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2007 Toyota RAV4 Performance

This performance review was written when the 2007 Toyota RAV4 was new.

With a bigger frame and a V6 engine option, the RAV4 is judged as a compact SUV with midsize capabilities. Motor Trend hints that thanks to the RAV4's "sledgehammer V-6, the vehicle that originated the small, car-based SUV segment in this country might represent an inflation approved even by a worrywart like Greenspan."

Commanding, stable and substantial are just some of the words auto writers use when describing the 2007 Toyota RAV4 on the road. The RAV4 comes with a four-cylinder engine on its base model that reviews such as AutoWeek list as adequate, but a V6 engine is a new option this year, and reviewers recognize how it gives the compact SUV extra oomph.

To CNET, the RAV4's "commanding driving position and good all-round visibility" are the keys to the SUV's friendly ride, while U.S. News reviewer Rick Newman explains that "there is no trade-off in comfort or performance. The RAV4's sedanlike handling offers the best of both worlds." The San Diego Union-Tribune concurs. "Larger size makes more sense than previous model...super easy to park and handle. Smooth ride," the reviewer decides.

Acceleration and Power

According to The Car Connection, the 2007 Toyota RAV4's 2.4-liter DOHC 16-valve, four cylinder engine with 166 horsepower is "economical, reliable, and surprisingly peppy," thanks to its Variable Valve Timing System, while L.A. Splash Magazine finds the four-cylinder "packs a gutsy 166 hp punch." The majority of reviews decided to test the RAV4's 3.5-liter, DOHC 24-valve engine. Car and Driver is one to praise it for supplying "gobs of punch power when you want it, and sometimes when you don't," later commenting that "they throttle is touchy off idle, the squirt from the line a little racy if you're not judicious," and Edmunds praises the RAV4 for its "decidedly aggressive personality" using the V6.

Toyota's RAV4 receives a 21 miles per gallon in the city/27 miles per gallon on highways rating from the Environmental Protection Agency when tested with front-wheel drive and the 2.4-liter engine. The V6 engine rates at 19 miles per gallon for the city, 27 miles per gallon on highways -- numbers the Atlanta Journal-Constitution calls "impressive, especially for a small-but-now-larger SUV."

Toyota's transmission for the RAV4's four-cylinder engine is a four-speed electronically controlled automatic overdrive and the V6 is coupled with a five-speed. Edmunds tested with the five-speed and concludes, "On the street, the RAV4 just moves out quickly whenever you toe into the throttle. The automatic tranny is never caught sleeping, no need to slam your foot to the carpet to coax a downshift." Cars.com's reviewer finds flaws, noting "the five-speed automatic transmission was definitely not the smoothest I've tested, and you'll know when you're changing gears."

On the other hand, "the gas pedal was as twitchy as Dirty Harry's trigger finger, and launches from a dead stop offered a surprising rush of acceleration. Even after those jolting take-offs the engine never seemed to run out of power," the same Cars.com reviewer finds.

Handling and Braking

AutoWeek and others find that "ride and handling are at the top of the small-ute class," to which Carz Unlimited adds, "a redesigned suspension system delivers a fine balance between comfort and control." In fact all across the board, reviewers describe the 2007 Toyota RAV4 as taut and agile, thanks to its independent MacPherson strut front suspension with stabilizer bar and hydraulic shock absorbers, matched with a double-wishbone coil spring rear suspension with trailing arms and hydraulic shock absorbers for the rear. The RAV4 Sport has also comes with tuned shocks and springs for the rear suspension, to create an experience that is "firmed up for even more aggressive handling," according to the Kansas City Star, who also notes that "the ride quality is not diminished in the least."

The 2007 RAV4's electric power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering is "quick, and unlike some electric steering, doesn't feel numb," the Chicago Sun Times writes. The Chicago Tribune says this positive feedback is assisted by the RAV4's Vehicle Stability Control system, which provides "just the right amount of assist for any driving condition," to Motor Week.

Another favorite feature among reviewers is the RAV4's Hill Start-Assist Control and Downhill Assist control, which is an option for all models that keeps the SUV from rolling backward on slopes or helps ease speed when going down slopes. The 2007 RAV4's front ventilated, solid rear disc, anti-lock brakes are "impressive," the Chicago Sun-Times reports, with Auto Mall USA and others agreeing, adding that the "brake pedal feels firm." Of the several analyzed, only one review expressed distaste. "When you hit the brake pedal there's a mushy response that doesn't reassure," Cars.com finds. "It's fine to make the RAV4 speedy, but it needs to come to a halt just as fast."

All Wheel Drive

Reviewers say the 2007 Toyota RAV4 really has an all-wheel drive system that is worth notice. Automobile Magazine describes it as "an ingenious-but non-gnarly-on-demand system that incorporates an electromagnetic coupling at the rear differential rather than a center diff to apportion torque among the wheels." However, auto writers also warn against assuming the all-wheel drive will take you far off road. "This vehicle likely wouldn't be advisable for serious off-roaders, but for steep inclines and some inclement weather situations, it would probably do just fine," the Atlanta Journal-Constitution guesses, and Car and Driver writes "a brainy all-wheel drive system with just 7.5 inches of ground clearance, the RAV is for all weather, not all terrain."

Review Last Updated: 5/2/08

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