These Toyota RAV4 Model Years Are 4 of the Best Used Compact SUVs Under $15,000, U.S. News Claims

Assessing the value of a used vehicle is a daunting task. However, it’s still possible to go to any number of used car websites to search for a particular model, such as a Toyota RAV4, and sort by price. Of course, the process gets more complicated when the desired search includes all compact SUVs. Therefore, sorting by price and determining a vehicle’s true value are sometimes very different things.

Finding the best used compact SUV

The Toyota RAV4 redesign debut at the LA Auto Show at the city's convention center
The Toyota RAV4 redesign debut at the LA Auto Show | Ted Soqui/Corbis via Getty Images

If you are considering buying a used compact SUV, it is a good idea to include U.S. News‘ list of “Best Used Compact SUVs under $15k for 2021” in your research. In fact, U.S. News has a comparison lists for nearly any type of vehicle for sale in the United States, ranging from new to used cars, trucks, vans, SUVs, and hybrids.

U.S. News uses a rating system based on various professional automobile agency data, including reliability scores from J.D. Power, safety ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), cost of ownership from Kelly Blue Book (KBB), and expert opinion ratings from Car and Driver, Edmunds, and other reporting entities. The U.S. News scorecard results in an overall average score for each vehicle on a 10-point scale.

Toyota RAV4 models take four of the top 20 spots.

With overall scores ranging from 8.5 to 9.0, Toyota RAV4 models from 2009 through 2012 performed well in the U.S. News rankings taking four places in the top 20. RAV4 model years 2012 and 2010 scored 9.0 overall, placing them in a tie for second place alongside the 2010 Subaru Forester and 2011 Honda CR-V and only one-tenth of a point behind the first place 2010 Honda CR-V.

The 2009 Toyota RAV4 placed 14th on the list with an overall score of 8.6 tied with the 2009 and 2011 Mazda CX-7, 2009 Chevrolet Equinox, 2012 GMC Terrain, and 2013 Mazda CX-5. An overall score of 8.5 earned the 2011 RAV4 20th place on the list tied with the 2013 Honda CR-V, 2013 Hyundai Tucson, 2012 Subaru Forester, 2010 Mazda CX-7, and 2010 Mitsubishi Outlander.

Toyota RAV4 pros and cons

It appears that these Toyota RAV4 models have maintained their status in the U.S. News rankings. In their respective years of “Affordable Compact SUV” rankings by U.S. News, the 2012 RAV4 placed first, 2010 placed second, 2009 placed third, and 2011 placed fifth. The most common positive remarks across these four RAV4 models include the strong V6 engine option, solid reliability rating, ample cargo space, and third-row seating. Except for the 2011 RAV4, the other three model years, as discussed, received high marks for safety as well.

While there are very few cons associated with these four individual year models of RAV4, as mentioned above, the 2011 RAV4 received an 8.4 of 10 rating for safety, where the other three are rated 9.1 to 9.4. Another area of negative remarks involves the available third-row seating. It is really no surprise that the third-row seat in a compact SUV has limited space, but it is still a point against the RAV4. However, the final source of negativity for the Toyota RAV4 is surprising given Toyota’s reputation for quality, that being negative remarks for low-quality cabin materials. U.S. News reviewers noted an interior “neither stylish nor upscale,” with styling that falls behind its competitors, such as cheap-feeling plastic components. They also noted an undesirable amount of wind and road noise heard from inside the cabin while driving.

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