Used Toyota RAV4 Information

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Used Toyota RAV4 Review 2001-2005:

Funny how everything Toyota touches seems to turn to gold. That was certainly the case in 1997 when it launched its first compact SUV, the RAV4. This was the company's first foray into building the kind of car-based SUV that was emerging as the new popular replacement for the subcompact station wagon that had pretty much all but disappeared by the late 1990s.

One telling sign that the compact car-based 'ute segment was the next big thing (figuratively, at least) was that the RAV4 was launched the same year as Honda's CR-V. Many readers may remember that Honda and Toyota hit it big in North America during the gas crisis of the late 1970s, when drivers flocked in droves to smaller, more fuel efficient cars. This time, there was no fuel crisis, but a sense that many drivers would appreciate a truck-like vehicle a little smaller and more efficient than the Ford Explorers and Jeep Cherokees that had become so popular in the mid-90s.

The success of the first-generation RAV4 proved that Toyota's decision to get into this segment was a wise one, and it also dictated that Toyota had to follow up with a new model featuring the usual improvements that go along with any new model. And they did that in 2001, with the launch of the redesigned, and slightly larger, second-generation trucklet. Like the outgoing model, the new RAV4 had a 2.0-litre engine under the hood, but with 148-horsepower in place of the 120-hp unit in the old model. For 2001, the two-door model was dropped from the line-up, and all-wheel-drive became a standard feature.

Despite the added power, Natural Resources Canada's fuel consumption ratings for the new truck showed that it actually used less fuel than the 2000 model: 10.6 L/100 km city and 8 L/100 km highway for 2001, compared to 10.9 L/100 km city and 8.6 L/100 km highway for the 2000 RAV4. Fuel economy ratings stayed about the same for 2004, despite Toyota's dropping a more powerful 2.4-litre engine, borrowed from the Camry, into the RAV4. The base transmission was a five-speed manual, and a four-speed automatic was an option.

Reliability is a strong point for just about every Toyota that's ever been built, and the RAV4 is no exception, with no major trouble spots to look out for in well-maintained examples. Not a single recall was issued for the second-generation RAV4. If there is a downside to the RAV4, it's a small back seat that's the result of the relatively short wheelbase. The CR-V has a little more room between the front and rear wheels and offers a little more space in back.

Crash safety is a major plus: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the RAV4 four stars each for driver and front passenger protection in frontal impacts, and five stars for front and rear seat occupant protection in side impacts. In the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's (IIHS) tougher frontal offset crash test, the RAV4 from 2001 to early 2004 earned an "average" rating. Structural changes made to models built after December 2003 earned later 2004 and 2005 models the IIHS's "good" rating in the frontal offset test.

Good reliability is typical for Toyotas, and so are high resale values. For sure, you'll pay more for a used RAV4 than you would for, say, a Ford Escape is also a capable small SUV, though it can't match the Toyota's reliability. You'll pay a little less, too, for a Suzuki Grand Vitara, though its truck-based body-on-frame construction can't provide the refinement that the RAV4's car-based structure does.

Over the five years the second-gen RAV4 was produced, its base M.S.R.P. increased by about $1,200 ? no doubt a tactic employed to keep the RAV4 competitive in a market that continues to be lucrative for those automakers who have a player in it. Unfortunately, used RAV4 prices probably won't be affected by the introduction of the newer, much bigger 2006 model that was recently introduced.

There are other sport utilities that would be better suited to serious off-roading the RAV4 is set-up is best suited to snowy side streets but few will offer the combination of refinement and reliability in a compact package that the RAV4 has on its side.