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2013 Toyota Rav4

This is not the old RAV4 with the big rear door that swung open sideways like your front door.

This is the new, completely re-designed RAV4 that can stand toe-to-toe with all the other contenders in this popular and crowded field.

Small SUV's continue go be one of the most popular vehicles on the road these days…and the new RAV4 is one of the reasons why.

It's "right-sized"…with the ability to carry five people and a bunch of their stuff…or fewer people and a whole lot of stuff….yet still fit into the average parking space easily.

You sit "SUV-high"…just like everyone seems to want these day…you get decent gas mileage…you'll merge onto freeways effortlessly….you'll do it all at a price that's under the average transaction price these days…and you'll look smart and stylish while doing it all.

Plus you get decent mileage on regular gas.    What's not to like?

Toyota's RAV4 comes with a 2.5 liter, 176 HP four-cylinder and 6-speed auto.

Yesterday's 6-cylinder has been discontinued….and it doesn't seem to be missed.   The auto comes with "eco", normal and "sport" modes….and both normal and sport move the RAV4 down the road quite smartly.

As with most Toyotas, the RAV4 comes in LE, XLE and "Limited" trim…in both front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive.

The price of entry starts at $24,145 including transportation…and runs up to $27,855 for a well-equipped "Limited".

Our test RAV4 was a Limited All-Wheel-Drive version with a$1,660 audio package including nav, Toyota's "etune", and just about all the connectivity and voice-recognition that you could want.   With a $500 blind-spot-monitor, our RAV4 listed at $31,415.   Drop the AWD, and you'll be right around 30K even.

One area in which Toyota seems to out-shine their competition is their interiors.

Our Limited came with an attractive two-tone imitation leather called Softex.  It seems to live up to it's name…feeling soft to the touch, yet looking like it'll out-wear leather.   Time will tell, but the two-tone effect looks rich…and more appealing than the competition's monotone offerings.

Mileage for the RAV4 is rated at 24 – 31 for front wheel drive and 22 – 29 for all-wheel-drive.   We got a hair over 25 in our typical commute….but most of that was spent with the transmission selector in "sport".

The RAV4 is up against Honda's popular CUV, Ford's Escape, Mazda's new C5, and Nissan's soon-to-be released Rogue….to name a few.

Which one to pick?    It'll probably come down to which one you think looks better…which one fits you best.

With the new RAV4, Toyota has a contender that can hold it's own with the best of 'em!DSCN5289DSCN5290DSCN5291 DSCN5292DSCN5288DSCN5287

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