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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First of all, if this is not kosher, the moderator can delete the thread. I haven't seen many like it, and I'm a noob.

I went into the dealership today to ask a few more questions and take a look at a XLE model. After about four hours, I drove home in a Limited. Below are my initial impressions from a 45-minute drive home, mostly through mountain canyons, (between Santa Clarita and Palmdale, SoCal).

1.) With my tape measure, I was able to verify that I can sleep in the vehicle when necessary. The seats will need to be positioned forward, and I might have to sleep 'catty-corner', but it will be long enough. I'm 6'3", and when you add a pillow, I'll need about 80"-85" of length. With the seats forward and because the rear seats fold relatively flat, I'll be able to drive until I get too tired, then crash in the back.

2.) The highbeam auto-dim 'feature' is junk. That is the first thing I'm going to figure out how to turn off. Nice idea, but the high beams should not turn off when one rounds a mountain corner and head straight into the rising full moon that is just above the horizon. That's nuts! Reflective highway signs should also not trigger the off function.

3.) It is easy to understand the complaints about the harsh ride. It does not ride like my RX Lexus hybrid, then again, it isn't a Lexus and one should not expect it to ride like one. The RAV4 is a SUV after all and it should be expected to ride like one.

4.) Lane Departure Assist is cool. That will come in handy on my periodic long trips. Seems to work well and doesn't generate 'false positives' due to an intentional lane change. Well done, Toyota.

5.) Still trying to figure out Eco/normal/Sport mode. There is a definite difference between normal and Sport mode. Eco mode seems to make the car feel sluggish. Sometime soon, I'm going to set up a 100-mile test loop and drive it in all three modes to figure out the driving characteristics and fuel economy.

6.) Love how tight the car feels. Feels really solid. I like that.

7.) Audio system is incredibly complex. The sales guy got my iPhone Pandora to work. Turned off the car, finished up business, and went to go home. Just couldn't get Pandora to work again. I'll work on that because I don't think I'll like XM very much. Couldn't find the channels of music I like, (e.g., Dean Martin, Slack Key Guitar Hawaiian, showtunes, ragtime, etc.)

8.) Audio quality is awesome! Got the JBL version and the sound quality is every bit as good, if not better, than the Mark Levinson system in the RX. Very, very happy with that.

9.) Hardly any cubbies to hold 'stuff'. Other than the door pockets, there are just the two cup holders in the center console, a smallish triangular shaped cubbie, and the center console. That's it! Nowhere to put the tissue box.

10.) Wished the glovebox were locking. Must be a cost item. It could have easily been added. As is, there is no way to secure valuables when leaving the car with a valet or even for service at a dealer. Bad oversight.

11.) GPS navigation much, much improved over my 2006 Lexus RX400h hybrid SUV. But still, cannot use it when moving. Ya have to be stopped for searching and data entry. So, I'll continue to bring along my trusty Garmin unit.

12.) Center console/arm rest too low. It would be nice if it were about four inches higher. Not a biggie, but something I noticed. Related, the center console is big enough, and immovable that I can't quite yet get the hand of where to attach the seat belt. The seat belt latch is 'hidden' between your hip and the center console. You have to sort of contort yourself to buckle up. Weird and something that I'll get used to eventually.

13.) On the seats, very comfortable. But, they are not made for larger folk. The side bolsters rise up pretty far, resulting in a snug fit. People with wider bottoms than I would probably not be so comfortable. All the buttons on the driver's side are exactly the same as on my Lexus. But, no buttons on the passenger side? Huh? This is the high-end Limited, right? On the passenger side, there is just the old-fashioned manual levers and bars. On a Limited, they should give a few electrical adjustments.

14.) Not directly related to this specific vehicle, but I did some research on trailer hitch receivers today and discovered that the only receivers available for the RAV4 are the 1.25" sized receivers. No 2" receivers that I could discover. Might be, but a quick search didn't show any. It is understandable because Toyota doesn't want you to tow big stuff. What is means is that my hitch bike rack is no longer usable. I'll either have to get a 1.25" bike rack, (which wobbles a lot more than the 2" racks), or revert back to the car-top racks.

Also, the RAV4 hitches appear to be a DIY project that takes 15-20 minutes to install. It looks like the body is already drilled and tapped for hitches. No drilling involved. Nice touch, Toyota.

15.) Absolutely love the faux-manual shift mode. Going over the mountains on my commute to work will utilize that feature a lot. Not like the old "H" patterns, but I could 'feel' what gear I was in and adjust accordingly to what was required for any specific gradient. That is a really neat feature!

That's it for now. I left the Lexus at the dealer and will pick it up on Friday. Need to take the RAV4 back then anyway for the installation of the body side moldings. I also had added the foul weather rubber mats. Have those in the Lexus and they sure have come in handy at times. The car was spec'd with the carpet mats, so I'll have both. It also came with roof rack cross bars, the fancy radio, and the tech pkg as well as a cheesy door sill sticker that is supposed to help prevent the sill from getting scratched. Looks nice anyway, even if it won't last long.

All in all, I'm happy. I fully expect that as I get used to its uniqueness and the memory of the RX fades, I'll be totally satisfied.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Correction: There are 2" hitch receivers available. Not from Curt. Reese and Draw-Tite have them. Just needed to search further.
 

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Nice write-up. Check out mine if you get a chance http://www.rav4world.com/forums/123...v-toyota-rav4-hyundai-tucson.html#post1913577

7.) Audio system is incredibly complex. The sales guy got my iPhone Pandora to work. Turned off the car, finished up business, and went to go home. Just couldn't get Pandora to work again. I'll work on that because I don't think I'll like XM very much. Couldn't find the channels of music I like, (e.g., Dean Martin, Slack Key Guitar Hawaiian, showtunes, ragtime, etc.)
Yeah, I have been very disappointed with the audio system on my test drives. It's complex (as you stated) and I have found glitches with it after only 3-4 minutes of playing with it.
Also, did you test drive yours during sunlight hours? If not, your in for a surprise when the screen gets washed out by the glare of the sun.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Yeah. Test drive was during the day. Didn't see any glare and wasn't specifically looking for it. I read you comparison. Good one.

Another addition: Sales guy didn't know how, and I haven't figured out yet if even possible. I wanted to change the clock to display 24-hour time. Been using that my whole adult life since the Navy days, then into the space program years. Maybe our European brothers and sisters have that capability in their versions. That's what they use in daily life. Sort of like the metric system. We're just about the only ones in the world who use a confusing, arcane measurement system.
 

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Good write up. I'll comment on #5 though to clear things up.
People haven't noticed any real world difference between eco, sport and normal for fuel economy. Sport mode sends some power to the rear wheels during take of from a stop, and on turns all the time. It lessens the steering assist, especially at lower speeds to give more of a road feel, and sharpens throttle response. Normal mode is, well, normal. Engages AWD when detecting slip. Eco mode dulls the throttle response, not sure if it affects steering feel or not compared to normal. Eco mode also adjusts things like air conditioning that put extra load on the engine at idle in effort to save fuel. But again, I don't think anyone has ever reported a difference in MPG here. I never use eco mode. It is ridiculous. Maybe it might be good in winter though.

If you do want to do your own testing, make sure it is not all hiway. You don't notice much difference(except in hard acceleration). I mean, driving at a constant speed on the hiway in 6th is the same for all modes. There is a very notable difference in city driving though so that's where any "testing" of the 3 modes will be evident.

Enjoy your new ride!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I'll comment on #5 though to clear things up.
Thanks for the kudos, and the info. Didn't sleep much last night. Not sure why because I didn't caffeinate in the afternoon or evening and I really didn't feel excited about driving a new car home. Must have been though.

That gave me an opportunity to ponder the different modes. A big part of my job is to quickly analyze 'stuff' and make sense out of a particular situation, (satellite instrument operations). So, I'm starting to piece together the differences between the modes.

Haven't quantified the steering, power, or a/c operations in the different modes, but I have definitely noticed a difference in how the transmission behaves. Normal, as you say, is "normal". That's the baseline for everyday driving.

In eco mode, the transmission changes into a higher gear much sooner than normal mode. I can see this as a gas waster in some situations. Let me use a bicycle analogy. A lot of people would say that I am a 'avid cyclist'. Maybe. I just like riding.

Anyway, envision riding a bicycle on flat or slightly upslope grades. When you ride in a very high gear for the terrain, you have a slower cadence, (your legs are not moving very fast), and you have to expend a whole lot of energy, (i.e., work), to move forward. On any type of incline, you will quickly 'bog down' because a human cannot generate the wattage required to overcome gravity in a high gear ratio. In sum, you're using a lot of energy and not moving very fast. Or, your car is burning a lot of gas to get up to speed. I suspect that fuel consumption would hurt in most situations, in addition to the car feeling sluggish, (as I've already noticed).

On the other hand, in sport mode, I noticed the transmission holding a gear longer before it upshifts. That's where the peppy feeling comes from. Haven't watched the tachometer, but I suspect the revs get quite higher than normal mode before the transmission shifts. I would also suspect that fuel consumption would not be hurt with the sport mode. You'll just wind out on the power curve. Sort of like "spinning your wheels" on a bicycle. You're pedaling like crazy, but outputting little power. Your engine will be burning fuel just because it is moving faster, but not using the fuel to generate power to overcome gravity or wind resistance.

After more driving, I'll get a better sense of the whole thing, but I think I won't be using eco mode very often, if at all. The engine in the gen4 RAV is not powerful enough to move at low speeds in a high gear, (unless you're going downhill and mostly coasting - then it would be fine and would save fuel).
 

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Yes, true. I did forget to mention that it holds on to gears longer in sport and shorter in eco. What I personally notice more though is the enhanced throttle response in sport.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
One additional 'feature' I forgot to mention. There's a whole load of unused room under the back seats that are accessible from the rear seat foot well. Normally, one would expect some type of 'cover' to hide that area. It's obviously a cost-saving thing to not have a cover. Since there are a lack of cubbies, I'm going to get to the local Walmart and purchase a few plastic 'shoe storage' size boxes to slide under the back seats. That would be a good place to put stuff like, jumper cables, a d/c powered tire inflator, and just general stuff, like maybe that box of tissues that doesn't have a spot in the front. (p.s. I realize that there is some storage space for jumper cables and such under the rear hatch area where the spare is located.)
 

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That would be a good place to put stuff like, jumper cables, a d/c powered tire inflator, and just general stuff, like maybe that box of tissues that doesn't have a spot in the front. (p.s. I realize that there is some storage space for jumper cables and such under the rear hatch area where the spare is located.)
Be careful if you ever have to use those jumper cables... see the thread linked below... yikes

http://www.rav4world.com/forums/126-4-4-mechanical/200121-boosted-rav-interesting-new-issues.html
 

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One additional 'feature' I forgot to mention. There's a whole load of unused room under the back seats that are accessible from the rear seat foot well. Normally, one would expect some type of 'cover' to hide that area. It's obviously a cost-saving thing to not have a cover. Since there are a lack of cubbies, I'm going to get to the local Walmart and purchase a few plastic 'shoe storage' size boxes to slide under the back seats. That would be a good place to put stuff like, jumper cables, a d/c powered tire inflator, and just general stuff, like maybe that box of tissues that doesn't have a spot in the front. (p.s. I realize that there is some storage space for jumper cables and such under the rear hatch area where the spare is located.)
Not sure if you noticed(I had mine for a month before I did) but there is also a smaller covered storage compartment in the floor right behind the rear seat backs. Perfect for tools etc. as long as they don't rattle in there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Not sure if you noticed(I had mine for a month before I did) but there is also a smaller covered storage compartment in the floor right behind the rear seat backs. Perfect for tools etc. as long as they don't rattle in there.
Down here, in "civilized" California, that's where the guns go when traveling within the state. ;)

There's actually a lot of room inside the spare tire too. All it needs is a little 'basket'.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Oops. Too late. Just ordered from AutoAnything. Checked Amazon, but when I did, the price was higher and we in CA have to pay state sales tax. Took a gamble that AutoAnything wouldn't, (they did). Anyway, it was within five bucks of Amazon's price. Got the Curt 56166 T-connector wiring kit also. Comes with a free Curt hitch cover and lynch pin, (both of which I will never use). A ways back, I picked up a receiver insert with a light inside that runs red when the car lights are on and bright upon application of the brakes. Helps visibility, which I'm big on. 'If they see ya, they probably won't hitcha'.
 
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