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January 12, 2016

Review: 2016 Toyota RAV4 4WD Premium

It’s hard what to make of the RAV4. What first started as Toyota’s sole crossover in the late 1990’s has now become the middle child in the Japanese automaker’s growing SUV family. It’s been forced to swagger up, now becoming the Camry of Toyota’s SUV line-up when it isn’t even carrying enough trimmings to be considered dapper. And now, for the first time ever, its price point has breached the psychological two-million mark for this top-range 4WD. Is Toyota losing its mind or is it finally giving the often-ignored RAV4 the attention it deserves?

Well, that entirely depends on where you’re coming from. The 2016 refresh of the RAV4 does add some much needed youth, particularly to the front-end. Though some won’t be happy with the more rounded front-end, it does perfectly align it with the carmaker’s new “Under Priority and Keen Look” design language. From some angles, it bear a resemblance to the C-HR Concept and for that, it's been complimented more than once for looking way more futuristic. The use of LEDs in its lighting elements also helps convey this feeling, especially at the back where it hollows out, creating a sci-fi-esque signature at light. And while it’s easy to fall in love with the new color palette selection including this new lovely shade of Blue Metallic, it’s still not all win for the RAV4. The main sticking point is the pedestrian-looking wheel and tire package. 17-inch alloy rims in 2016? Come on.

The 2016 model is less changed inside with only detail improvements for better wear-and-tear. As before, the asymmetrical dashboard design continues with all the controls and switchgear placed around the driver’s area; thus giving the RAV4 more interior space, particularly for the front passenger. Gone is the scratch-prone faux carbon fiber and in its place are well-wearing plastic pieces. Another thing that has bitten the dust is the old instrument cluster, now replaced with an easily-legible one that integrates a fancy looking animated LCD display. Though the Eco Indicator is incomprehensible (it looks like its displaying Klingon characters most of the time), it’s a welcome change for 2016.

As with the pre-facelift, the leather quality is quite good (the seats now have contrasting white stitching) and the plastics are the same ones found in the Camry, so it’s impossible to complain about them. However, if there’s one noticeable problem, it’s the oddly placed controls. It wasn’t noticeable before because it was more of a barebones model, but now that it’s got more tech than ever before? Get ready to be confused. For example, off-roading controls are normally centralized in one area, but in the RAV4, it’s on both sides of the dashboard partially blocked by the steering wheel. The stability control override? It’s to the right of the dash clock. The drive mode selector? It’s in the same area where you chuck your wallet and mobile phone. The parking sensor override? Well, that used to be a physical button, but now, it’s buried as a sub-menu in the multi-information display.

The odd sense of ergonomics largely ruins what’s otherwise a commendable interior with good room for five adults and luggage. Again, it’s not class leading, but at least no one will complain. There’s also a good amount of storage and luggage space. Sadly, the cargo area is hampered by a net tray which is good for storing loose objects like umbrellas but a bane when trying to maximize the cargo as it can’t be stored without eating space.

As previously mentioned, the RAV4 now breaks the P 2-million mark (P 2,066,000 to be exact), representing a P 103,000 price jump from before. The additional premium though doesn’t address the rather short list of standard equipment. For 2016, you get: automatic LED headlights with DRLs, LED taillights, shark’s fin antenna, downhill assist control, front proximity sensors, AVT-based navigation system, and the drive mode selector. These are on top of what’s already standard in the pre-facelift models like dual zone climate control, leather seating, a powered driver’s seat, and an auto-dimming rear view mirror. That’s it—no fancy turbocharged engine, fancy idle start/stop, or voice-activated infotainment for you.

Now, before dismissing the RAV4 experience to be all dull and lacking in luxury features, the driving manners have, surprisingly, withstood the test of time. It doesn’t feel as agile or sporty as the Mazda CX-5 or Subaru Forester, but considering this platform is about a decade old already, it’s still pretty good on the road. At low to medium speeds, it’s quiet with the most intrusive noise coming from the low rolling resistance tires. Apart from that, the drivetrain noise, road noise, and wind noise are all kept at hushed levels. On curvier settings, it begins to exhibit body roll and understeer, but nothing to indicate lack of confidence. In fact, one thing you can say is that the RAV4 feels stable on just about any sort of surface, however, the light electric steering combined with the stiffened shock absorbers do require minute steering corrections whenever you hit crosswinds or small road undulations such as concrete joints. The brakes are the RAV4’s weakest part with an initially spongy feel. It only bites very late into the pedal stroke. In addition, the AVT navigation system is an annoying source of rattle at any speed.

Under the hood, the RAV4 shares the same engine found in the Camry. For 2016, the 2AR-FE engine sees a slight four horsepower bump (up to 180 horsepower) while keeping the same 233 Nm of torque figure. It’s largely unobtrusive and smooth, clearly tuned more for everyday usability and cruising since it sounds coarse at higher RPMs. Like before, this engine is mated solely to a 6-speed automatic which is well-suited to the engine providing necessary down- or upshifts quickly. New for this update is a drive mode selector with three modes: Normal, Eco, and Power. Operated by the driver via dash buttons, it changes the throttle sensitivity and transmission mapping to a preset profile. It sounds like a gimmick, but it works. With an average speed of 13 km/h (heavy city traffic), the RAV4 does 6.13 km/L with the Eco mode on and just 5.81 km/L in Normal mode; the resulting in a five percent improvement. On the flipside, it does make the driving feel way more lethargic—as if you cut 30 or so horsepower.

Given the sky-high price tag of this 4WD model, Toyota isn’t really expecting people to flock to showrooms to buy this model; that’s the job of the mid- and low-entry variants (Active+ and Active respectively), the FJ Cruiser, and of course, the Fortuner. However, for those who’re settled on getting Toyota’s compact crossover, 2016 looks to be the most convincing package yet. It may not be as sporty or well-equipped as the competition, but the improved looks and slightly better driving dynamics do their part to inject the it with a bit more personality. The middle child is finally standing out.

2016 Toyota RAV4 4WD Premium
Ownership 2016 Toyota RAV4 4WD Premium
Year Introduced 2013 (Refreshed: 2016)
Vehicle Classification Compact Crossover
The Basics
Body Type 5-door Crossover
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/AWD
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 2.5
Aspiration Normally Aspirated, EFI
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 180 @ 6,000
Nm @ rpm 233 @ 4,100
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 91~
Transmission 6 AT
Cruise Control Yes
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,605
Width (mm) 1,845
Height (mm) 1,715
Wheelbase (mm) 2,660
Curb Weight (kg) 1,760
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Independent, Double Wishbone
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Solid Disc
Tires Yokohama Geolandar G91 Blue Earth 2225/65 R 17 H (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 7
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes, Front and Rear
Exterior Features
Headlights LED
Fog Lamps Yes, Front and Rear
Auto Lights Yes
Auto Wipers No
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjustment Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment Electric (driver)
Seating Surface Leather
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, with Fold
Climate Control Yes, Dual
Audio System Stereo
No. of Speakers 6
Steering Wheel Controls Yes


  1. People who buy this is losing their mind too.

    1. Yeah seriously. If one is gonna buy a rav4, the midrange active+ is already good enough. A 2.5L crossover with no distinguishing feature for 2M pesos... Toyota must be insane.

  2. ^What were they trying to do with the from grille and bumper? I dont get it... and it seems you can use the tail lights as coffee table... oh man, toyota!

  3. If you buy this, that means you are rich. An overpriced vehicle for the rich who has nothing to spend.

  4. Finally an honest review unlike those auto executive cocksuckers at TGP who will find a way to say something... nice. This turd is way overpriced. It makes the new 4x4 Tucson diesel at 1.4M, which has a fantastic engine btw, look like a steal.

    1. You're right. Most of the journalist are a bnch of buttwhistlers who can't see a bad car even if it dickwhipped them in the goddamned eye.

    2. Yes,a painfully honest review. I like the RAV4 but this review ruined it for me. Mr. Ang could also use the word "turd" to describe the cars he finds wanting. It really gets the message across! Hehehe.

    3. It's not a total "turd" as you describe. It's got pros and cons... Just like any other car. I think it's just hurt by the high price tag.

  5. I saw an earlier post here at car guide before on the new prices for the facelifted models. The most "bare" model, the active, cost just PHP1.26 million. If that is true, that is truly a bargain if you consider that the HRV E model cost PHP1.23 million already. Sir Uly is the price correct or is it a typo? Can you also review the base model?

    1. The base model is P 1,263,000

      I would gladly review the base model if Toyota Motor Philippines would have a unit. Unfortunately, as far as I know, they only have the ToTL 4WD Premium available.

    2. Thanks Uly. I hope someone from Toyota sees this so he can provide you a review unit.

      Given its price, the top of the line variant feels like a rip off. But now a base variant with the same 2.5 engine, 6 speed transmission and improved suspension but priced below competitors suddenly looks like the best value. Crv, forester and even cx-5 only have 2.0 engines near this price point but these would feel relatively underpowered compared to the RAV 4.

      My only dilemma now is if I should get one of the diesel PPVs such as the new fortuner instead...

    3. Yes, your thoughts on this please? im currently choosing between the active and active+ given the 150k difference.
      thank you!

  6. I love it when reviews point out the cons of the car. Nicely done. At 1.75million php. The top variant mazda cx5 is a lot better both in features looks and price. Only a fool would choose the rav 4 over the cx5 or the subaru forester.

    1. The Forester XT is 1.86M Php and has a class-leading 250 hp turbo engine and AWD. The Santa Fe is 1.76M Php and it's bigger and arguably the most refined and luxurious SUV/CUV under 2 million Php. No AWD on the Santa Fe but it has the best diesel engine under 2 million pesos. There is also the CX5 AWD Premium at 1.7M Php. Nowhere near as powerful as either the Forester XT or Santa Fe but it's loaded and has 3 years free maintenance. Then there's the new Tucson which is arguably the best looking in its class at the moment. Just 1.428M Php for the 2.0 diesel 4x4. So many better choices that are cheaper.

    2. Nah. At the 1.4M point, the rav4 active+ is arguably the best since it offers a 2.5L engine already and is decently equipped.

    3. ^You're either stupid, work for Toyota, or both. The 2.5 engine on the Rav4 is old and has NOTHING on the engines offered by its cheaper competitors. Forester XT 2.0 turbo gas = 250 hp, 350 nm. Santa Fe 2.2 turbo diesel = 197 hp, 436 nm. Tucson 2.0 turbo diesel = 184 hp, 400 nm. Only the CX5 2.5 AWD is short, with only 184 hp and 251 nm. But it's still more powerful and lighter than the Rav4 in this review. Get your facts straight.

      Face it. This 2.1 million Rav4 is overpriced and completely outclassed. It's the best... the best at being shit.

    4. Nope, you're the one that's stupid... and blind. Basahin mo maayos yung sinulat ko. I said "rav4 active+", which is priced at 1.4M, and that price it has a good value because it offers a 2.5L engine and as I've said decently equipped (leather steering wheel, foglights, touchscreen). Compared to a TOTL Honda HRV that has a 1.8L engine, it really is arguably the best crossover at that price point. The one in this review is the "premium" model which is undeniably overpriced as hell. Basa-basa din ha, may pa get your facts straight ka pa, nagmukha tuloy engot lalo. Sino kaya di maka get ng facts niya ngayon? LOL

    5. BTW just for comparison, TOTL HRV with 1.8L engine is priced at 1.3M while the Rav4 Active+ with 2.5L is priced only at 1.4M. At the 1.4M range, most crossovers such as CX-5, Forester and CRV only have 2.0L engines.

    6. A Mitsubishi Adventure has 2.5L engine yet it is rated having only a pitiful 74hp, whereas Ford's 1.0L ecoboost engine has around 125hp. I don't look at the displacement anymore. I look at the hp and weight of the vehicle. Mazda's only have decent hp but they're lighter than their competitors, and they use naturally aspirated engines, which are among the cleanest and most fuel efficient engines around. Also, not everything is in the hp, check the power to weight ratio as well. Mazda's are among the most fun to drive vehicle and I put driving dynamics high on my criteria. Still love the Forester XT and Hyundai Sante Fe and the new Tucson.

    7. Now you're comparing diesel to gasoline? FYI, the adventure has a 2.5L DIESEL engine. Apples to oranges comparison.

      Speaking of power to weight, the rav4 is decent because it accelerates quiet well. 0-100km/h is around 8 seconds. And that's achieved with a supposedly "archaic" naturally aspirated engine. Not bad at all.

    8. Aside from horsepower ratings its good to look at the torque figures too and at what RPM it reaches its maximum. The lower the RPM the easier it is to drive around town.

      I personally prefer older but proven engines. Some new engines have very high output but will still be long-term tested in actual use by their initial buyers.

  7. Conspicuous consumption is the word that describes this car for its price tag even though it is not that luxurious. The more reasonable price tag for the amount of kit involved should be 1.5M for the 4x2 premium and 1.65M for the 4x4 premium.

  8. Do you know why the cars in the past are cheap, it's because of Japanese Surplus Cars were legal that time. Try buy and import cars from Japan, some car manufacturers will decrease price

  9. Camry? Nope. This is still the equivalent of a 'Rolla.

  10. will the diesel variant of rav4 come to the Philippine market?

  11. Garbage. Get the Hyundai santa fe. Toyota has been using their name to sell their outdated, underpowered and seemingly reliable cars.

  12. malakas ba sa gas? how many kilometers per liter sa edsa?

  13. how about maintenance rav4? ano average amount? thnaks.

  14. Hi Ulysses, im coming home. Wish to ask if the ACTiVE+ (2wd) variant will still have the SPORT MODE. Greatly appreciate yr reply. Thank you in advance.

  15. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


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