I have to say that I'm unfortunately very underwhelmed by this redesign. Agree with a lot of the other sentiments, that a lot of what set the RAV4 apart from the others and gave you a reason to buy one are now gone. The 2013 Ford Escape SEL rental car that I had a few months back with the higher spec 2.0L Ecoboost engine was quite a nice ute. Looked better inside and out, very nice material quality and some nice design touches that showed Ford was really paying attention, more interesting powertrain options, and is overall a far more interesting vehicle to me than this new RAV4. Not perfect by any means and there were definitely some things I didn't like about it, but I can't think of any reason why I'd want to buy this new 4.4 RAV4 over the Escape.
I do like that Toyota has FINALLY added different driving "modes" with the Eco, Normal, and Sport mode options that affects the AWD system, throttle response, and shift mapping. Anybody familiar with my posts here knows I had more than a few complaints about the V-6/5AT powertrain calibration on the 4.3. I'm guessing that these new driving mode options along with the full manual control I see on the shifter rather than just a gated pattern would resolve most of my complaints about the driving characteristics of the 4.3, except that the V-6 powertrain which was absolutely positively most in need of stuff like this to tame is now gone! WTF??
I was the one that started the rumor that the V-6 option might disappear from the next-gen RAV4 well over a year ago, seeing as how the new 4Runner no longer had a V-8 option anymore and the increasingly stringent CAFE regulations. Didn't think it was actually going to come true. What I'm most surprised though is that there's no optional engine. Maybe it's just bad timing. It's been confirmed that Toyota is working on turbocharged 4-cylinder engines, so I'm guessing they're simply not ready yet and that one of these might show up in a year or two.
A few things TBD
... Interior looks nicer, but mostly the same. Trim is just different. Hope they've improved the interior quality a lot. You can't tell looking at pictures because pictures always look nice. Need to go sit in one. I have seat time with the 2.5L/6AT combo in my folks 2012 Camry, and it's a seriously buzzy and annoying sounding powertrain combo that isn't the least bit inspiring to drive. The gearing on the 6 speed automatic is nice and tight and does keep the engine in the powerband a lot better, but I sincerely hope given that since this is going to be the ONLY powertrain option on the RAV4 that they've made taming NVH a much bigger priority on this vehicle than the Camry. The Ford's 2.0L Ecoboost engine is nice and refined and sounds good, just as much so as BMW's 2.0L turbo.
I know it'll sell well, and if Toyota is smart they'll drop the 2.0L turbo they're developing into this puppy as soon as it's ready (and if they don't they're stupid), but I fear like a lot of you that the new design has simply lost its edge and reason for people to buy it, and that it's not going to be as successful. I guess I'm happy that my old 4.3/V6 is still in the family now. Yup a 'classic', whodathunk?
4.4 Pros, as I see it.
- better fuel mileage, but not class leading
- FINALLY a 6 speed automatic for the 4-cylinder
- nicer interior, hopefully
- multiple drive modes to tame the crazy throttle and shift mapping before
- smarter/better control over the 4WD system incl Sport mode
- apparently less cargo room, incl no sub-trunk area which was HUGE
- no more 3rd row seat option
- apparently less rear seat leg room
- shorter rear cargo opening
- V-6 discontinued, and no optional engine.
- kinda ugly
Seems more like a step sideways than a step forward. I really can't think of why I'd want to even consider the new RAV4.
Loud and annoying sounding 4-cylinder only is automatically a non-starter with me, unless it really is night and day better than what's in the Camry! I always thought the V-6 in the RAV4 was overkill, but the biggest reason I got it was for the better sound and refinement vs a 4-cylinder. That and the 4-speed auto gearing in the 4-cylinder was atrocious at low speeds. No turbodiesel option. No V-6 (you can still get a 292hp V6 in the Chevy Traverse). Not interested in Hybrids or EVs.... Sorry I need to be hitting 60 mph in 7 seconds or less and it's not happening with an NA 2.5L engine.