One of the most popular crossovers on the planet finally looks like it can go anywhere on earth, too. The 2021 Toyota RAV4 adds a TRD Off-Road trim level this year that bolsters the soft-roader’s trail-running resume (on paper) and gives shoppers another reason to get lost. We give the 2021 RAV4 a 6.5 on our overall scale thanks to its good looks and impressive safety scorecard. (Read more about how we rate cars.) This year the RAV4 is available in LE, XLE, Adventure, TRD Off-Road, and Limited trim levels. The RAV4 Hybrid will be offered in LE, XLE, XSE, and Limited trim levels. Full review and all information about the car – 2021 Toyota RAV4.
New Toyota RAV4 2021
The plug-in RAV4 will have all-wheel drive as standard, and the automaker is estimating that it will achieve 94 MPGe combined. Toyota redesigned its popular RAV4 just last year. This new model gained a variety of improvements such as a more powerful engine, more safety features and bolder styling. These changes have no doubt bolstered the RAV4’s popularity, and it continues to be one of the best-selling vehicles in America. But when we’ve compared it to the competition, we’ve found it falls short of the mark set by the class leaders. Certainly, it has some appealing qualities. The RAV4 is roomy inside and has plenty of space for rear passengers and cargo. It also comes standard with an array of advanced driver safety aids such as forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking. For 2021, Toyota has also added Android Auto smartphone integration (a boon for Samsung, Pixel and other non-iPhone users) and introduced a new RAV4 TRD Off-Road model. Toyota RAV4 2021 – photos colors and price in this article!
Toyota vastly improved the RAV4’s interior materials with the 2021 model year redesign, and the result is a cabin featuring soft-touch materials in all the right places. Overall, the design emphasizes function over form, exhibiting the same utility and purposefulness of the exterior’s appearance. With TRD Off-Road trim, red contrast stitching and embroidered TRD insignias on the SofTex leatherette seats help add contrast to an otherwise dark environment. Toyota RAV4 2021 – see the photo in the gallery on our website.
The latest RAV4 sports a more aggressive and rugged look than previous generations, even in base trim. Hard angles, bold forms, and plenty of SUV-style cladding replaces the soft curves of previous RAV4’s, and based on J.D. Power’s latest data, owners love the way it looks. In fact, the exterior styling is their favorite aspect of ownership. The new-for-2021 RAV4 TRD Off-Road further toughens the SUV’s looks, with its black wheels and all-terrain tires. The test vehicle’s Lunar Rock paint, which resembles the gray hue of a dolphin, in combination with an Ice Edge (white) roof made for an even more distinctive appearance.
On the downside, the RAV4’s engine, improved as it may be, is still underwhelming. It’s not especially powerful and gets noisy when you stand on the gas. And unlike some rival small SUVs, there’s no optional engine you can upgrade to if you want quicker acceleration. We’re also disappointed with the lack of comfort for the RAV4’s front seats and the vague steering, which doesn’t give you a good feel for the road. Granted, these aren’t huge issues, and the RAV4 is certainly a competent SUV. But we think you’ll find a few other models more appealing overall. These include the well-rounded Honda CR-V, the sporty Mazda CX-5 and the value-packed Hyundai Tucson. You should also check out the RAV4 Hybrid, which is both quicker and more fuel-efficient than the regular RAV4. Finally, the Jeep Cherokee and the Subaru Forester are worthwhile choices if you’re interested in doing some light off-roading.
The RAV4 earned class-competitive fuel-economy estimates from the EPA. Front-wheel-drive RAV4s can manage up to an estimated 35 mpg on the highway. The all-wheel-drive Adventure delivered 32 mpg for us on our 200-mile highway fuel-economy route, 1 mpg shy of the EPA’s estimated rating for that trim. That puts it neck and neck with the Honda CR-V and represents a huge improvement over the 2021 Adventure model (which managed only 25 mpg), but it is outdone by the Volkswagen Tiguan, which delivered 33 mpg.
The RAV4’s good looks go further in TRD Off-Road models. They add more off road-adjacent hardware and twin-tube shocks, chunky 18-inch wheels with all-terrain tires, and gray exterior accents. The base RAV4 looks great in our eyes too: it combines the rough-and-tumble 4Runner and Tacoma looks with the RAV4’s compact dimensions. Under the hood of most RAV4s is a 2.5-liter inline-4 that makes 203 horsepower mated to an 8-speed automatic. It’s just fine, although asking more from the engine can reveal its less-refined side. The RAV4’s ride is similarly fine, although competitors smother the road a little better. The RAV4 Hybrid rates up to 39 mpg combined, which is good compared to nearly any vehicle
The gas-only RAV4 is powered by a workaday 2.5-liter inline-4 paired to an 8-speed automatic that makes 203 hp. It’s competent but hardly refined. Front-wheel drive is standard on all crossovers, and all-wheel drive is optional on all trim levels except Adventure and TRD Off-Road, where it’s standard. Toyota offers two all-wheel-drive systems in the RAV4: LE and XLE trims get a conventional system that shuttles power around unobtrusively; TRD Off-Road, Adventure, and Limited versions get an all-wheel-drive system that also uses the brakes to grip side-to-side. When the latter system detects slip in wheels, it brakes those wheels for better grip to the wheels that aren’t slipping. It’s a slick system but slightly dents fuel economy. The RAV4’s stiff frame and four-wheel independent suspension (MacPherson struts in front with multi-link, trailing wishbones in the rear) give the RAV4 a supple ride over rough bumps, but competitors such as the Subaru Forester and Honda CR-V are a little softer.
LE: $27,070; XLE: $28,365; XLE Premium: $31,070; Adventure: $34,175; Limited: $35,600; TRD Off-Road: $36,400. It’s hard for us to resist the cool new TRD Off-Road, but we’d practice restraint and choose the mid-range XLE Premium. It provides plenty of standard equipment that the LE and XLE don’t offer, such as 19-inch wheels, a power liftgate, dual-zone automatic climate control, faux-leather upholstery, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. Toyota makes its suite of driver-assistance features standard across the lineup, so there’s not much reason to go with a pricier trim—unless, of course, you really want ventilated seats.
Toyota RAV4 owners say that visibility and safety ranks as their second favorite aspect of ownership, and it’s easy to understand why. Outward visibility is excellent, in part thanks to side mirrors mounted on the doors for improved sightlines to the front corners of the vehicles. Large windows aid the view, too, and the test vehicle had both a 360-degree surround view camera system with perimeter view capability and an excellent rearview camera mirror with multiple settings. Impressively Toyota equips every 2021 RAV4 with its Safety Sense 2.0 suite of advanced driver assistance systems. They include adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning with pedestrian and cyclist detection, automatic emergency braking, and lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist. The test vehicle also had a blind-spot warning system with rear cross-traffic warning. As far as crash-test performance goes, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the RAV4 a 5-star rating for its ability to protect passengers in the event of a crash, while the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives it a Top Safety Pick designation.
Toyota RAV4 owners rank the SUV’s powertrain as their least favorite aspect of the vehicle, citing dissatisfaction with transmission shifting, the sound and smoothness of the engine, and acceleration response and passing power. During my time with the RAV4, it did not strike me as deficient in any of these areas compared to its direct competitors. A 203-horsepower, 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine is standard, providing more motive force than you’ll find in many compact crossovers. It provides decent acceleration, though it can sound coarse and loud as the revs climb. The test vehicle’s 8-speed automatic transmission behaved properly during testing, proving snappier when in Sport mode than when driving in Eco or Normal modes. The point of the TRD Off-Road is off-roading, and here the Dynamic Torque Vectoring all-wheel-drive system, the Multi-terrain Select traction system, the hill descent control system, the all-terrain tires, the TRD-tuned suspension, and 8.6 inches of ground clearance helped this version of the RAV4 venture down trails most other crossovers couldn’t.
The 2021 RAV4’s stylish exterior writes checks that passengers will need to pay. Taller riders may need to crane while inside, and front passengers may want for more head room. The seats are comfortable for average builds or smaller, but the RAV4’s cargo area is good by any measure. Starting from an average score of 5, the RAV4 gets points above average for the way back—where passengers won’t sit. It’s a 6. Starting from the front seats, the available moonroof can cut into head room for taller passengers. A 5-foot-11 editor brushed up against the headliner while sitting in the driver’s seat and others have found that slouching in the front seats isn’t just a lifestyle choice.
Four average adults won’t have any problems fitting into the RAV4. Head room may be an issue for taller adults, and three broad-shouldered adults may be cramped in the back. Every RAV4 is equipped with automatic emergency braking, active lane control, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high beams. Blind-spot monitors are standard on most models, and a surround-view camera system is on the options list. The redesigned 2021 RAV4 earned top crash-test scores from safety officials, which should be peace of mind for small families and new-car buyers. Every RAV4 gets a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, Bluetooth connectivity, at least one USB port, and power features. Most RAV4s have five USB ports, dual-zone climate control, and options for heated seats.
Toyota’s warranties toe the industry line with three years of bumper-to-bumper coverage and five years for the powertrain. All models come with two years of complimentary scheduled maintenance—a rarity in this segment. Limited warranty covers three years or 36,000 miles; Powertrain warranty covers five years or 60,000 miles; Complimentary maintenance is covered for two years or 25,000 miles.
Get ready to make the most out of every day in the 2021 Toyota RAV4. Whether your adventures take you downtown, uptown, around town or out of town, there’s a RAV4 that’s ready to redefine what you can do. Find your inspiration from four distinct versions — the premium Limited, rugged Adventure grade, exhilarating XSE Hybrid or the specially tuned TRD Off-Road. Whichever fits you best, you’ll find the perfect blend of sport and utility that will empower your ambitions. So get in and go out. It’s time to live each day to its fullest.