Toyota RAV4 Model Years to Avoid Buying

The Toyota RAV4 has been a safe, reliable, and luxurious SUV throughout its life. It’s one of the most popular options in its class for a reason. However, there have been some model years that aren’t as good as others. If you’re in the market for a used Toyota RAV4, these are the model years you’ll want to avoid buying.

Why avoid buying these Toyota RAV4 model years?

Any vehicles that earn the avoid label tend to be unreliable, have tons of mechanical issues requiring repairs, or just aren’t as good as other model years. Since the RAV4 is such a well-rounded choice for SUV purchasers, it’s easy to assume they’re all fair game. Using Consumer Reports reliability and owner satisfaction, plus Car Complaints list of common complaints directly from owners, we can determine which Toyota RAV4 model years to avoid buying.

Avoid the 2006 Toyota RAV4

A 2006 Toyota RAV4, a used SUV you should avoid buying.
2006 Toyota RAV4 | ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP via Getty Images

The 2006 Toyota RAV4 has hundreds of complaints from owners listed on Car Complaints. Additionally, the NHTSA received hundreds more. Most of them are related to engine and steering problems. These can be very expensive to deal with, especially the excessive oil consumption 2006 RAV4 engines are known for. It’s a problem you don’t want to deal with and means you should avoid buying it.

Consumer Reports gave it a 3 out of 5 rating for reliability and owner satisfaction. Like the users of Car Complaints, CR listed the engine as a significant problem area. Notably, owners were disappointed with the 2006 model’s overall driving experience, comfort, and value.

The 2007 Toyota RAV4 got even worse

You’d think the next model year following a bad one would get better, but that’s not the case. The 2007 Toyota RAV4 is even worse than the 2006 model. Unfortunately, the same issues continued to plague the Japanese SUV. Engine and steering problems were at the forefront, but exhaust problems weren’t too far behind. According to the NHTSA, the same excessive oil consumption complaint came from upwards of 160 people, and over 190 agreed.

Consumer Reports gave the 2007 model the identical scores as its predecessor. Even the engine got the same bad ratings it did the year prior. Unfortunately, CR’s styling and comfort scores got even worse than the 2006 model. Not only was the 2007 RAV4 full of problems, but it was also uncomfortable and poorly designed.

2008 Toyota RAV4: when will it end?

A 2008 Toyota RAV4, avoid buying this SUV because of its engine problems.
2008 Toyota RAV 4 | National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images

How long did it take for Toyota to fix the many engine issues? Longer than three years. In this section of model years, all three suffer from the same problems. While the 2007 model remains the worst with the most online complaints, the 2008 isn’t much of an improvement. Still, over 100 complaints about excessive oil consumption make it easy to give the 2008 model the avoid label.

As for the experts at CR, the reliability score grew in 2008. This model year received a 4 out of 5 for reliability, one point higher than the previous two. Owner satisfaction remained the same, and unfortunately, a new major issue reared its ugly head. Consumer Reports gave the 2008 RAV4‘s drive system a 1 out of 5, significantly lower than previous models. Lastly, its comfort improved a bit from 2007, but still received a low, low score of 42 out of 100.

The 2013 RAV4 has new problems

A 2013 Toyota RAV4, avoid buying this used SUV
2013 Toyota RAV4 | Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Toyota got its act together for a few years, and the RAV4 was primarily unproblematic. However, in 2013 new issues surfaced and put this model year on the no-buy list. This time it isn’t the engine though, instead, it is interior accessories, body and paint, and transmission problems, primarily.

Consumer Reports didn’t experience the same issues as those reported to Car Complaints or the NHTSA. Instead, the experts gave the 2013 Toyota RAV4 a perfect 5 out of 5 reliability rating. However, owner satisfaction is down to 2 out of 5 due to several reasons. Specifically, poor comfort and ride quality made owners dislike the 2013 model. CR reported noise, poor quality interior, a lack of trunk space, poor emergency handling, and lousy fuel economy.

Tread lightly with the 2019 Toyota RAV4

2019 Toyota RAV4, the most recent model year to avoid buying used
2019 Toyota RAV4 | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The 1 Toyota RAV4 Model Year You Should Always Avoid

Although this model year isn’t nearly as bad as the others on the list, treat each one cautiously. We’d recommend careful inspection of a model from this year if you’re interested in buying one. According to Car Complaints, many people have experienced transmission issues, and the NHTSA reports hundreds of fuel system problems. Although that might not be true for everyone, check vehicle history reports thoroughly.

As for Consumer Reports, it does not recommend buying the 2019 Toyota RAV4. Both reliability and owner satisfaction received an abysmal score of 2 out of 5. Some of the biggest problem areas noted by CR are overall value, trunk space, noise while driving, and minor transmission issues.

Is the Toyota RAV4 a good used SUV?

Overall, the Toyota RAV4 is a great SUV option if you’re buying used. Like many Toyota models, it’s very reliable and tends to last a long time with proper care. However, some of these model years are ones you should avoid buying. If an SUV is known for having major mechanical issues, it’s best to steer away from that problem before it occurs.