The Toyota RAV4 XLE Premium Hits the Sweet Spot

You really don’t have to look much further than the standard Toyota RAV4  LE trim. The 2021 RAV4 comes with just about everything you would expect a modern new car to have, including advanced safety features and smartphone integration. Still, you might want to spend a little extra for the goodies on the XLE Premium trim. 

What features come standard on the 2021 Toyota RAV4? 

A green 2021 Toyota RAV4 parked with a mountain in the background
The 2021 Toyota RAV4 on display | Photo via Toyota

As we mentioned, the RAV4 comes with many desirable features, so you might not feel the need to upgrade. Base models begin at $26,150. The RAV4 comes with a robust suite of driver’s assistance technology. Every RAV4 has Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 safety functions, including a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert, and road sign assist. 

Additionally, the RAV4 comes with LED headlights, automatic high beams, and an adaptive cruise control function. If you’re a tech-lover like me, you’ll also appreciate that the RAV4 comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Its standard 7-inch touchscreen is pretty intuitive too. 

But as Consumer Reports notes, some aspects of pairing your phone with the RAV4 aren’t as convenient. For instance, the phone icon on the steering wheel button opens up your entire contact list, not the most recent calls. Class rivals, including the Subaru Forester, have more user-friendly functions. 

Why the XLE Premium is worth the extra money 

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If you’d like to dress up your RAV4, it’s worth going for the mid-level XLE Premium trim. The XLE Premium model adds 19-inch chrome alloy wheels, fog lights, a power-adjustable liftgate, and a powered sunroof. Naturally, you get a few more amenities on the inside too. 

The XLE Premium replaces the RAV4’s standard cloth upholstery with synthetic leather. Plus, this model comes with a power-adjustable driver’s seat and dual-zone automatic climate control. The starting price for an XLE Premium model is $30,150.

No matter the trim, all RAV4s get the same engine 

2021 RAV4 TRD Off Road
2021 RAV4 TRD Off Road | Toyota

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The RAV4’s sole engine option is a 203-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder linked to an eight-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive is standard, but you can add on Toyota’s all-wheel-drive system as an upgrade. One of the best aspects of the RAV4’s performance is its fuel economy.

Models with FWD have an EPA rating of 30 mpg overall, which is impressive for the small SUV class. Opting for AWD only lowers fuel economy by a point. If eco-friendliness is a bigger priority for you, consider the hybridized version. The RAV4 Hybrid can return a combined 40 mpg and comes with AWD. 

In addition to its efficiency, critics also recognize the RAV4 for its relatively quick acceleration. The regular gas-powered model can go from 0-60 mph in about 8 seconds. There a few drawbacks to consider, though.

The most common critique about the RAV4 is that its engine gets loud at higher speeds. Road testers at Edmunds also note that its steering can feel vague at times. But despite these criticisms, the RAV4 is still America’s best-selling crossover for understandable reasons.