ABS available; standard from 2004. ESC standard from 2004. Side and head protection air bags available from 2004, standard from 2007.
If you want a small SUV for driving mainly on pavement, you won't go wrong with the RAV4. It has nimble handling and a respectable ride. A fully independent suspension also helps make the RAV4 feel more like a car than a truck. All-wheel drive is available, but it has no low range for serious off-roading. Acceleration is leisurely; the engine is a bit boomy when revved. And as you'd expect, the manual transmission provides sprightlier performance than the automatic. The front seats are small but firm and supportive; the rear seat is cramped. Loading the cargo area is easy, however. The RAV4 is due for a redesign for the 2001 model year.