2021 Toyota RAV4 Review
  • Car Review

2021 Toyota RAV4 Review

By Autolist Editorial | December 9, 2020

Quick Facts:


  • Fantastic safety ratings and features standard with all models.
  • Stylish design, inside and out.
  • Very spacious interior.
  • Toyota RAV4 Prime is a perfect all around option.


  • Hardly an upgrade from the 2020 model year.
  • All-wheel drive is not much of an upgrade.
  • Other compact SUVs can perform almost as well for slightly cheaper.

Would we buy one? Absolutely; it's our favorite vehicle in this segment.

Vehicle Type: Compact sports utility vehicle.

Price Range: From $26,000 to $38,000 before added features, depending on the trim level.

Powertrain: All gas models have a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 203 horsepower and 184 pound-foot of torque, front-wheel drive standard, eight-speed automatic transmission.

All-wheel-drive is optional on all trims.

The RAV4 Hybrid has 219 total horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque, standard all-wheel-drive, and a CVT type of automatic transmission.

The RAV4 Prime is a plug-in hybrid with 302 total horsepower from a four-cylinder engine and an electric motor. All-wheel-drive is standard and the Prime has an EPA-rated electric-only range of 42 miles before switching to the gas engine.

Competitors: Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, Volkswagen Tiguan, Nissan Rogue, and Subaru Forester.

More Photos

See more 2021 Toyota RAV4 Photos.

Overall Score: 8.1/10

If you are looking for one of the safest crossovers on the market, look no further than the Toyota RAV4. It is not much of an upgrade from the 2020 model, but it is a step up from all other previous years.

It has high remarks from owners and other official review sites. Other vehicles in its class may be a little bit cheaper, but we believe that for all the elite safety remarks, it is well worth its price for its specs. You also get great use of its many tech features, good gas mileage, and spacious, relaxing interior.

The new RAV4 Prime or the XLE Premium is probably going to be your best bet. That is, unless you want the fuel efficiency of the plug-in hybrid model.

Safety Features: 9/10


One of the key traits of the Toyota Assist features to make you feel secure on the road including:

RAV4 is its superb safety ratings. U.S. News gives the RAV4 a 9.4 safety rating. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave it a Top Safety Pick rating. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave it a 5-star ranking.

One of the key reasons the Toyota RAV4’s safety score is so fantastic is its crash protection and prevention test results. The entire lineup comes with numerous adaptive driver:

The Pre-collision System with Pedestrian Detection uses the RAV4’s camera and radar to detect risky situations involving pedestrians, cyclists, or other vehicles. If you do not react to the alert fast enough, the car will use automatic emergency braking.

Lane Departure and Steering Assist will alert you and/or gently steer you back in place. Also has blind-spot alerts to further help with lane changes.

Dynamic Radar cruise control allows you to cruise at a set speed while keeping a preset distance away from cars in front of you.

Road Sign Assist uses the camera to detect road signs and display them on the dash for you to see it better.

Also the Star Safety System provides features like anti-lock brake system, vehicle stability control, and traction control.

Automatic high beams all the vehicle to automatically change from high to low beams in the dark as it senses incoming vehicles.

Value: 7/10


The price for the base Toyota RAV4 starts at around $27,000 MSRP at the dealership. The RAV4 TRD Off-Road, the most expensive gas model, starts at $37,000 at the dealership. The RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid is the most expensive RAV4 overall, starting at $39,275 though it may be eligible for state and federal tax rebates and incentives.

All of the trims get the many safety features listed above, so no choice is a bad choice. The best bang for your buck will likely be the XLE Premium. This trim gives you the many safety features and the nicest interior design without breaking your bank.

The overall pricing for the Toyota RAV4 is a tad bit higher than its competition, so it’s probably not the best option for bargain hunters.

Tech Features: 9/10


Installed on the dashboard is a great infotainment system with an 8-inch touch screen display that gives you access to Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto compatibility, a view of the rear camera for backing up, and Multi-Information Display. For your music delights, 11 JBL Speakers are installed throughout the car.

Also included in the display is an energy monitor which lets you see how power is being distributed or wasted throughout the battery pack of the Toyota RAV4.

You can charge up your compatible device without the need for a cable thanks to the wireless charger pad. That device will benefit from having Connected Services by Toyota installed to use features like Remote Connect or Destination Assistance.

For extra protection, Safety Connect allows subscribers to access emergency assistance, roadside assistance, and a stolen vehicle locator using GPS.

Need quick access to the trunk? You can open it with a simple key fob button press (on the XLE and Trail) or a wave of your foot (on the Limited) to activate the power liftgate.

Practicality: 8/10


Next to safety, cargo space is also one of the elite features of the Toyota RAV4, offering great cargo space. You get 37.6 cubic feet of space, only falling short of the Honda CR-V (39.2 cubic feet). One downside is that the seats do not fold completely flat, which can be annoying.

Passengers will enjoy a pretty comfy, roomy ride with decent legroom and soft seating. Thanks to the RAV4’s top-tier safety, you also get airbags in key locations of the driver's seat, front seat, and the rear seats in the car to give you full protection.

Styling & Design: 8/10


For the price you pay, you get a strong and bold exterior, and sleek, premium interior designs.

On the exterior, all RAV4s have long wheelbases and wide tracks for more stable travel. All while offering an attractive build available in the following colors:

Sky Metallic
Metallic Grey
Midnight Black
Silver Sky mixed with Midnight Black
Magnetic Grey with Midnight Black
Red with Midnight Black

Current owners love the upscale feel of the interior's upholstery. It has some plastic, but the rest is given a deluxe-like Softex material design. The XLE Premium will be the best choice for the most overall attractive model. For the comfort of passengers, you get soft, heated seats (and steering wheel) standard in all models.

Driving Experience: 7/10


Current RAV4 owners appreciate the solid, stable, and natural feeling when they drive. Reviews explain that the RAV4 can handle twisty roads just fine. You will face some minor annoyances with the transmission as you are downshifting. Its horsepower also does not quite feel that powerful or fast.

As solid as the RAV4 is with highway cruising and twisty roads, you might get better powertrain with other SUVs in its class. The RAV4 four-cylinder engine can get noisy at higher speeds.

Despite these setbacks, you will not face any major issues with regular day-to-day use. For off-road travel, look into the TRD Off-Road trim.

Fuel Efficiency: 9/10


Compared to previous year models, the 2021 RAV4 is a significant upgrade in fuel economy. All of the trims get a 35 MPG highway with the front-wheel drive. They also get 27 MPG city, except the base trim which delivers 28 MPG city FWD.

Upgrading any of the trims to all-wheel-drive drops the MPG to 27/32 city/highway, which is one short of the EPA’s estimated rating. For the casual driver, the AWD might not be worth the upgrade.

You’ll get a much more noticeable upgrade in fuel economy with the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid or Toyota RAV4 Prime plug-in Hybrid models. That Toyota offers both a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid version of the RAV4 makes it unique in its segment and indeed, most of the industry.

Some other crossovers in its class have a slightly better fuel economy as well.

More Photos

See more 2021 Toyota RAV4 Photos.