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Car manufacturing plants throughout the country remain closed due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This has caused production to come to a halt with automobile sales plummeting in the United States. While most car companies are reporting huge first-quarter losses for 2020, Toyota experienced a 16.5 percent gain with sales of the Toyota RAV4 compared to the same period last year.

This popular vehicle is dominating the small SUV market, even though Consumer Reports is quick to point out that the RAV4 is no longer the best in class in its segment.

Lackluster reviews of the 2020 Toyota RAV4

Consumer Reports gave the 2020 Toyota RAV4 an overall score of 72 out of 100. Less than impressed after taking it for a road test, they felt the changes made in the redesign lowered the reliability of this new model.

The test drivers commented that “the ride takes a step backward compared to earlier generations.” The predicted reliability and predicted owner satisfaction of the RAV4 received a score of 3 out 5.

The fit and finish combined with the engine noise were noted as the low points of this top-selling vehicle. High points included the fuel efficiency and standard advanced safety features, but that wasn’t enough to change their minds about the overall performance of this year’s RAV4.

The 2020 redesign made for an uncomfortable ride

It appears Toyota was going for a more rugged look with a feel similar to its line of trucks. The RAV4 was shortened by a few inches and lowered closer to the ground.

The change in size made for notably less room for passengers while limiting rear headroom and making it harder to get in and out of the vehicle. The cargo room was also reduced, substantially reducing the cargo-carrying capacity. The uninspiring interior filled with hard plastic made the 2020 RAV4 feel much cheaper compared to other competitors in its class.

Annoying engine noise

The RAV4 all-wheel drive SUV is quick in its class, with an acceleration rate of 8.3 seconds to go from 0 – 60 mph. This improvement in speed capabilities doesn’t compensate for the noisy engine and stiff shifting. 

Consumer Reports reported an “irritating drone” sound combined with a “gritty throb” that made the overall driving experience cumbersome. Although the improved steering response allowed for a sturdier ride, the vehicle seemed to bounce on uneven driving surfaces. US News reported that the 2020 RAV4 “lacks the punchy turbocharger of many rivals.”

Dominating small SUV sales in the United States

Despite the lackluster review from Consumer Reports, the RAV4 continues to dominate small SUV sales in the U.S., selling a class-leading 97,631 units in Q1 2020. This is an impressive amount of movement, considering the Honda CR-V sold 71,186 units and the Mazda CX-5 a mere 35,211 units for the same timeframe.

The MSRP sticker price is $25,950 on the 2020 Toyota RAV4. Kelley Blue Book lists the RAV4 on the list of Best Family Cars, claiming the vehicle is an affordable choice that retains its value.

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is quickly gaining in popularity, taking business away from the Prius all-electric product line. The hybrid crossover SUV is appealing to both families and those looking for improved fuel efficiency. 

Consumer Reports felt the hybrid version of the RAV4 was “more pleasant to drive than the regular one.” The electric drive provided the necessary power without all the engine noise of the 2020 RAV4. Getting 37 mpg was the deciding factor for road testers who felt the hybrid was the better option when it came to this year’s model of the RAV4.