Comfort and Quality » 8
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QUALITY | 8 out of 10
After sampling all options, we definitely prefer the cloth – we find it hard to believe anyone will be fooled by the imitation leather.
Even with a donut spare under its cargo floor, the 2013 Toyota RAV4 leads the class in cargo capacity with 73 cubic feet.
When you're behind the steering wheel, you feel more comfortable thanks to lower seating position, a more upright steering wheel and more fore-and-aft seat travel.
Passenger space isn't significantly different, save for rear hip room, which shrinks by 3.5 inches.
Winding through the desert hills, the noise level was low. And Toyota says it reshaped RAV4's mirrors to cut wind noise.
The RAV4 didn't become significantly larger with last year's redesign, but smarter packaging made it more passenger-friendly.
Inside the RAV4 cabin there's a mishmash of textures and grains. The SofTex vinyl upholstery in the Limited is great on its own, but it doesn't match up in the right ways with any of the complementary trim pieces; also factor in the button 'blanks' scattered around the dash, and it doesn't entirely convince you it's premium anyhow. Going with the simple, more durable-looking, rubberized dash trim in the base LE might be a better choice.
Base versions come with a cheaper upholstery and seats that are less supportive. The synthetic leather upholstery in Limited models looks great from a few feet away, but up close it appears shiny and cheap. Seating space in the RAV4 is about on par with the Honda CR-V and definitely more generous than in Ford's Escape.
Above the base LE trim level, the RAV4 gets a more sculpted seat with better fabric--and if there were a way to put these seats in the base RAV4, we'd take it. The driving position is agreeably carlike, but the standard tilt/telescoping steering wheel doesn't extend as far as it could.
On the most expensive versions, the driver seat gets power adjustment and memory functions and lumbar adjustment; the front passengers get heated seats.
Back seats are comparable to those of the Honda CR-V—meaning that entry and exit are easy and folding is easily done, but they're not as comfortable for adults (they're flat and hard) as those of a mid-size sedan. The seats recline, and fold forward with the flip of a lever--and the doors are cut tall and wide, so it's easy for taller passengers to slide in and out.
On all versions, the back seat is split, and portions can be folded down, together to open up the RAV4's cargo bin from 38.4 cubic feet to 73.4 cubic feet. There aren't any severe flaws in the packaging, but the flip-fold backseat arrangement is just short of slickness.
The former RAV4's third-row seat has been dropped from this iteration so Toyota's bigger (three-row) Highlander can have more room to breathe. It won't be missed much, since it was so small to begin with in the RAV4.
Because the latest RAV4 no longer has a tailgate-mounted spare, the cargo area is much easier to access than with previous RAV4 versions because the hatch is top-hinged. Limited models include a standard power liftgate that can be programmed to a specific opening height—to accommodate a low garage ceiling, for instance.
Interior space is fine, but the RAV4's rear seat is flat, and there's an ample supply of rubbery trim in base versions.