With brand-new models coming out each year, competition in the compact SUV segment is fierce. The Toyota RAV4 has been around for many years, but it’s still one of the automaker’s best-selling vehicles. However, the latest RAV4 didn’t make the best impression with Consumer Reports.
The 2021 Toyota RAV4 got an overall score of 69 out of 100, putting it near the middle of the site’s compact SUV ratings. While this isn’t a terrible score, CR doesn’t think as highly of the RAV4 as it did in previous years. Could this affect the success of the 2021 Toyota RAV4?
Why Consumer Reports didn’t like the 2021 Toyota RAV4
Consumer Reports was very critical about the Toyota RAV4’s redesign, which took place for the 2019 model year. It’s not as spacious as the previous generation’s model, but CR still says there’s plenty of room to move around. However, the seats don’t have many adjustability options and the passenger seat cushions lack support.
CR also wasn’t impressed with all the hard plastic used throughout the RAV4’s cabin. There’s very little soft padding on the armrests or door panels, and some components don’t fit correctly. On the upside, the dashboard looks more upscale and the steering wheel buttons have a nice feel to them.
Behind the wheel of the 2021 Toyota RAV4, CR heard a lot of complaints from the engine, particularly on the highway. The RAV4 got a more powerful engine for its redesign, a 2.5-liter four-cylinder capable of 203 hp. CR said that the SUV’s handling is better than the previous generation’s, but far from athletic.
CR also thought that the ride quality got worse for the RAV4 after its redesign. While the suspension absorbs most major bumps, smaller imperfections can give riders some startling jolts. The transmission works well, albeit a little too loud for CR’s liking.
Better alternatives according to Consumer Reports
The 2021 Chevy Equinox got a slightly higher ranking than the Toyota RAV4, mostly due to its more pleasant ride quality. Its suspension works better and CR wasn’t bothered by any interior or exterior noise. CR also found that the Equinox’s infotainment system was one of the most user-friendly in the segment.
However, the Chevy Equinox still falls victim to the same flaws of its Toyota rival. It has a dull, uninspired interior and isn’t quite as agile as other compact SUVs. It also has the same average reliability rating.
The Kia Sportage is more reliable than both the RAV4 and the Equinox, boasting a perfect dependability rating from CR. Even better, it’s vastly more athletic than its rivals and has a more upscale interior. Despite being cheaper than the RAV4, it still has many great standard features like automatic emergency braking and smartphone integration.
According to Consumer Reports, the best compact SUV you can buy is the Subaru Forester. It has responsive handling, a comfortable interior, and even some light off-roading capabilities. CR did detect some low engine humming, but nothing too intrusive.
Could the Toyota RAV4 see a decrease in sales?
The disapproval from Consumer Reports doesn’t seem to have made a dent in the Toyota RAV4’s sales thus far. The 2020 RAV4 sold almost 100,000 units just for the first quarter of this year. It sold nearly 120,000 units during the third quarter.
The new model isn’t perfect, but the Toyota RAV4 already has a dedicated following and years of success on its side. Additionally, Toyota itself is a highly respected automaker among both critics and customers. If the 2021 Toyota RAV4’s sales do suffer, it certainly won’t be the fault of Consumer Reports.