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2013 Toyota RAV4 Road Review

 The car that started it all
Back in 1994 when Toyota launched the RAV4, not many people took note of it. What they didn’t realise was, Toyota silently they gave birth to a new breed of cars, crossovers. Probably the most popular segment in any auto manufacturers line up today.
2013 Toyota RAV4 - Challenged styling seems to be part of its winning recipe
RAV4 - Recreational Activity Vehicle with 4 wheel drive. That is what the name stands for in case you were wondering. Over the last 2 decades the RAV4 has come a long way and now has a lot more creature comforts than its pioneer. However, a quick spin in the car and you immediately notice that the car stays true to its roots. Light body, peppy powerplant, sharp steering and a questionable design. The RAV4 was never a looker and not much changes for the year 2013. The 2013 Toyota RAV4 ditches the 3.5L V6 engine on the outgoing model for a 2.5L, 4 pot, putting out 176 hp @ 6000 rpm and 172 lb-ft of Torque at 4000 rpm.
No colour coded bumpers. Yet.
Get into the driving seat and the seating position is fantastic. Toyota rarely falters with ergonomics and it takes little adjustment to the seat and tilt and telescopic steering feel to feel comfortable behind the wheel. The leather wrapped steering wheel is small, chunky and a little heavy but feels excellent. Put your foot on the accelerator and it feels like an eager puppy jumping off its backside to go fetch the bone you just threw it. And just like a puppy it quickly tires out thanks to the not so torquey engine. Not a problem, as the inline 4 cylinder loves to rev and a quick gear change makes sure you don’t feel the lack of power. This isn’t going to win you any midnight traffic light drag races, but for a car with a kerb weight of just over 1.5 Tonnes it definitely does not feel underpowered. It even comes with a Sport and an Eco button. Before you get too excited let me tell you what exactly the Sport button does. The Sport button makes the car jumpy and eager to downshift at the slightest of prod at the gas pedal. Handling remains unchanged, which is hardly a bad thing considering it drives fantastic. Press the Eco button and things are slightly more different. Acceleration feels like that of a Lancer on sedatives. The 6 speed automatic transmission refuses to downshift unless you push the pedal through the firewall. This seemed like a nice mode to drive in while cruising around town as it kept the ride extremely smooth with no sudden downshifts. Perfect for not waking up your sleeping child you’ve just strapped into the child seat.
 Don't judge a book by its cover. There is loads of space on the inside
The concept of a crossover is simple. Offer the convenience and functionality of an SUV while keeping the drive feel as close to a sedan as possible. That is exactly how the 2013 Toyota RAV4 drives. Body roll is minimal while the chunky steering is responsive and manoeuvring around town in traffic or on the highway is great. The suspension setup is tuned to neither be too soft nor too stiff which makes it fairly comfortable at all speeds as long as you keep within the posted limits. Cross the 120 km/h mark and the ride starts to get a little bouncy. There is considerable amount of road and wind noise that creeps in and suddenly it stops feeling as comfortable. To be fair, you don’t buy a 2013 Toyota RAV4 to take it to track days at the autodrome or to go dune bashing at Bidayer. The average buyer will most likely use it to take the kids to school, weekly grocery runs and the occasional camping trip or weekend at the beach. For all of that, the 2013 Toyota RAV4 delivers.
 An attempt at luxury with a stitched dual stacked dash wrapped in leather.
Toyota loves to make practical cars and the 2013 Toyota RAV4 is no different. Modern ergonomics allow for much better usage of the improved interior space giving both front and rear passengers plenty of space to seat even larger adults. The spare tyre is tucked away at the bottom of the cargo floor while the side hinged rear door has been replaced with a roof-hinged door for easier access to the massive boot. The controls and instrumentation are nicely placed with easy access to both the driver and passenger predominantly via buttons instead of completely relying on the touchscreen. The dual stacked dash comes in leather with stitching that tries to add luxury to the cabin. The quality of the leather on the dash and the seats however was so poor, our preference would have to be the standard fabric finish.
Ignore the cheap leather. Toyota has the basics covered with airbags all around.
The 2013 Toyota RAV4 comes with loads of options compared to its not so impressive predecessor. The test car was a VXR spec which came with all the goodies available on a RAV4. Keyless go, rear view camera, leather, sunroof, leather wrapped steering wheel, 6 speaker audio system with AUX and USB connectivity. Also available only on the VXR trim are side and curtain airbags. While these aren’t exactly options that make it stand out from the competition it sure is a step in the right direction for the new model. Surprisingly there was no option of rear air-conditioning which was a bit of a disappointment.
In terms of pricing, it seems to be pretty much in line with competition. The 2WD variant is available in 2 grades ranging from AED 89,900 - AED 95,900. The 4WD variant is available in 3 grades ranging from AED 109,900 - AED 124,900. Although most folks will be happy with the 2WD variant, many options such as keyless go, cruise control, leather, etc are only available on the 4WD, making that the preferred option.

The 2013 Toyota RAV4 stays true to its roots. An eager to rev engine with a hatch like handling.
Although Toyota have tried to change things with the new model, there are a few things that are typical Toyota. You don’t get colour coded bumpers. We suspect that is going to be available on the ‘updated’ 2014 models. The leather quality was quite disappointing and it does not come with any feature that would make you choose it over the competition. What Toyota promises with the 2013 Toyota RAV4 is the drive. The hatchback like drive with the convenience and functionality of an SUV was what gave birth to the RAV4 in the first place and Toyota seems to stick to its roots on that one.

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