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#1 (permalink) Old 01-05-2013, 02:25 PM
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Help Deciding

Hello, I am tempted to buy a RAV4. I've been looking for a while, and, try as I might, I have not been able to convince myself to buy new. New is nice, but lots of $$$$$.

I am thinking my needs are twofold, perhaps three:
-backup vehicle. My daily driver is a VW... stop laughing! It pulls off 48mpg and has long been paid off. I think it has at least a few more years of service, but it certainly likes its shop time.
-snow capability. My VW has lousy clearance, like 2" right now. It also has issues going up hills, due to being just FWD. [I run snow tires, but still. I live in relatively rural NH, so snow is something I do face for several months of the year.
-the "albeit" part: I'd like something that can move a trailer around my backyard. My VW isn't cutting it--it is manual transmission, and backing up an incline I need to either be moving fast (!) or ride the clutch--hard.

I am thinking 1st gen, as I enjoy rowing my own gears. And it has the manually locking center diff. That said, an automatic might be better, for the trailer moving aspect--but it appears to be 3rd gen that gets the manually locking center diff again.

So: just how important is the manual lock? I haven't had a 4wd vehicle in years--but that one was true part-time 4wd. I don't like the notion of waiting for wheelslip; I'm perfectly capable of engaging "lock" if I think the going is really bad. Part of the desire is something to intentionally drive in snow, after all.

I tend to be wary of automatics, as they have that slushy feeling, and do not care for dismal maintance; but they do have that ability of tolerating low speed driving far better. This wouldn't be my daily driver, and I don't see towing (other than around the yard), so I guess an automatic would be ok. It's a Toyota, so as long as the fluid is pink, it's alright, right?

I believe the 2nd gen got the AZ motors, which lack the timing belt, and may lack the need to adjust valves(?). IIRC the 3rd gen had the 2.4L 2AZ, which may have issues with headbolts and oil burning (or maybe that was just Camry?); the 2nd gen had the 1AZ which was 2L--but did it have the later 2AZ issues? I realize the 2nd gen's larger engine will be more powerful, will "tolerate" an automatic better, and lack the timing belt.

Do the RAV4's have issues with radiators? For awhile I was thinking about a 3rd gen 4Runner; on those it's strongly recommended to proactively replace the radiator, or risk the strawberry milkshake taking out the transmission. [I ruled out 4Runner eventually, the low priced ones tend to have been used hard, and I'd hate the low mpg's I think. Plus I tend not to like large vehicles.] Being in NH means rust is an ever-present issue...

Thanks!

edit: while I tend to buy new, and hold onto for 10 years, I think I will violate that "rule" since this will be a spare vehicle. I know cars can run for a long time. Wife traded in her '01 Civic after 10 years and 173kmiles for our current Camry (I4 with 6 speed manual); my '04 VW is just about to hit 268kmiles. My thinking of getting a Toyota over say a Subaru: Legendary Toyota reliability, lack of Subaru issues (headgaskets, wheelbearings), and so far I have no reason to distrust our Toyota dealer (although I'd be apt to use our local garage for most work), so for specific "dealership-only" repairs I think I can take it there. I also suspect a Toyota at 200k maybe a "safer" bet than a Subaru. Also, CRV's of that vintage have less-capable AWD systems, IIRC.
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#2 (permalink) Old 01-05-2013, 02:49 PM
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My '04 AWD MT has been bulletproof so far. Just sayin'...
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#3 (permalink) Old 01-05-2013, 02:54 PM
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That's a nice looking RAV4 Steve!
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#4 (permalink) Old 01-06-2013, 07:54 AM
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Took too long, but I think I finally figured out the center diff thing.

Automatics always had a viscous coupling; they work by comparing the front driveshaft and rear driveshaft speed, and alter coupling as necessary. As such, they don't require driver involvement. Now, I'm pretty sure I've read the later models use 90% torque to the front wheels, and will provide up to 45% torque to the rear wheels. I don't think full "lock" is possible, nor is sending 90% of torque to the rear wheels. I wouldn't be surprised if the early models also are essentially FWD until slippage is detected. [Subaru automatics have been 80/20 split for some time, while the stickshift models have been bias 50/50. It's a trick to increase mpg's.]

It appears that the 2006 makeover (gen 3) dropped the manual transmission, and added the center diff lock button to the automatic transmission. As far as I can tell, that it locks it at around 50/50, but it's still using a viscous coupling, not a hard clutch type engagement. It might be 55/45, allowing some small amount of rear slip; but as far as I can tell, it is no longer attempting to measure driveshaft speeds (aka being reactive to slippage); it is trying to lock (proactively, you could say). [Until 25mph is hit, at which case it unlocks.]

The manual transmission is a bit different. '96 through '00 used an open differential at the center, which could be locked by the button. Apparently you cannot be moving to lock or unlock this feature (and no 25mph automatic disconnect feature, like the later automatics have). This is also a hard connection, and as such, if you were to hit dry pavement driveline components will take extra wear. Unlike the viscous couplings which can tolerate that, since front and rear driveshafts are not rigidly locked. Since all three diffs are open (unless the center is locked) you could theoretically hit the situation where one wheel is in ice, the rest on pavement--and be stuck. I'd think you'd have to hammer on the throttle to do that, but it's possible. Otherwise, if all wheels have similar traction than torque is going to be split reasonably well.

In 2001, with the 1AZ motor, the manual transmission gained the viscous coupling but lost the center diff lock button.

[There was some years with an option rear limited slip differential, but they are rare and completely independant of the center diff operation.]

Whew!

2011 Camry 2.5L/6spd manual, 73kmiles
2010 Tundra 4.6L/auto/4x4/DC, 85kmiles
2004 VW Jetta Wagon TDi/5spd manual, 295kmiles
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#5 (permalink) Old 01-06-2013, 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by supton View Post
Took too long, but I think I finally figured out the center diff thing.

Automatics always had a viscous coupling; they work by comparing the front driveshaft and rear driveshaft speed, and alter coupling as necessary. As such, they don't require driver involvement.

It appears that the 2006 makeover (gen 3) dropped the manual transmission, and added the center diff lock button to the automatic transmission. As far as I can tell, that it locks it at around 50/50, but it's still using a viscous coupling, not a hard clutch type engagement. It might be 55/45, allowing some small amount of rear slip; but as far as I can tell, it is no longer attempting to measure driveshaft speeds (aka being reactive to slippage); it is trying to lock (proactively, you could say). [Until 25mph is hit, at which case it unlocks.]
Okay, you are part way there. A few corrections and you will be.

Viscous couplings are always, IMO, the cheap way out. Instead of a center differential they are just dumb mechanical slip clutches in the driveshaft that allow an AWD vehicle to corner w/o the front & rear fighting each other. As far as I know Toyota doesn't use them.

My knowledge is on the 4.3s like my '06. It does not use a center differential like the earlier generations. Has a linear electromechanical clutch built into the rear differential. It's controlled by a sophisticated 4WD ECU that works so well it, at least on mine, w/o being locked, transfers to power to the rear wheels BEFORE the fronts can slip. Combined with the V6 I'd challenge ANY car at a light on other than dry conditions (and most on dry roads). Not sure how useful the lock button actually is. The ECU does anything you need by itself.

I also specifically need a 4WD/AWD car to move trailers out of my back yard. Obviously either truck could do it but they are rut makers.
So my recommendation is a 4.3 V6 4WD, and yes I do miss a manual shift sometimes.

Fred
2006 RAV4 V6 4WD Red Limited - wife's
2006 Accord V6 Hybrid - Dr. Dyno's - quick as the RAV but +8 mpg
2003 Odyssey V6 - handy people & cargo mover
1999 F-250 4X4 Diesel - snow plow, Bully Dog chip
2001 F-250 4X4 Diesel - truck camper, TS chip, 20' bike/trike dyno trailer
2004 Suzuki DRZ-400S Dual Sport

It's the pedal (or the handgrip) on the right!!
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#6 (permalink) Old 01-06-2013, 10:07 AM
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Good info, thanks!

Unfortunately since this won't be my daily driver I'm not up for spending that kind of money for a V6. It'd be nice, but just too much money. I drive 25kmiles/year, so I might as well put the bulk onto my VW (long paid off, 48mpg, stickshift, and I just got done replacing the commonly broken bits--clutch, turbo, struts). My looking at a RAV4 is because it'd get better mpg than the 4Runner (in case of momentary high usage), and could be cheaper to purchase, and wouldn't be quite so large. I can't see myself spending lots of money on something that won't get used much (but at the same time I'm loath to buy something worn out with lots of issues--I'm in a catch-22 here).

2011 Camry 2.5L/6spd manual, 73kmiles
2010 Tundra 4.6L/auto/4x4/DC, 85kmiles
2004 VW Jetta Wagon TDi/5spd manual, 295kmiles
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#7 (permalink) Old 01-06-2013, 10:58 AM
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Supton, would you feel better when your VW costs more to keep on the road. Experience indicates VW s are nice for about 5 years then they are very expensive as things deteriorate.

I am real new to Rav4 V6, Sport with SAP. Bought because my son in law sells them. I can bitch and complain about it when comparing to my last 4x4 an Infiniti QX4, but the Sport was 10,000 cheaper.

As to the Sport's capability, it is just fine, the control in auto part time 4x4 is about right. Towing up hill on wet grass the car pulls equally front to back. Mileage is very good and you can see this with the built in MPG, visibility is good, size is good, even the run flats are good whether snows or all seasons.

I have owned the car now for 10 months, done enough servicing to become familiar with it. The technologies built into this car make this car worth a look at. Get it at your best price, and with that you won't look back.

I have owned lots of cars including 2 VW and the Rav is not the best, but for the money it does a good job, now if I can smash it up write it off and walk away it may be better than my 15 year old QX4.
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#8 (permalink) Old 01-06-2013, 01:51 PM
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This year was bad; nearly $4k in repairs, plus a timing belt ($700). OTOH, clutch and turbo had 250kmiles on them--not stellar lifespan, but not unheard of. The struts, I haven't decided yet, some people say they should last forever while others are shocked to get 100k. One or two other bits have given grief (wheel bearings at 105k, intake flap at 200 and 250k also), but little else.

I did out the math, and figured that buying a new RAV4 I4 would cost me an extra $3k/year over my car (fuel and depreciation over 8-ish years at 25k/year), plus the wife and I wanted to avoid having two car payments at the same time. I didn't bother figuring out the V6, as that costs more and gets worse fuel economy.

2011 Camry 2.5L/6spd manual, 73kmiles
2010 Tundra 4.6L/auto/4x4/DC, 85kmiles
2004 VW Jetta Wagon TDi/5spd manual, 295kmiles
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#9 (permalink) Old 01-06-2013, 06:33 PM
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Supton, be ever so vigilant about your VW, it will cost you more. I did my own repairs, things unheard of in other makes but the normal routine with VW. As you have indicated the clutch, not the clutch itself but the actuator throw out bearing leading to the clutch, door locks and hinges, internal Xmission, lights and ELECTRICAL failures. And a ton of nuisance things like windows, seat belts etc, I will never own another

You are now about to find out what true wasted expensive things cost with an over 5 year old VW and I am assuming age here.

Diesel is a good cheap fuel, but everything else is more expensive and the VW dealers are a pure headache to deal with. They tried to con me into using their mechanics because as they put it...no others are smart enough. I listened to their BS and promptly tore into the repair and rebuilt what was needed at a reasonable cost. The secret is simple...with VW repairs the work needs to be diagnosed, you will need the right tool because that is one thing they do to make it difficult. And try and get info from others who have done the job. Science and physics must be obeyed by any maker, talk is cheap full of mis-information. If you have the time and ability and want, now may be the opportunity to learn about your VW. Parts may be got easily and your labor can help keep your $$ low.

By the way my Rav4 V6 gets very good mileage, but then again I do open the hood check things and keep an eye on everything. And stay at the posted speed limit.
Good luck with your vehicle(s)
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#10 (permalink) Old 01-06-2013, 07:32 PM
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I only used the dealer twice--both were recall items. The second was botched, but a cheap repair. Otherwise it's been only highly recommended indie shops, although this last job I decided to try the local garage for the struts. I'd learn how to do repairs, but with no garage I'm reluctant to do so. Plus it's a thirty minute drive to any parts place. I'd be more willing to do my own work--if I had a backup vehicle... Which could be awd. We already have one Toyota and my brother is a Toyota nut, ergo, here I am.

I suspect a 4runner would work well, but I don't offload so I wonder about the rav. I also don't want to spend more than 5k, but I don't really want to buy something worn out or abused. But salt erosion is an issue up here too...

I also hot rodded my vw and it has like 140hp/240ft-lb torque. The V6 rav will tow better, and is rated for more weight--but I don't need the extra capacity. Also after the mods I do enjoy driving my vw. I also tend not to drive the limit, as I tend to be in rush hour often on the highway. And, my vw is kinda cool, being a diesel powered, stick shift station wagon with leather interior. Short of awd and a low range it's nearly perfect... Vw quality notwithstanding.

My vw is a 2004, btw. It'll hit 268kmiles/429kkm sometime this week.

2011 Camry 2.5L/6spd manual, 73kmiles
2010 Tundra 4.6L/auto/4x4/DC, 85kmiles
2004 VW Jetta Wagon TDi/5spd manual, 295kmiles
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