Compact SUV; Built in Japan
  • 4-door wagon
  • transverse front-engine/front- or all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $10,000 – $25,000*

2006 Toyota RAV4

2006 Toyota RAV4

2006 Toyota RAV4

2006 Toyota RAV4

  • Acceleration (V6)
  • Climate controls and materials
  • Fuel economy
  • Acceleration (4-cyl)
  • Engine noise (4-cyl)
  • Third-row entry/exit
  • Rear-seat room and comfort

Available with the most powerful engine is the compact-SUV class and seating for seven, augmented by impressive cargo room, refinement, ergonomics, and road manners, RAV4 is simply a standout. Toyota’s reputation for reliability is another asset, but strong resale value keeps secondhand prices quite high. Addition of V6 power was a welcome improvement, and the optional third-row seat is a compact-SUV first.


Toyota redesigned its compact sport-utility vehicle for 2006, with new styling, up to 269 horsepower, and available third-row seating. That change made it the only seven-passenger vehicle in its class. Compared to the prior generation, the 2006 version gained 6.7 inches in wheelbase, 14.5 inches overall, and measured 3.2 inches wider.

The new RAV4 came in base, Sport, and Limited models. Each was available with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The AWD system did not include low-range gearing, but could be locked into a 55/45 front/rear torque split.

A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine continued, now rated at 166 horsepower versus the previous 161. Available for the first time was a V6 engine: a 3.5-liter producing 269 horsepower. Both engines came only with an automatic transmission; a four-speed with the four-cylinder, and a five-speed with the V6.

Antilock four-wheel disc brakes and antiskid/traction control were standard. Front-drive versions came with a limited-slip differential. AWD V6 and seven-seat four-cylinder models had hill ascent control to avoid sliding backwards, and descent control designed to limit speed when traveling down steep slopes.

Base four-cylinder RAV4s had 16- or 17-inch wheels, while V6s had 17s. The Sport had 18-inch wheels, a sport suspension, and unique trim.

Available on all models were front side airbags and head-protecting side airbags that covered the first two seating rows and included rollover deployment. Standard seating was for five occupants. Base and Limited models could seat seven via a two-place third-row seat that folded flush with the cargo floor. The folding second-row bench was split 60/40, moved fore/aft to adjust legroom, and included a reclining seatback.

Sport and Limited models were available with a sunroof. Options exclusive to Limited included leather upholstery, heated front seats, and rear DVD entertainment. RAV4 rivals included the Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Santa Fe, Mazda Tribute, and Mitsubishi Outlander.

Yearly Updates

2007 RAV4
Front side airbags and curtain airbags became standard instead of optional on all RAV4 models. A wireless cell phone link was newly optional.
2008 RAV4
RAV4 was unchanged for 2008.
2009 RAV4
A 179-hp 2.5-liter 4-cylinder replaced a 166-hp 2.4-liter four as the base engine, and all RAV4s received slightly freshened exterior styling.
2010 RAV4
The 2010 Toyota RAV4 was largely unchanged.
2011 RAV4
The 2011 Toyota RAV4 was largely unchanged.
2012 RAV4
An all-electric version was added to the 2012 Toyota RAV4 lineup, but the gas models returned with few changes. The new RAV4 EV was surprisingly close to its gas-powered siblings in most regards, but was only offered with front-wheel drive and five-passenger seating. Furthermore, it was only sold in California, at least during its first year. Even though RAV4 was redesigned for the 2013 model year, the RAV EV continued using the 2012 model’s design through 2014.


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

Three gas engines have been offered for the RAV4: a 166-horsepower four-cylinder with a four-speed automatic transmission, and a 269-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 with five-speed automatic. All-wheel drive was available with either engine. For 2010, a 179-hp 2.5-liter 4-cylinder replaced a 166-hp 2.4-liter four as the base engine. For 2012, an all-electric version of the RAV4 was made available. It carried a 154-hp electric motor mated to a single-speed transmission and came only with front-wheel drive.

electric electric1
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches)
Engine HP154
Engine Torque (lb-ft)273
Avail. Trans.EPA MPG (city/hwy)MPG avg. as tested


dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches)2.4/144
Engine HP166
Engine Torque (lb-ft)165
Avail. Trans.EPA MPG (city/hwy)MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic


dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches)2.5/153
Engine HP179
Engine Torque (lb-ft)172
Avail. Trans.EPA MPG (city/hwy)MPG avg. as tested
4-speed automatic


dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches)3.5/213
Engine HP269
Engine Torque (lb-ft)246
Avail. Trans.EPA MPG (city/hwy)MPG avg. as tested
5-speed automatic



1. RAV4 EV. mpg numbers are MPGe.

Road Test

Acceleration is directly related to engine choice. A four-cylinder RAV4 is sluggish from a stop, though adequate for around-town driving, but lacks power in hilly terrain. Impressively strong in any situation, the V6 version provides plenty of reserve passing power. A test AWD Limited accelerated to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds. One test RAV4 suffered touchy throttle action and jerky low-speed shifts. The new-for-2012 all-electric RAV4 EV is surprisingly strong from a stop, with impressive throttle response at any speed.

Fuel economy is appealing for an SUV, though real-world driving with V6 power trails the EPA estimates of 24-mpg city/29-mpg highway with front-drive, 23/27 with AWD. A test 2WD Limited model averaged 25.3 in mostly highway driving. AWD V6s have averaged 20.8 to 22.8 mpg overall. Toyota recommends regular-grade fuel. The RAV4 EV has an estimated range of about 100 miles. In most other areas of performance and accommodations, it is nearly identical to its gas-powered siblings.

Ride quality ranks as good for a small SUV, thanks in part to one of the longest wheelbases in this class. Test models with 17-inch tires have showed little impact harshness on sharp bumps and ridges, and only mild jitter on some washboard surfaces. A Sport version with 18-inch rubber is not noticeably harsher.

Steering is light and responsive, with a tight turning radius and fine straightline stability. Body lean and tire scrub increase with cornering speed, but RAV4 happily lacks the tippy feel that plagues many SUVs. Some noseplow and body lean are likely in sharp, fast turns, but RAV4 offers enough grip to maintain composure. The Sport model’s sport suspension is more adept on twisty roads. Brakes furnish good stopping power, coupled with reassuring brake-pedal feel.

Wind and road noise are nicely muted, although test RAV4s have suffered minor wind rush from the windshield base. The Sport’s 18-inch tires are somewhat noisy on coarse pavement, but never annoying. Both engines run smoothly, but the four-cylinder is noticeably louder in rapid acceleration and highway-speed cruising.

Controls are generally easy to locate and simple to use. Gauges have large, legible markings. The stalk-mounted cruise-control lever requires unconventional up/down motions for engagement and setting. Some testers have complained that stalk placement is too near the steering wheel, crowding hands. Cabin materials are generally solid and attractive, lending an upscale feel. Some elements may disappoint, however, including a flimsy glovebox lid and cheap-feeling headliner material. One test RAV4 suffered a loose driver’s sunvisor, flickering traction-control light, and a key that sometimes refused to release from the ignition after shutting off the engine.

Getting into and out of the front compartment is easy, and adults get ample head and legroom. Seats are firm, but comfortable. Long-legged drivers may want more rearward seat travel. Some testers said the seat needs more lumbar support; others called it over-bolstered. Visibility is compromised by wide rear roof pillars, but good otherwise. The external spare mounts low enough on the rear cargo door so it doesn’t interfere with the aft view. Some testers liked the low, close steering wheel, which tilts and telescopes; others criticized it for creating a “big rig” feel. The driver’s seat has a pump-handle height adjustor. Second-row passengers enjoy plenty of headroom, but taller occupants might prefer more toe and leg clearance. Entering the third row is difficult, requiring a high step-in, and access is only from the right side. The third-row seat is a convenience in a pinch, but only suitable for toddlers or young children.

Five-passenger RAV4s have an impressive amount of cargo room behind the second row, plus convenient storage areas in the floorwell. Seven-seaters have more space than expected behind the third row, which folds fully to create a flat load floor. Lightweight split-rear-seat sections are easy to flip/fold. Curbside loading is complicated by a cargo door hinged on the passenger side, with no separate-opening glass. Impressive passenger-compartment storage includes a bi-level glovebox.


Model Tested: Toyota RAV4 AWD Sport V6

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 - 7
Fuel Economy - 5
Ride Quality - 5
Steering/Handling - 6
Quietness - 5


Controls/Materials - 6
Room/Comfort Front - 5
Room/Comfort Rear - 6
Cargo Room - 7


Value - 8

Total: 60


4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.)Length (in.)Width (in.)Height (in.)Weight (lbs)
Cargo Volume (cu/ft)Payload Capacity (cu/ft)Fuel Capacity (gal.)Seating Capacity
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: N/A


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Front Passenger Injury - N/A

Side Impact Test

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


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


Trouble Spots

Coolant leak
Description: Coolant leaks from the rear of the 2AZFE 2.4L engine because two rear head bolts stretch. (2002-06)
Audio system
Description: The JBL, six-disc radio display may quit working or show unusual characters and replacement radios are to be installed. (2006)
Audio system
Description: The audio system may be noisy when using an external MP3 player requiring installation of an in-line filter. (2006-08)
Description: Front seats may not return to position due to weak return springs. (2006)
Suspension noise
Description: Knocking noises from front suspension caused by coil springs bottoming out and improved springs are available. (2006-07)
Water leak
Description: Water may leak onto the front floor via the heater box due to a leak in the cowl. (2006)
Description: The battery may go dead overnight due to failure of the remote start control module. (2007)
Transmission problems
Description: Automatic transmission shift lever may feel notchy unless a revised shift slide cover has been installed. (2006)

Recall History

2006-2010 RAV4
Description: The accelerator pedal can get stuck in the wide open position due to its being trapped by an unsecured or incompatible driver’s floor mat. A stuck open accelerator pedal may result in very high vehicle speeds and make it difficult to stop the vehicle, which could cause a crash, serious injury or death. The remedy plan is under development, but will involve modification or replacement of the accelerator pedal and replacement of any Toyota all-weather floor mat. Toyota has not provided a schedule for owner notification at this time.
2006-2011 RAV4
Description: Rear-wheel alignment adjustment nuts could be improperly tightened during service, leading to tie-rod damage and eventual failure.
2007-2008 RAV4
Description: In the curtain shield airbag (CSA) system, there are two sensors in the airbag sensor assembly which are designed to detect vehicle roll angle. If one of these sensors malfunctions, the airbag warning light (malfunction indicator light: mil) will illuminate and the roll detection system will be suspended; however, the airbag CSA remains available in the event of a side crash. If both sensors fail nearly simultaneously after initial airbag system check, the CSA and the seat belt pretensioner could be inadvertently activated. Inadvertent activation of the CSA and/or the seat belt pretensioner can cause injury to a vehicle occupant. Toyota will replace the airbag sensor assembly with a new one containing improved roll rate sensors, free of charge.
2007-2009 RAV4
Description: Power window master switch assemblies may malfunction and overheat due to irregularities in the lubrication process during assembly.
Description: Due to the manner in which the friction lever interacts with the sliding surface of the accelerator pedal inside the pedal sensor assembly, the accelerator pedal may become hard to depress, slow to return to idle, or, in the worst case, mechanically stuck in a partially depressed position, increasing the risk of a crash. Dealers will install a reinforcement bar in the accelerator pedal, which will allow the pedal to operate smoothly.
2010-2012 RAV4
Description: Inaccurate label lists an inaccurate amount of allowable added weight.
2011 RAV4
Description: Side-curtain airbags may have an incorrect propellant mixture, resulting in insufficient compressed gas output. The airbags may not deploy.

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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