2020 Toyota RAV4: The Ways America’s Best-Selling Crossover Went Wrong

The 2020 Toyota RAV4 checks many boxes, so it’s easy to see why it’s a top-seller. This Toyota delivers on comfort, utility, and even luxurious amenities. However, there are few ways the RAV4 has gone wrong, and it’s starting to impact Toyota’s reputation. 

Respected critics say the RAV4 is no longer a class leader

2019 Toyota RAV4 is on display at the 111th Annual Chicago Auto Show at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois on February 8, 2019.
Toyota RAV4 | Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Toyota’s RAV4 essentially started the crossover game back in the mid-1990s. As Consumer Reports notes, the RAV4 set the standard for the crossover SUV class. But today, CR says no longer considers it as a class leader. CR ranks the RAV4 as a mid-pack option in the 2020 compact SUV group since more refined models are in the class. Other respected critics, including U.S. News, echo these sentiments.

There are a few reasons why the RAV4 sits in the middle on a few different lists. CR doesn’t like how loud the RAV4’s engine gets at higher speeds. The org also felt that rivals, including the Subaru Forester, ride more comfortably. U.S. News favors the Honda CR-V because it’s slightly cheaper than the RAV4. Car and Driver likes the RAV4 overall but says that it “doesn’t inspire the same confidence” that the Mazda CX-5 does. 

2020 Toyota RAV4 recalls 

2020 Toyota RAV4 Moose Test | Teknikens Värld
2020 Toyota RAV4 Moose Test | Teknikens Värld

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Some buyers might be turned off by the recalls associated with the 2020 RAV4. There are currently four. The first two recalls concern the SUV’s engine and suspension control. Another relates to its power steering system. And early in November 2020, Toyota recalled the RAV4 again for a potential concern with its fuel system. 

The good news here is that Toyota exercised caution to make sure its drivers remain safe. They notified impacted owners promptly about the concerns. But as CR said, dealing with trouble spots early on in a new car is frustrating for owners. 

The least reliable Toyota 

2020 RAV4 TRD edition driving on dirt road
2020 RAV4 TRD | Toyota

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CR recently updated its list of most reliable car brands, and Toyota came in second this year. Most of Toyota’s models are above-average for predicted reliability. However, the RAV4 brought Toyota’s overall score down and is the least reliable Toyota. The SUV got a 49 overall score, reflecting the minor problem with its fuel system, transmission, and electronic issues. Class rivals, including the CX-5, CR-V, and Forester, received better ratings in this category. 

Should I buy a 2020 RAV4?

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The 2020 RAV4 does have a few trouble spots, but it’s still a recommended choice by CR and many others. It’s also one of the safest Toyota SUVs. As we’ve said before, the RAV4 is a best-selling model because of its diverse trim levels and for its hybrid options. So if versatility is what you want, the RAV4 is still a practical choice.

You still might want to explore other options before you settle on the RAV4. The 2021 Nissan Rogue is giving Toyota a run for its money. Consider the Forester if you want standard all-wheel-drive or the CR-V for a quieter driving experience.