2011 Toyota RAV4 Performance

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Performance
The 2011 Toyota RAV4 has an impressive powertrain lineup, along with all the other makings for a good performance package—at least compared to other tall crossover wagons and SUVs. A 179-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine was introduced last year, while a 269-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 remains optional; as such, it's the most powerful vehicle in its class. There's no manual gearbox to be had; V-6 RAV4 models have a five-speed automatic, while four-cylinder models make do just fine with a four-speed auto. In either case, the RAV4 is offered with either front- or four-wheel drive.

The four-cylinder base engine has enough power to keep most drivers happy; it's smooth and responsive, with enough for all but the heaviest loads or toughest mountain grades. The larger engine gives the RAV4 the ability to sprint with hot-rod-like authority or pull off astonishingly quick passes. All the while, the RAV4 handles surprisingly well for such a tall, soft-riding vehicle. Base models tend to plow a bit in tight corners, as most front-wheel-drive vehicles do, but the optional Sport models' firmer dampers largely fix that tendency.

Though off-road ability isn't a priority in the RAV4, its four-wheel-drive system is a bit more able than rival crossovers, capable of sending as much as 45 percent of torque to the back at up to 25 mph and including a 50/50 fixed power split in a 4WD Lock mode.

The 2011 Toyota RAV4 has strong, fuel-efficient powertrains, complemented by surprisingly good—though not sporty—handling.

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