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Hi All,

After 14 happy years driving a 2003 Toyota 4Runner SR5 V8 RWD (purchased at auction for 17K with 16K miles on it - yes, I got VERY lucky...), I had a tough decision to make. The 4Runner had 197K miles, a new timing belt and new brakes, but the rear end was going out and repair estimates had it at 4K to fix with no idea of what else might need repair. Additionally I've been driving many, many more freeway miles in the past two years due to taking care of my mother who lives 40 miles away. I valued the Toyota reliability I'd enjoyed with the 4Runner and the SUV perks. While I considered a sedan for awhile, I just couldn't see giving up the SUV for ease of hauling my kid's stuff to college, pets to the vet, my Mom's wheelchair to doctor's appointments and toting recyclables. What I didn't like about the 4Runner was the terrible turning radius, mediocre gas milage and the lack of 4WD - all things I was looking for in my next vehicle.

I test drove the 2016 Ford Escape and a 2016 Honda CRV, in addition to a 2015 Toyota 4Runner prior to locating a Certified 2014 Rav4 XLE AWD - newly off lease with 26K miles on it.

In test driving I found I felt a little like Goldy Locks. The first one (Escape) was too hard, the second one (CRV) was too soft, but the Rav4 was just right for me! I immediately liked the car-like driving experience with enough pep in the basic drive mode to make me smile and grin ear to ear with it in Sport mode. The seat fit me perfectly and I really didn't miss (still don't) not having a lumbar adjustment or heat in them. The cockpit felt very spacious - surprisingly so - and even the 6'3" salesman had more than enough head and legroom which I found impressive. I also loved the backseat - the way it can lay completely flat and the seat comfort. The ability to recline the seats in the back was a very cool feature too!

I considered a 2016 and a 2017 model, but aesthetically I preferred the 2014 and the price was right too. I purchased the 2014 Toyota Rav4 XLE AWD in January and after driving it for a few weeks now this is my experience.

I'm getting 22 mpg in town, 29 mpg on the freeway and averaging 25/26 mpg with mixed driving on rural roads at 45 mph, in town at 30 mph (stop and start driving), and on the freeway at 75 mph. I'm pleased with this, and the overall driving experience in all those places. I also like having AWD capabilities for snow days or in heavy rain. I definitely notice the Rav4 is more surefooted than the 4Runner with RWD in the wet weather!

I have taken a 600 mile roundtrip in the vehicle and found it had more than enough room for two people, luggage, a dog and a guitar. I do have a roof rack and that cargo carrier if needed too, which will be great for moving my daughter back from college and summer camping trips.

I have added a 2" tow hitch (UHaul installed it for under two hundred with a lifetime warranty) and have plans to add low profile Go Rhino nerf bars for the look and easy access to the roof rack. In time I will probably change out the 17" OE wheels too.

My Rav4 has ETune with navigation. The Bluetooth (for making calls) with my iPhone 5S works, but it's not great. I had that problem with an after market setup in my other vehicle so maybe it's just Bluetooth connectivity in general? The navigation works well and the touch screen is responsive. I've got XM radio which also works well, but I'll probably forgo my free trial and not renew as I can use the ETune app on my phone to listen to Pandora and iHeartRadio for free.

I like that there is a USB port and a place to put your phone, but the placement of the cupholders is kind of weird. The armrest storage is OK, but I did purchase a divider insert for it (found on Ebay) to make better use of the space. I miss there not being a sunglasses holder (flip down type) in this vehicle. There is a nook on the passenger side of the dash, but it really is a bit of a reach and not very deep so a hard turn might be enough to launch some items.

My Rav4 came with carpet mats, and I purchased all-weather mats and a all-weather cargo mat. I also added scuff guards to each door's threshold (purchased on Amazon for about sixteen dollars and adhered with 3M tape) for the look and protection. I upgraded the interior lighting to bright white LEDs which were easy to install and make a nice difference. I also changed out the license plate lights to LEDs.

Overall, I'm very pleased with the vehicle although the build quality is not as solid as I would have expected after owning the 4Runner. The plastics (over the wheel wells for example) are thin and road noise is a bit louder in the cabin than I'd like. (Although the dash and seats are well finished, as is the headliner.) . In looking under the vehicle to add nerf bars, I was surprised to see that what I think is probably the oil pan, was a sheet of relatively thin plastic.

For owners like me who are mainly urban - suburban dwellers, I think the Rav4 is a great vehicle. If I lived on a farm with a dirt road with lots of ruts, I'd reconsider this purchase and look for something with more clearance and a more robust build quality. It's not that the Rav4 couldn't take the bumps, but I think in terms of durability and longevity - it might suffer a bit.

The more I drive my first-ever Rav4 the more I like it.

Do I LOVE it? Not yet, but I'm thinking that with time...I just might.

AND....

Thanks to all who post helpful info on their Rav4 experiences. I'm happy to have found this forum and wish you all the best.
 

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Hello and welcome to these forums!

I agree with you in most of your points. I haven't use my Rav4 (first Toyota ever) long enough or in long road trips to agree or disagree on the others.
Mine is a 2013 Limited (just got it the first week of Nov 2016) and I also come from a bigger SUV; a 1999 Dodge Durango, although I drive a small 1992 Chevy S-10 for work.

Sent From the Edge of the Seventh Galaxy
 

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In general, car auctions are very risky if you don't have the necessary knowledge. You could be lucky and the a good car, but for most it's a lottery.
I have a local business and buy cars from auctions and then sell them, SUV's sell very fast!
 
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