An All-Terrain Classic — The Toyota RAV4 is a classic SUV for Costa Rica and residents here. Many current residents had their first experience driving in Costa Rica in a RAV4 rental. The RAV4 is a smaller SUV, based on an automobile chassis. This gives it a much better ride and handling than many SUVs. At the same time it offers an excellent all-wheel drive feature, which will get you out of the majority of situations where you need traction but not that much power. The lighter body helps in these cases too. The RAV4 seats 5 adults fairly comfortably and has some room in the back for luggage or gear too.
Toyota RAV4 History / Features
The RAV4 comes in two or four door versions and was introduced in 1996. They are available in gasoline engines, and commonly available with a manual or an automatic transmission. The RAV4 can be all wheel drive, or just 2 wheel drive. Through 1998 the vehicle is characterized by a two tone paint scheme, with the lower plastic molding being generally black, sometimes gray. In 1999 the design was changed a little bit stylistically, the single tone color scheme is available and the two tones vary quite a bit.
The motor through 2000 remains similar, generally being a 4 cylinder, 2 liter gasoline engine. In all RAV4 year models the spare tire hangs on the back door. This is convenient for changing tires, and also saves interior space, or allows the vehicle to sit lower to the ground. The 1996 through 2000 RAV4 are currently costing between $5,000 and $8,000, depending on the extras and year model. With the 2 door version being cheaper than that in any given year model.
In 2001 the RAV4 underwent more than cosmetic changes. The body was restyled, the plastic side moldings reduced drastically, the vehicle is wider, and the motor got an improved injection system and increased horsepower. There is a little bit more interior room, with out sacrificing fuel economy. 1999 and 2000 RAV4s are a good “more bang for your buck” option, as the price increases quite a bit for 2001 and newer models due to the change in design. The series runs through 2005 and in later year models a 2400cc engine becomes available. These models currently run in the $8,000 to $10,500 range depending on extras and year model.
The 2006 RAV4 got a little bit bigger and was improved again, generally the engine is a 2400cc. The price for these models is also bigger, the $14,000 to $18,000 is a good range to be in for this model, that runs through 2012. The automatic transmission is more common as well, and the multi-injection technology is standard in the 2.4 liter engine.
In 2014 the RAV4 got a real makeover. While the earlier improvements could be categorized as cosmetic to some degree, the 2014 version is actually much bigger, and has a completely redesigned body. The 2.5 liter engine has more horsepower, the automatic transmission became a 6 speed, and the suspension also received upgrades. The interior is also much improved, particularly the instrument panel and dash. A big change is that the rear tailgate lifts rather than swings out, and the spare tire now goes into the floor of the cargo area. $20,000 to $30,000 is a good range to be in for these year models, and the hybrid RAV4 is also available in the most recent models, these are becoming fairly popular and should be plentiful as used cars in the next few years.
Toyota RAV4 Parts and Repairs
These SUVs are hugely popular in Costa Rica. Purdy Motors is historically one of the best dealers, if not the best. Parts are readily available nationwide and mechanics know them very well. Parts are a good value, being more expensive than some brands, but higher quality. And being less expensive than many other brands, and also higher quality!
Toyota RAV4 Summary
Pricing: Toyota is Toyota in Costa Rica. The brand has a reputation for value, reliability, performance, and quality that is unmatched here. This is reflected in the new car market, and in the used car market as well. There are comparable brands, like Mitsubishi and Honda, that are less expensive to buy and possibly even better quality. However, the Toyota will also retain the high value over time, so the premium you put in in the beginning will maintain itself upon resale.
The RAV4 is an excellent choice, but has competition in the Honda CRV and Suzuki Sidekick, the better choice in your case may depend on your usage and your area. If you don’t need true 4×4, the AWD RAV4 is very capable and will perform well if you travel around Costa Rica. It is comfortable to drive in town and handles well on the highway.
Cons: The main drawback goes for Toyota is the entry price. If you don’t have much room in your budget, or can’t get your head around paying the prices in Costa Rica that Toyota commands, then you will be better off considering other brands.
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