What Changed for 2008:
- New finish on 18-inch Sport alloy wheel
- Black Forest Pearl paint replaces Nautical Blue
- Engine immobilizer standard on Limited, optional on Base and Sport
Completely redesigned for 2006, the Toyota RAV4 is significantly bigger and more powerful than its predecessor. Safety features-front-seat-mounted air bags and 2-row side curtain air bags-were made standard in 2007. Changes are minor for 2008.
The Toyota RAV4 was one of the models that kicked off the mini-SUV or \"cute ute\" segment when it launched in 1994. The RAV4 shed a bit of its \"mini\" image when it was redesigned in 2006, the new version offering both a third-row bench seat that expanded seating to 7 and an optional V-6 engine-both firsts for the RAV4. Despite its larger size, the RAV4 is still the entry-level offering in Toyota's SUV/CUV lineup, sized and priced just below the Highlander. Warranty coverage on the 2008 Toyota RAV4 is 3 years/36,000 miles bumper-to-bumper, supplemented by 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain coverage.
The 2008 Toyota RAV4 is sold in base, Sport and Limited trim levels. The base model gets air conditioning, a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo, remote keyless entry, 10 cup or bottle holders, illuminated gauges, and a tilt and telescoping steering wheel. The 4-cylinder base model gets 16-inch tires; the V-6 engine version gets 17-inchers. The RAV4 Sport adds 18-inch wheels and tires, color-keyed exterior trim pieces, fog lights, rear privacy glass, and a sportier suspension. On the top-line Limited RAV4, standard fare includes folding, heated side mirrors, dual-zone air conditioning, 6-disc CD changer, leather-wrapped steering wheel, 8-way power driver's seat, and chrome grille.
A third-row seat is optional on base and Limited models. It has a 50/50 split, and can be stowed flat. RAV4s with two rows of seats have under-floor storage in the rear of the vehicle. The second-row seat has a 60/40 split, and slides forward and backward as needed for passengers or cargo.
The 2008 Toyota RAV4 offers buyers a 166-hp, 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine as standard, or a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that makes 269 hp. Both engines are available exclusively with an automatic transmission: a 4-speed for the 4-cylinder engine and a 5-speed for the V-6. Front- or 4-wheel drive (FWD or 4WD) are available. The 4WD system automatically shifts power to the rear wheels as needed to maintain traction. The RAV4 doesn't have a low-range transfer case, but it can be locked into 4WD mode at speeds under 25 mph. Other off-road features include Hill-start Assist Control (HAC), which prevents the RAV4 from rolling backward on a steep incline, and Downhill Assist Control (DAC), which maintains a steady speed on steep downgrades. HAC and DAC are standard on V-6 engine models and 4-cylinder engine models equipped with the optional third-row seat.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the RAV4 earns a 5-star rating in driver and passenger front crashes and front-seat side crashes. Rear-seat side crash tests earn a 4-star rating. Along with dual front air bags, side and side curtain air bags, electronic stability control, traction control and anti-lock brakes are included on all RAV4 models. An engine immobilizer deters thieves; it's standard on Limited models and optional on others.
Noteworthy technology in the 2008 Toyota RAV4 includes electrically-assisted power steering that improves fuel economy by eliminating the engine-driven pump, according to Toyota. It offers computer-monitored assistance only when needed. It works with the vehicle's stability control system to improve handling on wet or muddy road surfaces. Also, the sensor for the front-passenger air bag knows if the seat is occupied, and if the person weighs enough for the bag to inflate in a crash, Toyota says.