Last week, we introduced our Base Camp series, a run of posts intended to help new car buyers determine if the base trim of a particular model is worth consideration. If the featured vehicle passes muster, we’ll wholeheartedly recommend signing the note on an entry-level whip. If it doesn’t, we’ll try to build one that does.
The hot-selling Toyota RAV4 is a perennial favourite of Canadian car shoppers, regularly habiting one of the top spots on the country’s bestseller list. It has recently been heavily revised and restyled, with its new mug adding a sense of gravitas not present in previous somnambulant iterations of this small crossover. Its front, in particular, bears a heavy familial resemblance to the big-bro Highlander. This is not a bad thing.
Base models, denoted by the LE trim, are easily identified since their jowls are not full of fog lights. An expanse of unlovely black plastic takes their place, though all other aspects of the front fascia largely mirror the rest of the lineup (save for the aggro Trail model) including the parabola LED headlamps. That plastic trim is less pronounced in RAV4s painted a dark colour which permits it to fade into the shadows.
Speaking of colours, there are four shades on the LE palette, all of which reside on the greyscale. At least none of them are extra charge items. Heated side mirrors are colour-keyed, unlike some other base models which deploy flat black ears to advertise your flinty buying decisions. Wheels are 17-inch sensible steel shoes
Powering all non-hybrid RAV4 crossovers is a 2.5L four cylinder engine making 203 horsepower, so this is one instance in which more cheddar doesn’t net a person extra grunt. All-wheel drive is available for $2100 but your author heartily recommends pocketing that difference and spending a portion of it on a good set of winter tires. Expect to get better than 7.0L/100km in highway driving conditions with this front-wheel driver.
Inside, a yaffle of features await buyers of the least expensive RAV4. Infotainment is handled by a 7-inch touchscreen that plays well with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Note that SiriusXM radio is absent, however, and you’ll have to use an actual key to light the engine. Thanks to economies of scale, the LE has a steering wheel that adjusts for reach and rake, heated front seats, and auto up/down for all four power windows. Seats can be manually adjusted six ways.
Toyota’s been making a lot of noise about the level of active safety kit in their products these days. The $28,090 RAV4 LE is no exception. Features like dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alerts, and a pre-collision system all work in concert to keep things shiny side up.
What We’d Pick
If you can bear to endure terrestrial radio (or have a robust playlist on your smartphone) and don’t mind digging for your keys, the front-wheel drive 2020 Toyota RAV4 LE offers excellent value for less than thirty grand. Just don’t forget to budget for winter tires.