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Toyota RAV4 pre-2006



  • suvshopper4suvshopper4 Posts: 1,110
    I've been helping out a friend who is moving.
    In about one minute, I removed both the back seats from my '01 RAV, and have hauled a love seat (60"long) and a few of those you-assemble boxed furniture pieces from Lowes, Target, etc.

    I really like the "sedan delivery" aspect of the RAV. Pretty good utility for an econo-mobile.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 11,025
    A journalist is hoping to interview consumers who recently bought pre-owned crossover vehicles (such as the Acura MDX, Audi quattro, Ford Escape, Hyundai Santa Fe, Subaru Baja, Toyota RAV4, Volvo XC70, etc). Why did you go for a cross-over? Which one? How does it suit your tastes, lifestyle and budget?
    Please respond to and/or by Friday, March 5 with your name, daytime contact information and some information about your vehicle.
    Jeannine Fallon
    PR Director


    Need help navigating? - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

    Share your vehicle reviews

  • It is my understanding that both the FWD & AWD 04' RAV4 models come with the Traction/Stability control feature. According to a local dealer this somewhat eliminates the need to go AWD except in extreme weather situations. This would save about $1,500 plus insurance would be about $160 cheaper plus gas mileage goes up plus I believe it would be quicker since the FWD model is a little over 200 lbs lighter. any input by those with either model would be appreciated.
  • rblelandrbleland Posts: 312
    ..that's your choice to make. Here in Canada, we get only the AWD version and no Traction/Stability feature. Interestingly, the RAV4 is sold just about everywhere in the world, but often with different engines, drive systems, etc. For example, I believe that only the US, Canada and Australia get the 2.4L engine for 2004. Other countries still have 2.0L engines. I wouldn't buy it with the 2.0L.
  • I'm still undecided between a Rav4, a CR-V and an Escape. When I first started doing my research the CR-V was on the top of my list. Now I'm leaning more toward the Rav4 or the Escape.

    I agree with many in this forum, the CR-V is a bit bland looking when compared to a Rav4 or an Escape. And the standard flat black skirting on the CR-V is not very appealing. Unless you buy the high-end model with the matching paint. Until I saw some CR-V's up close, I thought they looked pretty nice.

    Well, after checking with various dealers in my area (Chicago far North burbs) the Ford dealers really want my business, I might be able to get a good deal on an Escape. I test drove an 04 Escape XLT and it has the best ride and power IMO.

    Any advice or opinions would be greatly appreciated. BTW - I haven't ruled out the CR-V, because we all know it is the cheapest to operate and maintain, but looks and features appeal to me.
  • rblelandrbleland Posts: 312
    ..on CRV and RAV4 should be very close; not sure why people think the CRV is cheaper to run/maint. Fuel mileage is virtually identical and regular maintenance should be close. Both use regular gas. Why is the CRV thought to be cheaper to run??
  • gogiboygogiboy Posts: 732
    I can only write from my own perspective, but I have also been comparing the relative costs of owning a CRV to a RAV4. If you check the maintenance schedules listed on for both vehicles, most of the major scheduled sessions (15K, 30K, 60K and 90K) cost more for the Rav than the CRV. I don't know where this info comes from. I also know that when comparing equal amounts of insurance coverage 4WD, 5-speed models that the RAV is a tad over $600/year vs. $540/yr. for the RAV (Allstate/Midwest/Good Driver). My insurance agent's explanation is that Toyota is more expensive to repair than Honda and that Honda is more than Ford. Nothing about lack of rear bumper costs, more accident claims with one model over another or any other rationale. Having said all of the above we are still leaning toward a FWD RAV4.
  • gogiboy,

    Interesting... the CR-V just isn't very appealing anymore IMO. The insurance cost for one year isn't that much more, say for a Rav4. $60 is not much for an entire year.

    I liked the looks of the Rav4 inside and out. And the salesman new alot about the car, in fact had owns one. He wasn't just blowing smoke either. He took me out an showed me his. He has a 2004 Rav4 EX AWD.

    Anyway, I guess what I need to do is list the pros and cons, then make an educated decision. But right now, whoever gives me the best deal on a Rav4 or an Escape would seal it for me.

    I like the roominess, the quiet ride and the power of the Escape.

    The Rav4 is fun to drive, gets excellent mileage and has a fair amount of space.
  • rblelandrbleland Posts: 312
    The RAV4 also has a much better reliability record than the Escape and your resale value s/be better. I hear that the Ford engine in the Escape is a little noisy also.
  • dwbehrensdwbehrens Posts: 15
    I get 26 mpg with my RAV, it goes great in the snow and wet weather, and I also love the easy way the back seats remove to make it a little cargo van, and fold down to stay out of the way. It has been totally reliable for 34000 miles.

    My only complaints:

    The rear door opens the 'wrong' way for people who drive on the right hand side of the road. It is difficult to load something from a sidewalk into the rear area.

    Getting to the battery is a little difficult.

    I don't like the original tires (bridgestone). Whe they wear out, I will get good quality Michelins.
  • I would have to disagree with you on the reliability record of the Escape (2003-04). And as for the engine, the V6 in the Escape is much quieter. I test drove all 3 SUV's and the Escape had the best ride IMO.

    But, when it comes done to the brass tax I may end up buy a CR-V or Rav4. Because a V6 Escape is just out of my price range, even after the rebates. And they don't even want to give me wholesale for my low mileage trade-in. I went to another Honda Dealership yesterday and the guy said he would let me take one out for an afternoon. That might be what gets me into a CR-V. I want to drive all 3 for a few hours, not just a few minutes with the friggin dealer sitting in there with ya, giving his/her sales pitch.
  • rblelandrbleland Posts: 312
    You are only partly correct regarding Escape reliabilty. Agreed, it is better than it was but it was pretty poor. Consumer Reports current SUVs issue states for Escape "Reliability has improved to average, so we can recommend it" and their charts only show average reliability for year 2003, poor before that. The RAV4 and CRV charts in same issue shows above average reliability for every year of 1996 thru 2003.
  • Well... I'm probably gonna steer clear of the Escape. Why?

    1. It's to big for me, my family consists of myself and my 13 year old son.

    2. Mileage has always been a concern for me and both the CR-V and the Rav4 do pretty darn good on gas. I've owned mostly small cars all my life and I don't think I will like going to the pump 2 - 3 times a week.

    3. Like rbleland said "Reliability" - the CR-V and the Rav4 have the best reliability ratings.

    Anyway, Ford (IMO) is having problems selling vehicles, at least here in Chicago. Rebates left and right, plus dealer incentives. Even after Ford gives me the rebate and the incentives the Escape still costs more. I'm still tempted to test drive a 2005 Escape with the 4 cylinder engine.

    Oh, and they (the Ford dealership) don't want may trade-in and it's a 1999 Ford Contour. Well they do but the won't even give me wholesale for it. They probably do that so if I walk they'll give me $500 more for my car. It will not work, but we shall see. I'm having fun searching for my next vehicle.
  • I just read that book on Edmunds "Confessions". The Ford dealer here tried 3 of those tactics in the first ten minutes. BUYERS BEWARE!

    I flat out complained to the sales manager. They promptly apologized and told me they weren't trying to play games or tricks. I figured they were so use to using those sales tactics that it was the norm for them. And they my have felt they did nothing wrong.

    Anyway, seeing how Ford is having a hard time selling their vehicles, maybe I'll get a good deal on an Escape, but it will have to be a sweet deal. Because I'm favoring the CR-V right now.
  • rblelandrbleland Posts: 312
    For those interested, the Canadiandriver website has just posted a new review of the 2004 RAV4. Be aware this is for the RAV as it is sold in Canada, ie. all AWD (no FWD), no Stability Control, no rear disk brakes and different trim levels. I am aware of the Edmunds policy on competing auto sites, but this review is for the RAV in a form not available in the US.
  • pathtomaxpathtomax Posts: 215

    I just wanted to say HI those in the RAV4 group. I am the current owner of a Subaru Outback and have had some recent issues with it. Friends of mine have the RAV4 and NO ONE has every complained of anything going wrong.

    I have a 120 mile commute to work each day in NH and wanted to get anyone's opinion on highway driving and putting on high-miles (30k / year) on these trucks.

    OK, so I am a 30 year old male interested in the RAV..but it looks great now with the monotone!
  • rblelandrbleland Posts: 312
    for wanted the new RAV4. You imply that the RAV is not for a 30 yr.old male - why not?? Don't let yourself be dictated to by what others think of your vehicle, if you like it and it fits what your needs are, just do it. I could care less about these stereotypes that some others ascribe to certain cars. I'm a late 50's male and I have absolutely no problem driving my '04 Rav.
    I have had 2 Subarus previously - a '97 OB and an '02 Impreza TS. Both had "issues" and thus I drive a Toyota now over the Forester which I considered when I got the RAV. Our other Toyota is a '99 Solara and it has been trouble-free for 5 years.
  • After reading these forums for the past week and viewing different Rav4's, I think I've decided against purchasing one. I know it is a reliable vehicle, but 1. Maintenance costs are high for Toyota's, 2. It doesn't look like an SUV (IMO), 3. They are expensive.

    If any of you have read my posts it would appear that I've changed my mind about 10 times. However, I'm favoring the CR-V with the Escape a VERY close 2nd.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,621
    "Though its high price makes us pause, we'd still certainly recommend it to small SUV shoppers who are wise on picking options or those equipped with an extra-large budget."

    Follow-Up Test: 2004 Toyota RAV4

    Steve, Host
  • pathtomaxpathtomax Posts: 215
    Thank you for your input. I read the review posted for the follow-up test as well. It does seem like a steep price of $27,000 for the RAV4 but, after spending around $21k for the Subaru and then having to deal with new brakes, warped rotors and assorted other maladies, it may be worth it.
  • mcdawggmcdawgg Posts: 1,679
    I disagree that they are high. My Rolla and the Rav have been next to nothing. The '99 Rolla has 60,000, and I replaced the air filter twice (around $20 each), plugs (around $20 total each change), coolant change twice ($50 each time), and oil changes ($3.75 total (incl tax) per filter, plus oil). Manual tranny oil once ($15). I only use Toyota parts, but I have only let the dealer touch my car to do the coolant changes (hard to dispose of). I do the rest myself, since it is so easy on Toyotas. For the Rav (36,000 miles), same thing, except no spark plug changes, and with the 4wd, I had the dealer change the transfer case oil (not really necessary, but I keep cars for 200,000 plus miles, so I had it done at 30,000, then every 60,000 after that($50)). I changed the rear dif oil ($10) and the cabin air filter ($20).
    Bottom line: if you let the dealer do the "recommended service", it will be very expensive, because the dealers are trying to get rich. If you must use the dealers for your service, just tell them what you want done, don't have them do the "recommended service." This will save tons of money, and most of it is inspections, which anyone can do as well or better than the dealers. Yes, if you had dealers do everything I did it would be more, but not much more than any other car.
    Regarding the price, yes, it's a little high, but you get what you pay for in this case, IMHO.
  • rblelandrbleland Posts: 312
    The Canadian RAV4 is less costly, with the same trim/options level and converting the dollar. The loaded model tested on Edmunds here is $27,349 w auto trans. That model in Canada would be called the "Limited" and would be $33,550 Cdn w auto tranny. That converts to about $24,850 US. The Cdn model does NOT have the Vehicle Stability Control and makes do w rear drums and those items would be part of the $2,500 US difference; so the pricing is a little closer than first appears. OTOH,the Cdn leather seats in the Limited are heated. Back a year or so the Cdn dollar was weaker against the US $, then the Cdn price was even more favorable.
  • anselmo1anselmo1 Posts: 163
    Has anyone found a solution at the Toyota dealership regarding the dash rattle TSB regarding all Toyota Rav 4's from 2001 to 2004?
  • mcdawggmcdawgg Posts: 1,679
    Mine was fixed two years ago, and it has been silent ever since. After the second time to the dealership, they put on a new cowl and some padding. Again, this was two years ago. This should be an easy fix now. Many people have chosen to fix it themselves with perfect success. Do a search for Rav4, and you'll find it.
  • wannaravwannarav Posts: 5
    I've pretty much decided on this model but... I will be hauling about 600 lbs (just an estimate) on a daily basis mostly highway driving. I need to find out if a 2.4L motor with FWD is going to handle the load. I am buying new and planning to keep the Rav for a long time. I was also considering extended warranty just in case. I can't afford to have any unexpected repair expenses that are over a couple hundred bucks. Its not in the budget. A deductible is a bit more reasonable. I am counting on Toyotas reputation to hold out. My prior car had to have the engine replaced, without the warranty I could not have had it done. I don't have a back up car and rely on my car not being out of service for any length of time. Any input will be appreciated. Thanks!
  • beebee13beebee13 Posts: 38
    I am considering purchasing a '04 RAV, and was wondering if anyone has put some kind of rear bumper guard on they even offer them??? Even with a tow hitch there is still a chance of a slight rear ender....any suggestions?
  • I'm no longer undecided, the Rav4 is the vehicle I want.

    What sold me on the Rav4?

    1. The Toyota quality and dependability. Toyotas hold their value much better then Fords.
    2. The appearance inside and out. The CR-V was to boring and bland (IMO).
    3. Gas mileage. I always here people with Explorers complain about how much gas they have to put into the tank. And we all know the Escape is not great on gas even with the new 2.3L 4 cylinder. If you don't believe me go to
    4. Space was not a major factor here. I know the Rav4 is the smallest of the 3 SUV's. Space was not a major concern for me. However, the Rav4 had much more leg room then the CR-V.
    5. The ride and the handling was superb.

    Anyway, right now I'm looking for the best price. This is sort of fun. Especially when you arrive at the dealership prepared with knowledge (options you want, cost, invoice and value of your trade-in). I have these Toyota salemen nearly begging me to buy from them. The interesting thing is I've found 2 dealerships that say they will beat anyone's best price. I'm about to find out tomorrow.

    BTW, Test drove a 2005 Escape with the 2.3L 4 Cyl engine yesterday. If you're considering an Escape get the V6. The 4 cylinder was kind of weak. And the gas mileage isn't a significant improvement over the V6.

    This is all (mostly) my opinion, the Rav4 fits my needs best. If I wanted more space and aren't concerned about gas mileage (and reliability) I probably would have gone for the Escape. It's a nice looking vehicle, but so is the Rav4 (IMO).
  • rblelandrbleland Posts: 312
    Your choice of the RAV4 over the CRV and Escape is for much the same reasons that I got my RAV4. Good for you. I've had mine now for about 2 months and am thoughly enjoying it. I would add superior AWD system to your list of pluses for the RAV. It is fun to drive which I cannot say about the CRV or the Ford. Mine also has the 235 tires which add to the handling. You will not regret it!! Color??
  • I'm getting the L package with moonroof and aluminum wheels. I don't really need the AWD and the 235 tires.... I don't think I really need them either. Color? Titanium, that is the only problem I had with the Rav4, they didn't have a better choice of colors. There is a new color for the 2005 Escape that I love called Gold Ash... I think. My first choice of color would be a medium blue, but the Rav4 doesn't come in that color and the blue they have is to dark for me. The silver or titanium as they call it is my next favorite color. That is what I'll be getting.

    I was tempted to get an AWD, but that adds about 1000-1200 to the price and I don't think I need it. I've driven front wheel drive 4 cylinder sedans most of my life (with the except of a 4x4 Dodge Dakota when I lived in beautiful Montana) and personally don't think it's worth it for me.

    BTW the Dodge Dakota was a MAJOR MISTAKE. The 4 wheel drive went belly up two weeks after buying it. We traded it in for another Dodge mistake, the Dodge Intrepid. When I say we, I mean my wife at the time fell in love with both vehicles. I'm no longer married to her (THANK GOD!! she was in jail Christmas 97 for writing bad/false checks), have much better credit and can make a sound decision based on numerous factors other then my emotions.

    Tell me what you think rbleland and mcdawgg, and thanks for your feedback/input.
  • rblelandrbleland Posts: 312
    ..the Titanium silver is very popular, think it is No.1 choice, but the Spectra Blue can't be far behind. Mine is Spectra Blue and it is gorgeous!! Can't go wrong w silver as it is easier to keep clean. Just won't be the only one, but no big deal on that. NOted in Motor Trend recently that silver is No.1 car color choice in NA w over 20% of total.
    Assuming you live somewhere the climate is benign, the AWD is probably not necessary for you. I'm in southern B.C. (don't know why the flag is the US one, not Canadian??) so we have some winter and also some forestery roads - AWD is important to me. Your call there, FWD is cheaper, lighter and maybe slightly less maintenance. I do think the larger 235 tires are good from a handling POW, but your call again.
    Enjoy your shopping !!!
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