For my work trip to IL, my company rented me a car. Since I ordered a mid-size car to be delivered to my house on Friday at 5:00, natrually, Hertz delivered a 4WD Toyota RAV4 to my house around 8:00. After they lost my reservation and I called 3 times before anyone answered. Oh, and the car was filthy inside, with crap spilled all over the console and handprints all over the windshield.
Rants, aside, the base 4WD model drives OK. The steering wheel is covered with the same cheap-feeling material as my '95 Civics. Now I know what one felt like when it was new. The stereo and all controls were simple and easy to use, although the power mirror button location on the center console seems misplaced. The engine feels smoother than the '07-'12 CR-Vs I spent a lot of time in, although the 4-speed auto feels out of date.
My biggest gripe: the seating position sucks. I am 5'10", and I couldn't get comfortable. The steering wheel is canted at way too much of an angle. The top of the wheel is way too far away, and the bottom is too close. When I positioned the seat for maximum comfort, the pedals were too close, and the left front wheel intruded on foot space. While the pedals were too close, the top of the wheel was still far enough away so that my arms were straight out in front of me, which was tiresome after 45 minutes, let alone 3 hours of driving. I tried raising the seat so that I could stretch out my legs and bend my arms, but that revealed another problem: Only the rear of the seat rises with the lever. When I rose the seat, the seat wound up canted so far forward that I felt as though I would fall out of it. Therefore, I was forced to drive with the seat at its lowest setting, and my arms and legs paid the price.
The interior materials were very un-Toyota-like. The front seat fabric seemed cheap, and the colors on the dash did not match. The center console armrest seemed to be a painted foam piece straight out of a 1980s Ford. I expect the top to be completely cracked within 4 or 5 years. I am sure that the uplevel models with leather have much better materials than the base model I drove, but I was very disappointed, nonetheless.
However, I did like the steering wheel controls, including the display button that controls the trip meter and mpg readouts. I like having both instant and trip mpg, and I like not having to reach through the steering wheel to push the button (Are you listening, Honda????).
The RAV4 4WD is rated at 21/27 mpg city/highway. Over the course of 165 miles, I averaged 34.0 mpg. This was accomplished by drafting the same semi for over 100 miles at 68-70 mph. I will try the same on my return trip.