Compact SUV; Built in Japan
  • 4-door wagon
  • transverse front-engine/front- or all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $5,300 – $10,400*

2001 Toyota RAV4

2001 Toyota RAV4

2001 Toyota RAV4 interior

2002 Toyota RAV4

2004 Toyota RAV4

  • Instruments/controls
  • Maneuverability
  • Visibility
  • Acceleration
  • Engine noise
  • Rear-seat room

On the whole, a RAV4 is more suited to suburban errand-running than to long-distance people-hauling or even moderate off-roading. Still, it’s an attractive compact SUV. Many rivals offer more space and stronger performance, but only Honda matches Toyota’s reputation for quality and durability. High resale value, on the other hand, means used-RAV4 prices will be high. Don’t buy without also giving the CR-V a trial run.


Toyota’s smallest sport-utility vehicle was redesigned for 2001 with a huskier, more contemporary appearance. Built on a wheelbase 4 inches longer than its predecessor, the reworked RAV4 measured 1.3 inches longer overall, and 2.4 inches wider. According to Toyota, torsional rigidity of the car-based wagon improved by 20 percent, allowing the suspension to be retuned for a more compliant ride. The four-cylinder engine was a new all-aluminum design with Toyota’s VVT-i variable-valve-timing system. Horsepower rose by 21, and engine torque grew by 10 pound-feet. With the new engine, the RAV4 qualified as a Low-Emissions Vehicle (LEV) in California.

Inside, RAV4 was roomier than in the 1996-00 generation–nearly 3 inches more leg room in front, but 0.6-inch less in the rear. Head room in back shrunk by the same amount, while front head space grew an inch, courtesy of the new arched roofline. Cargo volume behind the rear seat increased by 2.4 cubic feet. The back seat was now a removable 50/50 split bench with reclining backrests, which could be slid forward or folded in sections to add cargo volume.

Like the original, the new RAV4 came with either front-drive or permanent all-wheel drive, and either 5-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmissions. Options included four-wheel antilock brakes, air conditioning, keyless entry, a power moonroof, rear privacy glass, mudguards, and aluminum wheels. An “L” package included power door locks, heated door mirrors, six-speaker CD/cassette audio system, foglamps, and a hard cover for the outside-mounted spare tire. Leather upholstery was available separately. Dual front airbags were standard, but side airbags were not available.

Yearly Updates

2002 RAV4
Little changed for 2002. An Upgrade L Package option included air conditioning, cruise control, and power windows/locks/mirrors. It also included a hard cover for the outside spare tire and color-keyed body trim.
2003 RAV4
A new Sport package included fender flares and nonfunctional hood scoop. When equipped with the Sport option, a RAV4 got a unique grille, gray bumpers and flares, and a tubular stainless-steel roof rack.
2004 RAV4
Toyota’s smallest SUV gained revised styling, a larger engine, and available side and curtain airbags in 2004. The new engine was a 2.4-liter four with 161 horsepower, up 13 from a year prior.
2005 RAV4
RAV4 is little-changed after its 2004 update. A redesigned RAV4 with an available V6 is scheduled for the 2006 model year.


transverse front-engine/front- or all-wheel drive

initially, the only RAV4 engine was a dual-overhead-cam 2.0-liter four-cylinder that developed 148 horsepower. Either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission could be installed, with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (which lacks low-range gearing). In 2004, Toyota ditched the 2.0 four for a larger 2.4-liter unit with 161 horsepower. It again mated to either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic.

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/122
Engine HP 148
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 142
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.4/144
Engine HP 161
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 162
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic

Road Test

Acceleration with the 2.0-liter four is adequate unless this compact SUV is carrying a heavy load or needs to pass. Highway, passing power is modest, so you can expect laborious highway passing. The new-for-’04 2.4-liter four feels much more lively–especially with manual shift. With all-wheel drive and a manual gearbox, a 2.0 RAV4 averaged 21.7 mpg; a automatic model did better averaging 23 mpg. The 2.4-liter engine proved to be even more efficient, a manual-transmission model averaging over 25 mpg over one two-week test.

Although the RAV4 never rides uncomfortably, it does bound a bit over big bumps and feels unsettled on washboard surfaces. Honda’s CR-V rides better overall. Quick steering is accompanied by good feedback, but the RAV4 can be buffered by gusty crosswinds. Low-speed handling is competent. Hard cornering induces a fair amount of body lean and tire scrub, but not the tipsy sensation that plagues many SUVs. Simulated emergency stops are marked by nosedive and mild wander. Wind and road noise intrude, but they’re no louder than in most subcompact cars. The engine suffers from high-rpm boominess, though it’s relaxed enough in top-gear cruising. Again, CR-V is quieter overall.

Instruments and controls are simple and convenient, including the old-fashioned radio tuning knob and dial-type climate controls. More than most Toyotas, the cabin exhibits some design flair, with a pleasing mix of textures and shades, classy low-grain molded plastic, legible semiretro gauges, and a sporty, thick-rimmed steering wheel. Entry/exit into the front is easy, with good room for adults. Seats are very firm but comfortable enough, though taller drivers may wish for more rearward travel and a greater range for the tilt steering wheel. Visibility is fine, partly because the external spare tire mounts low enough to avoid interference. Rear head room is good but leg, toe, and shoulder space are limited. The rear bench seat reclines but isn’t all that comfortable. Narrow rear-door passages impede entry/exit, too. The back seat folds or removes easily, leaving enough room behind it for at least a dozen plastic grocery bags. The swing-out tail door can be clumsy, however, and unlike some competitors, the RAV4 has no separate-opening window.


Model Tested: 2001 Toyota RAV4 w/auto

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 4
Fuel Economy - 6
Ride Quality - 5
Steering/Handling - 5
Quietness - 4


Controls/Materials - 7
Room/Comfort Front - 4
Room/Comfort Rear - 3
Cargo Room - 7


Value - 6

Total: 51


4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
98.0 166.2 68.3 65.3
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
68.3 14.7 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
41.3 38.4 42.4 32.6
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2001 RAV4 4-door wagon


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
Front Passenger Injury - 4

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Brake noise
Description: The front brakes may groan and revised brake pads were made available. The rear brakes may squeal which is corrected by installing revised brake drums. (2001-02)
Engine noise
Description: Belt squeal and rattle on cold engine due to faulty tensioner on 2AZ-FE engine requires updated tensioner. (2001-04)
Rear wipers
Description: The rear washer may not clean adequately due to a problem with the nozzle for which there is an improved part available. (2001)
Vehicle noise
Description: Squeaks and rattles from the A-pillars, rear windows and glovebox require felt inserts that are being covered under the 36/36,000 warranty. (2001)
Wind noise
Description: If the roof rack rattles or buzzes, there is an improved crossbar that has an additional thumbscrew for better attachment. (2001)

Recall History

2005 RAV4
Description: Some air bag inflators were produced with an insufficient amount of the heating agents. In this condition, the expansion force of the gas may be insufficient to properly inflate the air bag, increasing the risk of injury in a crash. Dealers will replace the specific SRS air bag.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.

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