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The Toyota RAV4 is one of the best-selling vehicles. That said, not everyone can afford a brand-new RAV4. In that case, it’s a good idea to shop for a used model instead. But buying an older model might mean sacrificing safety. So here’s a look at the Toyota RAV4 model years that are not only affordable but also supremely safe.

The IIHS recommends these safe, affordable cars

A 2015 Toyota RAV4 XLE parked on a dusty dirt road
2015 Toyota RAV4 XLE | Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, safety and affordability are two of the most important things to consider when buying a car. There are many ways to measure safety, and the IIHS looks at many of them. Off the bat, the IIHS tests many cars itself. Its scientists and engineers perform various crashes to ensure they test as many accident scenarios as possible. 

The cars that perform the best earn an award from the IIHS. Top Safety Pick is one of its highest honors, but Top Safety Pick+ is the best. To win either award, a car must pass multiple crash tests and provide several standard safety features. But the IIHS also uses National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash-test ratings when available.

In terms of affordability, the IIHS looked at used cars that cost $6,000 to $20,000. This price range ensures the car is affordable but still new enough to offer enough safety features.

The safest, most affordable Toyota RAV4 model years

According to the IIHS, any 2015 or newer Toyota RAV4 manufactured after November 2014 is among the safest and most affordable SUVs you can buy. This is because the 2015 RAV4 received a safety-related update mid-model year. That update was partially why the IIHS named the next model year a Top Safety Pick+.

Plus, because of the 2015 Toyota RAV4’s price, around $14,900, it’s an affordable compact SUV. It costs about as much as many of its peers, too. For example, you can find a used 2015 Honda CR-V for about $14,800, while the 2018 Hyundai Kona costs about $15,800.

That said, buying a more recent Toyota RAV4 model year will cost more. However, many should still come in under $20,000 if you buy them used.

An overview of the 2015 Toyota RAV4


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As safe as the 2015 Toyota RAV4 is, it isn’t flawless. According to Consumer Reports, the 2015 model was recalled three times. Fortunately, that isn’t a huge number of recalls, and they all happened around the model’s debut. In addition, some of those recalls affected only a few thousand vehicles. And the best news is there hasn’t been a recall on the 2015 RAV4 since 2015, so it’s been reliable and safe since then. 

That shouldn’t be too surprising because Toyota is known for its reliability. Overall, Consumer Reports gave the 2015 RAV4 a perfect 5 out of 5 in reliability, as it has had few problems.

However, it’s not a perfect car in other ways. Though spacious, the cabin is pretty noisy, and the 2015 model has an “overly firm” ride, CR says. So it’s no surprise its comfort ratings are mediocre. 

But overall, the 2015 Toyota RAV4’s benefits outweigh its drawbacks. For instance, it gets good gas mileage, about 24 mpg combined. And despite being a compact SUV, the RAV4 offers plenty of room. Not only are its rear seats spacious, but it can also carry quite a bit of cargo.

For those reasons, you should consider the 2015 Toyota RAV4 if you’re looking for a used small SUV.