The 2009 Toyota RAV4 is no longer the little baby of the lineup. Since 2006, it has offered optional 7-passenger seating in a family vehicle that delivers capable performance and solid handling. Prices range from $21,500 up to $27,810 and the NHTSA has again awarded the RAV4 a 5-star frontal crash test rating for both the driver and the front passenger. With standard seating for five, it presents owners with one of the lowest drag coefficients available - 0.33. That means that interior noise from wind is significantly reduced and fuel economy is greatly enhanced (21/27 mpg city/highway).
The 2009 RAV4 already beats most of its competition in performance with its powerful 2.5L 179hp I4 engine. For those who really want to get down, Toyota offers 3 V6 trims that feature a 3.5L 269hp engine instead. It shows off a truck-like front end and visually-separated fenders. It's curvy, but still tough-looking and ready. It sits with a wide stance - letting you know that it can take corners with ease. Handling is impressive and the steering system yields immediate feedback for drivers.
The rear bumper is one solid piece and it envelops a swing-style tailgate. This presents an issue to some since it swings from the left side. That means that North American buyers find themselves walking around it often - sort of a pain, but doable. Inside, the gauges and controls are positioned on the center stack. Likewise, the hand brake and shifter are located as in previous models. High-quality interior materials are almost at the level of Lexus. The finish of the interior is still Toyota grade - which is only excellent instead of heavenly.
Seating is firm and supportive, but still able to be sunk into a bit for comfort on longer journeys. The overall dimensions of the 2009 RAV4 are larger than ever before, measuring 181.1 x 71.5 x 66.3 inches (l x w x h) while sitting atop a 104.7-inch wheelbase. The clearance from the ground to the bottom is 7.5 inches and gross vehicular weight is 4430 pounds.
There are six trims to choose from: the Base, Sport and Limited in both I4 and V6 modeling. Additionally, you are free to choose between front wheel driven and 4WD drivetrains. The RAV4 receives its competition from vehicles like the Nissan Rogue, the Mazda Tribute and the Honda CR-V. All are priced within 2 thousand dollars of one another for the base trims. And all deliver very similar fuel economy. Name recognition and customer loyalty play big roles in this market.
The 2009 Toyota RAV4 continues its developing legacy as a solid-selling and capable vehicle that provides safe and dependable family-based transportation. Its utility and functionality are appreciable and the future remains bright.