Inspiring all-wheel drive. The 2022 Toyota RAV4 has one of the more interesting all-wheel-drive applications in the compact crossover space. The optional system in the LE and XLE models is a simple system that will just send power to the rear wheels if the grip dips in the front. A similar system to this is found in most other SUVs on the market, particularly those that are based on a front-wheel-drive platform.

However, the system that’s optional on the RAV4 Limited and standard on the Adventure and TRD Off-Road models is much smarter. Power from the front wheels is split again between the rear wheels, allowing power to go where it’s needed to all four corners which will inspire confidence in light off-road applications. This will take a small bite out of fuel economy though, as it adds extra weight to the vehicle.

Just enough power. The 2.5L naturally aspirated 4-cylinder may put out 203 horsepower, but ultimately it is held back by its size. The result is a vehicle that will get up to speed, but you may be surprised at the RAV4’s reluctance to accelerate at times.

However, there are other options out there if you want a faster SUV. The RAV4 Hybrid and Prime (covered separately) offer 219 hp and 302 hp respectively while also achieving better MPG numbers. The Prime is also notable for being the second fastest Toyota currently available, after the Supra sports car.

Ruggedly stylish. Likely owing to the record sales of its 4Runner stablemate, the RAV4 follows the hottest trend in SUVs and crossovers: off-road rugged looks. TRD Off-Road and Adventure trims dial up the tough-guy looks with beefier fenders, increased black plastic trim, and black wheels.

However, there is always a trade-off to fashion, and the RAV4 is no different. The squat-looking roofline results in an intrusion on passenger space, particularly when there’s a sunroof installed.

Good safety, with a catch. The RAV4 crash tests well, with automatic emergency braking and a plethora of other active safety features, are included as standard features. It also managed to score a Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS, but not for the gas-powered models covered here.

Unfortunately, the Achilles Heel of the RAV4 line is its headlights. The IIHS has given the LED headlights that equip standard RAV4 models a marginal rating. Active Safety Features and good crash test results are nice, but it’s much nicer if you can see what you’re about to crash into, allowing you to avoid the incident altogether.

Final thoughts. The Toyota RAV4 is a solid option in the compact crossover category. It may not be the fastest, the most fuel-efficient, or the most comfortable, but it isn’t rated low in any category. That, combined with the reliability associated with the Toyota badge and name makes it an easy choice for many consumers out there.

Buyers looking for a more off-road oriented option should look at the Ford Bronco Sport; it manages to be a convincing facsimile of its larger Bronco brother, while still managing to perform the duties of a smaller SUV well. Those looking for a great on-road SUV would be pleased by the Hyundai Tucson, which provides a very stylish, comfortable, and tech-filled alternative to the RAV4.

For 2022, it's also worth knowing that the Tucson is available as either a hybrid or plug-in hybrid. If you're looking for a RAV4 alternative with good fuel-efficiency, the Hyundai could be good choice. Hyundai also offers one of the industry's best new car warranties.

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