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Discussion Starter #1
I know the basic differences between the two. My 17yo daughter for whom I've been planning on helping find a used RAV4 has now told me that she thinks it's too small. She even thinks our RX450h is too small, and LOVES driving my '02 F250 CC diesel (except for the noise). So, I'm thinking that the Highlander may be the next best option for her. I'm currently not considering the 4Runner, but only because it gets worse mileage than the Highlander (which is only slightly worse than the RAV4).

So, to you folks who have the RAV4 and ALSO have experience with the Highlander...

1) Is there a noticeable size "feeling" in the Highlander as compared to the RAV4?

2) Are there any reasons why the Highlander might not be a good option for her?

Thanks ahead of time for your insights and input.
 

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I am on my second Rav4. First was a 2007 and now I have a 2012. On my search for my 2007 replacement, I did test drive the Highlander. I've driven it in the past as well. I should note, the vehicles all have the V6.

The Rav4 felt more lively. Cabin noise was more noticeable in the Rav and there was more rattles that I noticed. I still liked the way the Rav4 drove and the road feel. Sure it is a bit rougher but I liked the feeling. I don't really have issues with space in the Rav. I have a car seat in the back for our daughter and on road trips it has been fine. Yes, space is a bit cramped but we have not had any instances where we could not fit things in for our trip. Daily hauls, even some larger sized items fit in the Rav.

The Highlander does have more space. Felt like a minivan when I drove it. I didn't like the Highlander as it was a very dull feeling driving it. The suspension was softer than what I would like and the steering feel was very underwhelming (think light like the Camry). In terms of more cargo room, I think it offers a lot more space than the Rav but for the price, I'd lean into the 4Runner. I like the way it drives and handles.

I don't think you can go wrong with either vehicle choice. The V6 is a reliable engine and has ample power. One of the things I would consider is long term use. If your daughter likes the outdoors, the 4Runner maybe a better choice. Much more rugged and honestly if I had to do it all over again, I'd have gotten a 4Runner over my Rav due to the versatility of it. I would give a used 4Runner a serious thought if you are looking at the Highlander. Even one a couple of years older than the highlander are good choices. In city driving, my Rav averages about 15L/100km (I'm not that light on the pedal).
 

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I have a 2012 Rav4 and had a Highlander V6 and a hybrid. The rav4 is more nimble, the highlander roomier and on the Hybrid Lexus like inside. The V6 is nice, the hybrid was no slouch either and got great MPG. IME the highlander was like a big brother to the Rav4. i would recommend it if that's the size vehicle you want. We sold the highlander because the wife wanted an Avalon.
 

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I know the basic differences between the two. My 17yo daughter for whom I've been planning on helping find a used RAV4 has now told me that she thinks it's too small. She even thinks our RX450h is too small, and LOVES driving my '02 F250 CC diesel (except for the noise). So, I'm thinking that the Highlander may be the next best option for her.
I just helped my daughter get her first car, a 2014 Camry SE. You should have your daughter test drive one. They are plentiful and reasonably priced (she paid a little over $16K), and with it being a lease turn-in with 33K miles, I bought her the extended warranty so she's covered until 2022. The interior seems huge compared to my RAV, and when you fold the back seats down you have a huge cargo area. So, just something else to think about.
 

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Rav4 vs Highlander
I know the basic differences between the two. My 17yo daughter for whom I've been planning on helping find a used RAV4 has now told me that she thinks it's too small.
So, I'm thinking that the Highlander may be the next best option for her. I'm currently not considering the 4Runner, but only because it gets worse mileage than the Highlander (which is only slightly worse than the RAV4).

So, to you folks who have the RAV4 and ALSO have experience with the Highlander...
1) Is there a noticeable size "feeling" in the Highlander as compared to the RAV4?
2) Are there any reasons why the Highlander might not be a good option for her?

Thanks ahead of time for your insights and input.
My 2 cents worth. . .

1.) I had an 2007 Highlander Limited. It was a great car. I put 75,000 trouble free miles on it.
I then traded it for a new 2013 4Runner. The 4 runner was not as refined as the Highlander. Not even close.

2.) My 20 year old daughter has a 2015 Honda Accord but she is longing for a Honda Pilot, (it's kinda' like a cheaper Highlander).
We also have a 2017 4Runner Limited and a 2017 Rav4 XLE that she occasionally drives. Given a choice I think she'd take the Rav4 over the 4Runner.
Come to think of it... I think I'd take the Rav over the 4R Limited too. ;)

3.) I was recently at the dealer checking out a Sequoia and while I was there I sat in a 2017 Highlander. It seemed very refined and solid.
It "felt" very Lexus like. It cost $12k more than a Rav but it's a lot more vehicle.

So yeah... For what it's worth I definitely felt that my Highlander was an outstanding vehicle, and the new ones are indeed a big step up from the Rav4.
And to answer your question number two; Yes! The Highlander would be an outstanding vehicle for your daughter. A much better choice than a 4Runner and more planted and secure than a Rav.

Happy Shopping Dad!
Please keep us posted,
-Ej-
 

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F250 if you want to buy a Highlander ask Sweeney at Toyotanation. He is the guru there to ask.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Good input, guys. Thanks.

As for some of the questions and suggestions...

Camry... my daughter absolutely does not want a sedan, regardless of make, model, or cost. Otherwise, the Camry would definitely be on the list. She grew up riding in either my F250 or our old (now sold) Excursion, and she does not want to be "sedan-close" to the ground, which leads me to...

I AM considering the 4Runner, but want to sort of shy away from it to help her keep as good a mileage as possible. My daughter's also not quite what I would call an "outside" girl, so I'm not sure there is really much benefit to her in the 4Runner aside from ride height. I also have one son who drove a 4Runner for a couple of years before totaling it, and my youngest son is currently driving a'99 4Runner, and we've been satisfied with both, so it is a viable option.

Years of interest... whatever she can fit into her budget of about $6000 while staying less than 150K miles. From what I've seen thus far, that is going to keep us in the 2004 - 2008 year range.

As for our schedule, I'm just tooling around with preliminary investigation and research at this point. Likely, we won't be making a purchase until late summer of fall of this year. I'll keep the contact at Toyota Nation in my back pocket for when we get closer to pulling the trigger. I've got plenty of time to mull this over right now, but I am going to get her behind the wheel on the RAV4, Highlander, and she can always test drive my son's 4Runner.
 

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Frankly I would consider ALL cars suitable for a 17 year old driver. A corolla or civic comes to mind.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Frankly I would consider ALL cars suitable for a 17 year old driver. A corolla or civic comes to mind.
I have to assume that what you really mean to say is "ALL RELIABLE cars". Aside from that, although I respect your choice and perspective for yourself, I've already stated that sedans are not a consideration for us.

You have to understand, too, that even though I'm not necessarily easy on my kids, I am committed to ONLY guiding their vehicle choices (not dictating). I also offer them my own labor to help them minimize maintenance repair costs until they become independent. Since THEY pay 100% for their vehicles (including 100% of operating, maintenance, repairs, and insurance costs), they also get the right to have a significant say in the vehicle they choose to purchase. I will NOT let them make a stupid purchase, though, and they do listen to my guidance in terms of operating costs, maintenance costs, and overall reliability issues.

That said... a this point, sedans are just not a consideration (my daughter's preference, and I'm OK with that). We are only looking at small-to-midsize SUV's, primarily Toyota RAV4, Highlander, and 4Runner. I might be willing to consider others like the CRV, Pilot, Xterra, etc., but they are already off the list of potentials for various reasons.
 

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Years of interest... whatever she can fit into her budget of about $6000 while staying less than 150K miles. From what I've seen thus far, that is going to keep us in the 2004 - 2008 year range.
...

Good luck on finding a <150K Highlander in that price range. Time is on your side, though. If she does decide for the RAV, avoid the 06-08 4-cyl engine unless you can confirm it is not an oil-burner--or had a successful engine rebuild under the enhanced warranty Toyota offered.

I've always felt the RAV was an outstanding first car for a driver. Good visibility, functional, fun, and (I think) the IIHS studies show they are safer than little sedans. If your daughter cut her teeth on your F250, she could handle the Highlander.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I know it's a tough search, but I'm patient and we do have the time. Of all six of my kids, everything in learning to drive has been so much more intuitive for her than all the others, and she already handles my F250 wonderfully, especially given how little time she's been driving -- we always wait until they're 17 before we begin the driving process to help give them a little more time to grow up and also to give them time to learn some patience before getting behind the wheel in all of that giddiness which generally accompanies the 15 yo's. She's never been one the giddy silly girls, anyway, so it's really been a wonderful experience for her thus far.
 

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I know it's a tough search, but I'm patient and we do have the time. Of all six of my kids, everything in learning to drive has been so much more intuitive for her than all the others, and she already handles my F250 wonderfully, especially given how little time she's been driving -- we always wait until they're 17 before we begin the driving process to help give them a little more time to grow up and also to give them time to learn some patience before getting behind the wheel in all of that giddiness which generally accompanies the 15 yo's. She's never been one the giddy silly girls, anyway, so it's really been a wonderful experience for her thus far.
https://www.cargurus.com/Cars/inventorylisting/viewDetailsFilterViewInventoryListing.action?sourceContext=forSaleTab_true_0&formSourceTag=112&newSearchFromOverviewPage=true&inventorySearchWidgetType=AUTO&entitySelectingHelper.selectedEntity=c3961&entitySelectingHelper.selectedEntity2=c3961&zip=35006&distance=100&searchChanged=true&modelChanged=false&filtersModified=true#listing=169404251
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Yes, they are out there, but they ARE hard to find at less than 150K miles while still being less than $6000 and STILL a worthy investment.

I saw another one this morning here in Birmingham on CL (https://bham.craigslist.org/cto/6026413742.html) -- 2005, but no identified mileage, and listed at $5100.

Here's another one (https://huntsville.craigslist.org/cto/6045724073.html) -- 2005 Limited for $5500, but it has 189K miles.

And here's the right vehicle, but it's a budget buster at this point... https://athensga.craigslist.org/ctd/6033668751.html -- a 2006 for $6700 with only 137K miles.

In all honesty, it's probably going to be another 4-10 months before we pull the trigger on making a purchase. My daughter has not gotten as far along the savings process as we had hoped, but she is progressing.
 

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I have to assume that what you really mean to say is "ALL RELIABLE cars". Aside from that, although I respect your choice and perspective for yourself, I've already stated that sedans are not a consideration for us.

You have to understand, too, that even though I'm not necessarily easy on my kids, I am committed to ONLY guiding their vehicle choices (not dictating). I also offer them my own labor to help them minimize maintenance repair costs until they become independent. Since THEY pay 100% for their vehicles (including 100% of operating, maintenance, repairs, and insurance costs), they also get the right to have a significant say in the vehicle they choose to purchase. I will NOT let them make a stupid purchase, though, and they do listen to my guidance in terms of operating costs, maintenance costs, and overall reliability issues.

That said... a this point, sedans are just not a consideration (my daughter's preference, and I'm OK with that). We are only looking at small-to-midsize SUV's, primarily Toyota RAV4, Highlander, and 4Runner. I might be willing to consider others like the CRV, Pilot, Xterra, etc., but they are already off the list of potentials for various reasons.
First off Of course I meant reliable. Corolla and Civic are synonymous with reliable. Why would I wish otherwise for a 17 year old female?????????

Secondly I admire your approach to this whole situation. It is indeed rare when children of that age range pay for their first car......hats off to you Dad.

I admire your guidance and wish you the best in your search for just the right ride.

I was in the Navy two years before I bought my first car so I'm a bit out of the loop and no kiddos.
 

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First off Of course I meant reliable. Corolla and Civic are synonymous with reliable. Why would I wish otherwise for a 17 year old female?????????
Forgive me. I didn't mean for what I said to come across the way it did. Being an engineer, I too often have to spend time clarifying very specific word choices over technical issues, and too often again don't make the proper transition back into non-technical life. I did not (at all) think that you would wish otherwise for a 17 year old female.


Secondly I admire your approach to this whole situation...
Thank you, but I must also admit that I've not always managed the logistics of those situations as well as I should have. Even so, it's worked out fairly well for my kids thus far in their 14 vehicle purchases over the past 8 years. I'm now enjoying the positive side of not being a part time mechanic for the older three who are out on their own.
 

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Hey F250, it's funny how girls can be so different. I tried to persuade my daughter to get a RAV4, or some other SUV. At one point she wanted a Jeep Wrangler until she found out how expensive they are. She finally said she didn't want any kind of SUV or hatchback, she wanted something with a regular TRUNK in the back. At least I steered her away from the Dodge Dart and over to Toyota! :)
 

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Why not a Matrix/Vibe as a first car?? we gave our 04 Vibe to my son when we got our Rav4, not a bad car for a 17yr old (and especially not when it's free) My wife beat on it for the last 4 yrs and now he gets to beat on it for however long he can make it last.

They feel more like a tall wagon, lots of room and very good on gas. You can get the Vibes for cheaper than the Matrix (GM vs Toyota as always) I'd suggest either 04-08 (03s had some issues, and 09-up had tons as GM was phasing out Pontiac)
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I'm awfully glad you had good experience with the Vibe. I had a personally great experience with an Olds Ninety-Eight Regency Brougham, and horrible experience with a Chevy Suburban, but I'm no longre willing to consider the GM options at all.

As for the Matrix... might be worth looking at. Just this weekend while having my daughter drive me around more in my F250, she confirmed that it is ride height which is probably what she is most interested in. That being said, the 4Runner becomes a more viable option, and it appears I can hit my price-versus-mileage goals with it, albeit at some cost to fuel economy. Still, we have probably 6-9 months before we're going to pull the trigger, so there is lots of time to consider things carefully. Our plan currently involves shopping at a few car lots to have her actually drive the different models, which will include the Camry and Corolla if for no other reason than comparison to confirm (or debunk) her felt "need" for sitting up higher off the road.
 

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I own a 2008 Rav4 Limited and a 2013 Highlander Limited.

The Rav4 has plenty of cargo room (especially when considering the read storage compartment under the floor). It has enough power (mine's an I4). It is easy to maneuver (feels like a small car/tight turn radius). Plenty of options for most first time drivers. We purchased this car to use when my daughter was in a car seat. It is basically a 4 person car. The rear middle seat is rarely used because it is small and a hassle to drop the seat belt from the roof.

The Highlander is much more luxurious. It feels like a tank compared to the Rav4. Cargo room is about the same. The Rav4 has a taller opening. The Highlander has a quieter, smoother ride. The seats offer more support (this was one of the main reasons we upgraded to a Highlander). It is not as easy to park as the Rav4, but if she is comfortable with an F250, the Highlander will not be a problem.

My Highlander has a 3rd row which has been handy for hauling kids or adults in a group going out to eat, etc...

I prefer to drive the Rav4 around town. On long trips, I prefer the Highlander. For now, my wife drives the Rav4 to work & we save the Highlander for road trips. The Rav4 will go to my daughter in a few years when she learns to drive.
 
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