Disclosure: In partnership with Toyota, I received a car to review for a week. All opinions contained below are my own and 100% honest.
When you are a family of 6 people, space in a vehicle isn’t a luxury so much as a necessity. Even when all of us aren’t traveling together, it is still important to have a vehicle that can accommodate all of our stuff. That means a toddler in a large car seat and her bags, my husband’s medical equipment that we need to keep with us when we’re on the go, and the other kids and their assorted accouterments. As such, larger vehicles have proven to be a better fit for us.
So when we got an opportunity to test the 2017 Toyota RAV4, it seemed like a great combination of smaller size that would allow for decent gas mileage, but be big enough to seat (most of) us comfortably. With those expectations in mind, it truly did not disappoint. In fact, it really impressed us.
My last experience with a Toyota RAV4 was about 20 years ago when I was still living in the Virgin Islands. What I remember was not a luxurious memory — more a rugged workhorse kind of a vehicle. But the 2017 version completely changed that perception for the better. The two-tone leather interior left a gorgeous first impression. The seats felt like butter, and even the dashboard was covered in leather. It really felt like we were rolling in style — which is nice even when that wasn’t the initial goal.
The RAV4, like most modern cars, has a keyless entry and push-button start, which is always awesome until that moment when you get to your destination and can’t find the keys. Yes. This actually happened. The key has to be in close proximity to the car in order for it to start, so we knew we had it when the car started. But paranoia led us to wonder if we’d dropped it on the driveway. Then we remembered that the car will let you know when it’s on if the key gets more than a few feet away, so there’s no way we could’ve driven off leaving the key behind without some kind of major alert. Luckily, the keys turned out to be in my husband’s jacket pocket in the back seat. Crisis averted — because we were 40 minutes from home when we realized this.
Anyway, the RAV4 delivers a smooth ride, and the interior space is really comfortable. Our 4-year-old rides in a large convertible car seat, and she had more than adequate leg room in the backseat. Enough room for her not to kick the front seat — which, let’s be honest, is pretty important. And the trunk space is really nice too — perfect for carting around grocery orders or bikes for trips to the park.
Overall, the RAV4 feels like driving in something much bigger than it is. So much so that I came out of the grocery store one afternoon and couldn’t find it in the parking lot — because I somehow thought it was much bigger from the exterior. I was looking right at it and just knew that the small SUV in front of me couldn’t be the spacious RAV4 we’d been riding around in.
The RAV4 is a great family car that we’d definitely recommend to anyone looking for a small SUV.