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Compact SUVs, such as the Toyota RAV4, appeal to a wide range of consumers. These vehicles are often fuel-efficient, spacious, and handle better than larger SUVs or trucks. Who isn’t intrigued by that?

Considering that many car buyers are on the lookout for the ultimate deal in the used market, the 2004-2005 Toyota RAV4 might just be one of the best options out there. The 2004-05 RAV4 is more than just a hidden gem for savvy shoppers. It’s also a great option for first-time drivers and those in their sunset years looking for a simple, yet reliable, vehicle.

Consumer Reports lists these classic RAV4 model years as some of the top used-car buys under $5,000. However, it warns against buying any models older than the 2004 Toyota RAV4 due to a lack of electronic stability control.

What makes the 2004-2005 Toyota RAV4 stand out?

Shopping for a used car is ultimately finding the perfect blend of value, reliability, and practicality. That’s exactly what this used Toyota RAV4 delivers.

It’s no wonder why Toyota drivers adore their vehicles. It’s because the manufacturer tends to make pretty dependable vehicles.

Consumer Reports gave the 2004-05 RAV4 a 4/5 rating in predicted reliability. Plus, the 2005 RAV4 has had just five recalls since its release, and the 2004 model has only had two. 

Additionally, Consumer Reports cited the 2004-05 RAV4’s ride quality and noise isolation as positives compared to other models of similar years. However, Consumer Reports concedes that these attributes won’t match that of a more recent model.

New drivers and senior drivers alike will appreciate the RAV4’s nimble handling. It’s a smooth ride with the built-in advantage of extra height one would expect to find in an SUV. Buyers won’t have to worry much about ding, dents, or fender benders thanks to its easy driveability and low cost to buy.

Performance that holds up well over a decade later

The 2004-2005 Toyota RAV4’s fuel economy is also remarkable for an SUV of its time. The EPA estimates that drivers will get 21 MPG in the city and 27 MPG on the highway in front-wheel-drive models.

However, the SUV doesn’t sacrifice a lively driving experience for efficiency. Edmunds’ review of the 2004 Toyota RAV4 notes how the engine was upgraded during its 2004 refresh. This 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine delivers 161 hp, which doesn’t lag too far behind the 203-hp four-cylinder engine of the brand-new 2021 Toyota RAV4.

Prospective buyers will have some options available to them when picking out a used 2004 or 2005 Toyota RAV4. It is available with a four-speed automatic transmission or a five-speed manual transmission. Plus, some models are outfitted with an available all-wheel-drive system and daytime running lights.

An older SUV that’s ready for new adventures


How Reliable Is the Toyota RAV4?

The 2004-2005 Toyota RAV4 has certainly stood the test of time and presents itself as a formidable vehicle in the used market. Not only has this compact SUV’s dependability and durability withstood time, but its performance has also aged gracefully. 

Those looking for a used SUV under $5,000 would be wise to add this classic model to their wishlist, as it certainly has plenty of gas left in the tank.