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Popular Toyota SUV Gets a Thumbs Down from Consumer Reports

A recent review of recommended SUVs from Consumer Reports reveals that this popular Toyota in the 2024 model is not so popular anymore based on road tests and their Annual Auto Surveys.

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There’s a big reason why many models of Toyota are so popular. In a word, “Reliability.”

However, as it turns out, proven reliability alone is not enough to remain popular with Toyota shoppers.

Related article: Toyota Rav4 Engine Warning for Used Car Shoppers

There’s More to a Popularity Contest Than Reliability

In a recent Consumer Reports newsletter titled “Popular Small SUVs to Avoid and What to Buy Instead” it turns out that popularity can and does change---even with one of the most popular Toyota models sold: the Toyota RAV4!

According to CR analysts, “There's no need to settle for what's popular when you can buy a smart, reliable SUV that performs well in CR's tests.”

More to the point, based on customer surveys and rigorous road testing, what once was a highly praised and recommended Toyota model has now dropped in their estimation based on what they have observed and what customers expect in the latest RAV4 model.

The original Toyota RAV4 pioneered the small, car-based SUV segment in the mid-1990s, and it has continued to set a high standard for the class with each subsequent generation—until now. Today, the RAV4 is no longer among the best in class in our road tests…the recent move to a lower, wider appearance has compromised interior space. Plus, its bland cabin, droning engine noise, and ride comfort that trails the competition have resulted in below-average owner satisfaction in our Annual Auto Surveys,” stated CR analysts online and in their latest newsletter, respectively.

The New RAV4

Accompanying the newsletter “Popular Small SUVs to Avoid and What to Buy Instead” a new video review of the 2024 RAV4 offers these pros and cons to the new model:

Pros

  • 27 mpg in an AWD model with good acceleration reaching 0-60 in 8.3 seconds making it among the quickest in its class of vehicles. (The Hybrid version gets 37 mpg without unpleasant engine noise and is quicker---reaching 60 mph in 7.8 seconds.)
  • The multi-trans terrain system for varying road conditions in the AWD model is a nice addition and covers aside from the usual Normal, Eco and Sport modes; now offers, "Snow," "Rock and Dirt," "Mud and Sand," driving modes.
  • The interior fits both short and tall drivers with good overall visibility over the hood.
  • Rear seats fold flat to increase cargo space.
  • Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) w/Pedestrian and AEB Highway come standard.
  • Adaptive cruise control and lane keeping features work well on highway

Cons

  • Noisy acceleration with a constant irritating engine drone-like noise---a major downside to its redesign.
  • The multi-trans terrain system although nice is “too taut,” making for a stiff ride.
  • Higher ground clearance with a wider and shorter body makes the RAV4 difficult to get into and significantly decreases the interior space---especially headroom in the rear passenger seating.
  • Thick rear pillars blocks driver viewing.
  • Bland, plasticky interior trim.
  • Blind Spot Warning (BSW) and Rear Cross-Traffic Warning (RCTW) are optional.
  • Lane keeping feature requires constant fighting of the steering wheel on country roads.

Should You Buy One?

Consumer Reports advises shoppers that if a small SUV RAV4 is what they still prefer, then they should go with the XLE model with its extra features at the price they paid of $32,109.

However, according to their “Popular Small SUVs to Avoid and What to Buy Instead” newsletter there are two better choices.

1. Subaru Forester 2024

Price Range:  $27,095 - $37,395

CR MPG:  Overall 28 / City 20 / Hwy 38 mpg

#1 of 27 Compact SUVs

Predicted reliability: 82/100 (compared to the RAV4 73/100)

Predicted owner satisfaction: 4/5 (compared to the RAV4 2/5)

2. Mitsubishi Outlander 2024

Price Range:  $28,395 - $50,345

CR MPG:  Overall 25 / City 17 / Hwy 34 mpg

#10 of 27 Compact SUVs

Predicted reliability: 87/100 (compared to the RAV4 73/100)

Predicted owner satisfaction: 3/5 (compared to the RAV4 2/5)

Final Thoughts

While the CR review was unexpected in light of early, more positive reviews online by dealers and owners, the value is that it provides shoppers with a guarantee of a non-biased and informative review.

However, the real test is with the personal driving test, which should be done because like cars, we are…well…all different in many respects and the 2024 RAV4 just might be good fit for you after all.

For a more detailed breakdown of recommended and not-recommended vehicles for 2024, be sure to visit the Consumer Reports website. Note that while access to some information requires a CR membership, the potential savings make it negligible in comparison when looking for the latest information to aid your car buying research.

For additional articles related to recent new and used car recommendations, here are three for your consideration:

Timothy Boyer is an automotive reporter based in Cincinnati. Experienced with early car restorations, he regularly restores older vehicles with engine modifications for improved performance. Follow Tim on  “Zen and the Art of DIY Car Repair” website, the Zen Mechanic blog and on Twitter at @TimBoyerWrites  and Facebook for daily news and topics related to new and used cars and trucks.

COMING UP NEXT: Tesla Cybertruck Crash Test Is Horrifying

Image source: Deposit Photos

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Comments

E-lectric (not verified)    December 10, 2023 - 2:43AM

I'm having a really hard time believing the Mitsubishi is even in the same reliability class as the Toyota, never mind a few points higher.

No problem with the Rav being behind the best small SUVs in other areas.

Paul (not verified)    December 10, 2023 - 10:39AM

This article is an absolute joke. If you think for a second that a Subaru Forester or Mitsubishi Outlander are a better vehicle in any way, you are a fool. Not a single bit of this article is even remotely accurate.

Melissa (not verified)    December 17, 2023 - 11:52AM

In reply to by Paul (not verified)

I dont know about the Subaru, but you are right in the money with Mitsubishi. He must have been paid to say it was better. I rented a brand new Mitsubishi SUV recently and there may as well have been no floor! The road noise was so loud, it was ridiculous! Very uncomfortable and just plain cheap feeling.

Melissa (not verified)    December 17, 2023 - 11:57AM

In reply to by Paul (not verified)

I dont know about the Subaru, but you are right in the money with Mitsubishi. He must have been paid to say it was better. I rented a brand new Mitsubishi SUV recently and there may as well have been no floor! The road noise was so loud, it was ridiculous! Very uncomfortable and just plain cheap feeling.

Lee (not verified)    December 10, 2023 - 12:59PM

I noticed the difficulty of egress compared to my 2024 Kia Soul (which is a smaller vehicle). Also road noise. Also the Kia is a bit quicker with 0-60 in 8 seconds AND it gets great mileage (depending upon how you drive of course). I mean an OTD price around 25k and that was in Florida a state legislature that protects dealership's unsavory business practices and charges.

Tom (not verified)    December 10, 2023 - 2:35PM

These people just said, in a different article that the RAV4 is in the top ten most reliable cars. But they may be referring to different year models.

Kirk (not verified)    December 10, 2023 - 3:09PM

I have a 2019 2wd and had a 2020 hybrid and a 2007. Sadly, the 2020 was totaled or we'd still have that one. I've also owned a Corolla, Camry and Matrix.

Toyota is for me, the best all-around car on the road in these pricepoints. All the controls are intuitive and right where they should be. The rides have all been very comfortable and never harsh relative to the model.

The body designs are the most interesting of the bunch and I love the reliability. If this RAV4 is not the last car we buy, it will surely be replaced by another Toyota.

Mike (not verified)    December 10, 2023 - 5:27PM

They have not redesign it yet that may be 2025. With no sound or heat shield on the hood I'm going to add my own,but should I need do that to a Toyota.I think the Rav 4 2019 to present is a about 5 to 10k overpriced .I think many cars are overpriced yet they sell.Still Toyota is the only brand I have owned that never needed a heavy mechanical repair as a daily work car. I have owned about 15 different makes of cars.I would wait for the 2025 update they may rethink the supposed flaws. I do not think I would by a Subaru I had a 08 the blew the head gaskets as is typical .I sold to a Subaru tech who told me that yes these boxer heads still fail on the new Subaru,s .Subaru to date has been my worst automotive investment

Bill (not verified)    December 10, 2023 - 7:05PM

Just got a 2024 Rav 4 EXL hybrid premium a week ago. I really like this vehicle in all respects. Drives nicely and is well appointed in respect to available options . Great gas milage and ride quality. Would recommend this trim level and vehicle . I paid a little below MSRP at a local Guelph dealer and feel I got good value for money spent .

David Myers (not verified)    December 11, 2023 - 12:14PM

The lower and wider feature would be a major item in making this an interstate only vehicle. I've seen some 4X4's that had trouble clearing a pine-cone blocking the road. I haven't seen the textbook as to whether I'm certifiable as human or just humane.🤪

Jim (not verified)    December 12, 2023 - 9:29AM

Subaru or Mitsubishi? You got to be kidding. I would go with Honda CRV.
I would not buy Mitsubishi even if it was half the price. As for Subaru, it is definitely less reliable than Toyota.

Jack Gonzalez (not verified)    December 12, 2023 - 5:53PM

What's wrong with these writers?
Is somebody paying them to be biased?
I've been driving a Toyota RAV4 XLE AWD for 60k miles on every kind of situation and terrain and weather conditions with not trouble of any kind up to today. It might not have the most pretty interior or body design, but for sure is reliable day in and out.
Who cares about a little engine noise under harsh acceleration? I'm expecting to drive this Rav4 at least 250k miles with no problem.

Nina aJones (not verified)    December 22, 2023 - 9:58PM

In reply to by Jack Gonzalez (not verified)

I just bought a 2023 Rav 4 XLE Hybrid. I’m getting 34 mpg in town. About 39 on the highway. There’s a few things about it but it’s minor. I got the extended warranty for 10 years that covers the batteries, computer, except for tires, brakes etc. Free oil changes and tire rotation for 7 years. I sold my 98 Tacoma with 244k miles. It was needing some repairs. But a damn good truck!

Jon Knowles (not verified)    December 15, 2023 - 1:07AM

People seem to forget that at the end of the day it's still a low end Toyota. If they want quiet, buy the Rav 4's sibling. Lexus NX.

David Radzieta (not verified)    December 15, 2023 - 6:51AM

Gutless with abyssmal mileage. Get an Ariya instead. Twice the power and 4 times the efficiency.

Ryan (not verified)    December 15, 2023 - 1:40PM

You can't be serious Timothy, recommending an Outlander over a RAV4? While an Outlander has its place its certainty not in contention with the top ranked SUV's and even Mitsubishi knows that and the reason its priced well below the top ranked competition. I'll give you the Forester even though its a souless toaster behind the wheel with the worst CVT on the market and a ticking timebomb headgasket.

Dan (not verified)    December 17, 2023 - 1:20PM

Laughable article! Never loved a car before, have a loaded RAV4 Prime XSE. Yeah few things I would change but that's every car. Paid MSRP for first time ever (ouch) but did get the full $7500 tax credit. Just over 40K total.

Dave (not verified)    December 18, 2023 - 7:31AM

You obviously don't have a clue how to do your job. My family owns 3 Rav4's and we haven't experienced any problems or issues that you printed. The non hybrid awd gets 30 in town and 33-35 on the highway, the two hybrids get 38- 42 and sometimes better. They all 3 drive great, stick to the road in snow and have less blind spots than most of the other cars you compared them too. Stick to something you know, it's obviously not cars.

Mark in Seattle (not verified)    December 18, 2023 - 12:06PM

There is no universe in which a Mitsubishi vehicle is more reliable than a Toyota. I have been following them since the 80s and while they have fielded some attractive cars in terms of performance, not one publication tracked the reliability over time. Their engines frequently failed between 50-100k miles. If one were in traffic and noticed a smoking vehicle it was always a Mitsubishi. They did not fade into a rounding error in auto sales because of their low price but because that price was coupled with abysmal reliability.
As for Subaru, this site is a Subie fanboy site so this crowing is expected. While far more reliable than Mitsubishi, Subarus fall short of Toyota and Honda just for head gasket problems alone. Further a lot of reliability issues CR reports on are infotainment annoyances and mechanical issues reported by owners in their first few months of ownership.
A far better metric is the survey of mechanics that rate Honda first and Toyota second. I do not know where Subaru fell on the ratings because I did not want to consider them after experiencing the rustic environment of a Fotester.

Sam (not verified)    December 19, 2023 - 9:09AM

The CR is so not correct sometime, to the point of self-contradiction. In an SUV, higher ground clearance is a bad thing? And interior room size all of a sudden become smaller when Toyota did not alter the size?
Lane keeping feature can be turned off easily. Did the reviewer read the manual? The optional features are not absolutely necessary- that is why it is optional. I feel grossly disturbed by incessant beeps of the alert systems.

C Balls (not verified)    December 20, 2023 - 9:31AM

The credibility of your publication has followed this article. To this day Subaru struggles with oil consumption and head gasket issues. Then they decide to slap a horrid CVT behind it. Mitsubishi is rental grade at best and even then they pale in comparison to the rest of the fleet. After just a few hundred miles in a Outlander with 18k miles on it I was reminded why Mitsubishi US is a shell of what it was. Noisy, harsh ride, cheap interior and the more you drive it the more you can tell corners have been cut. Your "advice" was good for a laugh and no I don't want to pay for any more of it.