In the fast-paced compact crossover SUV space, you can't rest easy, and it's not surprising Toyota made some changes to keep its popular RAV4 top of mind for buyers. The new styling is most obvious, as the 2016 RAV4 looks much sharper than the somewhat forgettable previous model. Elsewhere the changes aren't so transformative, but the revised interior, slight changes to the trim levels, and retuned suspension all add appeal to the already well-rounded RAV4. For those who seek better fuel efficiency, Toyota has introduced a RAV4 Hybrid. Its combination of electric motors and the 2.5-liter four-cylinder creates not just attractive EPA estimates but energetic performance, too.
The trunk remains one of the most spacious among crossover SUVs, and you access it via a huge roof-hinged tailgate. The low load floor helps when you're transporting large items. Passenger space is good, too, with plenty of space to seat five in comfort. There's still only one engine choice, a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that supplies enough power and EPA-estimated fuel economy to compete with, if not best, rivals. Front- or optional all-wheel drive is offered, and all versions use a six-speed automatic transmission. The familiar trim levels of LE, XLE, and Limited are joined in 2016 by the SE. It slots in between the XLE and Limited and adds a sportier suspension. All the trims come well equipped, but we'd aim at least for the XLE, which comes with alloy wheels, a power tailgate, and dual-zone climate control over the simpler air conditioning of the LE. It's regrettable that the most advanced driver aids remain optional or limited to the top-end models, but in every other way the 2016 RAV4 makes good gains for this year, bolstering its appeal among rivals.