Toyota RAV4
(2006 - 2012)

  • Regarded by many as the “go-to” used SUV in this segment.
  • Typical Toyota reliability.
  • Spacious, practical and tough interior.
  • V6 is powerful and refined.
  • Oil consumption concerns for the 2AZ-FE 4-cylinder engines.
  • Body can pitch and roll when cornering.
  • Steering can be light and vague.
  • Lacks genuine off-road ability.
Overview

The RAV4 has come a long way from its cutesy compact lifestyler origins in the mid-’90s to Australia’s biggest-selling passenger car today. Indeed, the 12-month wait for the current, benchmarking model is one reason why shrewd buyers might dip back into Toyota’s mid-range SUV providence for a cheaper and more accessible option.

Gen III, aka the XA30, is an obvious drawcard. It arrived in 2006 in Australia in its long-wheelbase guise that was larger than that offered in Asia and Europe, grown up and certifiably family-sized by measure of its time, unpretentious in styling and glove-fit for anything from big country touring to the local school run.

It’d kick around the local landscape until it was replaced by the edgier and funkier XA40 successor lobbed in early 2013.

This generation brought a new platform and, importantly, electric power steering and ABS across the range. RAV4s with anything like a contemporary vibe start with the XA30. Also brand-spanking was a newly introduced active AWD that defaults as a bum dragger for most driving requirements, with on-demand rear-axle drive when it’s needed.

The Japanese-built range launched in three trim levels in a choice of five-speed manual or $2k-extra four-speed auto, all and sundry powered by a tweaked carryover 2.4-litre petrol four good for 125kW and 224Nm. It’ll run on crappy 91RON and its mid-nine fuel consumption was, for its time, frugal enough.

The base CV ($32k) brought air-con and cruise control as well as basic surety in traction and stability control as standard, though buyers could option a Safety Pack with features fitted in higher grades. Upping to the Cruiser ($37k-ish) brought smarter looks, some safety kit, 17s, dual-zone climate, some leather appointment and – gasp – a six-CD stacker! The big daddy Cruiser L splurges with more leather, powered/heated front seats and a sunroof.

The range expanded greatly in October 2007 with the release of new 3.5-litre V6 petrol versions, bringing lustier 201kW and 333Nm energy and thirstier mid-10 consumption. The auto only six-potters brought a host of new nameplates in the CV6 ($40k), SX6 ($44k) and tree-topping ZR6 ($50k) to what remained strictly a five-door, five-seat line-up.

RAV4 would remain petrol only in gen III – diesels arrived in its successor – though it is rated to tow up to 1500kg where, really, the V6ers are the sensible option. The on-demand AWD system isn’t really fit enough for serious off-road work, though the XA30 has proven itself it be a tidy all-rounder for mixed surfaces. Whether you’re a region buyer or city slicker, the RAV4’s on-road manners are pleasing if, unsurprisingly, a little vanilla.

The big drawcard is spaciousness. With what was a 20-percent larger cabin at the time and up to 540 litres of boot space, it offered class-leading size. Even if row-two accommodation is a bit cramped by today’s standards.

In 2010 a (sub-Cruiser) Altitude variant arrived (from $32k-ish) for what was still an all-AWD range. But for MY11, Toyota broken the RAV4 naming convention – the ‘4’ bit means four-wheel drive – and offered its SUV in a choice of front-drive for the CV and Crusier that what amounted to around a $3k saving against the 4x4s.

The XA30 last until its fourth-gen replacement launched in February 2013.

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What goes wrong

In terms of the exterior, there are a couple of reports of water leaking onto the floor/footwells through the heater core thanks to a leak in the cowling but this is very far from a common problem.

Inside, there are rare reports of the 6 Disc JBL audio system glitching out and the auxiliary input becoming crackly.

Mechanically, there are the odd reports of ignition coils, alternators and AC compressors occasionally failing however, we wouldn’t call these common issues as such.

The major concern is the oil consumption for the 4-cylinder 2AZ-FE engines. The issue is that even with a pre-purchase inspection, it’s not always obvious that the engine can have an enormous appetite for oil.

If you’re in the market for a 4-cylinder RAV4 of this generation, on the test drive, let it idle for a few minutes then give the engine a few big revs and look and smell for smoke. If there is any excessive smoke, do not buy that RAV4 and make sure any RAV4 you are considering has a full and thorough service history.

The best way to avoid the risks that come with the oil burning 4-cylinder RAV4 is to buy a V6 model instead.
The 6-cylinder variants with a solid service history show superb reliability.

Model range, pricing & features

CV & CV6

  • Price when new: $28,990 - $41,490
  • Price used: $5,500 - $25,000

Introduced in January 2006, the CV model was the base entry-level model into the RAV4 range and is powered by a 2.4 litre 4-cylinder petrol engine, mated either to a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic.

In mid-2007, the CX6 was also introduced, and provided choice for buyers who wanted a V6 engine, as the CX6 was fitted with a 3.5 litre V6 petrol engine, coupled to a 5-speed automatic.

The CV and CX6 benefited from a 4-star ANCAP safety rating with dual airbags as standard, ABS, EBD and Brake Assist, cruise control, electric mirrors, electric windows and air conditioning.

An update to the RAV4 CV and CX6 models was made in 2008, which a model-wide facelift. Both models gained a new headlight design, radiator grille, bumpers, 17-inch alloy wheels, electronic stability control and traction control. CV6 models also gained a driver’s knee airbag and climate control air conditioning.

Features:
17-inch steel wheels
Rear spoiler
Body coloured bumpers
Body coloured spare wheel cover
4-star ANCAP safety rating (tested 2007)
2 airbags: driver and front passenger airbags
3 point lap-sash seatbelts in all seats
Height adjustable front seatbelts
Driver and front passenger seatbelt pretensioners with load limiters
Anti-lock braking system (ABS)
Brake assist (BA)
Electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD)
Intermittent windscreen wipers
Intermittent rear wiper with washer
Remote central locking
Cruise Control
Electric power steering
Tilt and telescopic steering adjustment
Outside temperature gauge
Air-conditioning with dust filter
Rear-seat heater ducts
Electric mirrors
Electric windows with drivers auto up/down
Steering wheel audio controls
Manually adjustable driver’s seat with height adjustment
Manually adjustable front passenger’s seat
Cloth seat upholstery
6-speaker sound system
AM/FM radio
CD player – MP3 compatible
Audio input jack
12V power outlet
Driver and front passenger illuminated vanity mirror
3x interior lights: map light, front seat map light and boot light
Front and rear cupholders
Drink bottle holders in front and rear doors
Hidden underfloor storage compartment
60:40 split rear folding seats
Remote release fold flat rear seats

2008 update:
Subtle facelift
New headlight design and rear combination lights
New radiator grille
New bumpers
Revised interior design
Electronic stability control (ESC)
Traction control
Active front seat head restraints
Driver’s knee airbag (CV6 only)
Climate control air conditioning (CV6 only)

Edge

  • Price when new: $34,240 - $36,240
  • Price used: $9,500 - $16,500

The Edge was a limited edition model released in August 2009, and based on the CV and added items such as: 17-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, six-stacker CD player, USB and bluetooth connectivity and carpet mats.

Adds:
17-inch alloy wheels
Rear privacy glass
Roof rails
Rear parking sensors
Six stacker CD player
USB connectivity
Bluetooth connectivity
Carpet mats

Altitude

  • Price when new: $29,490 - $34,990
  • Price used: $13,500 - $24,500

The Altitude was a limited edition model released in July 2010, and had three iterations throughout the XA30 lifetime. The Altitude added 17-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, ‘Altitude’ badging, USB connectivity and bluetooth audio streaming.

The Altitude model was also offered as a limited edition run in August 2011 and September 2012.

Adds:

July 2010 edition:
17-inch alloy wheels
Rear privacy glass
Altitude’ badging
Silver roof rails
Rear parking sensors
Leather-wrapped steering wheel
Leather gearshift knob
Six stacker CD player
USB connectivity
Bluetooth connectivity
Bluetooth audio streaming
Carpet mats

August 2011 edition:
17-inch alloy wheels
Rear privacy glass
Altitude’ badging
Silver roof rails
Front fog lights
Six stacker CD player
USB connectivity
Bluetooth connectivity
Bluetooth audio streaming

September 2012 edition:
17-inch alloy wheels
Rear privacy glass
Altitude’ badging
Silver roof rails
Rear parking sensors
Front fog lights
Six stacker CD player
USB connectivity
Bluetooth connectivity
Bluetooth audio streaming
Satellite navigation

Cruiser & SX6

  • Price when new: $33,990 - $46,290
  • Price used: $6,000 - $30,000

The Cruiser and SX6 models were the mid-range models respectively, with the Cruiser being the 4-cylinder powered model and the SX6 – the V6 model.

Both the Cruiser and SX6 models benefited from alloy wheels, roof rails, additional safety equipment like front side airbags, full-length curtain airbags, vehicle control management system, ESC, hill-start control and down-hill assist control; and comfort-orientated features like: dual-zone climate control, bluetooth connectivity and a leather steering wheel with audio controls.

The SX6 model also came standard with a tilt and slide moonroof. A 2008 facelift also added a driver’s knee airbag and automatic headlights to both models.

Adds:

17-inch alloy wheels
Overfender flares
Roof rails
Tilt & slide moonroof (SX6 only)
Privacy rear/side/quarter glass
Front fog lamps
6 airbags: driver, front passenger, front side and full-length curtain airbags
Vehicle control management system (VCMS)
Electronic stability control (ESC)
Hill-start assist control (HSC)
Down-hill assist control (DAC)
Traction control
Leather gear knob
Leather steering wheel with audio controls
Dual zone climate control
High grade fabric seat and door upholstery
Six stacker CD player
Bluetooth connectivity
Footwell illumination

2008 update:
Driver’s knee airbag
Automatic headlights

Cruiser L & ZR6

  • Price when new: $41,990 - $51,290
  • Price used: $7,000 - $32,000

The top-of-the-range Cruiser L and ZR6 models offered luxury orientated features such as a moonroof, leather trim, electrically adjustable driver’s seat, lumbar support adjustment, heated front seats and satellite navigation (on the ZR6 only).

A 2008 facelift also added an electrochromatic rear view mirror to both the Cruiser L and ZR6.

Adds:

Tilt & slide moonroof
Leather seat trim & door inserts
Electrically adjustable driver’s seat
Electric lumbar support adjustment for driver’s seat
Heated front seats
Satellite navigation (ZR6 only)

2008 update:
Electrochromatic rear view mirror

Should you buy it?

In regards to the V6 RAV4, absolutely yes!

Really the only thing the V6 RAV4 doesn’t offer is the panache and image that comes with a premium brand name, a truly luxurious interior and an exterior design that forces you to look back every time you walk away from it.

Besides that, the 6-cylinder variants are awesome. In saying that, the 4 cylinder versions can be too.

They’re nowhere near as entertaining to drive as the V6 variants and the appetite for oil on certain 4-cylinder examples can be a major concern, but for what most people need an SUV to be, a generally reliable, practical and comfortable form of transport that also offers the convenience of a raised ride height, the RAV4 does nail the criteria.

It’s a huge yes from us, at this budget and for this category, this should be very high on your list.

Warranty & servicing

Warranty:

3 years/100,000kms

Servicing:

6 months/10,000kms

Tech specs

Body Style:

5-door SUV

Engines:

2.4 litre 4-cylinder petrol (CV, Cruiser Cruiser L)
3.5 litre V6 petrol (CV6, SX6, ZR6)

Power:

125kW – (2.4 litre 4-cylinder petrol)
201kW – (3.5 litre V6 petrol)

Torque:

224Nm – (2.4 litre 4-cylinder petrol)
333Nm – (3.5 litre V6 petrol)

Transmission & drivetrains:

4-speed automatic, front-wheel drive (CV, Cruiser) – From 2008
5-speed manual, front-wheel drive (CV, Cruiser) – From 2008
4-speed automatic, all-wheel drive (CV, Cruiser, Cruiser L)
5-speed manual, all-wheel drive (CV, Cruiser, Cruiser L)
5-speed automatic, all-wheel drive (CV6, SX6, ZR6)

Fuel Consumption:

9.1 – 10.5L/100km

Length:

4600mm

Width:

1815 – 1855mm

Height:

1695 – 1730mm

Kerb Weight:

1550 – 1655kg

Towing:

750kg (unbraked)
1500kg (braked) – 2.4 litre 4-cylinder petrol
1900kg (braked) – 3.5 litre V6 petrol

Disclaimer

Information correct as of May 20, 2022.

The advice provided on this website is general advice only. It has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this advice, you should consider the appropriateness of the advice, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs.

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