We were surprised to note the specifications for the 2017 Toyota RAV4 Platinum AWD were little changed from the 2014 RAV4 Limited AWD model we drove three years ago. But why would Toyota tamper with success? The roomy, reliable, versatile RAV4 is the automaker’s biggest seller, having exceeded 346,000 units sold through October in North America — a 21% increase over 2016 levels.
Our top-of-the-line RAV4 carried a sticker price of $37,919, compared with $24,410 for the base LE with front-wheel drive. All RAV4s come with a 4-cylinder, 176-horsepower engine and 6-speed shiftable automatic transmission.
The RAV4 is a relaxing, though unexciting, vehicle to drive. In our experience, the Honda CR-V — the RAV4’s leading competitor — handles more sharply, but the RAV-4 rides more smoothly. The Honda also has an edge in cargo room, horsepower and fuel economy. One hardly could go wrong with either model, though we’d check out the Chevrolet Equinox and Mazda CX-5 as well, if we were considering buying a new, compact SUV.
Our test car’s standard-equipment list included Toyota’s Safety Sense package, an impressive array of safety features. Among them are a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection; lane-departure alert with steering assist; automatic high beams; and dynamic radar cruise control. A blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert round out the RAV4’s safety system. Pulling out of a space in a crowded parking garage, we were glad to have the rear cross-traffic alert on duty. Opting for the XLE trim level or higher adds most or all of these potentially life-saving systems.
The cabin in our RAV4 was exceptionally well appointed, from the two-tone SofTex synthetic leather seats to the advanced telematic and climate-control systems. Storage shelves and cabinets, large and small, are ample, and the interior is roomy front and back.
Luxury features ranged from leather-wrapped heated steering wheel, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, push-button start, autodimming rear-view mirror, power moonroof, and foot-activated power liftgate. The RAV4 also has three 12-volt power outlets and one USB port.
The RAV4’s technology served us well. Finding ourselves caught in a massive traffic jam resulting from the temporary closure of Interstate 84 near Waterbury on Nov. 18, we found an alternate route with ease by using the RAV4’s navigation system. The audio system, app suite and touch-screen display were similarly user-friendly. We took note of the touch-screen’s erratic performance in our 2014 RAV4; we did not experience this problem in the 2017 model.
Rated at 22 mpg city, 28 highway, using regular gasoline, our RAV4 did a little better than its 24-mpg average. We achieved between 26 and 27 mpg in mixed city and highway driving.
The 2017 RAV4 is rated a Top Safety Pick Plus by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, despite recording a “Poor” score in the passenger-side small-overlap crash test. The RAV4 received 5-star ratings in government crash tests, except for rollover and frontal crash for the driver and front passenger (4 stars).
2017 Toyota RAV4 Platinum AWD
Engine: 2.5-liter inline Four, 176 horsepower, 172 lb.-ft. torque
Transmission: shiftable 6-speed automatic
Ground clearance: 6.1 in.
Weight: 3,630 lb.
Suspension: MacPherson strut front, double-wishbone rear
Wheels: 18×7.5-in. alloy
Tires: P235/55R18 all-season
Max. towing capacity: 1,500 lb.
Seating capacity: 5
Luggage capacity: 38.4 cu. ft.
Maximum cargo capacity: 73.4 cu. ft.
Fuel capacity: 15.9 gal.
Fuel economy: 22 mpg city, 28 mpg highway
Fuel type: regular unleaded gasoline
Steven Macoy (email@example.com) is a longtime car enthusiast and full-time editor who lives in Bethel.