The Toyota RAV4 is an odd conglomeration of what SUVs were and where they're going, in terms of both style and layout. While it has a layout and roofline that's in synch with fresh crossover designs, most of the lineup has some cues that bow to the most rugged SUV designs that were popular a decade or more ago—including the spare tire hanging off the side-opening hatch. And despite a modest redesign, a couple of years ago, which earned it a restyled grille and front bumper, improved fog light trims, and redesigned tail lights, the RAV4 kept its taller, more trucklike stance.
If you choose the right model, you can do without the external spare; a Sport Appearance Package remains available, creating a more carlike silhouette by deleting it. Just that one change, combined with some other minor changes, make the RAV4 look much more like the crossover wagon it is.
Inside, Toyota doesn't go the traditional route with the interior styling in the RAV4—especially when it comes to the instrument panel. It has a very upright, straightforward layout, but the uninterrupted swaths of hard plastic and chunky, almost bulbous details might strike some as a bit odd.
The 2011 Toyota RAV4 bows to tradition—at least on the outside—and doesn't go the way of most crossovers.