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Published on April 22nd, 2010 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez


Used 1996 Toyota RAV4

Though it may look like a sport-utility, it’s really more car than an off-roader, making liberal use of Toyota Camry parts in many areas inside and outside. While this may not commend it for running into Taman Negara, it makes it a lot more livable in the kind of service the vast majority of buyers will put it to. In the city and on the highway.The suspension is independent, coil spring with rear trailing arms. This endows it with a ride quality that is surprising, given its diminutive size.

The four-door version of the RAV4 sits on a 94.9-inch wheelbase, which makes it among the tidiest vehicles on the road. Its two-door brother has a mere 86.6 inches between axles. Overall length of the two door is 145.9 inches. Making it really compact but liveable. It’s surprising how well Toyota’s engineers managed the space inside. It’s relatively high (65.4 inches) for its size, so headroom is plentiful even at the back. A short wheelbase implies a pitchy ride, but Toyota circumvented that particular law of nature. Ride quality overall is fair to good, which is plenty good enough for the class. There’s a bit more harshness than you’d find in, say, the Toyota Corolla, but the RAV4 is tougher by design.

The name RAV4 is supposed to mean Recreational Active Vehicle 4-wheel drive. The RAV4 shines as an all-wheel-drive machine for the urban tarmac. The only driver interaction the drivetrain ever demands is the locking center differential, invoked only in the most parlous circumstances by merely pushing a switch on the dash. Its 215/70 tires are wrapped around large 16-inch alloy wheels. All RAV4s have the same engine, a 2-liter, 16-valve number that supplies 120 hp. The RAV4 comes with a four-speed automatic that provides decent acceleration. I like the smooth flow of power an automatic gives in an all-wheel-drive machine. I have never come across a manual version for sale here in Malaysia. The interior of most RAV4’s is a wash of drab grey plastic which is pretty boring after the snappy exterior. Ergonomics overall were quite good, except for the sunshade which I feel is too small for the large windscreen. You will understand this when driving towards the sun at about 8-9am in the morning.

Dual airbags are provided across the line, and antilock brakes are available. The RAV4 has big discs front, drums rear so stopping in an emergency is never a problem as long as your brakes are in good condition. The RAV4 arrives from Japan with various specification level however the most common features are climate control air conditioning, alloy wheels, cruise control, power windows, locks and mirrors and a very desirable twin sunroof package, available only on the two-door. This gives it an almost convertible appeal. Prices have taken a dip in recent months as the RAV4 is ready to greet its 15th birthday. Once 15 years old loan values will drop and interest rates will get much higher thus reducing its appeal in the used car lot. A 13 year old unit will fetch just about RM32,000 or below. Look for a detailed service record, off road abuse underneath the car, scratched interior, worn drivers seat and drivers pedals. Finding one should not a problem as many owners are trading up to newer better cars with attractive loans. Take your time and you will enjoy your purchase.

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