It’s no secret America loves trucks. Even during the pandemic, popular pickups like the Ford F-150 and Chevy Silverado still sold upward of 500,000 units each. This trend continues into 2021. But SUVs like the Toyota RAV4 have also succeeded.
Car and Driver reports the RAV4 is the best-selling non-truck so far this year. Its most popular rival, the Honda CR-V, trails behind by more than 20,000 units. How many RAV4s have sold so far in 2021, and what makes this compact crossover so popular?
The Toyota RAV4 is still tough to beat
The Toyota RAV4 sold a whopping 114,225 units in the first quarter of this year, increasing 20 percent over 2020. The RAV4 sold more than 430,000 units last year, so it’s on track to smash that record in 2021. This compact SUV was also the best-selling non-truck vehicle in 2020.
Although the Honda CR-V and Nissan Rogue couldn’t top the RAV4’s success, both still had healthy sales increases. Another Toyota vehicle, the Camry, is the best-selling sedan of 2021’s first quarter, with 78,151 units sold. The Nissan Sentra fared the worst in Q1 2021, but its sales are up by 56 percent over last year.
What critics love about the Toyota RAV4
Although it’s not a truck, the Toyota RAV4 is capable in its own right. Its 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine provides 203 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is also pretty good for a non-hybrid, with front-wheel drive models getting 28/35 mpg city/highway.
The RAV4 Adventure and TRD Off-Road models come with an upgraded towing capacity of 3,500 pounds. Highlights of the Adventure trim include a multi-terrain select system and all-wheel drive with Dynamic Torque Vectoring. The TRD Off-Road is more rough-ready with its sport-tuned suspension, higher ground clearance, all-terrain tires, and fog lights.
The RAV4 XLE Premium, a new mid-grade offering for 2021, pleased Car and Driver with its performance. Though not exciting, it handles like a sedan around corners and is quicker than last year’s model. This trim also comes with upgraded interior features like synthetic leather seats, dual-zone climate control, and a moonroof.
The Toyota RAV4 can seat up to five passengers, and most adults will have adequate room to stretch out. Interior storage is plentiful, with 38 cubic feet of space behind the second row. The rear row folds almost completely flat so that you can take advantage of nearly 70 cubic feet of storage behind the front row.
All RAV4 trims come standard with a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with smartphone integration, a mobile hotspot, Bluetooth, and satellite radio. Car and Driver enjoyed optional features like a larger touchscreen, upgraded audio system, and wireless charging pad.
Even more impressive about the RAV4 is its value regarding safety features. Each model comes with lane-keeping assist, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, road sign recognition, cruise control, and forward-collision warning. The TRD Off-Road adds on a 360-degree backup camera and parking sensors.
But the RAV4 isn’t perfect
The Toyota RAV4’s relatively strong engine becomes noisy when pushed to the limit, Car and Driver reports. Even with its long list of standard features, the base-model LE isn’t the best deal at $27,425. The range-topping TRD Off-Road and Limited trims are also expensive by class standards, especially with optional packages.
However, given its efficiency and variety of trim levels, we can see why the Toyota RAV4 is so popular. Its redesign for the 2019 model year gave it a more rugged, truck-like appearance, putting it in a position to compete with larger rivals. The RAV4’s warranty also includes two years of free scheduled maintenance, improving its value.