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I am thinking about buying a used 2010-2012 Rav4 with a V6. I intend to install a trailer hitch and buy a small utility trailer to haul the occasional home appliance or sheet of plywood. I don't plan on towing often, only as the need might arise. I am leaning towards a 4WD but I wanted to know if the front wheel drive would be more suitable or durable for towing a trailer. I am curious if, because simpler is usually better, would a front wheel drive be more durable than 4WD? On the other hand I would imagine that the 4WD would perform the task of towing better. Is this true?

Thanks.
 

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If you live where it snows sometimes, I'd push for the 4WD version. If you'll be towing on loose dirt or sand, the 4WD would be better.

Other than that, it should not make any difference 2WD vs. 4WD for what it sounds like you want to do.

Note that I've heard that the V6 2WD RAV4 has very significant torque steer (pulls to one side if you accelerate fast). The 4WD version does not exhibit this behavior. You may want to pay attention to that during your test drive if testing a 2WD version.

Other than that, they should do the same job just fine for what you want to do.

Note that if the V6 RAV4 came with the "Tow Prep Package" (code "TO") it's maximum towing capacity is rated at 3500 lbs (weight of the trailer and the cargo combined). If it did not come with the Tow Prep package, the maximum towing capacity is rated at 2000 pounds. It sounds like you'd be fine with either for your needs.

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The RAV4 is not always in 4WD as we might imagine a full time live axle, or locked differentials. It is 4WD in terms of traction control when it is required; the system self controls, (although we can force 4WD at speeds under about 25MPH with a button press.) When traction control is not in-force, it drives only the front wheels. All this means to me is that it is better than 2WD, always.

Go for 4WD. For light loads on fairly level ground with the V6 you are good-to-go. If you find a V6 with the factory tow package it would be a bonus.

Good luck finding a V6!
Best,
Pico
 

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The Towing Prep. Package was an added cost option on the V6, but it's only needed if one wants to tow more than 2000 lbs. As far as towing capacity is concerned there isn't any difference between the 4WD and 2WD versions. The AWD would be useful if driving in slippery situations (snow, mud, etc.) and rather steep driveways which could be slippery, as with wet concrete.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
The RAV4 is not always in 4WD as we might imagine a full time live axle, or locked differentials. It is 4WD in terms of traction control when it is required;


This brings up a good point. Because of the complexity of the 4WD system in the RAV4, would the long term durability and reliability be as good as a comparatively simpler Front Wheel Drive RAV4?

More important is what Blogson says..... Jesus is Lord indeed. :)
 

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This brings up a good point. Because of the complexity of the 4WD system in the RAV4, would the long term durability and reliability be as good as a comparatively simpler Front Wheel Drive RAV4?
I do not recall any reliability differences between 2WD and 4WD.
 

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The RAV4 is not always in 4WD as we might imagine a full time live axle, or locked differentials.
But it is always in 4WD when starting from a stop and accelerating, and sometimes when accelerating once already moving at speed.

These can be helpful in a towing situation, especially when starting from a dead stop.

However, it sounds like the loads needed for this case will be very light. I doubt it would make any difference.

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This brings up a good point. Because of the complexity of the 4WD system in the RAV4, would the long term durability and reliability be as good as a comparatively simpler Front Wheel Drive RAV4?
There is less complexity and less maintenance involved with the 2WD. For example, I never have to worry about changing oil in the rear differential or transfer case. Don't have to bother with leaky rear drive shaft seals, or flaky electric drive coupler clutch. If you don't live in an area where 4WD is necessary, don't get it.
 

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There is less complexity and less maintenance involved with the 2WD. For example, I never have to worry about changing oil in the rear differential or transfer case. Don't have to bother with leaky rear drive shaft seals, or flaky electric drive coupler clutch. If you don't live in an area where 4WD is necessary, don't get it.
Agree. That's what I had in mind when looking for mine, except I went for a CPO and there were NO V6 FWDs in the northeast. But I'm happy with what I wound up with.
 

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Note that I've heard that the V6 2WD RAV4 has very significant torque steer (pulls to one side if you accelerate fast).
That is only at 100% throttle and under certain conditions. Hopefully one wouldn't be towing with the pedal to the metal.
 

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That is only at 100% throttle and under certain conditions. Hopefully one wouldn't be towing with the pedal to the metal.
I only meant that it was something of which to be aware in general. I did not intend to imply that I expected it to happen when towing.

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Understood. I only meant to point out when that does occur since we own two front wheel drive V-6 models. It's not an every day occurrence. In fact it's quite rare but when it does happen you are indeed aware of it.
 

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The Rav4 V6 with the tow package was great for towing this 3,500lb boat/trailer:




The V6 worked well and even though the Rav4 had AWD, I know I never needed it towing but was great for the snow here in MA.
 

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Holy moly that's cool!

:thumbs_up:

It looks like that beast should be pushing the RAV4 all over the road.

Did you tow it for any significant distance, or up any significant hills/mountains?

What kind of trailer brakes were used?

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yesterday i would of said that AWD was better for towing since you put less strain on the front tires, but since today I went to change the gear oil on my rear diff and noticed it leaking, and my old rav4 was bought back because they replaced the transmission 3 times after they messed up a repair to a leaking transfer case, I'm beginning to fell like the AWD is just another thing to break... :(
 

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The boat weighs about 2,500 lbs and the trailer another 1,000 so the Rav4 was right at the limit. It had no problem towing it anywhere, highways, hills, although we don't have mega hills/mountains here in Eastern MA. The Rav knew the boat was behind there, as did I, but doing the speed limit everywhere made/makes things really easy.

The trailer only has drum brakes on one axle, but like I wrote before, doing the speed limit and driving really carefully, stopping was not an issue at all.

The perspective makes the boat look massive as the hull is a relatively light 22' hull.





From what I had learned years ago, the Rav4 is in FWD unless it senses it needs to send power to the rear wheels. I'm sure that in all the towing I had been doing that the truck had only been in FWD the entire time as it had never needed to send power to the rear wheels.
 

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From what I had learned years ago, the Rav4 is in FWD unless it senses it needs to send power to the rear wheels. I'm sure that in all the towing I had been doing that the truck had only been in FWD the entire time as it had never needed to send power to the rear wheels.
That's not actually true. The RAV4 is always in 4WD mode for a little while when starting from a stop. It also provides some power to the 4WD when cornering, going uphill or accelerating (but I suspect only when accelerating with reasonable oomph, such as when passing cars or merging onto a freeway).

More details on the 4WD system are here: http://www.rav4world.com/forums/96-4-3-general/145578-4wd-lock-button-vsc-off-button-dac-button-how-they-work.html#post1432690

Does the trailer have surge brakes, or electric brakes?

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