Redesigned RAV4 boasts good value, not best tech (pictures)

The 2013 Toyota RAV4 continues the automaker's trend of thoughtful design and good performance, but we weren't fans of its dashboard tech powered by Entune.

Antuan Goodwin
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2013 Toyota RAV4 Limited

The RAV4 Limited distinguishes itself as the top-tier trim level with silver lower grill trim, roof rails, fog lights, and 18-inch plus-size wheels.
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Pointy face

The new face is more angular and pointed. From the driver's seat, the RAV4 offers better forward and 360-degree vision, thanks to a more open greenhouse.
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Engine bay

Under the hood is a 2.5L, four-cylinder engine that supplies a good amount of grunt for around-town motoring.
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Front- or all-wheel drive

Though it is available with all-wheel drive, our example was a front-drive model. Performance and grip didn't seem to suffer on San Francisco's dry streets.
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Where's the spare?

The RAV4's characteristic rear-mounted spare tire is gone for this generation.
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The new design now uses a traditional top-hinged liftgate that requires less space to open than the old, swing-out rear door.
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Motorized operation

Our Limited model features a motorized liftgate that raises and lowers at the touch of a button.
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A squeaky dashboard panel annoyed me during my testing. Aside from that nitpick, the rest of the RAV4's interior felt solid and well built.
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Tech options

All RAV4 models feature a 6.1-inch Display Audio infotainment system. Ours was also augmented with Entune apps and navigation, as well as safety tech.
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The RAV4's steering wasn't very communicative, but I like the amount of steering effort required -- not too much, not too little.
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Instrument cluster

Instrumentation is simple and easy to read. A small monochrome trip computer is controlled with buttons on the steering wheel.
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A six-speed automatic transmission is the only gearbox available on the 2013 RAV4. Shifts were silky smooth for a comfortable ride.
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Safety tech

Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert are optional features that increase the crossover's safety.
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Drive modes

The powertrain also feaured Eco and Sport programs to further augment the RAV4's performance.
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Audio sources

Available audio sources include Bluetooth, USB/iPod, 3.5mm analog auxiliary input, satellite radio, AM/FM radio, and HD Radio tuning. There's also a CD player.
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Entune apps

Entune apps allow the Display Audio system to stream music from the Web and augment the navigation system with weather, fuel prices, and Bing destination search.
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Low resolution

The Toyota Display Audio with Entune system's maps were low resolution and unimpressive.
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Speech input

The voice command system allowed for the input of a complete address with in one go. However, parsing the spoken address could take a few moments.
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Our example featured a two tone interior trimmed in SofTex artificial leather.
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I'm not sure if the terracotta and black motif would have been my first choice, but it certainly was eye-catching.

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