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2009 Toyota RAV4 4WD Limited
2009 Toyota RAV4 4WD Limited

by J.T. Hills
SGN Contributing Writer

• Fresh restyle for 2009
• 3.5 liter V6 is powerful,
  and it’s fun to drive
• Fit and finish is impeccable

• For those over 6 feet tall,
  tight fight up front
• Pricey

The RAV4, Toyota’s popular compact sport utility vehicle, has had a facelift for 2009. The standard 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine is more powerful and more fuel efficient than the previous 2.4-liter. In addition, all RAV4 models feature interior upgrades. The Limited model adds a new standard Smart Entry system that allows the driver to open the door by simply carrying the key fob and grasping the handle. Also there’s a new available backup monitor, integrated satellite radio, low-cost navigation system, and a unique charcoal leather option. Externally all RAV4s have new front and rear styling with a restyled grille, front bumper, improved fog light trim, and redesigned tail lamps. The Limited model adds 17-inch alloy wheel design, turn signal side mirrors, and chrome accents on the grille and fenders. After a week with the 2009 Toyota RAV4 4WD Limited I’ve compiled a brass tacks list of highly technical scientific data based upon observations, experimentation, tabulations, inspections and so forth. Here we go:

2009 Toyota RAV4 Limited: Fem in the streets, butch in the sheets
When they first dropped off the recently cosmetically enhanced 2009 Toyota RAV4 Limited, I thought to myself, well, isn’t she all smart and sassy, all tailored and tarted-up with tubal steel steps and chrome accents and all. It’s like a soccer mom after being pumped up with a 1,000 CCs of Botox and a new Sassoon wedge. Under the hood, though, she’s got a 3.5-liter V6 powerhouse that generates 269 horsepower at 6,200 RPMs and 246 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,700 RPMs. The RAV4 is a bit conservative on the outside, but there’s some motion to her ocean.

In the ride and handling department, there’s a strong, stiff structure, with four-wheel independent suspension and Electronic Power Steering (EPS) that gives the RAV4 agile – some might say catlike – sporty handling and a comfortable carlike ride. The EPS is interfaced with Vehicle Stability Control (VCS) to enhance handling control when the road gets rough and the conditions are adverse, she’s a tiger. The automatic on-demand four-wheel-drive system uses an electronically-controlled coupling to distribute torque between the front and rear wheels (depending on road conditions and driver input).The system seamlessly switches from front-wheel-drive to four-wheel-drive mode to maximize fuel efficiency.

The RAV4, well, she’s got numerous seating configurations, and on models without a third row, under-floor storage. There’s also a generous 73-cubic foot cargo area with all rear seats folded down. There’s also a 60/40-split second row seat that features reclining seatbacks and an armrest with two cup holders. The seats slide fore and aft to maximize room for passengers or some junk in the trunk. Funny enough, though, whereas the back seats have plenty of room to spread out, the front seat feels cramped for those over 6 feet tall – and that would be me. If the RAV4 wasn’t so much fun to drive, I would be focusing on how cramped I felt in the driver’s seat. 

OK, for a before-tax price of $31,912, what do you get?
The 2009 Toyota RAV4 4WD Limited comes well equipped for a base price of $27,810. The most popular options add up quickly, but Toyota is offering an extra value package discount of $2,000. A quick look at the favorites includes:

• 3.5-liter DOHC V6 engine
  with dual VVT-i
• Five-speed automatic transmission
• Four-wheel drive
• Front and rear stabilizer bars with
  four-wheel disc brakes
• Hill start assist with downhill
  assist control
• 17”, six-spoke alloy wheels and
  full-size spare tire

• Star Safety system that includes vehicle
  stability control with traction control,
  anti-lock brakes with brake assist
  and EBD
• Driver’s and front passenger dual stage
  front airbags, and side curtain airbags
• Side curtain airbags with rollover sensor
• Active front head restraints
• Tire pressure monitoring system

Comfort and Convenience
• Smart Key System/AM/FM stereo,
  CD player, MP3 player w/ input jack
  and 6-speaker audio system with
  XM Satellite Radio
• Dual zone climate control with
  air filtration
• Cloth Interior
• Power windows and door locks
• Air-conditioning
• Privacy glass

Additional Charges
• Integrated back-up camera linked to an
  electrochromic mirror with
  integrated monitor ($475)
• Extra Value Package: Daytime
  running lights, power tilt/slide
  moonroof, nine- speaker with
  subwoofer JBL AM/FM six-disc CD
  changer with integrated XM Satellite
  radio, MP3/WMA playback
  capacity, hands-free Bluetooth
  capability, heated leather seating
  surfaces with eight-way adjustable
  drivers and front passenger
  seats ($3,360)
• Towing prep package ($160)
• Carpeted floor mats ($199)
• Body side moldings ($199)
• Tube steps ($450)
• Sport pedals by
  OBX Racing Sports ($85)
• Emergency assistance kit ($70)
• V.I.P plus security system ($359)

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