2015 Toyota RAV4 is the Sensible Compact Crossover

The RAV4 is often credited for starting the compact crossover market and was certainly one of the firsts. Its small size, versatility, and smart economy made it a favorite. Now, though, the arena of compacts is filled with great choices and the 2015 RAV4 has a tougher time standing out. Yet it is still a contender for its focus on core competencies.

Quick Specs & Info

2015 Toyota RAV4 Class: Compact crossover
Base Model As Tested: Limited AWD
Powertrain 2.5L i4, 6spd auto Powertrain 2.5L i4, 6spd auto
Base MSRP $23,680 MSRP as tested $33,808


2015 Toyota RAV4 - park 2 - AOA1200pxThe 2015 RAV4 is almost identical to the 2013 model we reviewed last year. A new wheel option package and power liftgate in the higher XLE trim are new and the Entune infotainment has a usability update. A versatile nature and smart daily use are still core to the RAV4.

As expected, the 2015 RAV4 is beset with a generous cargo area, good passenger seating, and an agile nature. The RAV4 isn’t a stand out in the segment, but it hits all the marks and does well in most of them, making it a prime choice for many buyers.

The 2015 Toyota RAV4 has three trim levels and several options to suit package needs. These range from the base LE to the mid-level XLE and the top-level Limited. Each can be had in two-wheel or all-wheel drive. We drove the 2015 Toyota RAV4 Limited AWD with several add-on packages such as Entune Premium and a Technology Package.

Exterior Looks of the 2015 RAV4

The RAV4’s exterior is unchanged from the 2014 model year. We noted then that it has a tendency to “shelve snow” on the blocky protrusions on the doors and especially the rear liftgate.

We love the wheel options for the RAV4 this year, though, with the great-looking 18-inch alloys for the Limited trim being a nice touch. Unlike some, they don’t look like overkill on the RAV4.

Inside the 2015 Toyota RAV4

2015 Toyota RAV4 - interior 2 - AOA1200pxThe interior of the RAV4 is well-designed with a flowing European-style dashboard and streamlined look. Materials quality is good and seating is comfortable and adjustable, for the most part. Storage is at a premium in the RAV4, however, and some things can still feel a bit cheap compared to rivals.

Rear seating is comfortable as well and the low position of the bench allows for easier entry/egress and child safety seat installation for parents on the go. The reclining rear seats are also a big bonus. It can take a bit of practice to fold the seats flat for extra cargo space, though.

Cargo space is excellent and a low loading floor is a great feature. The power liftgate option is a must for those who have trouble reaching up to shut a liftgate, but is otherwise not necessary on a vehicle this small.

Under the 2015 RAV4’s Hood

All RAV4s are powered by a 2.5-liter inline-four-cylinder engine that produces 176 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard and both front- and all-wheel drive are available.

The EPA gives the 2015 RAV4 in FWD a 26 mpg combined rating (23/31 city/highway). The AWD receives a 25 mpg combined rating (22/29). We also note that in Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) crash testing, the RAV4 received a Poor (lowest) rating in the small-overlap frontal-offset test. It received good scores in all other crash testing.

On the Road in the 2015 Toyota RAV4

2015 Toyota RAV4 - rain 1 - AOA1200pxOut about town, the RAV4 is a good drive with an agile feel and very visible nature. It doesn’t fly out of lights, but it doesn’t feel sluggish either. Shifting is good, though it can be a bit marked during acceleration. In all, though, the RAV4 does low speeds well.

On the highway, the 2015 RAV4 is a good goer, though it does take its time getting up to freeway speeds. Pushing the accelerator and using the Sport mode option boosts the productivity getting there and is recommended for those who like to merge at speed. Noise levels are good, though ride quality can be a bit stiff on imperfect pavement.

Driving dynamics are about average for the class when all is told. Most will find the RAV4 to be as expected in this department and aren’t likely to judge it badly. The AWD system is good in inclement weather, which we experienced during our press loan for the vehicle.


There are many great options for buyers looking in the compact crossover segment. The Honda CR-V is a crowd favorite, as is the Ford Escape. The Nissan Rogue is a great choice and the Mazda CX-5 is also popular. We cannot forget to mention the great new Jeep Cherokee as well.

Strong Points

  • Well-made and ergonomic interior.
  • Agile and easy to maneuver.


  • A bit pricey for the accouterments.
  • Fails to stand out in the crowd.


The 2015 Toyota RAV4 is still a good compact crossover choice for buyers looking for something that combines fuel efficiency, interior ergonomics, and versatility. With so many great choices in the segment, however, it may be tough to pick one over another and the RAV4 fails to stand out in any one department to make the job easier.

Test Period Length and Limitations
The RAV4 was a manufacturer’s press loan for about a week, during which time we put a total of 140 miles on the vehicle in mixed driving conditions and with varied passenger loads.

Aaron Turpen
An automotive enthusiast for most of his adult life, Aaron has worked in and around the industry in many ways. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press (RMAP), the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA), the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA), and freelances as a writer and journalist around the Web and in print. You can find his portfolio at AaronOnAutos.com.