- Alex Lloyd
- Price As Tested:
“All-new, practical and efficient.”
The new RAV4 interior resembles the RAV4 of old, but adds more technology, better quality materials and increased comfort, putting the 2013 RAV4 nicely in line with its competitors. It isn't luxurious, but for the most part, it doesn't feel cheap.
As you step into the car, the first change you notice is the addition of a leather band running the entire length of the dash. It breaks up the monotony of plastic, allowing a more expensive feel to the cabin.
The door trim and leather band is distinguished by contrasting colors, including beige, gray, black (which simply doesn't work and looks odd) and Terra Cotta on the Limited model. Without question, if you opt for the Limited model you should choose the Terra Cotta color combination, as it looks the most sophisticated.
The seats in the RAV4 LE are fabric-trimmed, while the RAV4 XLE adds a better quality fabric, bolstering and French stitching to the sides of the sportier seats. This in itself is a good reason to choose the XLE over the LE model, not withstanding the additional options you receive for less than $1,000.
The Limited model adds SofTex to the sportier seats, adding a chunk more luxury to the cabin. SofTex is a leather substitute that is fractionally cheaper to make. While the feel may be slightly inferior to real leather, it isn't sacrificing much.
The steering wheel is telescopic and in the RAV4 Limited model it is wrapped with leather. In the LE and XLE models the wheel feels flimsy and cheap, making the Limited another worthwhile step if you can reach that far.
Driving position is comfortable and easily obtainable. The center console is well laid out and all the dials are intuitive. The 6.1-inch screen looks a little 2005, but at the same time, we appreciate that it comes as a standard feature in all models.
The gear lever on the Limited model is draped in leather, but in all models, the lower part of the center console is made of a very cheap, flimsy plastic. The sun visors are also the worst quality we have ever seen. They feel like they derived from Wal-Mart.
Poor quality plastic continues in various places throughout the cabin, and it feels like it undoes some of the sophistication added by the leather on the dash and door panels. It's like buying a Hugo Boss suit from Nordstrom, then finishing the look off with a Tommy Bahama shirt.
On a brighter note, the push button start on the Limited model is a nice touch, and the second row seating is comfortable with decent legroom (37.2 inches). This is, in fact, an inch less than the old RAV4 but the front seats have been granted an extra inch with trunk space increasing, too. The third row is no more, due to a low take rate, but if space is really what you are after, then the Toyota Highlander might be a better option.
The increased trunk space allows for excellent storage. With the rear seats up, you have two additional inches of space compared to the old model (38.4 vs. 36.4 inches). With the second row folded flat, cargo space increases by 0.4-inches, giving it a class-leading total of 73.4-inches.
In general, the 2013 RAV4 is a comfortable, pleasing place to be. We just wish they hadn't skimped on the quality of the plastic utilized, as that really neutralizes an otherwise excellent job.