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When it comes to selecting the right family vehicle, it’s important to find one that has a capable balance of connectivity, convenience, reliability, safety, and space. Sometimes you need something bigger for a large family. But it’s entirely possible to find a vehicle that has all of those qualities and still be flawed. The 2021 Toyota RAV4 is, for the most part, a great vehicle for a family. There’s just one really annoying problem it presents.

The 2021 Toyota RAV4

The highly versatile 2021 Toyota RAV4 can be many things. It can be upscale or rugged, budget-friendly, or opulent. You can even get one equipped for the road less traveled. 

The RAV4 has a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine under its hood mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. It comes with front-wheel drive standard, but you can get all-wheel drive with the LE, XLE, XLE Premium, and Limited models. AWD is standard on Adventure and TRD Off-Road models.

Its shape calls to mind the 4Runner and Tacoma. But while it looks a little like that SUV and truck, it has a car-like base that provides a far smoother ride than either of them. There’s plenty of room inside and the materials are both good quality and durable.

Just keep in mind that the base model doesn’t offer a lot of the popular convenience features like blind-spot monitoring, power-adjustable seats, push-button start, and more.

Just one annoying problem

For all that the Toyota RAV4 has going for it, it has one very annoying problem: engine noise in the cabin.

If you have little ones and taking them for a drive with white noise in the background will help you get them to sleep? You’re in luck. Otherwise, if you have teenagers trying to listen to music on the daily commute or you’re having trouble listening to your favorite podcast, it might be a deal-breaker.

If you want a quieter, comparable option, you might check out the 2021 Mazda CX-5. It has one of the quietest cabins in the class thanks to the quiet performance of its naturally-aspirated 2.5-liter engine and six-speed automatic transmission. The CX-5 also has amazing predicted reliability ratings across many model years.

You might also consider the 2021 Chevy Equinox. Not only is it quiet, but it’s also affordable. Powered by a 1.5-liter turbocharged engine, the Equinox is a quiet, well-executed compact SUV for the money. It doesn’t have the stellar predicted reliability ratings as the CX-5. But if that’s an acceptable risk for you, it offers great value.

The best compact SUV for families


The Most Popular 2021 Toyota RAV4 Trim Isn’t Exactly the Best

The team at U.S. News named the 2021 Toyota RAV4 the best compact SUV for families. They appreciated its practicality with its abundance of both cargo and passenger space and its strong safety ratings. 

If you have small children, you should know that the latest RAV4 offers two sets of LATCH connectors which got a Good rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Car seats for the little ones are easy to install. It also offers a rear seatbelt reminder to let you know when someone isn’t buckled up yet before you start your trip.

Active safety features are an integral part of the RAV4’s design. The Toyota Safety Sense 2.0 suite of driver-assist features is standard across the lineup. Within that suite are automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane-keep assist, and pedestrian detection. It also has a lot of great comfort and convenience features like USB ports in the back, heated rear seats, and a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Despite its annoying engine noise problem, it’s not unwise to consider the 2021 Toyota RAV4 for your next family SUV.