The 2013 Toyota RAV4 is the latest iteration of the compact family hauler that has enjoyed a reputation as a sales juggernaut for the Japanese brand. One of the most reliable small SUVs on the market, the affordable Toyota RAV4 has been given a new lease on life by way of a redesign that repositions it on the entry-level market. Featuring a revised set of capabilities, massaged styling, and a host of upgrades, the 2013 Toyota RAV4 remains a compelling option for those who need more passenger and cargo room than a traditional sedan has to offer.
Let's take a look at 10 things you need to know about the 2013 Toyota RAV4.
01. The 2013 Toyota RAV4 Has Been Re-Designed
One look at the 2013 Toyota RAV4 and it's plain to see that the compact SUV has been given more than just a casual refresh. In particular, the vehicle's front end styling now features a revised grille that takes the form of a pronounced V-shape, plunging down towards a bumper that gains its own inset plastic bulge and faux-skid plate at the very bottom. Along the sides, the 2013 Toyota RAV4's roof line drops steadily to the back of the SUV, squeezing its greenhouse, and its rear hatch loses the familiar externally-mounted spare tire, a feature which has moved underneath the crossover's cargo floor.
02. The 2013 Toyota RAV4 Makes Better Use Of Its Size
With the spare tire now out of the way, loading up the 2013 Toyota RAV4 is a much simpler process. The hatch has been reconfigured to open straight up, eliminating the space and safety concerns caused by the older model's side-hinged design. The rear opening isn't quite as tall as a few of its competitors, but it reveals a very low floor that makes it a snap to stack items inside of the SUV. Folding down the backseat reveals a cargo area that can accept 10 additional inches of length when compared to 2012, as well as two extra inches of width. 73.3 cubic feet of cargo space are available in total with the 2013 Toyota RAV4, which is a very slight increase over that offered by the 2012 edition of the crossover.
03. The 2013 Toyota RAV4 Is No Longer A 7 Passenger SUV
Passengers - especially those riding in the rear - also benefit from increased room thanks to the improved interior management that comes with the 2013 Toyota RAV4's redesign. The biggest change in this department is the elimination of the older model's optional third row seating, a vestigial nod to those families looking for a spot to park a couple of toddlers on shorter trips. Never an adult-friendly proposition, the deletion of the vehicle's seven passenger configuration opens up a roomier second row that is better suited for hauling around full-size occupants, and new seating adjustments provided to further improve comfort.
04. The 2013 Toyota RAV4 Loses Its V-6 Engine
Another item that's missing from the 2013 Toyota RAV4's portfolio is the 3.5-liter V-6 engine that was offered in 2012. The new RAV4 is offered exclusively with a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine that has been re-tuned to deliver 176 horsepower and 172 lb-ft of torque. Although this is a far cry from the departed 3.5-liter's 269 horses, the reality is that few buyers opted for the top-tier engine, making it an expensive and ultimately unnecessary drag on the vehicle's production costs. The four-cylinder engine is also lighter and in keeping with the trend across the compact crossover segment that has seen V-6 motors disappear in almost every one of the RAV4's competitors.
05. The 2013 Toyota RAV4 Gains A New Transmission
It's not all addition by subtraction with the 2013 Toyota RAV4 - in some cases, there's just plain old addition, too. This is the case with the RAV4's new automatic transmission, which moves to six forward speeds for the current model year. Past editions of the four-cylinder Toyota were saddled with a four-speed autobox, which hampered acceleration and smoothness on the road. Even the V-6 had to make do with an older five-speed gearbox. The six-speed transmission that is standard across the board for 2013 not only helps the RAV4 be quicker than it was in 2012, but it also improves fuel efficiency to 24-mpg in stop and go driving and 31-mpg on the highway. This is a jump of two and three miles per gallon for each respective measure.
06. The 2013 Toyota RAV4 Offers All-Wheel Drive
The 2013 Toyota RAV4 maintains its available all-wheel drive system, which helps to keep it surefooted when driving in areas where inclement weather is a seasonal fact of life. Unlike all-wheel drive systems from competitors such as Subaru, the Toyota RAV4 doesn't offer full-time four-wheel grip. Instead, the crossover operates primarily as a front-wheel drive vehicle in most driving conditions and shuffles power to the rear axles only when the system detects a loss of traction. In recognition of the special situations presented by very light off-roading, or snow covered roads, Toyota also provides the capability of manually locking torque distribution 50/50 between the front and rear of the vehicle when traveling at low speeds. A Sport mode is also on hand, which makes use of the all-wheel drive system to enhance the vehicle's handling characteristics.
07. The 2013 Toyota RAV4 Is Available In Three Trim Levels
The 2013 Toyota RAV4 starts out in LE trim, which includes tinted windows, air conditioning, power windows and door locks, power folding mirrors, cruise control, a rearview camera, 17-inch steelies, a CD player with a USB interface, a touchscreen for controlling audio functions, and Bluetooth connectivity. Stepping up to the XLE model sees the installation of a sunroof, alloy wheels, fog lights, dual automatic climate control, and heated exterior mirrors. The RAV4 XLE adds the greatest number of comfort and convenience items, including keyless entry and ignition, 18-inch rims, heated front seats with power adjustment for the driver, leather-like upholstery, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.
08. The 2013 Toyota RAV4 Is Comfortable, But Not Sporty
The 2013 Toyota RAV4 features a more composed ride than ever before, and there has been a significant reduction in the amount of engine and road noise that makes it into the cabin. The crossover's suspension system has also been re-tuned to instill greater confidence when cornering, particularly through the mitigation of body roll. That being said, it's important to understand that the RAV4 is intended to offer smooth and not sporty daily transportation, as it doesn't provide the kind of engaging driving feel found in other compact SUVs like the Mazda CX-5 or the Subaru Forester XT.
09. The 2013 Toyota RAV4 Can Be Had As An EV Model - Sort-Of
There is a special version of the 2013 Toyota RAV4 called the RAV4 EV that swaps out the vehicle's gasoline engine for a completely electrified drivetrain. This version of the crossover, which is sold exclusively in the state of California, actually rides on the previous model's platform, meaning that it shares none of the Toyota's 2013 updates. The compact SUV - which can travel roughly 100 miles before requiring that drivers charge its battery pack - comes with exclusive styling tweaks both inside and out that further set it apart from the 2013 edition of the RAV4.
10. The 2013 Toyota RAV4 Will Soon Be Gaining Important Safety Improvements
Toyota has asked that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety exclude the 2013 Toyota RAV4 from its small overlap frontal crash test, a new safety standard that the IIHS uses to simulate the type of accident that results in a quarter of all serious road accidents. Although the RAV4 has had no trouble passing every other safety test that it has taken, and is in no way a dangerous vehicle to drive, Toyota plans to make modifications to the vehicle's passenger protection features in the near future in order to better meet the small overlap challenge. This means that later models will offer enhanced safety compared to those which are already sitting on dealer lots - which is a consideration to make when shopping for a new compact SUV.