer duration and kept the transmission in a lower gear which added a “weighty” feel to the steering.

The RAV4's acceleration is average for this market segment.  The transmission downshifts fairly quickly which helps with passing power but if you drive assertively you may find it on the slow side.  When the vehicle is climbing up grades, the transmission tends to shift between gears more frequently a result of Toyota’s efforts to maximize gas mileage by tuning the drive-train.  Like everything, you take the good with the bad.
Overall ride quality is good on the LE and XLE but the top of the line Limited version rode less fluidly, especially on rough pavement, likely due to the larger tire size on these models.  Wind and road noise at highway speeds were acceptable and comparative to others in this size class.  Additionally, engine noise at full throttle was manageable.

Overall, when rated against all other vehicles, the RAV4 is an average to slightly above average performer.  It scored above average on fuel economy, quietness and vehicle comfort.

Model Year Changes
2013:  All-new design.

2014:  Available technology package includes a blind spot warning system with rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning and automatic high-beam headlights.

2015:  Minor changes, the most important being an optional programmable-height power lift gate.

The RAV4 can't quite match the comfort of archrival Honda CR-V or the driving dynamics of the Ford Escape, but it remains a well-rounded SUV with a history of solid reliability and good resale value. There are no glaring issues with any of these model years. The average annual repair cost is under $450 which means it has excellent ownership costs. The severity of repairs is low while frequency of those issues is average, so major issues are uncommon for the RAV4.

Comparative to previous model years of the RAV4 the 2013-2015 model years show a reduction in reported problems.  For 2013 and 2014, the top two problem categories were equipment and electrical problems.  For 2015, the top categories were equipment and steering. There was a manufacturer’s recall on 2014-2015 models due to a component of the electric power steering (EPS) electronic control unit (ECU) which may have been damaged during the manufacturing process. Over time, this damage may result in failure of the electric power steering system.  The issue does not appear to be widespread. 

Like most Toyota vehicles, the RAV4 enjoys a reputation (deservedly so) for delivering reliable service for many years. That's not to say you'll be without repair and maintenance costs, because you will.  But if you maintain the vehicle properly and make repairs when needed, your total bill will likely be less than most vehicles over their lifetime.  Because of this, RAV4's command premium prices. This can negate any savings over it's lifetime making a competitive vehicle just as attractive. Be careful not to overpay, .Current RAV4 values.
National Highway Traffic Safety Ratings (Highest rating is 5) 
2013 RAV SUV 4WD

Overall Front Star Rating  * * * *
Combines the driver and passenger star ratings into a single frontal rating. The frontal barrier test simulates a head-on collision between two similar vehicles, each moving at 35 mph.

Overall Side Star Rating  * * * * *
Combines the side barrier and side pole star ratings into a single side rating. The Side Barrier test simulates an intersection collision between a standing vehicle and moving barrier at 38.5 mph.  The Side Pole Barrier test simulates a crash into a fixed object like a tree or utility pole.

Rollover Star Rating  * * * *
The Rollover Resistance test measures the risk of rollover in a single-vehicle, loss-of-control scenario.

Dynamic Tip Result: No Tip
Rollover Resistance 16.90% 

Key Competitors

Honda CR-V
Mazda CX-5
Subaru Outback
GMC Terrain
Chevy Equinox
Hyundai Santa Fe and Sport
Ford Escape
New Car Prices
Dealer Cost for New Vehicles