2016 Toyota RAV4 SE AWD: A roomy crossover it is, a sports car it’s not
By Bruce W. Smith Special to GCN 9/12/16
Four years ago when I had the pleasure of spending seat time behind the wheel of a 2012 Toyota RAV4 I looked for every excuse possible to be out driving. Its 269hp V6 responded quickly to driver input and the overall ride, handling and roominess of Toyota’s crossover SUV combined for a very rewarding driving experience.
The slightly “refreshed” 2016 model, which has a crisper, more angular body, also has paddle shifters tucked behind the steering wheel, which one would think adds sportiness to the drive experience. They don’t. Using the “up/down” paddles to shift, even in “Sport” modes, results in gear changes just as sluggish and uninspiring as they are using the six-speed automatic’s notchy console shifter in “D.”
But for the everyday driver who doesn’t care about performance, the 2016 RAV4 SE does have a lot going for it. First there’s the Toyota build quality, which has always been top-shelf. Then there’s the edginess of the design that is sure to appeal to the younger buyers.
It’s also rated to tow up to 1,500 pounds, which means a couple ATVs, personal watercraft, or small tow-behind hard-sided tent trailer could be locked on a hitch. The all-wheel-drive system is perfectly adequate for boosting driver confidence and safety in foul winter weather or driving in heavy rains.
Safety ranks high in the RAV4 SE AWD I drove. It was optioned out with the $3,030 Advanced Technology package, which seems to include every item under the sun related to the advanced electronics. The package includes a seven-inch touch screen display, 360-degree birds-eye view camera system, radar-assisted cruise control, pedestrian detection, front/rear parking assist, voice recognition for the amped-up 11-speaker JBL sound system, Bluetooth connectivity, and a long list of other connectivity and safety features.
The uptake of the 2016 RAV4 SE AWD is to think seriously about spending the money on on this package, opting instead for an XLE version ($26,270). The overall ride will be a more pleasing and you won’t be disappointed with the SE’s lack of “sport” performance.
Model: 2016 RAV4 SE AWD (4-door, 5-passenger all-wheel-drive)
Base Price: MSRP $30,665
Price as Tested: MSRP $37,022
EPA MPG: 22/25/29
Engine: 176hp 2.5L DOHC I-4
Transmission: 6spd Automatic
Basic Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles
Drivetrain Warranty: 6 years/60,000 miles
NHTSA Crash Ratings: Overall: 5 star