Fourth Place: Toyota RAV4 Limited AWD
Sporting new levels of style inside and out and losing both V6 and third row seat options, Toyota has positioned the RAV4 more in-line with its archrival, the Honda CR-V.
Although it may not be everyone’s taste, the RAV4’s interior was voted as most stylish of the bunch with its funky dashboard ledge and multitude of materials and textures. However, this style does lead to some poor ergonomics like a row of hard to see (and reach) buttons below that dashboard shelf. The RAV4 only achieved a mid-pack ranking in this category as some of the materials, like the overly fake carbon fiber, detracted from the generally appealing interior.
EASY TO DRIVE, BUT ONE ROUGH RIDE
The RAV4 is easy to drive, although finding an optimal seating position can be tricky. With adequate power, OK handling and a transmission set up to maximize fuel economy, it is far from sporty. With that in mind, the suspension feels awfully stiff. Every bump is transmitted through the chassis, into the seats. It almost ruins an otherwise competent vehicle; scoring was so tight, a better ride would have netted the RAV4 a third place finish.
The RAV4 has the most available cargo room out of any vehicle in this test when the second row seats are folded flat. Despite this, the actual cargo hold is not as wide or deep as the Santa Fe Sport’s. Toyota achieves class leading cubic feet through height as the RAV4 has a nice low loading floor that not only allows for taller items to be transported, but also makes loading and unloading easier for shorter drivers.
See Also: 2013 Toyota RAV4 Review – Video
Like the CR-V, the new RAV4 is a competent vehicle. But every other manufacturer has had the RAV4 in the cross-hairs for some time now and unfortunately for Toyota, some hit the mark.
- PRICE AS TESTED: $31,430
- ENGINE: 2.5L four-cylinder, 176 hp, 172 lb-ft
- TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic
- OBSERVED FUEL ECONOMY: 25.9 MPG
- CARGO CAPACITY (behind second row): 38.4 cu-ft
GALLERY: 2013 Toyota RAV4 Limited AWD
Third Place: Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T
What’s this? A car with cloth seats and no touchscreen made the top three? Well, yes, actually it did. Are we upset? Nope. The Santa Fe Sport achieves a third place finish thanks to two things; power and space. For less money than all but one of the competitors, Hyundai offers up the 260 hp 2.0L turbocharged motor and a ton of room.
With the second row seats folded down, the Sport has the most width and depth by far in this test. Adding in a little cargo flexibility, the 40/20/40 rear seats allow the center portion to be folded down independently so long narrow items can be transported along with two rear passengers. All the base Santa Fe Sport 2.0T is missing are hatch mounted rear-seat releases.
Speaking of rear seats, the Sport has the most spacious, comfortable rear quarters in the test. The driver’s seat is also pleasant. Unfortunately, the Santa Fe Sport’s swoopy style creates poor sightlines and the vehicle lost points commensurately.
With 264 hp on tap, the Santa Fe Sport is the most powerful vehicle in the test by far. There is a little bit of turbo lag, but it takes off like a rocket once boost builds up. The transmission is smooth and quick. Handling is better than average, but Hyundai’s steering still doesn’t feel very good. Expect a quiet, pleasant ride except at stoplights where you might notice the engine vibrating through the cabin slightly.
To achieve so much performance for so little money, Hyundai had to cut back on content. On top of not being equipped with leather seats or a touchscreen, the Santa Fe Sport is missing a backup camera, sunroof, navigation and a power lift gate.
Instead, you get a big, relatively refined, powerful, albeit basic people hauler. If a compact crossover possessing the power to haul around four full-sized people and their gear at a relatively decent price are the most important factors in your compact crossover purchasing decision; here is your vehicle.
- PRICE AS TESTED: $30,555
- ENGINE: 2.4 L four-cylinder, 264 hp, 269 lb-ft
- TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic
- OBSERVED FUEL ECONOMY: 23.3 MPG
- CARGO CAPACITY (behind second row): 35.4 cu-ft