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2016 Toyota RAV4 features improved looks, sportier SE model (pictures)

Midcycle updates for the 2016 Toyota RAV4 bring the addition of a sport-oriented SE model that gets an upgraded suspension and exclusive styling touches. The changes make this hugely practical compact crossover a little more fun to drive and to be seen in.

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Jon Wong
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Exterior updates to the RAV4 lineup include new light housings, bumpers, rocker panels and wheel designs.

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SE models receive standard LED taillights.

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A more aggressive front bumper with a larger lower grille and honeycomb insert is exclusive to the SE.

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The RAV4 SE rides on Y-spoke 18-inch aluminum wheels wrapped with Bridgestone tires.

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Standard LED headlights have an auto on/off feature.

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This test car's electric storm blue helped the RAV4 standout from the crowd.

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LED daytime running lights give the RAV4 SE a slicker look.

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Performance changes center around the suspension, which receives firmer shocks and springs in this model.

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The upgraded suspension does result in a tighter-handling vehicle, but results in a harsher ride quality.

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For a compact crossover, the RAV4 SE does handle quite well.

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Steering is fairly responsive to inputs and there's little body roll through corners.

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Being a sport model, a little more power from the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine would have been nice, but it's not necessarry.

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The RAV4 SE's slightly harsher ride quality will likely turn off typical compact crossover shoppers.

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For people who prefer a more engaging experience from behind the wheel, the SE model is likely for them.

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The RAV4 SE adds a little bit of sport to an extremely practical compact crossover package.

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LED daytime running lights and LED headlights are standard on the RAV4 SE.

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Fog lights on the RAV4 SE, which was a trim level added to the lineup for 2016.

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Contrasting black exterior side mirrors feature integrated turn signal indicators.

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The body-color rear spoiler on the 2016 Toyota RAV4 SE.

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LED taillight housings on the RAV4 SE.

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In addition to the SE, the 2016 RAV4 lineup also features a new hybrid model.

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The RAV4 SE is available with both front- and all-wheel drive.

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The 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is shared with the rest of the non-hybrid RAV4 models producing 176 horsepower and 172 pound-feet of torque.

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A straightforward cabin layout features plenty of large, clearly labeled buttons.

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The numerous wrapped and soft-touch surfaces look of good quality with nice accent stitching.

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A 7.0-inch touchscreen is part of this test car's optional advanced technology package.

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A navigation system is also included in the optional advanced technology packagee.

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A bird's-eye camera system comes in handy when backing out of parking spots.

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The bird's-eye camera system also features a perimeter scan function to offer drivers an even clearer view of the surrounding area.

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HVAC controls consist of large buttons and knobs.

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A push-button starter system comes standard.

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USB and power outlets are easily accessible at the bottom of the center stack.

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The center console offers a good amount of storage for items.

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A color center gauge cluster screen can display a variety of vehicle and infotainment information.

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The optional advanced technology package ads a precollision system with pedestrian detection and a lane departure alert system.

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The RAV4's three-spoke steering wheel with integrated infotainment controls.

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Steering-wheel controls for the RAV4's audio system.

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Additional steering-wheel controls for the trip computer and central gauge cluster screen.

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For a sportier flavor, the RAV4 SE includes paddle shifters enabling drivers to select their own gears. Unfortunately, they aren't very responsive.

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The back seat of the RAV4 offers good leg- and headroom. We heard no complaints from any passengers.

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With the rear seats up, the RAV4 can carry 38.4 cubic feet of cargo.

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The second-row seats feature a 60/40 split offering added interior flexibility.

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With the rear seats folded completely, there's a total of 73.4 cubic feet of cargo space, which is more than you get in the Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, Ford Escape or Jeep Cherokee.

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The JBL subwoofer is included as part of the optional advanced technology package.

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