The 2013 RAV4 redesign eliminated the awkward side-hinged rear gate and replaced it with a more convenient top-hinged hatch. The spare tire was also moved off the rear gate to reside in a well beneath the cargo floor, which was previously occupied by the discontinued optional third-row seat. The V6 engine option was also dropped, leaving the sole engine choice a 176-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder mated to a new six-speed automatic. Although the revised RAV4 was fractionally smaller in some dimensions, passenger space and cargo room remained abundant. All-wheel drive was optional. Happily, even with the revisions, the RAV4 retained most of the agility of its earlier generations. The four-cylinder engine delivers adequate oomph and a new transmission contributed to a very respectable 24 mpg.
RAV4's handling is unflappable, even in extremes, but ride comfort and noise isolation aren't impressive. The suspension system also has an underlying firmness some won't care for. And, even though the cabin is marginally quieter, this is by no means a quiet car. Interior trim gained attractive touches in some places, but skimped in others, leaving rather a chintzy overall effect. Some drivers missed adjustable lumbar support and the lack of front seat heaters in the uppermost XLE trim is a questionable omission. Still, the rear seat is generous, overall access is easy, and controls are mostly intuitive. These attributes make living with the RAV4 quite easy.