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#2

in 2009 Affordable Compact SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $11,825 - $15,452
Original MSRP: $21,500 - $27,810
MPG: 22 City / 28 Hwy
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2009 Toyota RAV4 Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

The 2009 Toyota RAV4 is well-liked for its car-like performance. Its optional V6 engine also pushes it ahead of competitors based on power alone. However, it doesn't provide the most fun driving experience.

  • "Even with its boffo V6, the 2008 Toyota RAV4 still isn't the most involving crossover to drive. As such, driving enthusiasts might prefer a Mazda CX-7 or Saturn Vue Red Line." -- Edmunds
  • "One surprise is the RAV4's very firm, most un-car-like ride. Indeed on all but the smoothest paved roads it felt sports car harsh. And we found road noise was quite intrusive." -- Motor Week
  • "With four-wheel independent suspension the ride is smooth, though despite its profile it isn't really designed for more than deep snow or muddy two-tracks with ground clearance issues. Cornering falls short of a good sedan's, mainly because it's too tall." -- Washington Examiner

Acceleration and Power

The RAV4's four-cylinder base engine jumps from 2.4 to 2.5 liters for 2009, making it more appealing to those who found it underpowered in the past. Reviewers still love -- and favor -- the optional V6. The four-cylinder model has an EPA-estimated economy of 21 miles per gallon in the city and 27 miles per gallon on highway, while V6 models net a respectable 19/27 miles per gallon.

  • "With the 4-cylinder, RAV4 feels sluggish from stop, just adequate around town, and taxed in hilly terrain. We recommend the V6, which is impressively strong in any situation." -- Consumer Guide
  • "In terms of horsepower, the Toyota RAV4 packs quite a wallop and will knock the Honda CR-V down a few rungs." -- NewCars.com
  • "Although the four-cylinder engine's additional power is offset by the new RAV4's increased size and weight, the V6 puts it in a new class." -- The Auto Channel
  • "People who need the extra power, especially to pull a trailer, should go for the V-6. But if you can get by with the four-cylinder, it's cheaper to buy and to operate." -- Forth Worth Star-Telegram
  • "The engine ... was a big surprise. It has a torquey feel for a four-though at 2.5 liters it's big for a four-and accelerating and climbing hills is easier than one would expect." -- Washington Examiner
  • "Out on the interstate, the six is a good performer and makes nice sounds when pushed. Otherwise, it is subdued. There is some wind and road noise, but not an unusual amount for this price class." -- MarketWatch

Handling and Braking

Test drivers say the 2009 Toyota RAV4 strikes a good balance of comfort and agility in its handling. But note that the Sport model sacrifices some comfort for a more aggressive driving experience.

  • "Ride and handling are at the top of the small-ute class, thanks to an all-new suspension, stiffer chassis and new awd system." -- AutoWeek
  • The "electronic power steering is quick and, unlike some electric steering, doesn't feel numb. And the turning radius is tighter, despite the RAV4's larger dimensions." -- MSN
  • "Electric power steering is usually an omen for numbness, but Toyota has somehow infused the RAV's motorized rack with real precision." -- Car and Driver
  • "RAV4s have responsive steering and fine straight-line stability but display some noseplow and body lean in fast, sharp turns. Sport models' sport suspension is more adept at handling twisty roads. The brakes provide good stopping control and pedal feel." -- Consumer Guide

All-Wheel Drive

The Toyota RAV4's all-wheel drive system is great for some rough terrain, but don't assume that it 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." -- Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  • "The four-wheel-drive system is on-demand, which means you operate in front-wheel-drive until slippage puts all four wheels to work." -- Chicago Tribune  

Next Steps: 2009 Toyota RAV4

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