Should I buy a Used Toyota RAV4?

Should I buy a Used Toyota RAV4?

Vehicle Overview

Toyota’s RAV4 compact crossover entered its third generation on the market for the 2006 model year. Having grown in size, two features previously not found on the RAV4 were added: a V6 engine option and a third row of seating.

The 269 HP 3.5-liter V6 was paired to a five-speed automatic while the entry level 166 HP 2.4-liter four cylinder engine came equipped with a more traditional four-speed automatic transmission. Either engine could be had with front-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive.


Trims Packages

The RAV4 was offered in three basic trims, Base, Sport and Limited. Either engine was available in these trims as well as the choice of front-wheel or all-wheel drive.

Toyota-RAV4_2009_3.jpgTop 3 Reasons to Buy

  1. Many consumers found the previous RAV4 was a bit too small, but did not want to move up to the larger mid-size Toyota Highlander. The 2006-2012 RAV4 became the perfect size for them.
  2. A rarity in the class, the optional V6 engine actually made the RAV4 a very quick vehicle; one of the quickest compact crossovers on the market.
  3. Even if the third row isn’t particularly spacious, having the extra spots should you need them every now and then can be pretty handy.

Toyota-RAV4_2009_5.jpgTop 3 Problem Areas

  1. A Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) was issued two years ago for the five-speed automatic found in V6 equipped RAV4s. The final drive gear assembly may exhibit a whine noise that can be repaired a local Toyota dealership.
  2. The V6 editions of the RAV4 are prone to water pump issues. Although most issues occur with the 2006-2009 models and later versions of the RAV4 V6 had a different part number for the water pump, 2010-2012 models have had the odd water pump failure.
  3. During low speed, tight cornering a knocking noise can be heard from the front suspension area.  Although four-cylinder versions can be susceptible to this issue, it appears V6 models are affected more often.

Before You Buy

Unlike a lot of Toyota products, this generation of RAV4 has had more than its share of problems. If looking to get an earlier third generation RAV4 ensure the various recalls have been performed. As well, if looking at a V6 model, ensure it is not suffering from any of the problems listed above.

Check the condition of the brakes and tires and be sure there aren’t any warning lights illuminated in the gauge cluster.


Best Bang for Your Buck

Early versions of the third generation RAV4 have a lot of complaints logged on the NHTSA website, specifically 2007 and 2008 model years. Aside from the issues, safety was improved on the RAV4 for the 2009 model and again in 2012.

We would recommend a 2009 or later RAV4 with the four-cylinder because it has proven to be less problematic. If the V6 is a must, go for a 2010 to 2012 model, ideally in Sport trim because it offers a good mix of equipment and value.

Recall and Crash Test Database

2006 Toyota RAV4 IIHS Crash Test Rating

2007 Toyota RAV4 IIHS Crash Test Rating

2008 Toyota RAV4 IIHS Crash Test Rating

2009 Toyota RAV4 IIHS Crash Test Rating

2010 Toyota RAV4 IIHS Crash Test Rating

2011 Toyota RAV4 IIHS Crash Test Rating

2012 Toyota RAV4 IIHS Crash Test Rating

2006 Toyota RAV4 NHTSA Crash Test Rating

2007 Toyota RAV4 NHTSA Crash Test Rating

2008 Toyota RAV4 NHTSA Crash Test Rating

2009 Toyota RAV4 NHTSA Crash Test Rating

2010 Toyota RAV4 NHTSA Crash Test Rating

2011 Toyota RAV4 NHTSA Crash Test Rating

2012 Toyota RAV4 NHTSA Crash Test Rating

2006 Toyota RAV4 NHTSA Recall Database

2007 Toyota RAV4 NHTSA Recall Database

2008 Toyota RAV4 NHTSA Recall Database

2009 Toyota RAV4 NHTSA Recall Database

2010 Toyota RAV4 NHTSA Recall Database

2011 Toyota RAV4 NHTSA Recall Database

2012 Toyota RAV4 NHTSA Recall Database

Looking for more information? Visit our Toyota Forum

  • Former Owner

    If you like recalls and wind noise, this is the car for you. Other wise steer clear.

  • Shiratori90

    Sure you were……

    Trolls will keep on trolling.

  • captainmike

    I had a 2003 and 2006 RAV4 and they both were lemons. the 2006 had a large number of issues when I sold it to a Toyota dealer at 120K miles who then lied on their website about it to get an insanely way over priced amount for it. the 2003 at 90K miles was heading down hill so I dumped it. they had to be sued to admit to the trannie problem in that generation of RAV4. I took outstanding care of both of them, they should have gone 200K miles easily, but it was clear the path would be rocky nasty repairs bills all the time.
    at this point I would not buy another Toyota until they clean up their act.
    I have owned Toyota’s since 1983 but I think they have gone way down hill in quality in this century. I have moved to competitors that make far superior vehicles in my opinion and that of my wife; 2014 Subaru Forester and 2014 Mazda6

  • captainmike

    I don’t know about excessive recalls (just a few nasty ones) and wind noise for my two RAV4’s but the bottom line is the same. they are lemons when you get to higher mileage. they do great at 30,000 miles, but at 90,000, WATCH OUT !

  • 2004 RAV4 (base 2WD), aside from brakes and tires replacement due to normal wear and tear, I only had to replace the catalytic converter and oxygen sensors. About to reach 240,000 miles and STILL going STRONG. The best and most dependable car I ever owned.

  • Steve Witte

    We bought my wife’s RAV new in 2008. It has 111,000 miles on it and truly has had NO problems at all. None of the problems mentioned above. It has the V6 too. We love it.

  • Joe R.

    I have an ’09 4 cyl 4wd base model, it’s my work horse, I drive it 125 kms a day +/-, 1000+/- mks a month, I drive it like I stole it,but maintain religiously. I bought it used in ’11 with 50k on it from driving force, after looking at Subaru Forester ’10(awesome engine,but not as spacious,or fuel efficient, & way too much money), and Suzuki Grand Vitara ’10,(same issues); it’s now got over 172000k on it, and going strong. I’ve had to put some parts into it like, the rear axle 4wd mag coupler $1000 cdn, right rear axle brg.$100,and the next issue I have to deal with is a possible plugged a/c condenser,and a variable cam timing gear on the engine,that leaks down,causing eng noise on start-up,for which there was a tsb/recall,but I was to late to claim on,so I’ll have to pay for($2000 at the dealership, I’ve read on the rav forum),or buy the parts & repair myself. IMO,these are wear & tear issues that you’ll get on any car. At this point in my ownership of this little car,I rate it highly,would most surely buy another,but maybe a V6,just to see if Toyota’s claims that the fuel consumption is only a couple more mpg than the 4cyl are true. It’s been overall reliable,economical,spacious, a 9 out of 10(only because the driver seat isn’t the most comfortable on extended periods of drive time).

  • will wipperdink

    I wish mine was a good as yours, my 2003 had the best of care and it didn’t do as well. sold it at 90,000 miles

  • will wipperdink

    wow, my 2006 had nothing but problems and I babied it to death. sold it at 120,000 and I considered it a lemon

  • will wipperdink

    I sold my 2006 at 120,000 miles cause it was clear to me toyota designed a money pit to suck me financially dry.
    water pump, rear diff, sensors, possibly $6,000 in repairs were soon to be necessary. and I drove it so gently and gave it the best of care. I could only consider it garbage and after 30 years of owning a lot of toyotas I have written them off and do not plan to buy toyota anymore

  • Steve Witte

    Will I have a friend who bought a 2006 new and it was nothing but problems also. Until I have a bad Toyota I will never buy anything else.

  • David

    I bought a 2004, imported it to Costa Rica 1.5years here, now 75000miles. I love this car. very realaible, no problems by now. Problems: Some wear on the automatic transmission, but not problematic according to AT expert, not to deserve a big expense yet. Power window delay (seconds with power after removing the key) does not work always. Rear window soap water pump failed to work.