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tivities for all that room have been considered by Toyota’s designers. As SUV crossovers continue to encroach on the sedan in the market for family-friendly cars, the sheer amount of space sure helps explain the trend. This year, the optional third-row seat of previous models has been abandoned, yet the RAV4 still promises to seat five individuals very comfortably. One other nice touch: these are some of the most comfortable seats out there. For those with bad backs, the RAV4 offers a driver’s seat with amazing lumbar support that seems to have been crafted with the frequent driver or long trips specifically in mind.

driving experience Photo: Courtesy of rhiannon herbert

and rear ends of the vehicle. That would be a godsend on family roadtrips. It was too cold to make use of the sun roof, but in the event of one last heat wave, that feature would be just dandy. Space-wise, there’s more than enough. There was practically an echo. The back seat is immense, and the trunk looks like it could house a kennel of huskies.

With the rear seatbacks still in their upright position, one can get up to 38.4 cubic feet of cargo in there. I think that was the size of my last apartment. With the seats down and back ajar a little, it’s possible to fit 4x8 foot sheets of plywood, or whatever other material you may so desire, at one of the lowest load angles available. Despite the size, human-scale ac-

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he 2013 RAV4 rates well with consumers, having already earned high scores with Kelly Blue Book and Edmonds, as well as earning a 2013 IIHS Top Safety Pick Award. It also has great resale value, which is always a nice thing to have in your back pocket down

the line. In terms of how it feels to drive, I would go with the word “easy.” The RAV4 hasn’t offered a stick-shift in quite a while, and the six-speed automatic transmission is brainless to operate. The previous 3.5-litre V6 has also since been replaced with a port-injected 2.5-litre four-cylinder, which is just fine for the average driver’s needs and really helps cut down on the gas bill. The ‘Eco Mode’ button, located on the driver’s end of the dash, can also be activated during cruising for added efficiency, while the Sport mode makes nice use of all 176 horses. City driving is a synch. The handling was nimble, the electrically assisted steering was responsive, and the high positioning of the seats creates a good sense of view over the road and other traffic. It really is quite high; I made eye contact with a woman in an Escalade, and for once, giant heavy duty trucks felt like peers. Highway driving felt smooth and comfortable, and cabin noise at higher speeds was moderate. I suppose in the midst of listening to your favorite songs on the stereo system or yelling at the shenanigans in the back, such a thing may be easily overlooked anyway. The Entine multimedia system with voice control, satellite radio, LCD touch screen, backup camera and Bluetooth connectivity will

also take the mind off of any other shortcomings you may notice.

bottom line

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verall, the RAV4 comes across as an ideal family car or just a big boss vehicle for those who like a lot of cargo space. It’s an improvement on the previous model in terms of arrangement and driveline configuration, and while this isn’t the type of car you necessarily want to take out on the track, it’s a well-received urban task buggy with proven reliability and rather dashing good looks. A big step up from the ‘90s.

2013 Rav 4 specs: FWD 4dr XLE 14 2.5L/152 engine 176 horespower 24 City / 31 Highway MPG

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Verb Issue S253 (Aug. 16-22, 2013)  

Verb Issue S253 (Aug. 16-22, 2013)

Verb Issue S253 (Aug. 16-22, 2013)  

Verb Issue S253 (Aug. 16-22, 2013)

Profile for verb