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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am currently in the research phase of buying a new(er) vehicle. I like the Rav 4 styling, cargo space, fuel economy, etc.

I am currently trying to decide between a four cylinder and six cylinder engine. I know the six gets slightly lower mileage, but I'm coming from a Jeep Liberty that averaged 16-17mpg per tank of mixed driving.

I belong to a Jeep forum and they seem to know all the ins, outs, pitfalls, and fixes. I'm hoping this board is similar. So, that being said, what are the most common failing points of each engine & transmission combo? Are there other drivetrain-related issues? I seem to see a lot of complaints about water pumps failing and brakes wearing out quickly, is that common to both models?

Finally (sorry for the long winded FNG post), I prefer to do my own repair and maintenance whenever possible. Is either engine significantly more challenging to maintain than the other? I read somewhere about lifting the engine out to change spark plugs on the v6?

I am happy to add information as necessary if it helps you help me!
 

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Neither the '11 V6 or 2012 I4 RAVs have had a lot of specific problems which fall into any particular category. The V6 coolant pump issue was resolved before the '11 V6. There have been some complaints about transmission whine in the V6 models and Toyota issued a TSB about that: https://www.rav4world.com/d1/attachments/pdf/T-SB-0130-12.pdf
Consumer Reports annual car issues (April) have somewhat generalized info about reliability. And one can read through the specific forums on this site for more owner information.
 
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No, there is no need to lift the engine to change plugs in the V6, besides plugs need not be changed until 125,000 miles.
Blogson is right - the '11 and '12 V6 are good years.

Hope you can find one!
 

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I do not do any towing, live in mountainous terrain, or drive in situations where rapid acceleration is desired where a V6 would be an advantage over the I4.
The 2009 and forward I4 is a very reliable engine and my 2009 I4 does not burn a drop of oil and has not caused any trouble for me whatsoever.:smile
 

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I am currently in the research phase of buying a new(er) vehicle. I like the Rav 4 styling, cargo space, fuel economy, etc.

I am currently trying to decide between a four cylinder and six cylinder engine. I know the six gets slightly lower mileage, but I'm coming from a Jeep Liberty that averaged 16-17mpg per tank of mixed driving.

I belong to a Jeep forum and they seem to know all the ins, outs, pitfalls, and fixes. I'm hoping this board is similar. So, that being said, what are the most common failing points of each engine & transmission combo? Are there other drivetrain-related issues? I seem to see a lot of complaints about water pumps failing and brakes wearing out quickly, is that common to both models?

Finally (sorry for the long winded FNG post), I prefer to do my own repair and maintenance whenever possible. Is either engine significantly more challenging to maintain than the other? I read somewhere about lifting the engine out to change spark plugs on the v6?

I am happy to add information as necessary if it helps you help me!
Your probably going to hear most say go with the 6. I have a 2012 4 cyl 4 speed base, and find it quite adequate for my driving conditions. I don't tow, carry a lot of people, or cargo so It's mostly 1 or 2 people on anything from flat land to eastern mountains. The 2012 4 is pretty snappy, especially off the line with no trouble keeping up with traffic. On the highway, no problem passing at high speeds. In other words, the drive-ability of the 4 is well balanced, and doesn't leave me wishing I had more power or gears. It only lacks in pulling very long steep hills which is infrequent for me. Actually, I have had V-8 trucks that didn't pull steep hills any better.

If you want to tow, carry lots of people, and gear, or live in a very hilly area the 6 is a better choice. I don't think the gas mileage difference between them is that much so I would't let that influence your decision.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I do not do any towing, live in mountainous terrain, or drive in situations where rapid acceleration is desired where a V6 would be an advantage over the I4.
Yeah, I certainly don't NEED a v6, but there is a decent amount of highway merging that occurs and I'd prefer not to have to hit 4500rpms to get up to speed every time. Plus the 3-4 times per year "load everyone and everything into the car for a 6 hour drive" "vacations" make me consider it.

Honestly I just want to know if one drivetrain is more likely to have issues than the other. I've read that the four-speed tranny is "clunky" compared to the five-speed.
 

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V6! V6! V6! :thumbs_up:

Seriously, test drive them both and see what you think. Just be sure both engines are up to full operating temperature when you do your testing.

I've always thought the 4-speed tranny in the I4 is rather antiquated. I've read (here) that at highway speed the V6 can actually get slightly better MPG than the I4, but in town the I4 has it beat.

By the time the '11s rolled around pretty much all the kinks had been worked out, I think. And this forum is chock full of information on how to do tons of stuff.

Best of luck, and let us know if you buy one.

.
 

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Both are good vehicles.I have a 2009 2.5 engine and it is the best vehicle I have owed. You can not go wrong with either... all I would suggest is a carfax check to make sure there is no recorded accidents also see all maintenance records if possible. Good luck.
 

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Just bought a 2012 with 4 banger. I love it maybe the best car I have ever had. Took on a long trip and got 29.6 mpg highway. getting 24-25 mixed.

Larry
 
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We have a 2010 with I4 engine - it merges with freeway traffic OK and last summer kept up with traffic climbing Wolf Creek Pass in CO
 

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Assuming both are in top condition I would only consider the V-6. Although it has very quick acceleration it's not all about that. The six never labors, moves out sharply with very little go pedal, and simply enhances the driving experience. There is no loss of power or lumpy idle with the A/C on, you can't even tell. Passing on the highway is effortless also.

I live in the South Texas heat where air conditioning is a way of life for about ten months out of the year.....it's on 99.9% of the time in the car. In a town of 200,000 my (in town) MPG is a constant 19-20. Best highway was 28.9. Do we like the V-6? Well, we have TWO so that answers that.

Both engines will do what you want but one makes it so much more enjoyable.
 

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What RTexasF said ^. Also, the 5-speed transmission is superior to the 4-speed. Even if some of them whine.
 

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There is no loss of power or lumpy idle with the A/C on, you can't even tell. Passing on the highway is effortless also.

Both engines will do what you want but one makes it so much more enjoyable.
Hah I love my 4 cyl 4.2 but these words are truth. When I leave my home area I have to turn right onto a street that goes uphill where everybody is going 80km/h. I have to turn A/C off otherwise it takes forever to accelerate. Also climbing up steep logging roads it's almost impossible to gain speed with the AC on.

I've always thought I would buy another 4 cyl when my Rav4 dies but this forum is slowly skewing me towards a V6. :ponder:
 

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If you can find a V6 in your price range that's in good condition, I'd say it'd be the better option.

For me, both commuting (city and freeway, with a bit of traffic) and going on long trips in mountainous terrain loaded down with lots of supplies, the V6 engine never seems to need to work hard to accelerate the vehicle. And you'll probably find it to be more reliable than your Jeep Liberty.

My RAV's lifetime average MPG is 25, though crossing Washington once I got 32 MPG (calculated from google maps distances and a gasoline receipt).
 

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We have a 2012 i4. This is my wife's car. We bought it new in 2012. When we went into it we had a couple of criteria: 4wd and 3rd row. I wanted the V6 but my wife wanted the i4. We also wanted something off a showroom floor instead of special ordering something from japan. The combination of the first two requirements left little room for the last.

The pros of the i4. Toyota has been making i4s since the dawn of time. The 22r and RE are stuff of legends. In fact there are many still out there pushing the most gnarly of rock crawling rigs. The 2.5L 2AR is no slouch either, making 179HP at its peak. I recall my buddies 1976 Cadillac Coup de Vill with a 500ci engine made 190 hp (way more torque though). The maintenance of this engine is almost nothing. And with a timing chain it is something that you don't have to worry about. I feel confident, that will little more than oil and filter changes this engine will hit 200K with no issues at all.

The cons of the i4. POWER or lack of it. Most of the time around town it is fine. Even driving highway stuff. Easily gets to 80 mph. Want power, punch the gas, it will drop the tranny a gear or two and you'll be screaming along in no time. However where you do feel the lack of power is traveling fully loaded in the mountains. I was coming back from Yosemite last weekend and I was into 5K rpm regularly and even hit redline a couple of times winding her out to pass cars. I drive a 300zx, Frontier with a 4.0L making 265hp, and a 350cc dirt bike. All these have more than adequate power on tap so maybe I am a little bias when it comes to defining power. The four speed tranny is also a little old school. It has a over drive gear that is outside the 4 main gears so technically it is a 4, but practically it can be considered a five speed. I find that first gear is way too tall. Taking off from a dead stop you don't make any speed/acceleration till you are at least into 4K. This tall 1st gear also hamstrings you when you want to go slow, ie, downhill engine braking. On the really steep stuff you still need a lot of braking to keep a reasonable speed. Finanlly it should get better gas mileage than it does. we get 25mpg mix. I feel that number should be closer to 30.

Of what I know of the V6 is that it makes the RAV4 the fastest car (power/weight) of Toyota's lineup. Makes great MPG's for a V6 because it has a higher running gear. Though I have no first hand knowledge I feel that there are more issues with V6 toyota. Higher maintenance cost. My friend had a i4 toyota pickup that traded up to a v6 Tacoma. He had zero issues with the i4. The V6 was more problematic.
 

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Of what I know of the V6 is that it makes the RAV4 the fastest car (power/weight) of Toyota's lineup.
Actually, I'm fairly sure that honor belongs to the Camry V6 (same engine), though not by much.

Though I have no first hand knowledge I feel that there are more issues with V6 toyota. Higher maintenance cost. My friend had a i4 toyota pickup that traded up to a v6 Tacoma. He had zero issues with the i4. The V6 was more problematic.
The V6 the Tacoma uses is a different model (4.0L, I think). Toyota puts the 3.5L V6 that's in the RAV4 in *many* vehicles, including the Camry, Sienna, Highlander, Venza and Avalon, and has for many years now. Lexus uses the same engine in some of their vehicles, and I think even Lotus uses it.

It's my understanding that after the oil hose, coil pack and water pump issues on the early versions, these engines have performed exceptionally well, which makes sense given in how many vehicles Toyota uses it.

And, to be fair, let's not forget what a (comparative) disaster the 2.4L I4 engine was with the oil burning. I'm not saying Toyota hasn't made / doesn't make GREAT 4-cylinder engines, just that nobody's perfect.

.
 
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