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2009 Toyota RAV4 Pros and Cons at TrueDelta: Comfy fuel-efficient Cute-Ute, easily tows trailer by d.white479

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Introduction

Do you visit a cabin/house/campsite that's hundreds of miles from your primary home? And/or do you want to tow Harleys, Jetskis, ATVs,etc? Research & find vehicles that can do above while getting mid-20 MPGs, is right-sized for parking spaces, and is comfortable. The Rav4 has to be near top of list

Reviewed: 2009 Toyota RAV4

4dr SUV 269-horsepower 3.5L V6 5-speed automatic AWD

Why the 2009 Toyota RAV4?

Cargo capacity

I researched extensively for a fuel-efficient vehicle that could tow a 3500lbs trailer and have good cargo capacity for its size. Not too many options out there, but the V6 Rav4 meet these requirements better than others. It easily towed 3000lbs loads while still getting lower-20MPG at highway speeds(with the AC on). When not towing a trailer, I have occasionally seen calculated 27+ MPG at highway speeds for a tankful, altho 26MPG is more normal. Does this on REGULAR gas, unlike some other similar vehicles requiring a premium blend.

Powertrain performance

V6 Rav4 is fun to drive. Around town its very responsive in comparison to most Cute-Utes and passing power is impressive at highway speeds. Drivetrain is smooth, without searching for gears on hills like my friends' Escape V6, Pathfinder and turbo'd RDX.

Safety & braking

- Brakes are more than adequate for a Cute-Ute, even when towing. Comes standard with many airbags and stability control, like most 2005+ vehicles.

Materials & workmanship

Mine has been 100% reliable with no repairs needed beyond normal servicing. Forget the media-hyped recalls and check the reliability stats here and elsewhere...their at/near the top of most surveys. Check out the Car&Driver Cute-Ute comparison articles. The V6 AWD version topped all other similar-optioned vehicles...even the newer-designed models. And the 4-cylinder version is still seen as a safe purchase holds its own against the lower-optioned versions.

Why Not the 2009 Toyota RAV4?

Materials & workmanship

Interior has held up well, but there's way too many hard surfaces on dash & doors. But it's comparable to other value-priced Cute-Utes (under $30K) designed & marketed prior to 2009. Most auto manufacturers have focused on upgrading the interiors since the later 2000s, when they re-design their vehicles.

Tires

Stock OEM tires by any auto manufacturers are strictly sourced based on price(Bridgestones Duelers come on most Rav4s). Therefore they are not the best in low-traction situations, as well as not having tremendous durability or longevity. Luckily my Toyota-Certified(ie used) Rav4 came with newer Michelin All-Season tires. I've never felt this AWD vehicle was struggling for grip in low-traction conditions.

Conclusion

I never buy brand-new vehicles(opting for 1-3YO "depreciated" vehicles) so I look at long-term documented-reliable brands. My single vehicle needs to be a commuter car, LOWES DIY hauler & tow loads on long trips. Plus I want a fun-to-drive, responsive & gas-efficient vehicle = the all-in-one Rav4!

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