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Toyota is a best-selling automaker. The Japanese automaker is highly competitive in the small SUV segment. One of Toyota’s best SUVs on the market today is the RAV4. The 2024 version of the compact SUV is just around the corner. What, if anything, prevents it from being a top option in its segment?

What we know about the 2024 Toyota RAV4

A white Toyota RAV4 small SUV is parked.
The Toyota RAV4 | Toyota

Unlike many of its rivals, the 2024 Toyota RAV4 is not expected to get any major updates for now. The 2024 version of the SUV should be similar to the 2023 model year. That said, the current generation of the RAV4 has been around since 2019. It may not get a complete redesign until 2025.

Toyota hasn’t released too many details about the 2024 version of the SUV yet. Thus far, the new model year doesn’t seem to be getting any noteworthy upgrades, which could cause it to fall behind competitors.

2024 Toyota RAV4 potential drawbacks

A white Toyota RAV4 small SUV is driving uphill.
The Toyota RAV4 | Toyota

Toyota currently only offers one engine option for the gas RAV4. It’s a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that gets 203 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque.

That engine is a reliable workhorse that Toyota installs on various other models, but it’s a weak engine in a compact SUV like the RAV4. It only allows the Toyota SUV to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 9.1 seconds. That’s a slower acceleration time than other SUVs in the segment get. It’s not a terrible engine by any means, but poor acceleration can make highway driving bland and even annoying.

The second issue has to do with its steering. Toyota’s small SUV doesn’t exactly have world-class handling. Sportier small SUVs like the Mazda CX-5 make this weakness even more apparent.

Why do drivers like the Toyota RAV4?

A white Toyota RAV4 small SUV is driving through the water.
The 2023 Toyota RAV4 | Toyota

The Toyota RAV4 may not be the obvious choice in its segment due to stiff competition, but there’s still plenty to love about it. Toyota’s small SUV remains one of the most affordable and efficient options for families. Additionally, it’s reliable enough to stand the test of time.

Drivers don’t get a Toyota RAV4 for exciting driving dynamics or a bold exterior design. It isn’t known for having the best materials or standard tech either. The Toyota RAV4 shines brightest for drivers who want a practical, long-lasting small SUV that won’t break the bank. Getting a used model can provide even more value, thanks to depreciation.

The Toyota RAV4 doesn’t have to be the belle of the ball to be a best-selling model. It just has to remain trusty and attainable enough for the average consumer. The nameplate has staying power despite new and shinier competitors popping up from rivals like Mazda.

Toyota’s small SUV is no Mazda CX-5 (or CX-50). It may never compete with the Tesla Model Y in sales again. New nameplates and innovation aside, the RAV4 still has a legendary value proposition. Despite driving several more exciting small SUVs myself, I’d still get a used RAV4 model as an automotive journalist. And that counts for something. Right?


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