By Frank S. Washington
NNPA Columnist

DETROIT (NNPA) – Toyota’s RAV4 for 2015 is a stalwart. The small crossover is one of the earliest entrants in the field that has turned into one of the largest segments in the automotive industry. The current rendition that we test drove is in its third year and our 2015 Toyota RAV4 XLE had some characteristics that were worth noting.

When we opened the door we were struck with the quality of the interior. It wasn’t leather, it was cloth. Still, it was clean, had contrasting stitching and the area was spacious. Because it was front-wheel-drive, the floor of the second row was almost flat and the seats could hold three people abreast. And there was plenty of headroom; nothing was cramped about the second row of the 2015 Toyota RAV4. What’s more, the rear doors were really wide for easy access.

Behind the second row seats was a cavernous 38.4 cu. ft. of storage space; fold down the second row seats and that created a massive 73.4 cu. ft. of cargo space. The RAV4 had the toting capability for all sorts of stuff save the most bulky.

The XLE was in the middle of the RAV4 trim line: there is an LE and a Limited. But the XLE had a sort of no-nonsense, straightforward appeal. The dash was clean and it had the horizontal scheme that Toyota has shifted to in most of its interiors.

There was a silver satin band across the top of the dash. This is not our favorite polymer but it was at least dull, thus it wasn’t distracting. The audio information navigation screen was flanked by several buttons on each side. The climate controls were embedded on a shelf beneath the information screen and surrounded by a soft touch surface that spanned across the bottom of dash. It was a nice look.

Another nice touch to the interior was a textured polymer template over the gear selector in the center console; it had a carbon fiber pattern. The same sort of template was on the four doors that covered the power door locks and power window switches all round.

It was as though Toyota created a very comfortable interior for people who were going to spend a lot of time in the RAV4 picking up kids from school, waiting for soccer practice to end or for traffic to move another three feet on the way to and from work. Obviously, a lot of thought went into the vehicle’s very comfortable seats.

The RAV4 was easy to handle. Because our tester was front-wheel-drive, we thought it felt a little light but it didn’t feel flimsy. It was very maneuverable. It had a high seating position and the suspension was soft without feeling spongy.

A 2.5-liter direct injection four-cylinder engine was under the hood; it was mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. It made a respectable 176 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque. Our front-wheel-drive RAV4 had an EPA rating of 24 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. Real-world conditions had us driving about 150 miles for the week, averaging about 24 mpg; once done we still had a half a tank of fuel left. That’s very good.

The tester’s equipment was more than adequate. It had satellite radio, an Entune premium audio system that included Toyota’s suite of Wi-Fi apps that can be linked through a smartphone, a navigation system, of course Bluetooth, USB and auxiliary jacks, dual automatic climate controls and power heated side view mirrors.

We were really impressed with its sunroof, rearview camera and split screen display in this price range. Our test vehicle had a base price of $25,240. Add options and an $885 freight charge and the total came to $26,935.

Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *