Review: Toyota RAV4 (2000 – 2006)
More versatile, classier and even more car-like to drive than the previous model. Chain cam petrol engines. Much improved from 2004 onwards.
Side-hinged tailgate doesn't open wide enough wihout Jap market mod illegal in Europe. Diesel DMF problems. Petrol auto ECU problems.
Recently Added To This Review
Replacing the parking brake cables requires removal of the fuel tank to gain access. Read more
2004 RAV-4 D-4D needed 3rd replacement clutch and DMF in 80,000 miles. Read more
On belt-cam 2.0 and 2.5 litre diesel engines the waterpump must be replaced at the same time as the timing belt. They are prone to breaking up and when they do they throw the belt off. Read more
Toyota RAV4 (2000 – 2006): At A Glance
The original Toyota RAV 4 was the first real ‘sports' 4x4. It looked chunky, yet drove and handled like a Golf GTi. Not surprisingly, women loved it because they could sit a bit higher yet still go quite quickly and not have to bother about clipping the odd kerb.
It wasn't, and still isn't, a serious off roader. The rear suspension arms that help it handle properly hang low where they're a bit too vulnerable to rocks. And, though the original RAV-4 manuals had a push button centre diff lock (the automatics locked automatically), now none of them do.
The funky styling that looked good on the 3-door (especially in yellow) was less successful on the 5-door and has now given way to a more conventional but arguably much prettier look. The spare wheel is still hung on the tailgate and the rear load lip is still usefully low so little dogs can hop in and out, but the RAV 4 is now has a much classier and I like it a lot.
What does a Toyota RAV4 (2000 – 2006) cost?
Toyota RAV4 (2000 – 2006): What's It Like Inside?
Hop aboard and car drivers have no trouble acclimatising. You're just a little bit higher than you would normally be. It's also as easy to drive as a Corolla and you don't have to make the allowances you need to in an X-Trail or a Freelander.
Rear seats slide, fold or come out completely, turning the 5-door into a useful mini-van, which is easy to load due to the low, flat floor. But those seats still feel like they lean forward slightly and are nothing like as comfortable for travelling distances as those in the X-Trail. The centre rear has a three-point belt with the upper mounting in the roof.
What else? A/C, ABS with EBD and roof rails are standard throughout the range.
Child seats that fit a Toyota RAV4 (2000 – 2006)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Toyota RAV4 (2000 – 2006) like to drive?
There are plenty of engine, gearbox and drivetrain combinations to choose from, too. 1.8 petrol two wheel drive manual; 2.0 petrol four wheel drive manual or automatic; or 2.0 diesel four wheel drive manual. Even the diesel has plenty of pep, with the added advantage of 40 mpg combined economy. And, yes, the RAV-4 still outhandles all of the opposition, including the X-Trail. It can be flung about almost like a hottish hatch. Yet the deep profile tyres give good cushioning over road humps, potholes and yes, I dare say it, kerbs.
The 2.0 VVT-i is a chain-cam engine, but the D-4D still uses a belt.
So where do I come out on the RAV-4 against the X-Trail? Well, it depends what you want the car for. If you want a city and suburban SUV, then the RAV-4 is definitely the best because it's the nicest looking and the easiest to drive. If you want a sort of adventure car, capable of towing, mild off-roading and taking the family on a cross country holiday, then it has to be the X-Trail. Horses for courses. They complement each other rather than directly compete.
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