awd suv


The 2017 Toyota RAV4 gets a 5-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). The SUV is available in  FWD or AWD drivetrains. Both versions get 5-stars. It gets 4-stars out of 5 for frontal crash, passenger and driver sides. It does, however, get full marks on all 7 side impact crash tests. Rollover star rating is 4-stars and rollover resistance is 16.90%. Overall very good safety results.

Standard safety features include;

  • Toyota Safety Sense: a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection
  • Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist
  • Automatic High Beams
  • Dynamic Radar Cruise Control
  • Enhanced Vehicle Stability Control
  • Traction Control
  • Anti Lock Brakes
  • Electronic Brake Force Distribution
  • Brake Assist and Smart Stop Technology
  • Blind Spot Monitor
  • Rear Cross Traffic Alert
  • LATCH system for child car seats

It’s amazing that all of these safety features come as standard on all trim levels of the 2017 Toyota RAV4. Most other manufacturers only have all of these on higher-end trim levels or you pay extra to have them included.

Pre-Collision with Pedestrian Detection

A note about the pedestrian detection. Whilst I was testing this vehicle, traveling about 35mph on a dirt road, DRCC was active. I have always wondered if the pre-collision with pedestrian detection system along with the DRCC would detect an animal running across the road in front of you. It’s a lot to ask I know. It was only a matter of time before I experienced the results of this question first hand, given the abundance of wildlife here in Wyoming.

I can confirm that in my particular situation, where an Antelope ran out in front the car, stopping in the middle of the road, the car did not detect him.  My foot hovered over the brake pedal but gave the car enough time to where I was about 6ft away from the animal. I had to intercept last minute and apply the brakes. When it comes to animals in front of cars, there’s just so many variables, however, it would be great if Toyota could get working on this and make a system that does detect animals big and small!

LATCH System

LATCH system. As a mother of a 4 yr old and 1 yr old, both of my kids are in car seats. Any parent out there knows just how frustrating changing car seats can be. The RAVs latches are buried between the seats, which on a freezing day makes it difficult to connect the car seat. The good part is, the rear seat recline, so you can adjust the rear seat to match the car seat angle which somewhat makes it easier. If you plan on leaving the car seats in there then it’s not an issue and they are very secure once in, however, if you plan on swapping them a lot, it takes a little time.

Traction Control

You might either love or hate traction control. Let me tell you that compared to some other SUVs that I’ve recently tested, the traction control system in the 2017 Toyota RAV4 is excellent. Some traction control systems kick in too fast or so hard that it slows the vehicle down to 5mph or less and simply gets in the way taking over so much control. Traction control on RAV4 is subtle, adequate and does not get in the way of average driving.


The RAV4 comes with 2 engine choices, a 2.5 liter 4 cylinder DOHC with VVT-i engine or a hybrid version. I had the non-hybrid version to test for a week and I was very impressed with the performance on the RAV. Sometimes 4 cylinder engines can be more on the noisy side from high revs, but the RAV was not intrusive. Road noise is about average. For 176 hp and 172lb-ft of torque, the SUV can get up and go when it wants to thanks to VVT-i system, which is Variable Valve Timing with Intelligence. Braking is good with a nice smooth transition and feedback from the pedal.The transmission is a 6-speed automatic, which is uneventful through the gears unless you’re hard on the accelerator.


Handling on the 2017 Toyota RAV4, I would say is on the firmer side of a typical SUV suspension set up. There’s enough progressive body roll  making it a comfortable ride, but it’s far from feeling like a boat. I discovered a pretty neat feature on the vehicle, a color diagram in the driver display between the clocks. Its official name (which of course car manufacturers have to make sound fancy) is Dynamic Torque Control AWD System Display.

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Within that display is a little red ball surrounded by what looks like a target, that displays G-force. Also in that diagram, there are 4 wheels with stacking bars next to each that change color to display torque distribution. This is a fun diagram, I have to admit I was a little distracted by this but it was so fascinating to actually see the AWD and Dynamic Torque Control working in real time.


For my test drive, I was given a 2017 Toyota RAV4 Platinum AWD in Blizzard Pearl. Great paint name choice Toyota, if that decision was left up to me I’d have called it Sparkly Fresh Snow. This is as good as it gets for this Toyota SUV. The Platinum is the top of the line trim level. The extra color-coded moldings on the Platinum model definitely give it a more sporty upmarket look.


Seats in the platinum were exceedingly comfortable for me with just enough bolster on the sides and soft enough on the bottom. For the taller person, however,  as a passenger, the protruding dash can get in the way, but it’s fine if you don’t have rear-seat passengers behind. Toyota’s seat covering in the Platinum is called Softex®. It’s basically imitation leather. Could have fooled me, I thought it was leather.

A far improvement from the ‘pleather’ you’d find in other vehicles. The heated seats on this RAV4 are AMAZING! They seemed to heat up faster than most and get hotter. There two settings though if you don’t quite want them that hot.

inside rav not leather


If you remember our article a while back on the most fuel-efficient compact SUVs in 4×4/AWD, you may have seen the RAV4 was on that list. Hybrid RAV4’s are top of the list with a combined estimated mpg of 32mpg. The gas engined equivalent gets an EPA estimated 22mpg in the city, 28mpg on the highway, and a combined estimate of 24mpg.


Available on the top of the line Platinum trim level is a hands-free foot-activated power liftgate. Simply do a kicking motion under the rear bumper, step back and the power liftgate will open. Very handy if you have your hands full. Speaking of full hands, the cargo area volume on the 2017 Toyota Rav4 is 38 cu. ft with seats up and 73.4 cu. ft with rear seats folded.


The number one reason you’d buy a Toyota. Toyota’s are known for reliability and the RAV has won several awards including;

  • IIHS Top Safety Pick+ When Equipped With LED Headlights
  • Over 90% of RAV4s Sold in the Last Ten Years Are Still on the Road Today
  • 2017 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Was Named Best Hybrid SUV for the Money by U.S. News & World Report
  • 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Was Named a SmartChoice Operating Costs Winner by IntelliChoice
  • Toyota Named the Most Trusted Brand in the Import Automobile Category

For more info on the Toyota RAV4, Mark Smith at the Fremont Motors Toyota dealership is literally a Toyota Encylopedia, or check out the Toyota store in Lander.