Road Test: 2016 Toyota RAV4 SE

Technology and I have a love/hate relationship. In running, it is essential that I remain connected to my website and to social media for my very lovely contributors who occasionally have questions for me, or let me know when an article is ready for review.I consider myself to be tech-savvy, or at least tech-aware. I do quite a lot in terms of photography, as well, so when I was transferring pictures from my camera to my computer, I thought all was well. I’ve done this countless times. But in transferring photos for the RAV4, I got a notice that my computer was unable to complete my request. All I was told to do was simply eject the camera and plug it back in to start again. I was not informed that this also deleted the photos. So for this review, you’ll have to make do with one picture. Sorry.

The RAV4, thankfully, did not give me this kind of trouble at all. It brought me to the beautiful Road America, and only a day later, Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Along the way I got wonderful fuel mileage. It also soaked up all of the cargo that I had to lug with, and provided an acceptable driving experience. If you take away one thing from this article, make sure it is that the RAV4 is extremely good at what it does.

My perplexity over my loss of photos gave me a thought. If a phone, computer, or camera can lose all of the things saved to it, require you to make a useless new Apple ID every month, then how come a car can perform flawlessly, remember your navigation destinations and radio presets, pair up to your Bluetooth flawlessly, and otherwise do exactly what you want? Maybe Toyota should be making phones.

If Toyota were to make a phone though, it wouldn’t be at all like an iPhone. It would be an Android phone. It works perfectly every time, though it doesn’t offer much in the way of flair. It’ll work every time that you need it to, it’ll also be fairly inexpensive. Just like Android phones, it’ll also sell well. The RAV4 splashed on the market in the late 90’s and has been one of the most popular cars sold by Toyota. In 2015 they sold 664,382 two of them, putting it in the top 10 most popular cars sold worldwide.

To keep the sales up in 2016, the front-end has been freshened up a bit with sleeker headlights and a lot less plastic body cladding. It brings an up-scale feeling to the car and my example, painted in Black Currant Metallic (purple) had more of a feel of Lexus than Toyota. The SE model that I was provided also had the Advanced Technology package, which at $3,030 is a pricey option to go with, but worth it in the long run. It included premium JBL audio which I took advantage of on those longer trips, and even though I’m quite skilled with parking, the included bird’s-eye view camera was pretty neat to use.

The SE also has “sport tuned suspension,” which is secret code for “quite stiff.” I didn’t mind, but there might be some folks out there who would rather get one of the softer versions of the RAV4. Speaking of sport, it’s quite sad to see the V6 model dropped. Aside from the Hybrid, your only engine choice is a 2.5 liter 4-cylinder which pushes out 176 horsepower. I’d describe the acceleration as “enough.” Then again if you’re looking for an iPhone, the Kia Sportage SX turbo has an entire 64 horsepower more…


In the midst of writing this article, I was visited again by the RAV4, this time at Gingerman Raceway in Michigan (it likes to follow me to race tracks, apparently). I took the opportunity to snap a few more photos. I apologize about them being a bit sub-standard.

2016 Toyota RAV4 SE 
2.5L 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 176
Torque: 172 lb/ft
6-speed auto w/AWD
MPG city/hwy/comb: 22/29/25
Base MSRP: $30,665
As tested: $34,595

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