Don't fault the TCH when it comes close to the base Camry XLE package in standard equipment. When compaired to the same equipped Camry, their estimates are in-line. You're compairing apples, to oranges, so fault yourself.
AFA the rav4 VS the Highlander. The highlander/Lexus RX get's it's redesign shortly as it's Camry platform based which just entered it's 6th generation in March. The Highlander is a bigger, better vehicle. You'll never be happy with a 2az-fe powered rav4. I don't care of this is the slow *** driving forum. Buy the 2gr-fe v6. It gets the same economy out of the box, and yet it has more than 3 times the powerband at one point.
Personally... Wait 6 months, when the new base Highlander with the 3.5L 2gr-fe v6 option when it comes out. You need room, and the rav4 will never deliver like the Highlander will, being based off the much larger modified Camry platform.
But I don't want the Camry XLE, I want the Camry CE in a hybrid. Actually, after having driven the Camry today, I don't want a Camry at all. I was disappointed.
"You'll never be happy with a 2az-fe powered rav4. I don't care of this is the slow *** driving forum"
Obviously you don't know me very well. I was very satisfied with the 2az-fe powered RAV4. And, it fits within my budget. The Highlander is way too expensive.
Sounds to me like someone is buying a Rav! Based on your wife's criteria and your budget/fuel economy desires, I can't think of another car that would do it. The only way to get a more FE car instead would be for your wife to change what she wants, and you and I both know it ain't gonna happen .
At this point I'd say cut the best deal you can and continue to enjoy a happy marriage. It should be a good car, and it should hold its value well.
I would choose a rav 4 over the mazda. Toyota has legendary reliability.
Me and my cousin tet drove the new rav 4 when it came out. It accelarated like a dog. Now the new camry is a different animal. The v6 with no options is so cool. It rips like a bull with steroids. Too bad you are looking for a 7 passenger vehicle.
We went and looked at both today. We are in the same boat, needing a 6 passenger vehicle and the Jetta wagon isn't going to cut it.
First keep in mind we haven't driven either yet. The Mazda5 was WAY easier to get in and out of in the back since it has a sliding door it opens wider. And it has a space between the middle two bucket seats that the kids could easily walk thought to get to the far back row of seat, a big plus.
The Rav4 and Highlander you had to either crawl over the middle row to get to the back or you can somehow flip the middle row of seat forward but there wasn't much space to squeeze in there and with car seat in the middle row they won't flip forward. Not an issue one they are out of the baby seats, but that’s 4-5 years away.
I just know I am going to like the Toyota driving and handling better though.
We went car shopping yesterday. We started at Honda where we looked at a few Accords, the Civic LX and CRV. The Accord "Value Package" was the most attractive of the lot because of the price, $19500. The Civic was too small for her taste. None could carry more than 5 passengers.
The we went accross the street to Ford. We sat inside the Escape Hybrid and the first comment she made was that she felt like she was in a truck. I said, that's because you are in a truck! She was not happy with the interior styling either. I talked to the salesman about price and he wasn't willing to go below 25k. We left without a test drive.
Then we went to Toyota and test drove a Camry LE. Very sharp looking car with a great interior. She liked it except that it only had 5 seats. I test drove it and found it to be dissappointing. I guess I expected a smoother 4cyl, it seemed buzzy to me. The ride was great but uninspiring. Then we looked at the RAV 4. She really liked the interior and we both tested out the 2nd and 3rd row seats. Yes, they are cramped, but our kids are 50 lbs each and they were quite happy back there. They also liked the fact that they could each have thier own row. The test drive was great. I found that the engine seemed smoother than the Camry, but maybe that is just my imagination. It does have slightly more torque and HP than the Camry which might be the difference. So it looks like we will be getting the RAV 4. When compared to the Accord at 24/34 and the Camry at 24/33, the RAV 4 at 24/30 seems like a small FE sacrifice for the extra utility.
Picked up the RAV4 yesterday. The whole family is very satisfied so far. What was surprising is that it much quieter in the inside than the Prius was. It also has electric steering which has a better feel than the Prius.
There were two other pleasant surprises. I checked the max pressure on the 225/65/17 Yokohama G91's and it was 44 PSI. First thing I did when I got home was to press them up from 30 to 45 PSI. And as always, I read the owners manual thoroughly. Here is what it said about the oil:
"SAE 5W-20 or 0W-20 engine oil may be used. However, SAE 0W-20 is the best choice for good fuel economy and good starting in cold weather".
After about 1500 miles of break-in, I will be adding Mobil 1 0W-20.