Toyota Motors is among the leading car manufacturers in the world with a diverse range of vehicle models ranging from sedans, compact SUVs, trucks, vans, and minivans. Toyota has for many years remained the go-to vehicle manufacturer for new and experienced car owners, thanks to its remarkable track record of dependability, efficiency, and affordable price ranges compared to rivals. 

Toyota RAV4 crossover SUV is one of the most popular vehicles in the United States of America. It is followed closely by the midsize Camry. Toyota has also stayed true to its promise to keep the environment clean by offering a wide variety of hybrid, all-electric, and alternative-fuel vehicles. 

Best Toyota RAV4 Years: What Are the Best Years for The Toyota RAV4? (Explained!)

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What Are the Best Years for The Toyota RAV4?

2016 is the best model year for the Toyota RAV4, offering great features at an excellent value. While 2016 is the best RAV4 year, the 2017 and 2018 models are also great, you’ll just probably spend more on them without getting updated features and tech compared to 2016.

The 2016 RAV4 received a flawless reliability rating on Consumer Reports. This model came out on top in many tests, including the popular J.D Power tests. 

This year’s model edged the 2017 and the 2018 RAV4 models that have been ranking on top for a while. 

At J.D Power, the RAV4 2016 model scored 85/100, which was based on the opinion of thousands of verified RAV4 2016 owners.

It was ranked amongst the top 10 most reliable SUVs. It also received a score of 86/100 for quality and dependability and a good driving experience. 

While at the same time, the 2016 RAV4 received a score of 91/100 for the best resale value. 

The 2016 model has been awarded severally for its stellar design and performance after three months of ownership. 

Despite having more reported problems compared to the 2017 and 2018 model year, it remained the most reliable cumulatively. 

2016 RAV4 owners reported issues concerning the interior accessories, particularly the cruise control system. 

A Brief Overview of the Toyota RAV4

The RAV4 is among the few Toyota models that have made eight-figure sales. RAV 4 is the best-selling SUV, with over 10 million units sold since 1994. 

RAV4 has remained an outstanding work of art from Toyota for many years standing. It has continuously grown in popularity since its introduction. 

It has established the market sector for a new type of compact, sporty, and multipurpose SUV. 

This SUV has gone through many redesigning and refinement processes that have led it to triumph over its peers of the same class. 

The new Toyota RAV4 is offered in six trim levels, namely; 

  • LE
  • XLE
  • XLE Premium
  • Adventure
  • TRD Off-road
  • Limited

This SUV is offered in a wider range of trim levels to appeal to varying driving styles and lifestyles of different car owners and the growing Toyota fanbase.

This explains why the RAV4 is among the most popular and most loved Toyota models in the USA.

They are ideal for regular driving while also being tough enough for the harshest off-roading adventures and heavy hauling needs. 

Furthermore, RAV4 has a long reputation for dependability and durability that runs down all its model years since inception. 

Whether you are planning to acquire your new or used Toyota RAV4 SUV, it is important to know the best years for the Toyota RAV4

This will help you make an informed decision on the right model year and trim level that will fit you and offer a good user experience in the long run. 

In 2021, the RAV4 lineup underwent a significant change with the introduction of the new RAV4 Plug-in Hybrid, which offers the RAV4 die-hards even more options for an all-electric driving experience with zero-emission and low fuel usage. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Are RAV4s reliable?

Yes, the RAV4 has remained one of the most popular SUVs in the United States of America, grossing over 10 million units sold since it was introduced in 1994. 

This is mostly because of its dependability, performance, durability, and ability to retain its value for longer.

What is the most reliable RAV4 year?

The most reliable RAV4 year is the 2016 model. 

This model has received much praise from its owners on Consumer Reports and the J.D Power feedback. The RAV4 2016 model scored 85/100 on J.D power and a further 91 out of 100 for its best resale value. 

This makes the 2016 model the most dependable SUV on the lineup. This SUV edged out 2017 and 2018 RAV4 models. 

But if you are shopping for a used RAV4, you will still not go wrong with the 2017 and 2018 model years.

They still offer a smooth and comfortable ride and retain their value for longer. 

Which model of RAV4 is the best?

While the 2016 model of the RAV4 SUV is the best in terms of reliability, performance, and resale value, the RAV4 Limited trim levels offer most of the features that drivers love. 

The best model of RAV4 is the Limited edition. This trim level comes packed with high-tech features and top-of-the-line luxury and performance features. 

Which RAV4 years should I avoid?

Despite being among the most reliable cars in the world, there are some 2019 RAV4 models (5th Generation) that buyers should avoid. 

But if you must buy them, you have to do your due diligence before buying. 

It is good practice to get used and pre-owned vehicles inspected thoroughly before buying. 

This should not discourage you from buying the 2019 RAV4 model, but there were more reported issues concerning this model year compared with the rest. 

But since RAV4 is generally designed for reliability, most of these issues have since been addressed.

For your peace of mind, when buying old RAV4 models, you should ensure the most reported issues have been addressed before you go ahead and make the purchasing decision. 

The new models are not on the worst RAV4 to buy list. But the fifth-generation and beyond (2019 Model) had certain concerns that buyers should be aware of and address or use as a bargaining point when buying. 

What are the most common problems with Toyota RAV4? 

From Consumer Reports, the 2019 models scored the lowest in terms of reliability (2/5). 

Surprisingly, it is the model that received few complaints. Only that the problems were touching on key parts like transmission issues and engine components.

Owners of the 2019 RAV4 model reported gear slippage, stalling or sliding forward at moderate speeds, noisy acceleration, and malfunctioning gas gauges.

According to some owners, the gas gauge did not correctly register the quantity of gas in the tank. This was a major concern in most of the earlier RAV4 models. This issue has since been addressed since it doesn’t recur on the new models. 

Is it worth buying a used Toyota RAV4?

Is it worth buying a used Toyota RAV4?

Yes. RAV4 is among the most reliable SUVs from Toyota. If you are on a budget and you want to buy a compact crossover SUV that will save you money, both in purchasing and maintenance, the RAV4 is the best choice for you. 

This SUV will give you a pleasant user experience while at the same time being cheaper to maintain and offering plenty of horsepower. 

All RAV4 models are durable and maintain their value for a very long time. Therefore, it is worth it to buy a RAV4 because you will have peace of mind and confidence that you will dispose of it at a good resale value. 

Besides durability and resale value, the used RAV4 has a proven history of performance in North America. 

Therefore, you can buy one with confidence that there is evidence that the vehicle can serve you better. Safety is also one of the primary objectives in the design and manufacture of RAV4 SUVs. 

Whether it is used or new, RAV4 comes with a host of highway safety features that puts it on top of the list of the most secure SUVs in the market. 


Toyota is one of the most popular vehicle brands in the United States and the entire world for a good reason. 

The Toyota RAV4s are fun-to-drive SUVs with a long history of reliability since they were introduced back in the mid-90s. But as usual, the performance and reliability rating of the RAV4 models will vary from one year to the other. 

If you are in the market for a RAV4, it is important to do your research thoroughly to buy only from the best years for the Toyota RAV4. 

Generally, the RAV4 is designed to be a dependable, durable, fun-to-drive, and comfortable vehicle. But the performance will often vary from one model year to the next. 

While the 2016 RAV4 model has scored a higher score in terms of reliability, both on Consumer Reports and J.D Power, you will not go wrong when you choose from the 2017 and the 2018 RAV4 model years. 

The only model year that reported several problems was the 2019 RAV4 model. 

When buying the 2019 model, or any other earlier model, take your time to confirm whether the issues reported concerning the performance of the vehicle have been addressed. 

Cosmetic issues can be ignored because they can be easily and inexpensively fixed.

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