Review: 2014 Toyota RAV4 Limited AWD

Tuesday November 18th, 2014 at 4:1111 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

2014 Toyota RAV4 Limited AWD

By David Colman

Hypes: Spacious, Utilitarian, Affordable
Gripes: Down on Power, Cheap Interior Touches

This compact crossover has enough cargo capacity (37 cubic feet) to compete with mid-size crossovers. I was frankly surprised at the ease with which the RAV4 swallowed my mountain bike without requiring the usual twist and fold routine. In fact, the bike slid right into place without so much as a snag anywhere. The Limited version of this petite Toyota even includes electronic operation for the tailgate. Low loading height further insures easy stowage and retrieval. I have driven many compact and mid size SUVs that could not match the RAV4′s magnanimous cargo access.

The latest iteration of the RAV4 came to market in 2013 and remains largely unchanged this year. A large displacement (2.5 liter) in-line 4 cylinder engine makes 176hp and 172 lb.-ft. of torque. This fuel efficient motor posts a commendable EPA average of 25 MPG overall. But fuel savings come at the expense of straight line performance. Because this SUV weighs 3,535 pounds, each one of those 176 horses are tasked with moving 20 pounds. Consequently, the RAV4′s throttle pedal must be pushed hard to keep up with traffic flow. It takes nearly 17 seconds to run the quarter mile from a standing start. However, you can upgrade to a Tesla designed electric version of the RAV4. This EV’s rated at 154hp but delivers a whopping 273 lb.-ft. of torque. But hurry, because Toyota plans to phase out the RAV4 EV in the near future. If you like the compact dimensions of the RAV4, but seek more power, you may want to cross shop the 2015 Lexus NX, which shares its platform with the RAV4. The Lexus offers 235hp thanks to its turbocharged 2.0 liter four cylinder engine.

2014 Toyota RAV4 Limited AWD

Toyota includes a number of active safety measures in the DNA of the RAV4. This assortment of innovations, which Toyota calls its Star Safety System, contributes to your well being by providing stability control, traction control, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake force distribution, and brake assist. Although passive safety boasts 8 airbags, the RAV4 scores a “Poor” Rating on the Front Small Overlap test administered by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. This crash test, first administered in 2012, measures damage incurred when just 25 percent of a vehicle front hits a fixed object at 40mph. The RAV4′s poor result in this category has caused Consumer Reports to retract its “Recommended” endorsement.

The RAV4 is tow rated at 1,500 pounds. Although it will tow a modest trailer, the RAV4 itself is not meant to be towed behind a motor home, dinghy style. In its latest iteration, the RAV4 has matured into a utilitarian device that will fill the bill if you need a do-it-all urban companion. Responsive handling is augmented by 235/55R18 Bridgestone Dueler H/T tires at each corner. Ride quality is never harsh thanks to the Bridgestone’s tall sidewalls and the RAV4′s soft spring rates.

2014 Toyota RAV4 Limited AWD

From its introduction as a petite SUV offering limited space for passengers or storage, this compact cross over now provides seating for 5, easy access to the folding rear bench seat, lots of side window glass for great outward visibility, and enough orchestral choices to make even the shortest trip a music endowed vacation. The “EN” option package, which costs an extra $785, is well worth the cost if you value entertainment while driving. For this relatively modest outlay, Toyota will provide you with a laundry list of extras that start with a 6.1 inch touch screen on the dash. This interface controls a premium JBL AM/FM/CD player with 7 speakers and a subwoofer. You also gain access to HD radio, traffic reports and a suite of Toyota backed “Entune” applications to simplify your cruising life. The touch screen also provides navigational assistance and serves as a back-up camera projector when reverse gear is engaged. However, you would do well to avoid paying $725 extra for the “TP” Technology Package, which contributes lane departure warning advice, monitors blind spots, and regulates use of high beam headlights.

The Toyota RAV4 presents an inexpensive route to all-wheel-drive mini SUV ownership. While it may not be the fastest, or the best handling choice in the marketplace, it does administer a solid dose of Toyota virtue: RAV4 is inexpensive to own and operate, with good value retention over the life of the vehicle.

2014 Toyota RAV4 Limited AWD

2014 Toyota RAV4 Limited AWD

  • Engine: 2.5 liter DOHC, 16 Valve inline 4 with Dual VVT-i
  • Horsepower: 176 @ 6,000rpm
  • Torque: 172 lb.-ft. @ 4,100rpm
  • Fuel Consumption: 22 MPG CITY/29 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $32,315
  • Star Rating: 7 out of 10 Stars

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2012 Chrysler 300S AWD Review

Wednesday August 22nd, 2012 at 2:88 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: AWD, “Doctor Dre” boombox, Silent 8-Speed Automatic
Gripes: Poor Detents on Stubby Console Shift Lever

A year ago, Chrysler announced a second quarter loss of 436 million dollars. This year’s second quarter figures show a profit of 370 million, on track for a projected earnings of 1.5 billion dollars for 2012. What could possibly account for a quarterly turnaround of $806,000,000? Sure, you can cite the fact that last year Chrysler refinanced government bailout loans, while this year they didn’t. But the real reason for the tectonic shift is product. Chrysler is building cars that consumers want to buy. And the 300S is a perfect example of that philosophy.

Start with the fact that no other domestic car builder currently offers a full-size 4-door sedan like the 300. Ford’s Taurus and Chevy’s Impala are mere shadows of this once abundant species. The 112 inch wheelbase of the Taurus and the 110 inch wheelbase of the Impala both fall nearly a foot short of the Chrysler’s 120 inch wheelbase. So if you’re looking for stretch-out space for the buck, there’s simply no comparison. The 300’s cabin is so large that it will easily accommodate five passengers and all their belongings. And if it’s appointed with Customer Preferred Package 27G ($2,420) and the Luxury Group ($3,250), then the Canadian-built 300S will rival the finest European sedans in fit, finish and level of comfort.

 

From the moment you slide into the amply padded driver’s seat and survey the reams of “Radar Red” leather padding the dash, transmission console and door panels, you’ll feel like you just checked into your suite at the Ritz. Chrysler has done a remarkably good job of counterfeiting posh European transports like the S Class Benz and 7 Series BMW for less than half the money. The base price of the 300S is a frugal $35,820, and even loaded with the afore mentioned packages and a stellar $1,495 Dual-Pane Panorama Roof, the bottom line on this bruiser came to just $44,705. For the record, the 27G option group brings you Adaptive Bi-Xenon headlights, memory settings for the driver’s seat, steering column, mirrors and radio (!), adaptive cruise control, and a bevy of cameras to monitor adjacent lane traffic, rear vision and blind spots. The Luxury Package ups the leather and contrasting stitched thread count, heats the steering wheel as well as the first and second row seats, and chills or warms the front seat cupholders. The pedal position is remotely adjustable and becomes part of your preferred memory setting. Chrysler hasn’t missed a trick in personalizing the 300S. It’s a level of driving comfort you won’t soon forget.

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2011 Lexus IS 350 AWD Review

Thursday January 6th, 2011 at 8:11 AM
Posted by: Derek

By Derek Mau

Pros:

  • Sharp steering and disciplined handling
  • The most entertaining driver’s vehicle in the Lexus line-up
  • AWD system distributes power from the 306 hp V6 engine uniformly

Cons:

  • Manual gearbox only offered with the lesser IS 250
  • Cramped back seat room
  • Onscreen interface and graphics are past due for an update

Ruling: A luxury car with some sport pretensions, the 2011 Lexus IS 350 is very satisfying to drive.
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Posted in Expert Reviews, Lexus |Tags:, , || 4 Comments »


2011 Infiniti M56X AWD First Impressions Review

Thursday December 30th, 2010 at 12:1212 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

By contributing editor David Colman

Pros

  • Leather seats tailored to fit better than a Huntsman tailored suit
  • Lots of high-tech gadgetry which can be deleted from the options list saving you thousands of dollars
  • Performance specs that will make you dizzy

Cons

  • Infiniti user’s manual harder to read than an Ikea instruction manual
  • Undersized Michelin all-season tires

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Posted in Expert Reviews, Infiniti |Tags:, , , || 2 Comments »




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