Thanks for the reply, Rick. I'm fully aware of your description. My wife has environmental sensitivities and needs to keep road pollution out of the car, even in defrost mode. The problem you describe above can be somewhat remediated by using the AC while defrosting in the recirculate mode. In my 2005 RAV4, I was able to push the recirculate button in on defrost mode. On the 2011, the button will not stay in. I am tempted to use a mechanical method of holding the button in.
Others here have done it:Is it possible to modify the climate control system to be able to use the defroster while recirculating inside air?
I tend to agree with some of your points. I have found that when seeing a cloud of smoke up ahead(fire say), I hit the recirc button, but when I get there, I still smell the smoke anyway.I find this to be a pointless endeavour...
#1 you rav has a cabin air filter so you should stay on top of that.
#2 outside air will still come into the rav no matter what...if it didn't your wife would run out of oxygen and die.
#3 will using the recirc function pass the air thru the cabin filter? If not then any outside contaminates will just keep getting circulated since she must open the door to get inside the rav. Opening the door will allow all kinds of things in the rav.